TDcore's Horror Journal 2019: April
This film played on Cable all the time when I was a kid, and was one of my first run-ins with the horror genre. Certain aspects of it, such as the "Snake Man" and the train scene are ingrained in my cinematic memory. Needless to say, I wanted to love this film, and it's certainly an enjoyable experience, but not all that it could've been. The cast is the picture's biggest asset, with a variety of distinguished veterans such as Max Von Sydow and Christopher Plummer, as well as a charismatic performance from a very young Dennis Quaid, whom I've always found to be a massively underrated actor. The concept was ahead of it's time for sure, and is an early example of "dream assassination/infiltration" that predates "Inception" by three decades. Sadly, the film fails to utilize it's concept in any particularly striking ways. There's a handful of memorable, effective dream sequences, but most of them are marred by clunky effects and amateur direction. I do appreciate the film's political elements however. This isn't a film that is easily classified, as it shares elements of horror, science fiction, fantasy and political thrillers. Perhaps it was in all this trying to do so much, without the proper resources, that the film began to fall apart. Still, it's a fun, mostly well executed romp, that delivers something for a myriad of viewers.
Writer/director Nicholas McCarthy's newest film, "The Prodigy" will be released soon (on the home market, which is the only way I watch movies). I saw his debut feature "The Pact" last year, and thought it would be best to watch this, his only other film, before witnessing his breakthrough into Hollywood. And in some ways, this is a both a better and lesser film than "The Pact". In the sense of plot, it's certainly threadbare, being nothing more than another riff on the "satanic pregnancy" theme. But in terms of character and horror, this is a better effort. The characters still aren't amazingly deep, but they're more than the excuses for human beings that littered McCarthy's first film. The acting is good to decent from the cast as well, with this being a mostly female-led film. The ladies are all attractive as well, which is always a plus. There's an overabundance of jump-scares as well, which cheapens the film, but it pains me to admit that this is one of the few films where they're effective. A tense, brooding atmosphere is built upon, and the jumps come in brief or unexpected moments, which leaves them dammed potent. The effects are only momentarily glimpsed as well, leaving them quite disturbing. It's not a masterpiece, or the least bit original, and it sports a copout of an ending that makes no logical sense, but it works as a lean tension building machine that will get under your skin. I'm interested to see what McCarthy can do next.
This is the earliest "talkie" adaptation of Jekyll and Hyde, and one that is largely forgotten in favor of the Spencer Tracy version that would come out not long after. Still, I was surprised by the quality of this picture, especially compared to it's more famous contemporaries. One thing that makes this film stand above the genre offerings of it's day is the character development. The film is much longer than most horror films were at the time, truly allowing the characters to take shape, and crafting them into individuals that we care about, which is pivotal for true horror. And the direction and cinematography are leaps and bounds ahead of those of it's time. The film begins with a first-person view through the eyes of Dr. Jekyll, quite possibly the first time this method was ever used on screen. The film's horror is far more human, and psychological than what was commonplace amongst the genre at the time. All this makes the picture superior to films like "Dracula" and "Frankenstein", in my humble opinion, both of which offered little, to no character, and seem like student films in their sense of direction, when compared to this one. The performances of the cast are wonderful as well, with Frederic March turning in a phenomenal take on Jekyll and Hyde. The makeup effects are still quite gruesome to this day as well. All together, a film that deserves to be much better remembered, and in my opinion, deserves a place amongst the classics of it's day and the annals of horror film history. It was certainly further ahead of it's time.
