Leave the World Behind (2023)

Lady, people aren’t chocolates. D’you know what they are mostly? Bastards. Bastardcoated bastards with a bastard filling.” – Scrubs

Director Sam Esmail’s “Leave the World Behind” is a mean, nasty, and cynical apocalyptic parable that stages the quintessential end of the world scenario but also takes a magnifying glass to humanity and the inherent paranoia that transforms a scenario from working together to survive, to survival of the fittest. While some of the symbolism is a bit clunky in some spots, “Leave the World Behind” is a very volatile and relevant take on how we’re more likely to pick at each other’s bones and fight for scraps when resources become finite. While that does feel like old hat post apocalyptic fodder, “Leave the World Behind” is refreshingly complex and quite horrifying. 

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Thanksgiving (2023)

Back in 2007 after the collaborative efforts of Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez known as “Grindhouse” flopped, one of the popular elements of the double feature that lingered on was the mock trailers during intermission. After delivering a very popular faux trailer with “Thanksgiving,” director Eli Roth finally gives us what we’ve been begging for almost twenty years later. Thankfully while the whole faux grindhouse aesthetic has fallen out of favor with mainstream cinema, “Thanksgiving” ends as a pretty great slasher film with its own merits to offer the horror genre.

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The Nun II (2023) [4K UHD/Digital]

2023 was abundant in religious based horror movies, and while many were an absolute bust, I have to say that I quite liked “The Nun II.” I am well aware that I am in the minority in this regard, as “The Nun II” proves to be as divisive as the original film. The original works fine but is still the highest grossing film from “The Conjuring” universe; the producers don’t really aim for a soft reboot, this time continuing the saga of young Sister Irene and her new friend and colleague Sister Debra.

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It’s a Wonderful Knife (2023)

It goes without saying that I like “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and I enjoy the whole twist of implanting the formula in to a horror setting. The fact is though that “It’s a Wonderful Knife” is so much more concerned with being a dark bittersweet Christmas fantasy, rather than diving head first in to the horror framework. For a movie that advertises itself as a slasher movie and whodunit, there’s a lot of surprisingly low stakes, and not much suspense at all. The writers frame the movie as a whodunit with the killers’ identities being revealed almost immediately, all the while the slashings all take a back seat for a majority of the movie.

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10/31: Part III (2022)

Director and writer Michael Ballif’s anthology series “10/31” has been a mixed bag of mostly treats that’s done well in celebrating the Halloween season. It’s been way too overlooked in a barrage of indie horror films out on the market, and that’s a shame. “10/31” as a whole is a movie series that deserves a bigger audience, in spite of “Part III” never quite sticking the landing. I’d say it has a lot of good ideas, but never manages to be as good as the first two films, when all is said and done.

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Trick or Treat 2! (2022)

You have to give it to Wesley Mellott. He brings his A game to what has been a pretty fun set up for a potential series of films or even a feature. While I’m always a Sam devotee, I could see The Magician becoming one of the many Halloween horror icons. He’s just such a great character. Donning a top hat and tuxedo, he also dons a great skull visage that may or may not be a well detailed mask. Either way, The Magician takes Halloween deathly serious and doesn’t mind offing anyone that doesn’t respect the rituals of the holiday.

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Trick or Treat! (2021)

One of the best elements of Halloween is that you can really pull a lot out of horror material from it, and “Trick or Treat!” is no exception. One of the things I love about “Trick or Treat!” is how inexplicable everything that goes down here is. There are a ton of events that amount to merely hapless people falling victim to the Halloween rituals that many people and beings hold sacred. Continue reading

Don’t Panic (1987)

I’d love to have been a fly on the wall where Rubèn Galindo Jr., director of “Don’t Panic,” actually watched as someone from the wardrobe department went out, bought dinosaur pajamas in a man’s size, and decided to make it the primary outfit for his film’s protagonist. Dinosaur pajamas with red and blue dinosaurs that you’d find on a seven year old unironically became the motif for the central hero of a horror movie. And that’s not all that “Don’t Panic” has in store for its audience. Rubèn Galindo Jr.’s “Don’t Panic” is a mélange of plot devices that rip wholesale from the likes of Wes Craven, and Sam Raimi.

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