I SAW IT ON CABLE: from revenge to religion, Lovecraft to lesbians

Between streaming, buying physical media, and premium movie channels, I am still way behind in my lists of movies to watch, so I’m chipping away at the cable selections now, starting with these four. All I can say is that on the bright side, there’s one that lands on the does the gay guy die? page

VISIONS (2015)

Visions is about as predictable as a Blumhouse horror movie can get. At this point I don’t even understand how someone can write scripts this obvious and still think they’re going to shock audiences.

After a car accident in which a baby was tragically killed, a young couple needs a change, so they move to a new house. The wife is now pregnant, and almost immediately begins experiencing strange occurrences.

She has nightmare visions of her belly bleeding, her headboard breaking, wine bottles exploding, a gun appearing then vanishing, and someone standing outside their house. And wouldn’t you know she’s been on meds, so her husband thinks she’s seeing things.

She also finds signs of occult happenings in the house, sees a party guest at their new house doing some sort of ritual, and befriends another young pregnant woman. It definitely feels like there are supernatural situations haunting her. I don’t want to spoil it, but…if you’re a fan of home invasion horror, you might enjoy this more than those looking for a paranormal film. And not to spoil it more, but the basic premise kind of reminds me of a short from the 1983 anthology Screamtime, which was remade as a full-length film called Psychosis with Charisma Carpenter.

THE UNHOLY (2021)

With a title so generic it’s the same as the title of a horror film from the 1980s, it’s not all that surprising that the film itself is as generic as they get. It’s also heavy on religion. I’d hold up a crucifix to ward off the horror of that aspect of the film, but, you know…crucifixes are religious, too.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan covers sensational stories, so when he finds a creepy doll in a tree after the supposed site of a Satanic ritual turns out to be nothing, he smashes the doll to make it look even creepier, and then creates a bullshit story to go along with it.

Needless to say, he will be punished and then atone for his sins by the time the film ends.

He almost runs over a mute girl—happy accident I’d say, because suddenly she can talk. She can also heal people. She becomes his real story, and the people in her congregation believe she is the Holy Mother Mary.

But JDM is having really horrible nightmares, there’s an evil, cloaked presence haunting the church, and eventually JDM will figure out just what it is.

Personally, I thought it was just a throwback to the tooth fairy from Darkness Falls. And that’s what you get from this film—early 2000s supernatural specter horror that delivers tame kills and cheap scares, with the added annoyance of religion.

SACRIFICE (2020)

Why does the same Lovecraftian plot just keep getting remade these days in the form of indie films that don’t need to spring for any special effects? Sacrifice was giving me flashbacks to The Block Island Sound, which I found to be a more effective horror movie.

A couple comes to the home of the husband’s deceased mother on an isolated island. The wife is pregnant. The locals are weird. The relationship becomes strained. The husband is drawn to the ocean. Barbara Crampton appears in the film because she’s like the queen of Lovecraft horror films since the 1980s.

And for about 70 minutes of this 88-minute movie, every scary experience the wife has turns out to be a dream. Every. Fucking. One.

Why even make a movie where all the spooky parts are just dreams? It leaves you with a thin plot with no guts, which could have been told more concisely as a 30-minute short. Not to mention that the title of this film essentially spoils the ending.

THE RETREAT (2021)

I have mixed feelings about this film. The fact that it is a gay horror film gets it a “Yay!” A gay male couple takes one for the team in the opening scene…after kissing and talking about their first time hooking up on Grindr. It seems like the new trend when presenting gay male couples in movies is to reference that they fell in love thanks to an anonymous fuck app. Sigh.

Next, we meet our main lesbian couple. Shocker—they’re relationship is on shaky ground as they head to a cabin in the woods. The “tougher” of the two is not all that romantic and is more hesitant to be open about her sexuality in public. Sigh.

During a pit stop, one of the girls is hit on by an Ashmore brother, reminding us how vulnerable women are to aggressive toxic masculinity, especially when they head into redneck territory. Yawn. It also makes it pretty obvious we’ll be seeing more of him, because, well, he’s an Ashmore brother.

Then they get to the cabin and this almost immediately turns into a predictable rednecks vs. city folk revenge flick. There’s some pretty good suspense, but there’s nothing new in terms of the action, right down to a bear trap moment. Yawn.

The weird part for me is that this is basically a film about queer haters specifically going after the queers, and the queers then getting revenge. How many yawns and sighs am I up to? Seriously, I just don’t see the point in making queer horror flicks in which the queers are targeted and terrorized by conservative straights. We get enough of that shit in real life. Can’t we just get stories with happy homos having sex, falling in love, and clashing with a variety of supernatural and otherworldly monsters?

Oh, wait. We can, and we do…in my Comfort Cove gay horror fiction series.

But I will admit, it’s quite satisfying when the lesbians spit on the extremists’ graves…

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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