PG-13 80 mins. Justin Barber USA 2017
I loved Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez’s The Blair Witch Project when it first came out in 1999, and I’ve remained a staunch fan ever since. That interest has spilled over onto the found-footage subgenre of horror more generally, and I’m willing to forgive a lot (Why is she still filming what’s going on?) to see what directors can offer in the way of innovation. Sometimes I’ve been pleasantly surprised: Paranormal Activity (Oren Peli, 2007), Paranormal Activity 2 (Tod Williams, 2010), Willow Creek (Bobcat Goldthwait, 2013), Creep (Patrick Brice, 2014), and The Break-In (Justin Doescher, 2016) are all worthy horror films. I was excited, then, to hear about Phoenix Forgotten, directed by Justin Barber and written by Barber and T. S. Nowlin and released on April 21, 2017. Found-footage horror was at the theater again—and previews looked promising. Phoenix Forgotten seemed self-consciously to recognize its famous 1999 antecedent, with the billboard prominently featuring three missing teens. Could this be the film to re-create what Myrick and Sánchez accomplished almost twenty years ago?
By Kaitlyn Way
Children in horror fiction and film often challenge romantic perceptions of childhood as an idyllic and innocent phase of life. These representations of children frequently serve as either a warning against familial instability or as an indication of society’s collective fears and anxieties. With this in mind, Joseph’s Ruben’s 1993 psychological thriller The Good Son reacts to the “parental panic” of the late twentieth-century and to the widespread belief that American childhood was disintegrating.*
TV-14 87 mins. Dominic James Canada 2016
Despite themes ranging from suicide to mental illness, Wait Till Helen Comes is ostensibly a horror film geared toward the PG set. Drawing heavily from its source material, Mary Dowling Hahn’s 1986 YA classic of the same name, the film deserves credit for trusting its audience to follow a somewhat complicated narrative structure. While there have been some exceptions, most notably the brilliant Lady in White(1998), horror films marketed toward younger teens have often relied upon jump scares and gross out shock scenes to move the plot. For example, the moment when the witches peel off their human masks in The Witches (1990) or when the maggot covered meat is revealed in Poltergeist (1982). Wait Till Helen Comes does the complete opposite. It is slow moving and picturesque with a sensibility that is more implied horror. And the end result is a very mixed bag. Read more
My most awe inspiring encounters with nefarious rabbits include the first time I laid eyes on the massive black costume of “Bunny” while at a rave with Rabbit in the Moon and the first time that my innocent anticipating eyes consumed the film Watership Down (1978). While both of these are definitively scary (and potentially traumatizing), they do not encompass the spirit of Easter. If your family is anything like mine, nothing spells holidays like some old fashioned repression and subsequent bursts of aggression (or passive aggressiveness in our house). For all of you who can appreciate laughing at inappropriate times and poking fun at established traditions, then this list is for you!
NR 92 mins. Geoffrey Orthwein & Andrew Sullivan USA 2017
Bokeh is a beautiful film, shot on location in a deserted Iceland. It’s worth watching solely for the landscape and the cinematography (by Joe Lindsay), yet there is more than that to Bokeh. Not least, it stars the talented Maika Monroe (The Guest , It Follows ) as well as Matt O’Leary, playing characters who respond in entirely different ways to the cataclysm that strikes them and without whose undeniable abilities the film would have fallen flat, left to depend only on its landscapes.
The film follows a young couple, Jenai and Riley, who are on a dream vacation (Riley’s dream) in Iceland. They wake up one day to find that everyone in the town, indeed seemingly everyone on the planet, is gone. The film is not about the event itself—there’s a flash in the sky and that’s it: the event is not dramatized and it’s not explained. Instead, the film is about what Jenai and Riley do once they’ve discovered that they are utterly alone and far from their home. The power is still on, the Internet is working, they have cell phone service. There are just no humans left besides themselves.