It's the middle of the month, and you know what that means! It's time for the Cutting Room! CR is a monthly post where we all do short, single-person reviews for movies we’ve watched on our own over the last month because why would we include each other?
We have a long list of films to review, and while the movies you see here haven’t come up quite yet, they may receive the full review treatment in the future. Let us know if you disagree about any of these movies, and check out past Cutting Rooms in the "More Horror" section up above!
3 Mysteriously Smashed Cell Phones
This is a terrific background movie. The plot is generic, the acting is sub-par, and the effects certainly aren’t anything special, but damn if everyone in this thing isn’t just really sexy and there aren’t one or two good jump scares. This is a really good laundry movie. Fold some pants, look up, see a sexy couple making out under a waterfall; iron a shirt, look up, see a night-vision monster biting fools.
The Nightmare (2015)
4 Interviews Filmed at Dutch Angles
I liked the concept of this movie a whole hell of a lot more than I did its execution. It’s the stories of 8 real people who suffer from sleep paralysis, and dramatized versions of the night terrors they experience. I really wanted to love this thing, but I just didn’t. I liked it fine, but it actually struck me as sort of boring. Night terrors are horrifying when they happen to you, but for the most part, the tales aren’t objectively frightening. And that’s kind of the case here. Maybe with a little better effects, or a more concerted focus on the science behind night terrors rather than just stories, this could’ve been something special, but as it stands, it was just okay.
The Squad (2011)
7.5 Broken Radios
There was a lot about this 2011 Colombian psychological horror flick that reminded me of one of my favorite films of this year; Black Mountain Side. More than anything, director Jaime Osorio Marquez’s ability to create a sense of isolation, dread and mounting distrust is extremely impressive. I’m fairly certain there is a lot I missed as an American viewer with little contextual knowledge of Colombian social affairs, but it didn’t make the movie any less gripping as a result. This is one that I’d like to study up on a bit and re-watch to see what little morsels I may have skated obliviously by in my first viewing. Highly recommended.
The Interior (2015)
6.5 Fucked With Bear Bags
Ok, I have some instructions for this one. Watch the trailer. Done? Ok cool. Intrigued? I know you are. Here’s the thing, though… don’t count on the movie to deliver the feeling provided by that trailer for very long. There are two distinct halves to this one. The front half is something between art-house and college film class-level comedy in nature. The second half is a truly engrossing addition to the genre that provides an extremely strong entry into the “woods are scary as shit after dark” sub-genre we all know and love. Seriously, this film has some of the more interesting and gorgeous nighttime filming I have ever seen. It just works. And if you can stomach the first half, the payoff is unsettling and perhaps more importantly, it makes you think.
The Borderlands (2013)
6.5 Burning Sheep
This is a British entry into the found footage sub-genre, and for the most part, I found it enjoyable. The actors were all likable and struck a natural balance between humor and fear that is so important in effective horror. I liked the premise as well. Essentially, our main character is something of a paranormal investigator employed by the Vatican to examine various claims. There is a depth of story and lore that bubbles up in this one that, while largely unspoken, adds enough intrigue to boost the events taking place on screen. Add to that a very novel twist that I in no way saw coming, and you’ve got yourself a positive viewing experience. My main knock on this one is that, from a reason for filming standpoint, this somehow didn’t do it for me despite the fact that it attempted to answer the question. I am commonly ok with just about any reason provided as long as the found footage flick in question establishes one. I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but I just couldn't give that portion to this one, which hampered my immersion a fair amount.
3 Hillbilly Prayer Books
This movie is all over the place. It’s a bit like the creators didn’t really know what direction to go in, so instead went in literally every direction possible. Instead of writing anything else I’ll just list the tropes I wrote down while watching the movie: creepy ginger child, bathtub ghost scene, disproportionate amount of time-lapse shots, childhood hauntings, serial killers in the woods, burnt down prisons, house buried on a cemetery, diddy laugh (with no children around), “help me” ghost leading to car crash, voodoo, creepy hitchhiker picker-upper, schizophrenia, hillbillies, “it’s almost like someone wanted us to find this,” “get out” ghost voice, room full o’ skulls, “she died on the day we were born,” techno chase scene, “twist” that doesn’t affect the outcome of the movie at all, more hillbillies. This movie wasn’t good by any stretch, but it also wasn’t boring… so there’s that.
Midnight Special (2016)
We reviewed this one in HRR way back in March. True to form, both Jack and Jake were wrong with their predictions and I alone am champion predictor. This isn’t really a horror movie. It was thrilling, I suppose, but not particularly suspenseful. At its heart this is an ET style romp of “keep the precious cargo away from the government.” It’s suspiciously well cast, and equivalently well acted. Unfortunately it’s not only not a horror movie, but it’s also pretty slow moving. Overall? Solid movie, slow moving, good score.
Scream the TV Series: Season 1 (2015)
7.5 Viral Videos
I started this on a lark because it was on Netflix. Little did I know I would enjoy it so immensely. Yes, I realize that giving this a 7.5 puts it in the upper echelon of movies we’ve reviewed. I’m still going to do it, because this shit is awesome. Also, I realize that the phrase “this shit is awesome” is a bit derivative, but honestly those words are chosen very carefully. This is objectively a pretty silly show. There’s a lot of self-aware bad writing/acting, layered in deus ex machina plot delivery. You’ll probably see the identity of the killer coming, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have fun guessing throughout the ride. When you boil it all down you get a prototypical slasher, presented as a 10ish hour TV series, that is incredibly fun. Watch this.