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Movie Roundup #8 - Susan-Alia Terry

Movie Roundup #8

Jun 10, 2023 | Movie Roundup

So Cold The River – Tubi

Horror · Thriller

Arriving in a resort town to make a film about its dying benefactor, a documentarian discovers unexplained mysteries flowing beneath the surface.

Gorgeously shot movie. I find that the “artier” the horror movie, the more abstract the horror—no that’s not right—the more watered down or distanced the horror.

What we have here is part thriller, part horror story. On the one hand, a story of the Boogie Man who terrorized a Midwestern town and then disappeared, leaving behind a memory that cursed his ancestors and still literally haunts the town.

On the other we have a story about a documentarian who went too far, who ignored her good sense in search of an Oscar and got people killed. This project is the one she hopes will redeem her.

The movie walks a tightrope between these two stories quite well for awhile, but then it falls apart when it denies the supernatural horror plot. All signs pointed to the climax falling squarely into the supernatural and it refused to do that. Instead the “evil” falls on human shoulders, all that supernatural stuff throughout the film was merely delusion.

As what felt like an afterthought, they tacked on a scene that supposedly “explained” the supernatural aspect, which raised questions about whether all the “hallucinations” were actually just borne of pathogens from contaminated water and trauma.

You know what? Make art or make a horror movie. If horror is too beneath you, don’t flirt with it and waste our time. Don’t introduce supernatural elements if you refuse to follow through. Don’t lean into the discordant violin soundtrack…in fact just leave all supernatural horror tropes out and call your movie a “psychological thriller” instead.

It wasn’t a total waste of my time because it was beautifully shot and interesting. It was just placed in a category it shouldn’t have been in.

An arty thriller too embarrassed to actually be horror. 3.5 stars

 

After Party – Amazon Prime

Horror·Ominous·Thrilling

A group of social media influencers go to an afterparty in a Hollywood Hills mansion only to find themselves the target of a ruthless masked killer.

Alternate title: Slasher Party.

Pretty self explanatory. A bunch of self-important influencer types gather for a party and begin dying off. There wasn’t much more to it than that. I love slashers that are fun and silly and this fit the bill. Darkly hilarious ending.

Completely gruesome fluff. 4.5 stars

 

The Astral Woods – Tubi

Horror

A woman forced into a life insurance scam and abandoned at a cabin in the woods soon learns the land holds an ancient secret that’s not of this world.

Hubby talks wifey into faking her death so they can collect the life insurance. The plan is she’ll live isolated in the woods for seven years until she’s legally dead then they can go off to Mexico or some shit and live happily ever after. Seven years!

Of course wifey tries to back out because she understands the plan is crazy, but hubby drugs her and plops her out in the middle of nowhere. Since the plan is set in motion, she has no choice but to stay the duration. Hubby and his accomplices have it all planned out. Regular drops for groceries, and only one emergency phone call allowed. Back home, hubby dodges the police.

She tries walking out but there is no way out, there is something in the woods though—watching.

This movie was made on a very low budget, but it easily tops most in it’s category. I really liked this. The filmmakers used their resources well. It was well written, and the acting was good. The ending was extremely satisfying!

Don’t let the low production values keep you from this gem. 4 stars

 

Message Man – Tubi

Action · Thriller

A reclusive ex-hitman living in Indonesia must face his dark past when he decides to come out of retirement to avenge the near-killing of a local boy.

In honor of Pride Month I was going to include LGBTQAI+ plus movies in the Roundups this month. Unfortunately a search pulled up romances galore. Ick. Sorry, can’t do it.

Another search yielded Message Man. I thought “Ooh a gay action film!”

Friends, it’s not a gay action film. It is however, a hot, hairy, dude beating the shit out of every dude in his way. Gay fantasy? Happy Pride!

This was fun. Violent as the day is long with a massive body count. Revenge flicks are my jam. Not as good as No One Lives (and seriously, what is?) but really fun.

A kicking stomping good time. 4.5 stars.

 


That’s it for this week.

Until next time!

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