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Out in Theaters: ‘UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB’ 

The internet is dark and full of terrors. From the Nazi memes of 4Chan to Live Leaks, a website where you can literally watch people get murdered, jet-black corners of the web lurk in waiting. To imagine that there lay a second layer of the internet beyond the scum and villainy readily apparent, a sector where one can purchase illegal drugs, elicit prostitution, even hire paid assassins, is an unsettling reality but a reality none the less; and this is where Unfriended: Dark Web strikes. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE FIRST PURGE’ 

There’s a moment in The First Purge where Isiah (Joivan Wade), a young African American teetering on the brink of breaking bad, wanders down an alleyway. His eyes are illuminated a ghastly blue, irises cloaked in live-stream contact lens there to capture the experimental first night of legalized murder. Any newsworthy POV footage documented for mass distribution is met with “financial compensation”, as is remaining in the kill zone. As Isiah hunts a leaky junkie by the name of Skeletor (a crazed and wildly watchable Rotimi Paul), a multitude of different colored lens peer at him, stalking his moves.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘HEREDITARY’ 

Every once in a blue moon, there comes a horror movie that’s legitimately capital-T terrifying. One that’ll cause your eyes to dart around the dark stillness of the theater at the smallest creak. One that’ll hitchhike a ride home with you to invade your dreams; an unabortable mental pregnancy. One whose delirious imagery will burn into your cranium as if doused in paint thinner and struck by a match. I am happy to report that A24’s Hereditary, dear readers, is just that kind of movie. It’ll take your damn head off. Read More

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SIFF ’18 Capsule Review: ‘TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID’

Not even children are spared in this gritty Mexican fantasy-thriller from writer/director Issa López. Both grounded in dark realities and anchored by larger-than-life fantastical elements, Tigers Are Not Afraid shares DNA with Guillermo del Toro’s Spanish-language horrors movies (think Devil’s Backbone), which smuggle pervasive social commentary in with spooky, mythic thrills. A 10-year old girl joins up with a similarly orphaned child gang, roaming the streets and eluding ill-intentioned adults in this unsettling fable about loss and criminality. Moody and uncompromising, Tigers marks López as a blooming talent to keep a close eye on. (B) Read More

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SIFF ’18 Capsule Review: ‘RUIN ME’ 

This concept horror from Preston DeFrancis tries to combine the shlocky guesswork of a whodunnit in with the craze of Escape Rooms to middling effect. When ex-addict Alexandra (Marcienne Dwyer) accompanies boyfriend Nathan on Slasher Sleepout, the orchestrated haunt becomes menacingly real and the pair must fight for survival. Some of the narrative twists work but the acting is standard C-list horror subpar, the practical effects disappointing, and the scares lacking entirely. The script from DeFrancis and Trysta Bissett is loaded with bromides and jump-to-conclusions dialogue as well as some hare-brained endgame mustache-twirling that comes across as more tasteless and off-putting than brutal and brilliant. (C-) Read More

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SIFF ’18 Capsule Review: ‘BLUE MY MIND’

A maybe-mermaid metamorphosis, MDMA, and mean girls combine to make Blue My Mind an unforgettably queasy coming-of-age body horror fantasy. Lisa Brühlmann’s Kafkaesque sexual awakening exists somewhere between Raw, Girlhood and The Fly – a Cronenbergian exploration of feminine maturation that deals in earnest themes of friendship and acceptance, tackling the challenges of life’s transitions through a unique, sexually-charged, and often dangerous lens. This Swiss import boasts the distinction of complicated performances (Luna Wedler’s fire) and a supercharged young talent in Brühlmann, who, mind-blowingly, submitted this as her film-school thesis. Bravo. (B+) Read More

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SIFF ’18 Capsule Review: ‘REVENGE’

Vengeance is a dish served gory in this stylish, brutish bloodbath that updates 70s rape-revenge fantasy exploitation films to the #MeToo era. The bare bones plot leaves Jen (a hypnotic Matilda Lutz) pitted against three male assailants/trophy hunters, stranded in the middle of nowhere with an axe to grind. Hallucinatory camerawork and a throbbing soundscape bring artsy flair to this otherwise stripped-down final girl kill-fest that pops with cringetastic, French New Extremity levels of blood geysers. At nearly 2 hours, the feminist horror crowd-pleaser drags in spots but deeply satisfies nonetheless. (B+) Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE ENDLESS’

Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead are a tactile duo, crafting thought-provoking, effects-driven, genre-defying features filled with big ideas on a micro-budget. Their last film, Spring, which can only be described as a “romantic body horror” and was a favorite for many who sought it out after its 2014 Toronto Film Festival debut, failed to find much of an audience among the general public but solidified the partnership, who had previously collaborated on 2012’s low-budge horror flick Resolution, as a pair for cinephile’s to keep a close eye on. Rather than pulling in the reins, the creative partners have gone even bigger with The Endless, a heady science-fiction-slash-horror—slash-cult-thriller-slash-sibling-drama that’s ambitious to a fault.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘A QUIET PLACE’

Put your phones on silent bitches. A Quiet Place, a masterfully disquieting creature feature from The Office alum John Krasinski, simply will not stand for interruption. Taking pages from the books of Hitchcock, Argento, and Spielberg, Krasinski skillfully weaves together a sharply intelligent, emotionally involving and blisteringly suspenseful chamber-piece that layers a uniquely “silent” horror film in with a very personal treatise on the challenges of parenthood.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘HAPPY DEATH DAY’

It’s only right that Happy Death Day, wherein a sorority girl is forced to live the day she is murdered over and over again, takes an entire scene to namecheck Groundhog Day. After all, this film from Christopher Landon (Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones), is a crude combination of that beloved Bill Murray satire, Tina Fey’s hit teen film Mean Girls and any of the various slasher films from 1974 onward, particularly Black ChristmasRead More