Old (2021)

One thing that I had a problem with “Old” on is that M. Night Shyamalan sets up a lot of plot elements to his mystery that he doesn’t seem prepared to answer. Deep down, “Old” is a great concept and amounts to a pretty eerie movie. But the end result of “Old” is a great idea on paper that results in a clunky and occasionally silly movie that never quite knows how to close its narrative competently. “Old” seems to aspire toward cosmic horror, though it can never quite stick the landing when it comes to the Lovecraftian themes.

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The Unknowable (2022)

Whatever you feel about horror or cosmic horror, you can never realty accuse director Zach Donohue of being unambitious. “The Unknowable” is a richly constructed horror film that takes influence from sub-genres like lo-fi horror and true crime documentaries for one of the more unnerving horror films I’ve seen in a while. Its H.P. Lovecraft meets Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, with a touch of David Cronenberg for good measure.

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Kids vs. Aliens (2023)

I’m a big fan of the “V/H/S/” movie series and one of my all time favorite segments is Jason Eisener’s “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” from “V/H/S/ 2.” It’s a chaotic, and creepy segment about aliens literally crashing a slumber party. So I was elated to see that director Jason Eisener of “Hobo with a Shotgun” was adapting that segment in to a virtual loose remake called “Kids vs. Aliens.” Suffice to say he and co-writer John Davies not only does justice to the previous short form segment, but might have just built an epic series.

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The Thing That Ate the Birds (2021)

Director Dan Gitsham and Writer Sophie Mair’s horror short is a masterful creepy tale about dysfunction and what happens when your actions have dire consequences. I wasn’t sure what to expect with “The Thing that Ate the Birds,” but partners Mair and Gitsham deliver on all fronts as a complex and creepy genre entry.

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Night of the Bastard (2023)

Erik Boccio’s horror survival thriller is a film that sets its foot firmly in the Satanic cult sub-genre. It’s “Straw Dogs” meets “Race with the Devil” but with none of the charm or creativity of the aforementioned. It’s not to say that “Night of the Bastard” isn’t a spirited effort, but the movie spends so much time propping up plot points that it never quite answers, and can also never quite get past the shaky performances and silly dialogue.

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There’s Something Wrong With The Children (2023)

It’s not often anymore that we get horror movies about the horrors of domesticity. Films like “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Stepford Wives” turned the idea of domestic bliss in to an absolute nightmare, and “There’s Something Wrong with the Children” carries on that fine tradition. It’s a very creepy evil children flick that also works as a deeply embedded allegory for impending parenthood that sparks a slick sense of humor about itself. Director Roxanne Benjamin’s film is another one of the more intelligent horror entries of 2023 so far, as it uses the idea of impending parenthood as an absolute waking nightmare.

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Sick (2023)

I think soon enough we’ll be at a point where the new generation of filmmakers will be making movies that reflect on the COVID pandemic and how it traumatized the world. The team of John Hyams, Kevin Williamson, and Katelyn Crab concoct what is easily one of the most clever slasher movies of the year, and yet another genre gem in what promises to be a year full of them. “Sick” is a movie that reflects on a COVID ravaged society that also explores ideas about self responsibility and how actions can have dire consequences.

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Skinamarink (2023)

**Mild Spoilers Included in Review**

One of the exciting things about intelligent horror is that it can often inspire a lot of debate and interpretations among the fan base. They’re fun to read, and will be with “Skinamarink” now in the annals of the horror film. Like most modern horror, “Skinamarink” built its reputation going viral on the internet with its word of mouth as a terrifying movie. I’m happy to say that “Skinamarink” is quite terrifying but not in the ways you might think.

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