I can always count on Prime to for indie flix I’ve heard nothing about, and this time a total of five movies offered me a whole load of subgenres. So here goes.
BLACK HOLLER (2017)
This supernatural slasher comedy is about a black woman who enrolls in a class with a bunch of white trash in 1989 just in time to go on a field trip into the woods. The use of rock music right from the opening credits makes it clear this isn’t exactly an urban horror film…and it really is overwhelmingly monopolized by white trash and bad humor. I mean, as soon as shitting and farting sounds are introduced, you know you’re dealing with the most primitive, overused adolescent gags there are to try to get a laugh.
Once the students set up camp, one girl goes to a cemetery in hopes of resurrecting her dead cat.
There are some nods to the killer tree branches from Evil Dead (awesome), but the part that really rules could easily have been in a better, serious horror movie. An underwater scene in the lake is so eerily executed it’s astonishing it’s part of the same film that felt the need for fart humor.
Unfortunately, nothing seems to tie together here, so eventually the campers are being chased and slain by a psycho killer.
It is up to the main girl to battle the killer and get all the white trash out of the woods safely…with the help of her fabulous gay best friend and his partner.
It’s trashy for sure, but aside from the unnecessary fart humor, it’s still more watchable and enjoyable than a Troma film and delivers some satisfying backwoods horror elements.
I was really feeling the Race With The Devil vibe of this film at first, combined with a little social message about the vulnerability of the homeless.
In the Everglades, a pretty bartender lures a cute patron to a sort of voodoo rave, where she drugs him up to release his inhibitions. But his senses return when he witnesses a sacrifice and runs for the hills…or the swamps in this case. However, the low budget doesn’t lend itself to this being an actual freaky voodoo cult in the swamps movie.
Instead, it turns into a low budget cat and mouse between the cult, the main guy, and the reporter he asks to help him prove the cult exists. For instance, there’s a boat chase scene that feels more like Hawaii Five-0 than a horror film.
Meanwhile, a young woman infiltrates the cult to expose it, which could have really amped up the horror and suspense had it been the focus, but instead the film is heavy on investigation and talk.
Eventually the guys enlists the help of homeless vets, which leads to a cheesy battle that reminds us this is definitely a low budget indie. The film even closes with a Real Housewives update of what’s become of each character since the show ended…
The rave scene is my favorite part, simply because it’s such a frightening reminder of how easily people can be lured into horrific situations by seemingly normal people who are actually crazy cult members.
Fang is the kind of silly fun horror I need in this age of horror fans tearing each other apart over arguments about whether or not horror is always political or always should be. YAWN.
Two desperate couples make some bad decisions…including visiting a long lost aunt’s house in the middle of nowhere. Things are as classic weird as ever at auntie’s house.
She’s a campy, witchy freak, her butler guy seems to be sending the group warnings, and no one is allowed to leave the house at night.
Good old-fashioned makeup and blood fill the screen once the group makes a shocking discovery in the basement and a werewolf comes out to play. And of course other characters are brought in to stop the madness…or become victims of it.
Sure it’s low budget, but it’s simple old skool fun without any political messages. Or could smart people deconstruct it as perhaps a commentary on the politics of family?
KILLER KATE! (2018)
Killer Kate! is a mash-up of subgenres that has some entertaining segments but ultimately suffers from uneven tone and some pacing issues.
The film takes place on Halloween but has absolutely no reason to and in no way celebrates the season. The main girl mentions hating Halloween right before agreeing to spend the holiday weekend at a house in the woods for her estranged sister’s bachelorette party.
First there’s the boring segment getting to know the stereotypes of each girl as they chat and bitch. I could have been slightly more interested if at least one of them had brought a pumpkin to carve.
Then suddenly the film becomes a fast-paced home invasion comedy as Tiffany Shepis and family come to bash in some heads with Negan’s bat, which they call Kate. So disappointing how brief this awesome section is.
Following that we go into the sisters’ heart-to-heart we dreaded but knew was coming.
And finally, the girls take on the killers. At least the tone of the horror comedy segment returns for the finale. I just think the film could have prolonged the home invasion section to exploit its strength.
This little indie film takes the tropes of modern ghost and paranormal investigation movies and wraps them around a rather tragic story about the relationship between a man and his son due to the fact that the mother died in childbirth.
The film first focuses on when the boy is young and his father discovers he can see dead people. Yes, it feels very much like The Sixth Sense, with scary dead people jumping out at the boy, but it’s relentless. Perhaps the filmmaker didn’t want the drama to outweigh the horror so as not to disappoint viewers, but as effective as the jump scares are, it does become overkill.
We then shift to the son’s adult life. The relationship has worsened, with the father being quite awful to him while using his power to see dead people for personal gain.
The man playing the father is quite good and the film becomes about him facing his faults and the pain he has put his family through in an effort to cope with his own grief. It’s quite sad actually, and even better, it plays out during a barrage of ghost sightings.
Again, the jump scares are presented quite nicely, but also excessively. Even so, if you enjoy a deeper plot with your jump scares and appreciate dedication and commitment in an indie film, you might want to check this one out.