Known as one of the most controversial horror films of all time, for one of the most disgusting reasons. This film, directed by Tod Browning, the man behind the classic "Dracula", is a cult classic for several reasons. Chief among them being that the circus "freaks" in the cast are all real freaks of nature. This was what made the film so controversial for it's time, coupled with the fact that the picture sought to humanize these individuals. Think of that. Only as long ago as 1932, in America, the general public was so closed-minded and so conservative that this film resulted in public boycotts, film burnings and all together, so-called "moral outrage". This pisses me off to no extent, also because this film was never properly released as a result. Tons of footage was cut from the finished product, and even now, we don't have a complete copy of this picture in circulation. I won't say more about that matter other than to add that these "freaks" are indeed, human, just like you and I. And this picture is proof of that. And proof that even in modern society, the different and truly individual are in a constant struggle to even be seen as human.
Besides all that, this is a fine little picture. Much like Browning's "Dracula" it suffers from some shoddy direction and a terribly uneven pace, not at all helped by the studio interference. Therefore the film's ending is a complete trainwreck, that fails to tie up any of the film's loose ends in a satisfactory manner. Still, the characters are all bright and vibrant, the circus lifestyle is explored and the cast does a fantastic job in humanizing themselves and portraying the drama. If ever a film was ahead of it's time, this is it. And one day I hope we can restore the full cut of Browning's vision, or at the least, remake it as the film Browning always intended it to be.
This one is a cult classic amongst lovers of 80's horror cinema, Lovecraft and Stuart Gordon, and for good reason. The concept is taken from one of Lovecraft's most underused stories, and one of those most ripe with gruesome potential. The film that results is mostly reliant on special effects, but the effects work here is phenomenal, and more than compensates for the barebones plot. The cast is fantastic as well, with another high-energy performance from Gordon regular, Jeffrey Combs. And scream queen Barbara Crampton is at her most lovely here, and gives an astonishingly layered performance. The film does suffer from an uneven tone at times, and it takes a few dives into cheesiness, but for the most part it's a disturbing, psychological nightmare, with some effects work that will stick with you for life. Lovecraft admirers won't be disappointed with the finished product when all is said and done.
This is easily the most famous of the line of horror films produced by RKO Radio Pictures and Val Lewton in the 40's. And while it's a decent picture, I certainly think that the studio produced several, much better offerings within the period. Still, it's a beautifully shot film, that has it's moments of atmospheric fright, and a solid cast. Simone Simon is especially magnetic in the lead role, at the same time alluring and sympathetic. However, due to the special effects constraints of the day, we never get any truly satisfying action out of the picture. The whole thing sets up scenes in which we expect to see a beast stalking it's prey, but we're rarely treated to anything other than shadows and silhouettes. It's still preferable to the shoddy effects that could've been used, but it still dates the film greatly. Still, as said, it's a competent, at times quite involving picture, and it certainly deserves it's place in horror history. But it's a far cry from RKO's best horror film.
This is a notorious film, that usually divides people into halves. Those who love it, and those who absolutely hate it. I am of the camp that happens to think it a fantastic film. It's truly difficult to put into words, and the biggest mindfuck of a film I've seen in some time. But whenever a film can find brand new ways to horrify and astound an audience, ways that feel completely foreign and original, I have to applaud that. And this film features some moments that simply must be seen, to be understood. Even then, this is an incredibly complex film, that will mean a lot of different things to different people. To me it's about the meaning of human life, the futility and emptiness of the search for absolution and the importance of the here and now. It's horror elements probe the psychological, the scientific and the spiritual, all at once. And the film is anchored in all of it's obtuse philosophy and trippy effects by a brilliant cast. William Hurt gives one of the most spellbinding, powerful performances in a career that is full of them, and Blair Brown is equally as firey and passionate. Even the supporting actors are electric with emotion. It's difficult to explain the effect this film may leave on a viewer, but it's a special one to me. A feeling that even if all is meaningless and void, there is still beauty in the lives we lead, and that our progressing humanity is the singular, most important thing. There I go again, getting all profound. But really, this is a profound, and thoroughly underrated picture. And regardless of whether it strikes your particular fancy, all can agree that it will keep you thinking. That, in itself, is an achievement for any film.
