V/H/S/2 (2013, dir. Various) You should definitely check out V/H/S/2 this week if for no other reason than to be an informed consumer when you re-listen to Patrick and JB's podcast on the movie. I like V/H/S/2 maybe more than both of those guys. The first segment, "Phase I Clinical Trials," is just ok (as is the wraparound segment), but the second segment, "A Ride in the Park" is fun with some dark humor and great zombie makeup effects. The last segment, "Slumber Party Alien Abduction" is very scary, but of course the real reason to see V/H/S/2 is for Gareth Evans and Timo Tjajanto's masterpiece of a segment called "Safe Haven." It's some of the best horror you'll see in years.
Odd Thomas (2013, dir. Stephen Sommers). If you’re like me and love horror movies but have a wife or girlfriend that hates horror movies, what are you going to watch in the middle of Scary Movie Month?! The answer is Odd Thomas. The movie has some horror undertones to it and deals with monsters, death and ghosts without being “jump out” scary. The plot is from a Dean Koontz novel, so it has a mystery aspect to it that's interesting enough to hold my attention for 97 minutes. My favorite part of the movie, though, has to be the relationship between the characters. With so many movies being cynical and angry, it was so nice to see a movie where characters genuinely care about each other. Odd’s relationship between his girlfriend (Addison Timlin) and the chief (William Defoe) might be some of my favorites in a movie in recent memory. If you are looking for that horror movie that can please the non-horror fan, hit up Odd Thomas.
The Langoliers (1995, dir. Tom Holland) Sure, it was a TV miniseries (originally airing on ABC in May 1995), and yes, it's almost three hours long (when first broadcast, it was two two-hour segments [with commercials]), but that doesn't mean it isn't worth your #ScaryMovieMonth time. Based on the novella by Stephen King, 10 people on a red-eye flight from LA to Boston wake up to discover that all the other passengers on the plane have disappeared. Look (LISTEN), the dialogue is ham-fisted, the acting is comical, and the effects are the worst thing you've ever seen in ANY major production (I could not be more serious about this -- they're terrible [THE WORST]). But I'll be damned if there isn't something that just WORKS about this adaptation. It's earnest. It's charming. It's ... off-putting. Plus, it was directed by (one of Patrick's favorite's) Tom Holland. Honestly, The Langoliers feels like an extended version of one of the creepier Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes. And that's a good thing.
The Awakening (2011; dir. Nick Murphy) You got your BBC period drama in my James Wan-style haunted house story! No, you got your James Wan-style haunted house story in my BBC period drama! The Awakening stars Rebecca Hall as an early-20th Century skeptic/ghost hunter and Dominic West as a teacher who asks her to investigate a haunted boarding school. The character drama doesn't quite gel with the jump scares in the back half, but here's a chance to inject some class into your random Netflix movies during this holiday season.
You're Next (2011, dir. Adam Wingard) A fun and post-modern twist on several traditional horror themes, You're Next was widely praised around here last year for being a breath of fresh horror air. It's my favorite film in the genre to come along in a good, long while and made me an instant fan of Australian actress Sharni Vinson. The less said about the film, the better, but if you haven't seen it yet, you're in for a real treat.
John Dies at the End (2012; dir. Don Coscarelli) Don Coscarelli’s films seem to put a spell on me. It’s the only way I can describe why I’m drawn to them so much. I watched the Phantasm movies for the first time around three years ago. I thought they were fine at best and figured I’d never have to watch them again; since then, I’ve watched the Phantasm movies again and again. Throw in Bubba Ho-Tep and my recommendation today, John Dies at the End, and Don Coscarelli has become one of my favorite filmmakers. I won’t say too much about John Dies at the End, it’s probably better to let it surprise you along the way. I will say, however, that like all of Don Coscarelli’s films, John Dies at the End offers up something I’ve never seen before.
Witching & Bitching (2014, dir. Álex de la Iglesia) Spanish writer/director Álex de la Iglesia makes crazy movies. This one is no exception. A group of men pull off a heist (of gold rings) and end up running afoul of some witches during their getaway. Like From Dusk Till Dawn, this horror comedy starts out in one place and ends in somewhere completely different -- especially when you see just what the third act has in store. The movie is mostly a comedy about male insecurity, and while that doesn't work as well when de la Iglesia makes their fears literal, there's still a lot of fun to be had along the way. It should be seen just for the scene in which Carolina Bang greases up a broom handle -- sexuality, witchcraft iconography and the male gaze intersect in what can only be described as "witch porn."