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. This week, we’re watching the best new horror thrills for these deep-winter chills.
The Queen of Black Magic, Shudder
Audiences who will seek out anything with a whiff of Midnight Madness outrageousness already know this one true fact of contemporary cinema: Indonesia is killing it when it comes to producing movies that take the word “extreme” to new aghghghghghg-did-they-just-do-that??? heights. Think of such recent productions as The Night Comes for Us (Netflix), Headshot (Netflix, Hoopla) and The Raid 2 (Apple TV/iTunes). To add to Jakarta’s intense film scene we can now add The Queen of Black Magic, a loose remake of the 1979 cult film of the same name that debuts on horror streaming service Shudder this weekend. Director Kimo Stamboel and writer Joko Anwar (Impetigore, Satan’s Slaves and a handful of other recent Indonesian scare-fests) deliver a tense, disturbing and delightfully disgusting tale of revenge, witchcraft and lessons on why it’s best to keep staple guns away from spirit-possessed hands.
His House, Netflix
There are two types of horror stories being told in His House, the largely impressive feature debut of writer-director Remi Weekes. The first, most obvious one is a haunted-house saga, in which South Sudan refugees Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) battle demons in their crumbling British council estate. But it is the film’s second horror story, in which the newcomers must adjust to life in a country that couldn’t care less for them, is the more evocative and effective tale of terror. Reminiscent of the social-housing-set chilliness of Dark Water (either the Japanese original or its pretty-good 2005 remake), Weekes’s titular house is a thoroughly creepy abode, with peeling walls, pest-infested cupboards and an overwhelming air of desperation.
Random Acts of Violence, Crave
From its opening credit sequence, which recalls a forgotten grindhouse feature amped with the power of digital technology, to its many energetic set-pieces of outrageous gore, Jay Baruchel’s Canadian horror film from last year immediately and loudly announces itself as a bold and purposefully chaotic work of prestige trash cinema. This is a compliment: Baruchel and co-writer Jesse Chabot clearly have a love for a very particular kind of down-market 1980s garbage. You know: those sketchy looking VHS tapes that populated the hidden-away shelves of your local video store. Movies that announced themselves with disreputable artwork and back-case images that terrified and titillated at the same time. Pick it up – digitally that is.
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