For some reason, against all odds, this low-budget effort has garnered something of a following over the years. It's only claim to infamy is the direction of Jon Knautz who once directed the minor cult-hit "Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer". But for the most part, this is an incredibly cliché horror film, not at all helped by bland cinematography and standard acting. It chugs along for a while, throwing every religious cult cliché in the genre at you, while delivering some effective moments every now and then. But it's halfway through the film that things switch into a higher gear, and we're presented with a twist, that while not exactly shocking, is refreshing compared to the first half. We're then treated to some gore, surprisingly good makeup effects and intense sequences of horror that make this a better film than one may have initially thought. It's still nothing amazing, but it's good entertainment when you just want a cliched, but effective horror film that doesn't require any abstract thought.
This film has managed to garner a reputation as one of the most notorious of all time, not unlike films such as "Martyrs" or "Salo". I would argue that this film is ten times more disturbing than either of those, because it is true. Most know this story through the Hollywood version, "An American Crime", but this is the more effective film. "An American Crime" ultimately sticks a little closer to the truth, but this one is more truthful in it's depiction of the events.
Some have called it nothing more than "torture porn", but I disagree. I sense an urgency in writer Jack Ketchum's fictionalization of this tale. An urgency to speak directly from the victims' points of view and to communicate, with fever, that things like this can happen anywhere, to anyone, and are far more common than we would allow ourselves to believe. There are hundreds of children, in hundreds of basements, as in this film, right now, all over the world. A film like this one gives them a voice. It also rips apart the bullshit notion of "the good ol' days". There never were any. Human beings have always been doing monstrous things to each other. Perhaps what was worse about times like the fifties, was that we pretended (and often, still do) that they didn't happen. Victims were swept under the rug, witnesses were told to mind their business. It's important to illustrate what this type of conservative thinking does in the end.
The cast is also terrific, and the child actors incredibly mature. Blanche Baker is especially stunning in a chilling, and anger-inducing performance of one of the most evil women to ever live. The film does, notably, diverge from the true story to add some even more horrific scenes of violence towards the end. Some found this senseless, but I believe that Ketchum was drawing allusions to victims of the human trafficking trade. All together, this is an incredibly hard to watch film. One that will infuriate, break and move you. One that can never be forgotten. But that's just the way it should be. This film, and the victims, whose voices it represents better than any film I have seen, have something important to tell you. It may be a film you can only ever experience once, but it begs to be experienced.
I have to say, I was pretty excited about this one. It didn't have the most original concept, but it still looked like it could be an intense thrill-ride. And while it was a good watch for the most part, it's lack of originality is what ends up hurting it in the end. The film is basically a combination of "Saw" and "Cube", mixed with a little bit of "13: Game Of Death", with the only truly original bit being that it takes place in a compound of "Escape Rooms".
The rooms themselves are what keep the film progressing, with most of them being brilliantly designed and providing plenty of nail-biting moments. The acting is always pivotal to a picture like this as well, most of them being so reliant on character, and most of the acting is good. Logan Miller, Deborah Ann Woll and Tyler Labine are the best among the cast, and there aren't truly any weak actors, just ones that aren't quite as good as some of their co-stars. There is a sad lack of blood, although this keeps the film from feeling too similar to "Saw", or devolving into cliched torture porn antics. The film's misfire is the ending, however, which feels like a slap in the damn face. One would hope that all of this is leading to, at least, a clever twist on the sub-genre. But instead, the ending utterly rips-off the films that this one already, too closely imitates. Worst of all, it clumsily sets up an assured sequel right at the end, in the most cringy way possible.
Perhaps the most disturbing part of "Escape Room" is that it really is a trap made by a shadowy corporation. The Hollywood corporation, and it's simply a tool to extract your money as many times as they can. But damned if it isn't a potent one. The picture has already done more than well at the box office, so it seems our Hollywood overlords were correct once again. At least this one will give you some solid entertainment for your money. I can only imagine how horrible the next one is going to be.
