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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

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Out in Theaters: ‘LIGHTS OUT’

David F. Sandberg’s concept horror film Lights Out is as simple as it is curt. Clipping along at a respectable trot, the film written by Eric Heisserer (The Thing remake, A Nightmare on Elm Street remake) admirably makes use of its sparse 81 minute run time but its bare bones conceit – a malevolent photophobic entity attacks an emotionally susceptible family –  feels the creative constraints of its two-minute source material (a viral horror short, also from Sandberg.) Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE CONJURING 2’

Horror sequels have an unfortunate tendency to exude contempt for their audience. More often than not, the same formula is conscripted, wrangling selfsame plot lines (often in a new location or with new characters) that encompass similar beats and familiar frights. 9 Nightmare on Elm Street movies, 10 Halloween films and 12 Friday the 13th flicks can speak to the process. Rinse, repeat, rank in the cash. And while there’s nothing distinctively different to James Wan’s approach this second time around the Conjuring fairgrounds (save for a somewhat unnecessary additional 20 minutes pumped into the runtime), The Conjuring 2 remains a massively effective instrument for scaring the living shit out of oneself. Read More

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SIFF ’16 Capsule Review: ‘CARNAGE PARK’

Mickey Keating‘s Carnage Park starts in admirably economic fashion, rending down its slim cast to even slimmer form with a dead-eyed, high-pitched, Bible-thumping Pat Healy tagging human targets with his handy sniper rifle beset with all the rage and judgement of the Old Testament guy upstairs. Ashley Bell plays opposite as the desert-set horror’s shrieky final girl – the victim of a kidnapping who then finds herself in even more hostile territory – and while Keating’s film goes through fits and starts of amassing and losing steam, the final product feels like an over-saturated amalgam of grindhouse slasher flick tropes forked together and raked over a somewhat barren “based on a true story” conceit. Imagine Wolf Creek stripped of its anarchic edge and plunked down in an equally sun-scorched Jesus-lovin’, American nowheresville and you’ll get the picture. (C)
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Talking with Robert Eggers of ‘THE WITCH’

Robert Eggers‘ first trip to Sundance was rewarded with a little thing called the Best Director award. Since then, he’s seen his New England-based independent horror film soar, earning a fervent critical backing and loads of support. But not everything has been roses. I chatted with the first-time director to discuss the years-long journey of making and releasing The Witch, the current state of horror movies, religious zealotry and the history of American witchcraft, the modern equivalent of witches, working with children actors to elicit believable performances, and how to deal with negative reactions to the film. Read More

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Electrifying Horror Film ‘DON’T BREATHE’ Drops First Trailer

My favorite film out of SXSW 2016 was Fede Alvarez‘s unceasingly tense Don’t Breathe. I was so frequently startled, so genuinely unnerved that it physically hurt. And my god do I love that kind of pain. Call it what you will (masochism?) but horror films have the ability to engage sections of the brain that no other film can and Don’t Breathe is expert at doing just that. Part of my experience may have been going in with no expectations, knowing not a lick of info on what the film was about (or even called for that matter) but the fact remains that Alvarez has crafted a masterstroke of American horror cinema with his follow up to Evil Dead. Read More

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SXSW ’16 Review: ‘HUSH’

To start with a bit of housekeeping, Hush joined the critically acclaimed Iranian Sundance debut Under the Shadow when it was swept up by preeminent streaming service Netflix before it was ever screened in front of an audience. Adding  to their growing stockade of boutique horror films, Netflix has queued up the Mike Flanagan-directed thriller starring John Gallagher Jr. and Kate Siegel for fast turnaround release on April 8th. Meaning that those who want to get pupils on this high intensity home invasion thriller as soon as possible won’t be forced to wait long, however Hush, a film that lives and dies by its supreme sound design, should be experienced in the filmic church that is the theater. Read More

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SXSW ’16 Review: ‘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

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE WITCH’

What do 1630, a silver cup, Christian fervor and a goat named Black Phillip have in common? The Witch. Unholy goodness through and through, Robert Egger‘s feature film debut is a horror masquerading as a costume drama that’s as beady, black and misshapen as the center of a goat’s eye. Beneath the dirt-stained, leather-bound waistcoats, the perfumed, toity language of the New World, the white bonnets and constrictive girdles, The Witch has a vicious, illicit and suspicious center and though admittedly scaled back on “scares” is deeply atmospheric, deeply disturbing and deeply great. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION’

By and large the same product albeit in slightly different packaging, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension manages a suitable end for the found footage phenomenon that took the world by storm. In tying the many disparate series elements into one cohesive mythology, this sixth Paranormal Activity has given meaning and context to all those that came after the first. In that regard, first time director Gregory Plotkin fifth sequel is one of the series strongest entries. Read More