With movie theatres reopening, and then closing, and then who-knows-what, there is comfort in knowing that, thanks to streaming and video-on-demand, we can all program our own double (or triple, or quadruple) bills at home. Here are this weekend’s best at-home cinema bets for a frightful pre-Halloween binge.
The Antenna, Crave and VOD
Making its way to VOD this weekend, but also available on Crave as part of the Canadian streamer’s too-quietly promoted TIFF Selects program, Orcun Behram’s feature debut The Antenna is an oozy mix of social satire and sticky horror. In a grey and nearly deserted Turkey, apartment superintendent Mehmet (Ihsan Onal) is tasked with supervising the installation of a new government surveillance system, the arrival of which happens to coincide with a pesky infection of black goo that’s seeping into tenants' homes. The central metaphor might be obvious, but Behram has dark fun with the allegory. As the frequency of this particular nightmare ratchets up in volume, The Antenna proves a worthy successor to the work of David Cronenberg, Ben Wheatley and the many other filmmakers who delight in the meaty material of rancid subjects.
Blood Quantum, Crave
The zombie movie is both the smartest and dumbest sub-genre of horror filmmaking. In one corner, you have the medium’s greatest minds using the walking dead as sly metaphors for the terrors of racism (George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead), the zero-sum game of political isolationism (Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later), and the thin veneer of civility that keeps modern society chugging along (Yeon Sang-ho’s Train to Busan). But the zombie movie can also be wielded as a weapon of gore-soaked nothingness, too. Canadian director Jeff Barnaby’s new stab at the zombie film, Blood Quantum, fortunately swings toward the metaphorical end of the undead entrails; it is as much a gusty dissection of colonialism as it is a gut-spilling splatter-thon.
Nocturne, Amazon Prime Video
As part of superproducer Jason Blum’s bid to conquer all things horror, Amazon Prime Video this month released a new collection of four Blum projects under the programming cluster titled Welcome to the Blumhouse. While at least one of the films, the left-on-a-shelf Canadian feature The Lie, is a dud, the other three offer better-than-expected direct-to-streaming scares, with the highlight being director Zu Quirke’s Nocturne, a chiller about twin sister piano prodigies. Genuinely chilling, Quirke’s feature is provocative without being senseless.
Vampires vs. The Bronx, Netflix
Sometimes, the most entertaining horror movies are the ones that know screams are just laughs in a different pitch. Osmany Rodriguez’s new film, which received a curiously muted marketing push from Netflix when it premiered earlier this month, is what would happen if you put Attack the Block in a blender with Vampire in Brooklyn, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and an episode of Saturday Night Live – and it happened to come out tasting surprisingly delicious rather than chunkily rancid. Partly a dark comedy about gentrification, but mostly an excuse for some good old-fashioned kids versus vampires shenanigans, Rodriguez’s film is as charming as it is frightful.
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