I knew this wasn't going to be great when I saw that it was directed by John R. Leonetti. This man is one of the biggest hacks currently working in the genre, responsible for a string of some of the worst horror films this decade, such as "Annabelle", "Wish Upon" and "Wolves At The Door". I don't know who keeps giving him money, but he doesn't know the first thing about direction or working with actors, or even cinematographers, it would appear. One might think, that with this particular film being picked up by Netflix, that he might've improved his craft, but this is not the case.
And this film already struggles to be involving to begin with. It's concept is absolutely identical to last year's terrific "A Quiet Place". The only difference being the monster design (which is much less impressive) and that one of the characters is deaf. And the film can't help but look positively uninspired next to "A Quiet Place". Leonetti's direction still being the main culprit, as he somehow manages to suck the life out of even the most intense scenes. His cameras remain stationary at almost all times, with blurry, muddy digital quality. And he manages to make actors like Stanley Tucci and Kiernan Shipka look like they've never been on a film set before. Even they just seem to sleepwalk through scenes. The film also doesn't go much of anywhere that previous apocalyptic horror films haven't gone. It basically recycles scenes from better films and zaps the energy from them. It throws in a sub-plot about a cult at the end, that ends up being more involving than anything previously shown, but this lasts for about ten minutes and then the film ends with a hiccup. Perhaps in someone else's hands this could've been at least a tense, emotional little film, even if unoriginal. But as it stands, it's a perfect example of hack direction and mediocracy.
I almost didn't give this one a chance, due to the overwhelmingly negative reception from the horror community. But I knew that I had to see a film this controversial, and form my own opinion. Sadly, I can now say that most of what you're hearing about this film is absolutely true. It's baffling how it turned out this way, what with such a fantastic cast and a director riding on the success of "Nightcrawler", one of the most revered independent films of this decade. Throw in an original and imaginative concept of cursed paintings that kill snobby art dealers and you've got yourself what should've been an instant cult classic. Instead, we're left with a pretentious mess of a film that never settles into anything.
The cast does it's best to save what's here, and it's obvious that even they thought they were playing in a film that was better than it is. One feels that Gilroy was attempting to comment on the poisoning of the artistic medium by capitalism and greed, and that the film is meant to be a takedown of the hipster snobs, who in thinking they are above all of this, become the very thing they hate. Thing is, the film does this too. In all of it's excessive dialogue, obnoxious characters and unrestraint, it becomes the exact pretentious garbage that it makes fun of. Perhaps in a way, that's funny, but it's a very depressing way. And the film's repugnant characters make it hard to watch. Especially when even the kills are not executed that deftly. There are a few imaginative moments and striking visual effects, but the film has no idea how to capture horror. It's like Mike Nichols, Harmony Korine and David Lynch had a stillborn baby. Maybe that sounds like heaven to some folks (the very kind this film mocks), but even the arthouse crowd doesn't seem to be satisfied with this one. You're better off saving yourself the time.
If you can't tell, I've been catching up on more recent films that I still haven't watched, including from the last two years. I'd been meaning to get my hands on this one for some time, as it made a big stir when it came out on Netflix last year. It quickly became a critical darling, with one of the highest scores achieved by a horror film on Rotten Tomatoes. I've never been someone who puts any stock in what professional critics say about horror films, unless they're reviews from genre specific websites. But even those kinds of sites offered glowing praise for this film. Strange thing was, the audience on sites like IMDB and disgruntled YouTube reviewers didn't seem to agree. None of this worried me either, as my favorite film of 2018, "Hereditary" fared well with the critics and abysmally with general audiences as well. And the concept here, of a camgirl finding herself replaced on her live show by a doppelgänger, is pretty original. But I'm afraid I find myself not enjoying this one at all, and frankly, quite confused as to what all the hype was about.
