My latest triple feature was a smorgasbord of subgenres.
Slayers is not only a satire of young people in horror movies making obviously stupid decisions, it also covers issues of doing anything for fame and fortune, control and manipulation on social media and in advertising, and government vaccines.
In an attempt to be quirky and sleek, the screen flashes a lot of social media feedback and also video game score keeping—even though the movie is only about social media, not video games at all.
Thomas Jane is a trailer home vampire slayer who tries to warn a handful of influencers away from an attractive offer to come to the mansion of a wealthy man.
The setup opened up the opportunity to deliver some suspense as the influencers slowly realize the hard way that they’ve walked into a vampiric trap.
Instead, they learn the fast, easy way. The movie feels underdeveloped in that sense.
Rather than being about the influencers after they take up the bulk of the beginning, the focus turns to Jane as the slayer infiltrating the mansion to save anyone that remains alive. There are some fun vampire battles, but in general the film leaves you wanting more.
WE HAVE A GHOST (2023)
The director of Freaky, Happy Death Day, and Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse brings us a movie that’s a mashup of Beetlejuice, E.T., and Ghost (complete with meta jokes). However, it ends up leaning much more on the downer final act of E.T. than the funniness of a ghost comedy after the initial promising half hour.
Anthony Mackie moves his family into a new home, and they soon discover that David Harbour is a ghost haunting their house. They first decide to go viral on social media with videos of him, but that quickly backfires, leading to a bunch of chases as the government intervenes in hopes of capturing the ghost.
It’s a bummer how quickly the movie moves away from the funny haunting story in the house. It becomes overly long as the kids try to help the ghost remember his past and how he died so he can move on.
David Harbour definitely steals the show, but it’s inexcusable that they made everyone’s favorite hottie horror daddy look like a shlub with a horrible comb over. Jennifer Coolidge is sadly underutilized as a famous internet medium. The chase scenes as they escape the government are set to songs like “Words” by Missing Persons and “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” by AC/DC. And naturally there’s some scandal concerning how Harbour tragically died, as well as sentimental moments as he fights back against those that want to harm him.
Despite my disappointment in the tonal shift, I still went with it. However, the 127-minute runtime really hurts the pacing, and I feel it needed to be pared down by about 30 minutes.
EYES OF THE DEAD (2015)
As much as found footage films can get on my nerves, I tend to really like first-person POV zombie movies, and Eyes of the Dead is no exception. Presented as a continuous, real-time shot from the perspective of the leading man’s eyes, it takes place in an awesome little farmhouse in the country, so it really gave me Night of the Living Dead vibes.
The film manages to stay quite focused with very few characters while also gently developing the tension between the main guy and the wife he is just returning to after deserting her following a family tragedy. The couple’s situation is emotionally explored without overdoing it, and it doesn’t become too dramatic or distract from the fact that this family is attempting to escape a zombie siege.
The plot is straightforward. Government workers come to the house after an issue arises with a crop duster.
A trip to a cornfield triggers the zombie situation, and the first person POV makes the terror in the stalks claustrophobic and suspenseful.
Then the action moves to the house as the family becomes trapped inside with zombies banging on the windows. The strength of this movie is that there are not loads of zombies (this is a small, rural town after all), so the unsettling quiet and isolation is amplified, and you never know when a zombie will suddenly be lurking around a corner. There are several attempts to escape the house, and the chase scenes with the zombies in pursuit in first person mode are great. Plus, the film takes place entirely during the day, so natural shadows and darkness are used to great affect inside empty houses. Eek!
Plenty of fun stuff happens along the way. The zombie makeup is just gnarly enough to get the point across in daylight, there’s a clever little comment about having a “decorative” gun, an hysterical girl gets slapped, there’s a nasty infected farm animal moment, and there’s a cool explanation as to exactly what motivates the zombies to eat people.
Thanks to a mirror, in the end we finally get to see the leading man, who happens to be played by the director. And even though he is looking rough around the edges after all he’s been through during the course of the movie, he’s a cutie, and it’s too bad he didn’t get any screen time due to the movie being presented through his eyes.
My only complaint is the pointless decision to show a scene from later in the movie as an opener. It completely spoils the final act. We didn’t even need a forced horror sequence at the beginning, because the zombie action kicks in pretty fast and it doesn’t let up. I’ll definitely be adding this film to my movie collection.