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SXSW ’17 Review: ‘TRAGEDY GIRLS’

Mean Girls meets Scream in Tyler MacIntyre’s trendy satirical midnight horror-comedy Tragedy Girls. Like Heathers for the social media age, MacIntyre’s coming-of-age serial killer misadventure satirizes iPhone-obsessed culture as two popular girls go on a killing spree in order to gain followers, accrue likes and establish a brand. A fucked-up ode to friendship first and foremost, Tragedy Girls’ kill-happy mentality is demented no doubt but the relationship at its center sincerely (and gruesomely) cuts to the core of high school woes and the trials of BFF-dom. Not to mention, it’s bloody good fun.
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SXSW ’17 Review: ‘GAME OF DEATH’

Upon reading that Game of Death was an amalgam of a web series stitched together into a feature, I feared the worst. The formats, though not incongruous, ostensibly serve different ends – one drives towards a rollercoaster of micro-climaxes, the other tells a rounded whole narrative arc. It’s a case of a dozen acts versus the traditional three act structure and trying to cram the one into the other is risky business. Though there’s some glaringly funky transfer hiccups reformatting the series as a feature film – most notably aspect ratios that shift scene to scene – the product overcomes what should be insurmountable odds at every turn through pure force of blood-stained will. Read More

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SXSW ’17 Review: ‘PREVENGE’

A case of in utero homicide, Prevenge comes born of triple-threat Alice Lowe’s fertile but twisted mind. Taking duties as writer, director and star in this slop-rock ballad of killer prepartum impulses, Lowe weaves her story of a knocked up avenging angel in the strangest of circumstances. Pregnant at 37, art found itself mimicking reality (to a degree) as Lowe put pen to paper to stitch together a one-page pitch early in her first trimester. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS’

Danny Boyle changed the zombie landscape in 2002 with 28 Days Later. Gone were the Romero’s shambling zombified creations, replaced by manic, hyper-speed death darts teeming a land where the human element was just as, if not more, dangerous than their undead counterparts. The horror of these monstrosities were reflected, and even overshadowed, by the horrors of humanity’s ability for societal cannibalism. This theme has been replicated in the sub-genre ever since, with Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead comics taking this thread to new extremes and the record-smashing AMC series following suit. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘XX’

Sundance anthology XX showcases a quartet of effective low-budget horror shorts but the real story here lies in its clever title. A chromosomal tip of the hat, the film’s name refers to the thread that unites the collection of pieces. You see, the talent behind this anthological haunt features an unusual twist – each segment was directed by a woman. Though horror (moreso than any other genre) has given women the limelight ever since the days of Hitchcock, with more leading women than leading men, the Hollywood directorial status quo has remained firmly in place. That is, even though the chicks may hog the spotlight within the genre, more often than naught there’s still a dude behind the camera shaping the majority of the product. 
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Out in Theaters: ‘A CURE FOR WELLNESS’

Part screeching psychological thriller, part squealing body horror (and part total insanity), Gore Verbisnki‘s A Cure for Wellness pairs David Cronenberg to Shutter Island, adding a dash of Looney Toons to cherry-top this fantastical madcap chamber piece. Weighing in at a whooping 146 minutes, the big budget horror-thriller penned by Justin Haythe shifts a deliberately-paced creeper into a balls-to-the-walls sadistic sleeper hit, cranking its bat-shit absurdity high enough to break off the dial and cackling like a madman as it does so.  

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Out in Theaters: ‘SPLIT’

In 2015, M. Night Shyamalan executed the biggest twist of all. Following a slew of critical and commercial disasters, Shyamalan produced…a hit. The Visit, a found footage old people horror-comedy, connected with critics and audiences, turning its paltry 5 million dollar budget to a whopping near-100 million international haul. More importantly, it signaled the return of one of the most unique voices in the genre: the king of  the twist. And Split, a thriller about an abductor with a fractured personality, proves that he’s here to stay.   Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL’

This week’s screening schedule forced what seemed initially a difficult decision in that the two wide releases played against one another on the same fateful night. Though I was only a mild fan of the first, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back offered Tom Cruise (of whom my readers will know I am a lifelong fan) a chance to get back in cahoots with Tom McQuarry (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation). Ouija: Origin of Evil had a very different pull. Ironically, I had lamented the inevitability of its creation when handing out a D- to McG’s fetid attempt to turn the chilling board game to movie form. And yet Mike Flanagan, director of Oculus and just earlier this year Hush, is as seductive a marque name as any when it comes to the horror genre and I just couldn’t help but give over to the spirit of October and throw my chips in with the scarier offering. Turns out, it was a great choice. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ’31’

Rob Zombie‘s transition to the film world is, if nothing else, intriguing. After finding success uncharacteristic to the metal genre with band White Zombie, the metal rocker decided that basing album concepts off classic horror movies wasn’t cutting it. He wanted in on the game. By 1999, he had written an original script, The Crow: 2037,  but the project was abandoned for a variety of reasons. Instead Zombie paired with Universal Studios to make his horror house debut, House of 1000 Corpses and so began his bloodstained path to 31. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘DON’T BREATHE’

Let me be clear, you probably can’t handle Don’t Breathe. Hitchcockian in concept and French New Wave in execution, the batshit bonkers new horror film from Fede Alvarez is a sanguine-stained guillotine of heinous intensity. The Uruguayan director has issued French extremity an American passport, inviting a true-to-form, heart-stopping gang bang of insane tension to inseminate the United States homeland. Consider everyone at last night’s world premiere unmistakably impregnanted by its brutal brilliance. Read More