The film chugs along most of it's runtime, exploring the life and industry of professional cam-girling, which is fascinating, but we're left to wonder why any young woman would want to put herself through such a demeaning industry (even more demeaning than regular pornography), which leaves us not feeling much sympathy for the characters. And while the film has a disorienting atmosphere to it, it's never scary or suspenseful. It just feels like a piss-poor, overlong Twilight Zone episode. The build-up is all leading to something, we hope, something tense and frightening. But instead we're treated to a nonsensical, anti-climatic shitshow that leaves everything ambiguous, in the worst way. I'm okay with ambiguity, if the film actually has answers to search for, but this one doesn't. It's just a lazy re-hash of the "doppelgänger" myth projected onto the internet. One could say it muses, in the most surface level ways, about feminism, but not to any meaningful extent. It's mostly just irritating, pretentious garbage.
This little film arrived on the scene quietly and unannounced, which is really something of a shame, seeing as it is much better than most low-budget, non-studio horror flicks are these days. It does carry the distinction of having two of the "Insidious" producers on board, but that doesn't mean much to me. Still, I was pleasantly surprised by how effective and well directed this film was. It doesn't have the most original concept, but director Luke Jaden pulls off a familiar theme with considerable style, thick atmosphere and a creepy, memorable score that will get stuck in your head. The acting is good as well, and the film's dynamic is very much centered upon it's dysfunctional family. There are quite a few jumpscares, but there's also plenty of quietly frightening moments and unexpected visual scares, which don't rely on jumps. The whole thing does fail to wrap up in a satisfying manner, but in the end, when looking back, it's a distinctive, stylish and quite unnerving film. I look forward to seeing what Luke Jaden does next. I'd say he may have a chance in the future, of being picked up by an independent studio like A24, if he can helm his vision more assuredly and come up with something a bit more original. In the meantime, this is worth a look for sure.
This is a decent little horror comedy, with some good chuckles and plenty of heart. Nothing more and nothing less. It's not the most original film, but it is somewhat clever in the way that it turns "The Omen" on it's head and tampers with genre clichés. The cast is also great, for the most part, with Owen Atlas as a convincing evil kid, the lovely Evangeline Lilly and some guest stars like Clancy Brown, Tyler Labine and Sally Field making special appearances. The best asset in the cast, however, is Bridget Everett, whose comedic timing and charm are off the charts. This woman is fucking hilarious and steals the show whenever she's on screen. My only complaint is the casting of Adam Scott as the main man. Scott is an actor who has never grown, in my opinion, and plays all of his characters with the same "deer in the headlights" look smacked upon his face. He's awkward, completely graceless and just comes off as a total tool, and he's no different here. I would've much rather seen someone like Jason Bateman here. The film is charming, but never has any laugh out loud moments either. It's just a pleasant, enjoyable little excursion for those that enjoy a good horror comedy. Not the best, but far from the worst.
I honestly wasn't expecting to like this one as much as I did. In the first few minutes, the characters we're supposed to root for seem so annoying and vapid that it may ruin the entire film. But at the end of the day, the whole ordeal is just so surreal and maniacally fun that it doesn't matter. The concept is an original one, of an unexplained epidemic that fills parents with an indescribable and unquenchable blood-lust towards their children. I like that the film never really tries to come up with a concrete explanation for what's happening, but rather, provides several possible answers and leaves them up to the viewer's interpretation. Instead, the film focuses on the chaos and the dynamic of the typical "broken family unit" of the 21st century. It critiques things like our current generation's technology obsessed culture and boomers' obsessions with clinging to their youth, and the very destructive behaviors they attempt to stamp out in their own children.
And all of this is done with pitch black humor. The film's best moments are during the scenes in which the parents rampage after their children, or the violent phenomena breaks out in public. Director Brian Taylor's (of Neveldine & Taylor) chaotic directorial stylings work perfectly here, capturing a truly mad vision of a world run amok, that is equal parts giddy and disturbing. The acting from the titular parents is also great, with Nicolas Cage in a role that is perfectly suited to his crazed over-acting, and Selma Blair in one of her better turns, in a role that she actually seems to want to act in. This is a chaotic, darkly funny and surprisingly disturbing effort, and maybe the best so far out of Neveldine & Taylor's horror projects.
