This trio of films is a good reminder of why Netflix is personally not my go-to place for a horror fix. I much prefer the less polished and much more fun indies Prime gets by the dozen. But since I watched them, I’ll let you know what you’re in for with this batch.
I decided to check out Rattlesnake because little Appy Pratt is in it, and she ruled in the Kristin Bell series The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window. Unfortunately, little Appy Pratt ends up left behind in a hospital for most of this movie.
A voodoo-esque tale, Rattlesnake is about a single mom on a road trip with her daughter. When they get a flat tire, her daughter is bit by a rattlesnake. A creepy woman in a trailer home nearby helps…and makes the bite vanish.
The mother brings her daughter to the hospital anyway, where she is visited by a man who tells her that she has until end of day to pay him back with a fresh soul, otherwise her daughter’s rattlesnake bite will return and she’ll die.
This become a morality tale as the mother struggles with the task of killing someone…and figuring out who the hell she can kill in the middle of a desert town. There are various supernatural elements to it as she researches the murderous history of the area, but this isn’t much on horror in the end.
I feel the witchy woman in the trailer home is totally wasted—she’s forgotten soon after the mother leaves the trailer home, and none of the other mysterious figures the mother encounters reminding her of what she needs to do along the way can live up to the witchy woman’s presence.
THE SWARM (2020)
I’ve done my best over the decade to forget anything and everything religion has ever taught me, but I imagine there’s some religious metaphor buried in this movie about a single mom who has a rural farm where she raises locusts.
However, from my horror perspective, this is mostly “Let the Right Locust In”. It’s essentially a movie about vampire locusts that demand their keeper protect them and feed them blood on a regular basis.
It’s also really slow, with much of that time being filled with icky close-ups of locusts. I’m itchy just thinking about it.
Eventually the struggling mom accidentally discovers that her suffering herd of locusts is craving blood, so she starts cutting herself to feed them…so she can make money to feed her family. Weird and so symbolic.
You’d think this would quickly turn into a horror movie about a woman feeding humans to her locusts. Instead it drags on and on as she serves as an intravenous bag for them, until they finally attack the family goat (I really don’t understand rural living).
Does that compel her to start feeding them humans? Nope. This turns into a horror movie that would terrify animals. She feeds them a dog. And a cow. So not cool. I thought it was going to become a thing, but finally the secret gets out, the locusts get out, there are minimal attacks on humans, and this damn movie does nothing to ensure that this psycho woman gets what she deserves. I was really dissatisfied by how it ends.
THE OLD WAYS (2020)
This is a slight variation on the same old possession/exorcism theme, approached through the lens of Mexican spirituality and superstitions. It opens with a brief exorcism with a young girl in attendance. The abrupt scare got my hopes up that there would be some fun to come.
Then we meet a reporter who has been abducted by locals while doing a story in the place where her family comes from. These somewhat primitive people believe she is the devil and begin putting her through a series of rituals to try to battle the demon.
Slowly but surely, the reporter sort of gets brainwashed as if by a cult, believing that all the negative aspects of her life are due to the fact that she is indeed possessed. Therefore, she becomes a willing participant in exorcising and defeating the demon within.
It’s an interesting concept that just doesn’t make for a very compelling movie as presented here. If you’re looking for major possession action, you’ve come to the wrong place, but there is a bit of demonic fun crammed into the last few minutes of the film.