Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Netflix and Amazon Horror Movie Binge

It isn’t often that I have time to just sit and do nothing but watch movies on Netflix or Amazon. Over the last two weekends, I’ve been flying to weddings (none of them my own), and have had more time than expected to watch some movies. While watching on a tablet isn’t quite the same as watching on a screen, the movies were ones I’d wanted to see and there were no TV shows calling my name. There are probably more movies I watched, but these were the ones that stood out, for better or for worse.

Maggie, featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin

I can rarely turn my eye away from a zombie movie, be it good or bad. This movie reminded me a little of Warm Bodies (the story being told from the PoV of the zombie). In this movie, Abigail Breslin plays Schwarzenegger’s daughter who has been bitten by a zombie and is infected. The story is a bit of a slow trudge, at times stumbling through awkward sequences and blasting through emotional ones that could have used more care. It is rare that a story about zombies ever paints the zombies in a non-lethal light, but Breslin’s zombie is turning, not yet turned and watching her, and her family, cope with the way the world works was actually worth watching. I never really knew much about Breslin before Scream Queens, but so far, I haven’t been disappointed. The story lacks a certain cohesion, but both Breslin and Schwarzenegger deliver pretty emotional performances.

The Hallow

In some cases, a horror movie is basically a worst case scenario for normal people, and that pretty much holds true in The Hallow. The movie was touted as being super scary when it came out a year ago, but I’d never gotten the chance to see it. It is streaming free, so I thought, all aboard! I was only a little disappointed. If you saw District 9, this might seem familiar.

The premise of the story is an overwrought one for horror movies, family moves to a new home and offends the locals and things go downhill from there. The use of technology in the movie was interesting, making the horror movie almost an homage to environmentalism. The father likes to explore the nearby forest and the neighbors try to persuade him that nothing good will come of this. And that’s exactly what happens. The movie uses countless jump scares to keep the audience engaged, but the crux of the story and the twists it takes towards the end make the ordeal worth it. I’m not sure I would have considered it a great horror movie, but it delivered the gore and terror.


This movie was recommended to me by a co-worker. We often lament all the bad horror movies we watch on Netflix/Amazon. There are quite an assortment. Both services are quite good about recommending more of the same.

The main character in Hush is a deaf woman. It astounds me that there has been no horror movie done like this before. The motivation for the ‘bad guy’ in the movie is nonexistent, making the whole thing a little tough to swallow, however, a man decides to terrorize this woman, only realizing while standing right behind her, that she’s deaf, do things get interesting. On the one hand, I feel like this should have been a short movie given the idea that an able-bodied human should be able to find a way to surprise a deaf person, but this guy was pretty inept. The ending is not entirely surprising, but the way the movie gets there is worth seeing. This isn’t a star-studded, Hollywood blockbuster, but it was quite good given the scope and story.

The Mirror

I would really love the hour and a half it took me to watch this movie back. Any shaky cam movies put themselves in one of two groups: good or unwatchable. This was the latter. The story was interesting, at first. College/University age kids are applying for a grant to prove that the supernatural exists and buy a haunted mirror on ebay. The basics premise seems solid, the execution was downright terrible. The actors were either working with a nonexistent script or just couldn’t muster one ounce of emotion. The main character, I guess, main white guy #1 is the first to be affected by the mirror and while there is a GoPro cam attached to him, somehow the friends never see the footage, but we as the audience do. White guy #2 is doing as little as possible to figure out what is going on. White girl is the girlfriend of white guy #1 and does nothing to further the plot whatsoever. It really was a waste of my time.


And pair this movie with the last one and I am owed 3 hours from the world, or something. The premise of this one was also sound. If you’ve never heard of this, as Muslim, I’ve grown up knowing about Djinns. It is truly terrifying. What was done in the movie was mildly scary at times, but the story didn’t come together.

The story starts out like a fairy tale, talking about a Djinn who fell in love and had a baby with a  human (this is also something talked about it Muslim culture, while we can’t see them, Djinns can see us and fall in love with us). The baby is taken away, presumed to be killed, and the Djinn curse the village this happens in. Fast forward (unknown amount of years) and a corporation is trying to build on this plot of land. A man from America is offered a job back in his homeland, the UAE (where this building is) and the story devolves from there.

There are quite a few solid jump scares and the manifestation of the Djinns was well done, to some degree. In the Muslim folklore, Djinns are made of fire. In this movie, they resemble the Dementors from the Harry Potter movies, but smaller. Either way, it still conveyed the same sort of terror. Any being that is wreathed in black, with faces unseen, often gives me goose bumps. Having said that, I don’t think I’d recommend sitting through this movie just to see that.

The Awakening

There are some notable Hollywood stars in this, Dominic West, Rebecca Hall, but even this won’t save the story that almost, but didn’t quite make for a great horror film. The film follows the main character, played by Rebecca Hall, as a professional debunker of ghostly things. West’s character is sent to retrieve her to investigate a death at an all boy’s boarding school. The place is rife for a horror move (and, for all you Pride and Prejudice fans, I’m pretty sure it is the set of Pemberley, Mr. Darcy’s home!). Something is strange going on at the school and after a red herring with a teacher, Hall’s character unearths the truth and almost dies because of it. The ending left a lot to be desired. Also, Delores Umbridge was in it and that was worth seeing.

Haunter/ Final Girl
I started with Abigail Breslin and will end with two more of her movies. Who knew she’s done so many movies? I stumbled upon two of them, but Netflix recommended Final Girl and I thought, sure, okay.


In an homage to Groundhog Day, Breslin plays a sixteen year old teen who keeps reliving her final day, only to become aware of the fact that she keeps reliving it. The story arcs between past, present and future and while it doesn’t tie together perfectly at the end, the horror of it maintains pace throughout, making it a surprising film to find that I’d never heard of. Once Breslin realizes she is reliving the same day, she begins seeing this girl. The girl isn’t haunting her, but the other way around. Once the two connect, a larger evil menace is revealed and the two work together to get the evil out of the house. While this isn’t the best or scariest of horror movies out there, it is worth a watch.

Final Girl

The picture has Abigail Breslin holding an axe. What’s not to love already? Breslin’s character is orphaned and brought up to be an assassin. Looking at her, I’m positive no one would expect it. Wes Bentley plays her mentor and the two embark on missions to, seemingly, rid the world of evil. Bentley comes upon a stor of boys killing girls and assigns Breslin to the task. She isn’t crazy about it, but manages to subdue all four of her assailants in quick time. I actually really liked seeing Breslin overpowering this guys who were so much bigger and stronger than her. The idea of the movie was ridiculous and it would have been nice to play up the humor of it, but instead the movie was played as serious, which I think is a disservice to Breslin.

All in all, I have some hits, and some misses. The moral of the story, based on my list, go watch something with Abigail Breslin in it.

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