Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.
HAPPY MOTHERFUCKING HALLOWEEN!!!! RRRAAAARRRRGH!
Dude I love this holiday. Love it. I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it a million more: Halloween is a unique, wonderful day. All the other holidays are family holidays. This one is a community holiday. Rather than staying home with family, eating and drinking ourselves into a coma, on this day we go to our strange ass neighbors’ houses with our dolled up kiddies and fucking commune. It’s rare. It’s annoying and takes way to much preparation but we don’t do it any other day of the year. In honor of this, my most favoritest of holidays, I’m bringing you not one but TWO watchable horror features. You’re welcome, America.
First we have The Taking of Deborah Logan (Netflix). Yes, it’s a found footage/mockumentary type deal but it’s not nearly as annoying some of the other crap I’ve covered. It’s a lot like The Last Exorcism, classy and smart and not overly reliant on absurd camera tricks. It veers a little too far into the obviously paranormal for my taste but for the first hour it’s ridiculously plausible and unsettling.
You know what’s really scary? It’s not ghosts or demons or serial killers. It’s the human brain, turning on itself. That’s what dementia is: the ultimate horror story. For a good hour, this movie walks the line between “Is something supernatural going on?” and “Is this just a sad, disturbing tale of an extreme case of Alzheimer’s?” That’s when it’s at its best, when you’re not sure if something spectral is at work or not. I’m glad the movie plants its flag and picks a direction eventually but I wish it was left a little bit more vague. Vaguer? Sure. Nevertheless it’s fun as shit and features a tour de force performance by a woman who is what Patricia Clarkson wishes she could be.
I don’t know who Jill Larson is but she is incredible. She’s apparently some soap opera star. She’s only 67 and has the physicality of a much younger woman, yet she’s so lithe and slender she’s able to play much older in this role. One moment she looks like she’s on her deathbed, the next she’s vaulting across a room to choke some unsuspecting priest. She elevates the whole movie and is perhaps the biggest reason why this is better than the otherwise excellent Last Exorcism. In that movie the possessee was an overacting weirdo. Jill Larson is the shit.
The second movie is possibly a bit better even though it’s a rehash of circular thought experiments like Time Crimes and Triangle. It’s a circular horror puzzle by the name of Mine Games (Netflix). Silly pun name notwithstanding, this is a super slick thriller featuring a gang of not-that-annoying 20-somethings doing the typical weekend excursion turned bad. As expected none of them are particularly engaging or discernible, yet they play their parts well and carry out their parts of the narrative without too much whining. That may not sound like high praise but think of how many times you’ve watched a horror movie and spent most of your time despising the pretty, angsty young people that populated it.
There are no real surprises here and nothing especially novel, yet it’s smooth and well-paced. It positively races to the finish with very little wasted energy. If you haven’t seen Time Crimes or Triangle, the cycle of death thing might actually blow your mind a little. For psychological/supernatural horror you could do a lot worse.
Added Bonus: This is going to be my last regular FNF for a while. I’ll still drop by on occasion but work and work and other work are taking precedence right now. It’s a shame and I’m sure my 2.3 readers per week will be positively devastated. Try not to cry. You can still catch me talking over Joe like it’s my job on the ModernBorecast, and you can read some of my ramblings at IGN.com. Heck, you can even follow me on Twitter at @adamdileo if you’re that sort of person. I don’t judge.