As I wait for Amazon Prime to add a bunch of new crap horror movies for me to watch and love, I was forced to look elsewhere for horror entertainment. I’ll make my thoughts on this trio of films short to save you the time I sacrificed watching and writing about them.
HEAD COUNT (2018)
This is why we need to stop buying into those social media headlines that read, “People are saying this movie on Netflix is the scariest film they’ve ever seen.” It has never been true for any of the films I’ve watched that are place in forced viral mode, and in the case of Head Count, it was an agonizing time-waster.
A group of friends hangs out in the desert for the weekend, one guy finds a satanic ritual symbol on a wall, and for a majority of the film, we are assaulted by tension-building music cues that lead to…nothing but a cut to a completely unrelated scene.
This is mostly a film about the friends disagreeing on who is and isn’t actually present at any given time. I guess they’re being possessed or something? You mostly wouldn’t know by looking at any of them.
Personally, I don’t think it’s worth sitting through Head Count to see a glimpse of a skeletal alien looking thing that just stands there near the end of the film.
1ST SUMMONING (2018)
Having grown up on every cliché slasher there was in the 80s, I get that people will devour anything in their favorite subgenres and enjoy it. So I suggest 1st Summoning, which I caught on Netflix, to those who love found footage films, because this is a rubber stamp experience for the rest of us.
Student filmmakers interview locals in a town with an abandoned warehouse believed to have been the site of occult activity.
They explore a cemetery. They try to do a ritual that is supposed to grant wishes. One of them begins to act weird. They head on into the warehouse with flashlights.
The screen goes haywire whenever they are experiencing something scary…which means we’re not experiencing anything scary. They are chased by masked cult members.
They run. They scream. They hide in the dark. They see flashes of cult members in the camera lens and change course. They trip with the camera. They are dragged out of frame.
PLAY OR DIE (2019)
This film, which I watched on Showtime On Demand, could have been a direct-to-video sequel to Escape Room (you know they’re coming).
A couple going through a rocky time decides being trapped in a room together will be good for their relationship. Actually, they go to an escape room game in an old hospital.
For a while they do various tasks to avoid death traps while drenched in Argento reds and blues.
37 minutes in they enter an autopsy room and finally realize it’s not a game. It’s also not really the escape room that is responsible for people dying. The various contestants the couple met when they first arrived are being tortured and killed off by someone. There’s everything from gruesome tooth torture to sadistic electrocutions. It’s a torture porn slasher.
The film gets better as it progresses. The kills, the choices the couple is forced to make, and the unexpected ending redeem the bland first half of the movie. So I can say Play or Die is probably the one I liked most of these three.