I’m digging deeper and deeper into the streaming services out of desperation as the pandemic takes a toll on creative output, so let’s get into four (2 from Prime, 2 from Hulu) that I may have never bothered to watch because they gave me the been-there-done-that feeling. Was I right? Let’s find out.
STAY OUT STAY ALIVE (2019)
The horror aspect of this film is so limited I can’t exactly recommend it. One hottie is shirtless a lot at the end, and horror queen Barbara Crampton plays a park ranger if that’s motivation enough.
The plot is simple. A group of friends goes hiking, one of them falls into a mine, they discover tons of gold, and they decide to camp at the hole and dig furiously for as much gold as they can instead of getting help for the injured person. By the way, the injured person is all for becoming rich instead of getting rescued.
A few of them see flashes of scary apparitions, they read about the history of the mine from a book they find down there, and eventually they turn on each other as the obsession with the gold threatens to destroy them.
At the end, we find out why it was a bad idea to try to take the gold, but we mostly figure it out well before then.
HAVANA DARKNESS (2020)
Some gnarly gore effects and a killer in a mask start things off right in this one.
The film focuses on a cute guy who becomes obsessed with learning the truth about a book in his possession that is rumored to be a lost work of Hemingway. He also has a cute buddy.
His investigation leads him and two friends to a derelict building. When they enter they become trapped inside, and this becomes a Saw escape room type of movie, with the trio being chased by three killers in masks. Yeah, it has nothing to do with Hemingway…
The suspense and gore are excellent, but the number of times the trio misses a perfect opportunity to kill one of the killers is infuriating. If you can overlook that, it is somewhat of a thrill ride in the final act, and the conclusion is a chilling departure from other films of this type.
BEHIND YOU (2020)
This film is clearly made for the tween audience, so don’t go in expecting anything other than what you’ve seen in dozens of other movies about kids unleashing a supernatural force and then spending the whole film trying to contain it.
Two sisters are brought to live with their aunt after their mother dies, but the aunt is resistant to their presence.
Soon the girls discover that all the mirrors in the house are either covered or completely hidden away in a secret room. Now here’s the thing. If you had a supernatural experience with mirrors in your past, why would you keep any in your house at all? Because we wouldn’t have a movie if you didn’t. Sigh.
The younger sister thinks her mom is in the mirror, the spirit instructs her to chant certain words into the reflection three times, it unleashes a scary corpse woman ghost that we barely see, blah blah blah blah blah.
The final battle features a lot of running around, bouncing flashlight beams, breaking mirrors, blah blah blah blah blah.
I’m always up for a movie about kids trapped in a building with a killer (or three, as in Havana Darkness), but Spiderhole just never delivers any real chills or thrills to make it possible to look past how derivative it is.
Four artsy, bohemian friends with nowhere to live decide to squat in a deserted mansion. As they settle in, the trouble begins with noises.
Then one of them gets attacked by an unseen assailant, and they discover they’re locked in the building. Slowly but surely…very slowly…they begin to disappear.
Finally, at 51 minutes in, we see the mad surgeon abducting them. There’s a brief bit of torture porn and some chase scenes, but this is just so lackluster and uninspired that it never scoots you to the edge of your seat.