Bored of your Blu-rays? Undecided about your DVDs? Have no fear – here is a curated selection of the some of the best horror films that Netflix has to offer this month.
The Girl With All the Gifts (2016)
Dir. Colm McCarthy. Starring: Sennia Nanua, Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close.
Synopsis: In a dystopian future, a special young girl may hold the key to saving civilization as we know it – or she may be the architect of its final dissolution.
When you’re in the mood for: Zombies; apocalypse; medical horror; dystopia.
If you enjoyed playing the incredible action-survival horror game The Last of Us, then you will love The Girl With All The Gifts, which plays as a live-action sequel, prequel or reboot. The similarities are many – fungal zombies, a miraculous young girl, a reluctant male protector figure, a quest that takes us through a number of dangerous situations where certain behaviours are required in order to avoid attracting the attention of monsters. There are a number of scenes that feel very game-like in nature, which is always fun to see in a film. The acting is very well-done, particularly in the case of newcomer Sennia Nanua who portrays Melanie. The story unfolds slowly and organically, which is great for those of us who despise gratuitous exposition dumps. Did I mention that Glenn Close is in it? Watch it as soon as possible and see why this film captured so much hype during festival season.
My rating: Loved it.
Ava’s Possessions (2015)
Dir. Jordan Galland. Starring: Louisa Krause, Whitney Able, Deborah Rush.
Synopsis: A young woman works on her recovery after a lengthy possession and exorcism.
When you’re in the mood for: Horror comedy; possession; exorcism; mystery.
There have been countless films about demonic possessions, though they generally cover the period leading up to the exorcism, with the final casting out of the demon as the climax. But what happens to the victims afterward? This witty horror-comedy picks up the story immediately after an exorcism, following the story of Ava (Louisa Krause) as she picks up the pieces of her life after a month-long demonic possession. She faces numerous criminal charges stemming from her plight, has lost a number of friends over her possessed behaviour, and can’t explain the mysterious bloodstain on her living room floor. She tries to make sense of what has happened to her through enrolling in a support program called Spirit Possession Anonymous and following a trail of clues to discover just what it is that her demon has made her do. The film is gorgeously shot, alternately drenched in moody neon or swathed in muted tones. As someone who isn’t a huge fan of exorcism movies, I really appreciated the film’s satirical, tongue-in-cheek take.
My rating: Loved it.
Bone Tomahawk (2015)
Dir. S. Craig Zahler. Starring: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox.
Synopsis: Western settlers in frontier Texas form a rescue party to track down and save a group of captives who have been kidnapped by vicious, cave-dwelling cannibals.
When you’re in the mood for: Western; cannibalism; slow burn; period piece; drama.
When a group of settlers are kidnapped from their village by a clan of cannibals, four men set out to rescue them. But when they finally reach their destination, they encounter foes far more formidable and terrifying than they had ever imagined. The gore, when it comes, is incredible (and incredibly brutal). Be warned: if slow burns don’t appeal to you, this may not be the best selection for your viewing experience. Bone Tomahawk luxuriates in the journey. The film’s pace is glacial, which allows viewers to really drink in the beautiful natural landscapes, and the real “action” doesn’t commence until about 2/3 of the way into its rather long run-time.
Beyond the Gates (2016)
Dir. Jackson Stewart. Starring: Barbara Crampton, Graham Skipper, Chase Williamson.
Synopsis: Two brothers find a mysterious VCR boardgame in their father’s locked room after his disappearance, and soon find themselves drawn into a deadly game that may not allow for any winners.
When you’re in the mood for: Retro horror; nostalgia; paranormal; cheesy horror; 80s direct-to-video horror; horror comedy.
There are a few things that this film will never win an award for: Best Script, Best Acting, Best Directing – best anything, really. It isn’t a terribly intelligent or well-made film, but it is a lot of fun. The practical effects are reminiscent of low-to-mid budget 1980s horror, and the film further hearkens back to that era by featuring a video store setting and using a VCR boardgame as a major plot device. Horror legend (and smoking hot) Barbara Crampton plays the hell out of her role as the VCR game host. The plot follows a pair of brothers reconnecting after the disappearance of their father, and their attempts to save his soul through playing the mysterious game that they find in his office. It’s a silly movie, but the relationship between the two brothers and the older brother’s girlfriend is nice and the three leads are likable enough. It’s worth watching Barbara Crampton.
My rating: Liked it.