It’s always fun to stay inside in the AC when it’s hot outside and just binge a bunch of horror movies that take place during the summer months. So did this foursome satisfy my Fourth of July weekend marathon needs?
SHE CAME FROM THE WOODS (2022)
The director of Ten Minutes to Midnight takes us back to a summer camp in the 1980s with a soundtrack featuring several Kim Wilde songs. Yay!
Having said that, I found the movie is a bit all over the place and never quite settles on what it wants to be. It tosses a whole bunch of ideas into the mix, and as a result ends up giving them all less time than they deserve.
Notable is that there are a few gay situations, gay comments, and a main gay character, landing this one on the does the gay guy die? page.
As the summer comes to a close, counselors at a camp put the kiddies on a bus and send them home. It’s then time to party! The counselors almost immediately perform a (half-hearted) ritual around a fire that supposedly resurrects a psychotic camp nurse from over 40 years ago.
This is where things get weird. The bus that left earlier in the day gets stuck on a deserted road, and the kids immediately go all Children of the Corn and run off into a cornfield.
At the same time, a camp counselor seems to go looney tunes and starts attacking the other counselors.
As the counselors try to deal with the chaos created by their peer gone wild, the kids do the resurrection spell and actually conjure the killer nurse.
Now there are man-eating kids and a nurse with an axe running around hacking people up. This is where all the fun kicks in, but I wish it didn’t come so late in the movie. If all the horror had happened earlier it would definitely make up for the fact that the supernatural plot doesn’t quite hold together.
BERMUDA ISLAND (2023)
The cliché characters in this movie are annoying at first, beginning with a bunch of mob dudes.
They end up on board a plane with everyday passengers, the plane hits bad weather, the plane crashes, and everyone ends up stranded on a deserted island, where they play Gilligan’s Island for a while.
None of that matters. Nor do the characters and their conflicts. All that matters is that 38 minutes into the movie, a bunch of mutant cavemen creatures pop out of the wild and go to town on all the castaways.
The film is loaded with the cool creatures, vicious attacks, disemboweling, and gut-munching on the beach. Wahoo!
FOREST OF DEATH (2023)
The thing with indie films like this is that they most likely won’t satisfy newer generations of horror fans that expect bigger budgets and CGI scares. This simple film is more of a throwback to the kind of low budget, direct-to-video stuff I devoured as a teen in the 80s.
It begins strong with a brief but effective home invasion scene in which the basic premise is presented—a creature takes on human form in order to lure in victims.
Next, a group of friends comes to stay at a house in the woods for the weekend.
The film runs a short 75 minutes long, but there are only 4 friends, which leads to an otherwise fun concept being drawn out. There simply aren’t enough characters to deliver enough doppelgänger action.
Having said that, there are some creepy and clever scenarios involving the body double concept, especially those in which characters catch glimpses of people they know in the beam of their flashlights in the forest. Eek!
And despite the limited number of characters, by the end of the film we do get sucked into situations in which we really don’t know who is who, which helps deliver on some suspenseful and eerie moments.
THE BLACK DEMON (2023)
Deep Blue Sea meets The Meg…or should have, if only this film had gone for the giant shark fun instead of focusing so much on the complexities of the relationships of the main family.
Veteran actor Josh Lucas plays a man who brings his wife and two kids along when he has to do an inspection of an oil rig. The plan is to leave the family in a nice oceanside town while he boats out to do his job.
Turns out the town isn’t so nice. The wife and kids have to flee some scary men and end up hitching a ride on a speedboat to go join dad.
As soon as they arrive, the shit hits the fan. Dead bodies in the water, the family stranded on the rig, a giant shark…and that’s almost the most excitement you get for a majority of the film.
The focus is more on the tension between Josh Lucas and his wife, as well as the few men who remain on the oil rig and believe the shark is some sort of sea demon that controls your mind and causes you to have delusions. And it appears that is exactly what this shark can do. Once you go with a concept like that, you really have to throw in the towel on trying to take your movie seriously, but this one clings to the towel….
It’s all so hokey there should have been more cheesy Megalodon action to strike a nice balance of bad. Especially since the acting is sooooo corny. I don’t know what happened here, but Josh Lucas in particular is horribly stiff and flat.
I would have preferred if this cutie played the lead, but he’s just a blip in the Megalodon mouth.
The Megalodon action only picks up again at the end when the plan is set in action to get off that rig once and for all. But it’s still not an exciting enough final act to make up for how bland everything before it was.
The most surprising aspect to me is that there is a very deliberate scene that makes it appear that the wife and kids are going to be followed to the rig by the unpleasant locals, which totally would have provided more food for the shark and more excitement for the audience, but it never happens. I’m convinced that was the plan, but somewhere along the way it was decided to cut that idea out of the movie. Maybe they should have cut the mind-controlling shark aspect out instead.