This one is something of an oddity. Directed by Dan Bush, who gave us the cult classic "The Signal" and starring James Franco (whom is not known for roles in low-budget genre flicks). The concept of a haunted bank vault is a good one, ripe with potential, but relatively easy to screw up. And this film doles out both in decent measure. There's quite a few brilliantly paced, effectively creepy moments throughout, but as the film begins attempting to explain itself, it becomes steadily more ridiculous and predictable. The cast is pretty great, with Francesca Eastwood and Taryn Manning turning in great leading-lady performances, and the supporting actors are all adequate. Franco seems to be out of his element here, with a part that doesn't have that much for him to chew on, and mostly just looks confused and constipated for the duration of the film. And while there are some good moments, the whole is simply too sloppy to recommend. It could've been the world's first great "haunted bank" film, with a little more finesse.
The only reason I even bothered to give this one a try was my appreciation for Darren Lynn Bousman's work. His films are either hit or miss, but he's had plenty of hits over the years, and I enjoyed his last effort "Abattoir". But I've never been a fan of "nunsploitation" films, and while given a fresh coat of modern polish, that's all that this film amounts to. There's no metaphors, no musings on social or religious themes, just exploitive violence and torture. There's not much gore, mind you, but these evil nuns find even more sadistic, disgusting ways to torture their captives, and it doesn't help that all of them are pregnant young women either. The cast is hit or miss, but Carolyn Hennesey is great as the evil mother superior. The film is also well directed and photographed. But it all leads to absolutely nowhere, and takes far too long in getting there, with a series of twists toward the end that make no sense whatsoever, and an ending that is just a slap in the face. I know Bousman can do so much better than this, and you can certainly find something much better to do with nearly two hours.
This one was more enjoyable that I initially thought it would be. The cast drew me in, with lovely newcomer, Virginia Gardner (who is becoming something of a modern scream queen), Sam Strike, Robin Tunney and a handful of other fairly dependable b-list actors. And what I was met with is a fun, simple little genre romp with plenty of nasty gore and some truly insane touches. The concept is original in a way, though this theme of thieves getting more than they bargained for is growing a slight bit stale. This one throws in enough distinct touches and moments of insanity to compensate for it. And the cast is terrific from all angles. The gore is surprisingly plentiful, and the blood spray is blessedly practical. The film maintains an air of satirical black humor as well. It does nothing particularly amazing with it's sub-genre, but it's a distinct, enjoyable enough entry that it makes for a perfect time-waster.
I expected much better from the Hollywood debut of director Nicholas McCarthy, whose previous two films ("The Pact" and "At The Devil's Door") weren't exactly fantastic, but both worthy and distinctive entries in the genre. This film looks like an assembly-line produced, manufactured film by comparison. Perhaps due to the fact that McCarthy did not write it, as well as the meddling of it's Hollywood studio. In the end, this film is a by the numbers reconstruction of bits and pieces from finer films, repackaged to fit into the cliché "Insidious"/"Conjuring" esque mold. Modern viewers without a knowledge of cult horror from previous years may find the whole "regressive reincarnation" concept to be startlingly original, but it isn't, in any way, and no original steps are taken to make it fresh. The film simply hits all of the rungs on the way down the ladder. Even going so far as to end in a blatant rip-off of "The Omen". There's not one original or spirited bone in this film's body. The direction is steady from McCarthy, and the acting is quite good from the reliable Taylor Shilling, as well as a chilling, mature enough performance from child actor Jackson Robert Scott, but it's not enough. You don't need to watch this film. Take my word for it. You can just watch the trailer, or read a plot sympnosis and guess exactly how everything is going to play out. It's a waste of time, without being entertainingly or memorably bad, or distinct and inspired enough. Films this aggravatingly mediocre are almost worse than outright bad ones, in my opinion.
