Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Pearl (2022, Ti West)

It’s a shame that Mia Goth won’t get an Oscar nomination for Pearl considering how the Academy ignores horror movies. Too bad, cause she definitely deserves it. The movie is really good too, maybe even great, yet none of this works without Goth breathing life into Pearl. You sympathize with the character at first, then get freaked out by her, and then you are completely scared by her. This is a brave performance, used in a movie that almost feels like The Wizard of Oz meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, only not quite.

Even though this prequel is that rare good one it doesn’t quite address certain questions that both it and X raised, although maybe West just didn’t feel like filling in all the gaps. I do enjoy how he went from covering 1970s indie cinema to classic Hollywood, which is pretty cool. I also cannot wait for the third installment, which will be set in the 1980s. I’m sure that one is going to be just as gory and insane as the other two in the franchise.

Look ma, it’s Pearl!

Horrorfest Presents Day Shift (2022, J. J. Perry)

Day Shift may be a dumb vampire action comedy movie that should have leaned more into supporting unions. Still this is my dumb vampire action comedy, and perhaps I shouldn’t expect a pro union message from a company like Netflix. Jamie Foxx does his best with some weak material that he helps elevate along with Dave Franco. This movie needed more Snoop Dogg, not less, although that is quickly rectified in the final act of the movie.

Karla Souza is actually pretty good as the head vampire Foxx’s hapless character has to deal with. I did like the action scenes in this movie, and I was amused by how the vampire hunters’ covers are day jobs such as pool cleaner or video stereo repairmen. That part doesn’t really get fleshed out enough. I would have loved to have seen more of the universe presented in this flick. Guess they’re saving that for the sequel.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents Barbarian (2022, Zach Cregger)

Funny how horror movies make basements creepy or scary. I never found them to be as such outside of movies, as I’ve spent way too much time hanging out with friends in basements. I used to set up a TV in my parents’ basement so I could watch shows uninterrupted. Both of my grandparents’ old houses had pretty nice basements. Barbarian eagerly goes to work on making you terrified of basements, although Salem’s Lot also comes to mind. In horror movies basements hide deep, evil bleak secrets and unknown terrors lurking, waiting for new victims.

Zach Cregger’s movie begins rather innocently enough with Tess (Georgina Campbell, the movie’s MVP) and Keith (Bill Skarsgård showing us he can play a likable yet still creepy awkward human being) both at the same rental house. This mistake leads the viewer and them into a situation that I will not reveal. You’ll have to just watch the movie yourself, but let me just say this flick is not for the weak hearted or those who don’t regularly watch horror movies. I’m a die hard horror fan and this movie disturbed and freaked me out. It digs under your skin and lingers in your brain long after the end credits finish rolling.


Oh and the movie even throws in Justin Long, just to see if you were still paying attention at that point or not. See this movie in theaters, avoid spoilers and give it a chance. The only thing is I feel some character decisions existed to keep the plot going, but hey that often happens in movies. I can excuse this one for it’s few sins when it delivers this kind of freaky entertainment. Also Barbarian would pair nicely with both It Follows and Don’t Breathe for Detroit horror movies.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: The Pale Door (2020, Aaron B. Koontz)

Even though I’ve seen better horror westerns, I still liked The Pale Door. The outlaws in this movie are likable enough, and although this film opens slowly things escalate pretty quickly by the film’s middle part. These gunslingers find out only too late that they ended up in a town full of witches.

Jake and Duncan are brothers who after a train robbery are forced along with the gang they’re with to exchange a girl for medical help. The movie goes from being a western to a horror movie, much like how From Dusk Till Dawn made that transition from action flick to vampire movie. Stan Shaw is also in this movie as Lester, the brothers’ de facto father figure, as well as Bill Sage, who’s Dodd is the gang’s main tough guy.

Even though parts of The Pale Door aren’t quite as effective as I would have preferred, certain other elements work quite well. The witches look pretty cool and the gunplay is well done. Also the finale act is not boring and there are some nice eerie moments. I’m not the biggest fan of witch movies so this one of the few I’ve enjoyed so far.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Vicious Fun (2020, Cody Calahan)

This is a very meta film in some ways, which is fine. Vicious Fun channels the 1980s in a good way, and has a fairly solid premise: a self help group for serial killers. Which the movie’s hero, Joel (Evan Marsh) stumbles into at a restaurant while very drunk. Lucky for him Carrie (Amber Goldfarb) is around to help him out in a badass final girl way. David Koechner is the only actor I knew in this movie and he’s pretty funny, as usual.

Each of the serial killers are based on film and real life ones, yet it is Ari Millen as Bob who steals the movie. He’s a mix of Patrick Bateman, Ted Bundy and a literal chameleon. I enjoyed that Vicious Fun was not afraid to show blood or gore, yet doesn’t utterly depend on those elements to be highly entertaining. Also Marsh and Goldfarb are quite funny together, and yet the movie wisely doesn’t try to set them up as a couple.

I did think the movie worn a bit thin by the final act and there was an obvious set up for a potential sequel. Regardless Vicious Fun is a blast and is one of those slasher movies that would be great to show at a drive in theater. I think my favorite part is the killer taxi cab driver idea, just because The Bone Collector ran with it in the late 1990s.

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