Catching up on the more mainstream selections cable and streaming have to offer lately, I got a double dose of witchery, and two supernatural freaks. Let’s take a look.
THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER (2015)
The director of the rather mesmerizing Gretel & Hansel brings us a film that I didn’t find all that mesmerizing.
For me, The Blackcoat’s Daughter is one of those movies that is totally predictable in its effort to be unpredictable so as to blow your mind at the end. Nowadays I just sit with disinterest knowing eventually I’m going to find out nothing is as it seems.
So Sabrina from The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and some other girl are left behind when winter break comes because their parents didn’t make it up to school to pick them up.
Meanwhile, Emma Roberts escapes a mental institution and is offered a ride by a man who is on the road with his wife.
Sure, our interest is captured by what exactly this man wants from Emma, what Emma’s story is, and why the man’s wife seems very standoffish.
And we’re also intrigued by Sabrina’s desperation to get in touch with her parents…and why the other girl is giving her the cold shoulder…and who the mysterious, unseen headmaster is that keeps getting mentioned…and why there’s a nun doing some sort of mysterious ritual by the boiler.
The film craaaaawls its way to the finish line, but at least there’s some murder, mayhem, and an exorcism (?) to keep us entertained in the final act. This really just isn’t my type of film, but If you’re looking for horror that challenges your mind rather than your bladder muscles, you should definitely check it out.
It’s the film everyone is talking about and everyone has an opinion about. Here’s mine.
The first hour of Malignant mostly bored me. Violent kill scenes and a creepy specter showed promise, but things became repetitive fast, and this felt like numerous supernatural slashers of the 00s meant to scare tweens (The Boogeyman…The Boogeyman 2…The Boogeyman 3…).
A young woman experiences trauma that triggers visions of a freaky killer. Turns out the people she sees being murdered are being massacred in real life. So with the help of her sister, she tries to convince the police that she has some sort of connection to the killer and can assist in solving the case.
All I’ll say is that for me the turning point is the fire escape chase scene between the killer and one of the main detectives. The film kicks into high gear and changes tone, becoming action-packed and crazy fun more than dark and serious. It felt like a mashup of so many different movies, giving me hints of The Dark Half, The Ring, My Soul to Take, and many more.
The killer is fantastically eerie with its disjointed walk, long hair, long leather coat, golden dagger, and gnarly face. And when it gets a chance to bust out and become a savage horror villain that spins, jumps, and slashes its way through hordes of victims, I at last didn’t want the movie to end.
On Halloween, our main boy leaves his apartment and gets trapped in the apartment of a witch! More specifically, the B—- in apartment 23. Yes, Jessica Jones is the fabulously bitchy witch. And she has a proposition for the boy, who loves to write scary stories; he must read her a scary story every night if he wants to stay alive.
Problem is he kind of has writer’s block. Plus, the witch hates all his stories and is quite the nasty critic.
Meanwhile, the boy has to deal with her bald, tattle-tale cat that goes invisible at will.
But as comfort, he befriends a girl who is also being held captive and is forced to cook for the witch.
Together, the two try to concoct a magical plan to escape the apartment and all the scary situations it has in store for them. Naturally, it all leads to a pretty darn creepy confrontation with the witch in her true gnarly glory, and there are plenty of nods to Hansel & Gretel along the way.
COME PLAY (2020)
Yes, it’s another tween horror about a young child’s “imaginary friend” coming to life to terrorize everyone.
This time, the young child is autistic. He uses his phone and iPad to communicate which leaves him very isolated and bullied in school.
But he has also conjured up an urban legend named Larry…a sort of skeletal Slender Man that just wants a friend.
Sure, you can expect some creepy scenes in infuriatingly dark rooms considering this is about a scared kid, yet he never turns on a fucking light. Not that it would matter, I guess, because Larry likes to break the bulbs when they are turned on.
At times this is like playing the survival horror game Fatal Frame, in which you had to look through a special camera to see ghosts. In this film, the boy can only see Larry by scanning a room with the camera on his device. Makes for plenty of cliché but effective eek! moments ripped right from the computer software used to create effects in a myriad of short films by aspiring filmmakers on YouTube.