This one stands out for several reasons. One being that is directed and written by two women, and the other being that it is a "frontier horror", a sub-genre of which we only get an entry in once in a great while. Sadly, I can't really recommend this one. Its well directed, and the acting is quite good, but the film has a tepid pace and it tries nothing that viewers won't expect. The film chugs along as if wading through molasses, without particularly interesting characterization, and many times, without much of anything at all happening. The film's narrative is also incredibly hard to follow, thanks to a slew of sloppily edited flashbacks that run throughout it's runtime. Half of the time, the only way to tell whether you're watching a flashback or current events is to pay attention to the color of the main character's dress. Luckily, the acting is very good, with Caitlin Gerard (who was the only good thing about the wretched, "Smiley", some time back) giving a performance that once again proves she should be getting much bigger roles. And there are a couple effective moments of terror. But the whole thing ends up going the most cliched, predictable route possible. It's a shame, because female director's should really be attempting to find their own unique voices, and perhaps, tell stories that male directors cannot. But this is just a re-hashing of stories than men and women alike, have told a thousand times before.
I was astonished at how much I enjoyed the first "Happy Death Day", but I wasn't really hyped for this sequel, seeing as I knew it would have to resort to gimmicks in order to remain fresh. And that's exactly what this film does. It does try something different, and deserves props for that, but the results are mixed. The comedy is much more prevalent in this one, with the horror taking a backseat to the science-fiction themes. There's long stretches where this doesn't even feel like a horror film, which is a blessing, because the stalk and slash sequences are the weakest part of this film, and even more neutered than they were in the original. The comedy is charming, even if some of the dialogue is downright cheesy, and the emotional scenes maniputively tug at your heartstrings in all the right ways.
But what keeps the film consistently watchable, much like the first, is Jessica Rothe as "Tree". Rothe is effortlessly charming, hilarious, genuine, shows some real chops in the emotional scenes and is the type of girl adolescents develop lifelong crushes on. In other words, she's the "it" girl, and her presence elevates every moment she's on screen. The rest of the cast is good as well, with many from the original reprising their characters, and Steve Zissis giving a memorably hilarious performance as the dean. It falters, flails and is wildly inconsistent, but there's plenty to enjoy here, even if the end sets up a third sequel in the most cringe-worthy way possible. I've heard that the film's middling box office means a third film won't be likely, and I kind of hope that's true. The formula started to grow a little generic here, and a third time won't be the charm, I feel. But you could do much worse than give this one a look, if you enjoyed the first.
If it were possible for films to be clinically insane, then this one would be locked up for good. It's hard to pave new ground in the horror genre, and truly shock and disorient audiences in the 21st century. Films like "Hereditary", occasionally come along and offer something completely unique. And while this film isn't nearly as amazing as "Hereditary", I feel that it's comparable at times. It has the same sense of truly unique and disorienting newness, but without the discipline and craftsmanship that could've made it a classic. In the beginning, this one feels as though it's simply an exercise in shock and weirdness, whose sole purpose is to be as edgy and unusual as possible. It's sometimes difficult to stick with the film, as it dismantles the concept of narrative, but it throws in enough amazingly intriguing moments along the way, to keep one invested. It's towards the ending, when the ingenious twist is thrown in, that the film's deeper themes come to the surface, and the pieces fall into place. But it's worth the wait. The acting keeps things moving along, with the female cast all delivering spellbinding performances. And the direction is wild and hypnotic, with superb cinematography. The film is not one that I would call "great", but if this sort of unimpeded surrealism and arthouse horror appeals to you, you may find it a masterpiece. It is a good film at the end of the day, even if not my personal cup of tea, and one I greatly appreciate, and won't soon forget.