One of my guilty pleasures is a good horror movie. This month, I have been blessed to be able to review a number of new horror releases. From the bizarre to the gross, these films will delight all my readers that are also scary movie fans.
HoneyDew is what I dub a SWF for – stupid white folks – film. I mean, who with any smarts, would make the choices this dumbass couple makes. But it is, oh so much, horror fun and an instant horror indie classic.
The feature debut of writer/director Devereux Milburn, Honeydew is a slow, steady and terrifying build to a horrifying conclusion. The story is basic horror fare. A couple’s car breaks down and they stumble upon a weirdo family that is a cross between the Hewitts from the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre “and the Odets in “Wrong Turn”! You have to stick with it as it takes the first hour and 12 minutes to get to any real scares. It’s a dark and sinister tale with a soundtrack that adds to the sense of foreboding.
Sawyer Spielberg (yeah, he’s Steven Spielberg’s kid) makes what he can of his character’s implausible decisions and Malin Barr as Riley, his lady love, is pitch perfect. But the star of the film is the legendary Barbara Kingsley, as the lady of this house of horrors. I do wish Milburn had built out the characters and relationships a bit more. Like I would have had more of the townspeople be involved for an added horror touch. I was expecting this to go more in that direction. But it just stayed in this one household. Plus, it all happens in one night, which is ok but made the film plod a bit. It might have been interesting to have had a reason that the couple were staying at the farmhouse for awhile. Since Riley was a botany student perhaps her character could have been doing some research on the farm. Because the pace was so plodding it was painfully slow. But that said, true horror fans will still enjoy it for its grotesque concepts.
Dementia Part ll
I never saw the first in this series. But purportedly they are not related stories. Written and directed by Matt Mercer, who also stars and Mike Testin, this indie is a complete gross out sure to delight fans of the truly bizarre. Suzanne Voss plays Suzanne Goldblum, a seemingly harmless elderly woman, who needs some basic handy work done around her house. However, she becomes more and more evil and odd and engages Wendell, the handyman played by Mercer, into some horrific sick games. Her daughter Sheila, played by Najarra Townsend, who was also partnered with Mercer and Testin in one of my favorite indie horrors of all time “Contracted”, is his only hope for survival. It’s the grossest film I have ever seen. In addition, it makes no sense why Wendell puts up with Suzanne’s sick, crazy antics even though he desperately needs a job. There are just too many opportunities to leave this looney, wackjob alone, which renders the whole film totally implausible.
David Labovitch’s score made me think of the theme from Hitchcock’s “Psycho” and was a perfect fit. Mercer and Testin are experts at creating fun, creepy, and gross indie horrors with low budgets in record time. “Contracted” only took three months to write and produce and “Dementia Part II” was completed in five weeks! Someone needs to give these guys a major Hollywood budget. Because I would love to see what they would do with even more time and money to produce a horror film.
With the US and the world veering dangerously towards fascism, tales about the witch trials and other periods of mass hysteria are truly terrifying. Set in 1665 during the Great Plague in the UK, The Reckoningfollows Grace Haverstock (Charlotte Kirk), who after losing her husband to murder, is falsely labeled a witch when she denies his murderer’s advances. She endures assaults from both human and metaphysical demons before finally having her revenge. The film is misogynistic and filled with difficult to watch scenes of torture. Yet it is beautifully directed by Neil Marshall, who made another of my horror favs, “The Descent.” The influence of his work on “Game Of Thrones” can also be seen in this period piece.
The film stars Charlotte Kirk, who co-wrote the film with her beau and the film’s director, as the Grace. She is both great in the film and excellently cast since she has quite a real-life history with Hollywood misogyny. After years of sexual abuse from Hollywood execs, it is great to see her finally get her starring role.
With the current focus on #MeToo and Kirk’s own personal history, I do wish the story had more to say. As is, it is simply an almost two-hours of female torture porn, with a bang up ending, set against a glossy medieval background. There is, however, a sequel that I would love to see and I hope Kirk and Marshall have one in mind.