Baltimore Screening Pass-palooza – “Beast”!

Ready to get your Idris on? Yeah baybeeeee! Synopsis!

Recently widowed Dr. Nate Daniels and his two teenage daughters travel to a South African game reserve managed by Martin Battles, an old family friend and wildlife biologist. However, what begins as a journey of healing soon turns into a fearsome fight for survival when a lion, a survivor of bloodthirsty poachers, begins stalking them.

Ready? Let’s go!

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In Horror – “What Josiah Saw”

“God’s got something he wants done, boy.”

Subgenre: Southern Gothic Gone To Rot
Release Date: 2022 (Fantasia Fest in 2021)
FX: Very little blood and such
Some Clichés/Tropes: Crazy “Christianity”, Ghosts of Youth, Freaky Families
Where I Watched: Shudder

Story: Tommy is a grown man living with his alcoholic pa Josiah in the house he grew up in. So when Josiah sees a vision of a “way to make peace with our sins”, they get to work on that. Meanwhile, Tommy’s older brother and sister receive an offer from an oil company to sell the ol’ farm. But everyone in the family needs to sign off. Family reunion time! I’m sure nothing bad will happen.

Spooky or Nah?: Josiah starts off feeling like a cool blend of Southern Gothic and modern-day A24 horror. But sadly, though the cast delivers stellar performances, the plot feels sketched together rather than fully formed. It’s an interesting, chilling idea that never really takes off.

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In Queue Review – “Prey”!

“This morning, in the sky, I saw a sign. The Thunderbird. I’ve been practicing. It’s time. I’m ready.”

Genre: Alien Monster Historical Prequels WITH AXES
Release Date: 2022
Where I Watched: Hulu

Gist: Naru is an absolute badass. Tracker, healer, Comanche tribeswoman. But she wants to be seen as a hunter, and though she’s got the skills, she doesn’t have the respect. But when she hears thunder, and sees something unusual in the sky, it’s time to prove herself. Grab that bow, arrow, and throwing axe and let’s do this! C’mon pup. I’m sure you’ll be fine. [Spoiler: Sarii is A Very Good Boi, and he’ll be fine. I wouldn’t do you like that.]

Talky talk: Prey made me forget about all the cruddy films after the OG Predator. Sure, a few were fun enough to check out at home – looking at you, AvP and Predators – but always lacked a certain je ne sais coolness. But this prequel fires on all cylinders, giving longtime fans and fresh faced newbies something to enjoy.

The title is a fun twist on the plot itself; two hunters hoping to prove themselves to their tribe. Our heroine Naru, and the Predator. Both are a teeny bit full of themselves, but have the skills to back that up. Maybe they’re not seasoned, but hey; that’s the point of this hero(ine)’s journey, amirite?

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In Horror – They/Them!

“And please, just remember; this is for your own good.”

Story: Whistler Camp. Where folks can come “Respect, Renew, Rejoice”. And Head counselor Owen Whistler seems super chill, really laid back, and more into the campers finding out who they truly are than actually converting anyone. Too good to be true, right? Like, yeah maybe? Hey, what’s that boarded up cabin? What the heck’s in there? I’ve seen horror movies like this before, and if somebody’s got a bear suit in there I’m out. Er, I mean, enjoy your stay!

Subgenre: LGBTQIA+ Camp(y) Slasher Hijinks
Release Date: 2022
FX: Very little blood and gore. Extremely hilarious CGI deer early on.
Some Clichés/Tropes: Campers In Trouble, Who’s The Killer, Dying Offscreen
Where I Watched: Peacock

Spooky or Nah?: Yeah yeah. Sandman started today on Netflix. But I’ve been stoked for They/Them, and it’s possible subversion of slasher tropes ever since I saw the teaser with Kevin Bacon playing it up to the cheap seats. So here we are! Let’s dig in. Things start off with a narrative subversion too delicious to spoil but… okay maybe I spoiled it a teeny little bit by mentioning it? Ah, screw it. I liked it. Had to mention it. Got that out of my system. Thank you for your patience.

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“Vengeance” – Novak’s first directorial effort is damn good, y’all

“This just keeps getting bigger and bigger!”

Story: Ben Manalowitz is a jerk. The kind of guy that sleeps around and calls it living his truth, while not exactly talking to his partners about how he’s not monogamous. The kind of guy that’s so into his own ego trip he never once considers anything but how something can get him somewhere he wants to be. So when Ben finds out that Abilene Shaw, one of his hookups, has died, and her family believes him to be an important part of her life? He’s too interested in what people think of him to tell them the truth. Then he gets too interested in the idea of mining this tragedy for podcast fame, after her brother Ty tells Ben she was murdered. How can anything go wrong?

Genre I’d put it in: Who-and-Why-dunnits
Release Date: 2022
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Original, though the focus on Americana and “true crime” feels familiar in a comfy-couch kinda way

Gotta say: Vengeance is writer/performer B.J. Novak’s directorial debut, and he’s got the starring role in it too. Hey, the last comedian who figured he’d go serious with his director-type joints was Jordan Peele. No pressure though. Luckily, while Novak takes a different tack, genre-wise, he’s got as firm a grasp on the story he wants to tell (and the messages he wants to deliver) as Peele does. Bravo, dude.

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Watch “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – SDCC Trailer” on YouTube

“Find the light, and the shadow will not find you.”

It’s San Diego ComicCon time y’all! And the first big drop is a teaser of Amazon’s LOTR prequel. It looks beautiful, with a similar feel to Peter Jackson’s films. The music is lush and gorgeous, drawing me in immediately. I’m hoping this will be more LOTR than The Hobbit, in terms of cohesive, un-padded storytelling. Fingers crossed. Synopsis!

Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power hits Amazon Prime Video September 2nd, 2022.

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In Horror – “Mad God”

*silence, punctuated by garbled maybe-words, cries, screams, and wet sounds*

Story: The Assassin travels down, down, down a seemingly never-ending path, map in hand, with little to no empathy for the horrifying goings on happening around them. Elsewhere, a baby cries.

Subgenre: Nihilistic Stop Motion Horrors
Release Date: 2022 (festivals in 2021)
FX: About 90% stop motion. Tons of stop motion gore and violence
Some Clichés/Tropes: We’re Rotting Fleshbags, Man Is The Monster, Time Time Time See What’s Become Of Me
Where I Watched: Shudder

Spooky or Nah?: A jumbly mix of 9, Heavy Metal, Dante’s Inferno, Testuo, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Eraserhead, and acid trip fever dream. (Though I may be a bit repetitive with that last descriptive.) All of which is done in glorious stop-motion animation. I don’t care if you’re not a nilihism aficionado; there’s a pervading sense of off-kilter whimsy that tempers any soul-crushing you’d otherwise expect if this was played 100% straight. If you’re into old-school special effects, and/or off-the-beaten-path films? You need to see this movie. It’s 85 minutes, what kind of commitment is that? Not a big one. Dive in.

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With “Nope”, Jordan Peele pulls off a fantastic horror hat trick (#SpoilerFree)

“You can never go wrong with a fried fish sandwich.” [PREACH]

Story: Think I’m telling you, or even giving you a hint? Nope. You’ll thank me later.

Genre I’d put it in: Jordan Peele mind-blowers
Release Date: 2022
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Original. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

Gotta say: For those of you whose minds are puréed oatmeal after the craziness that’s been the past several years, Nope is Jordan Peele’s third directors credit. And damn if the man didn’t bring his A-game yet again. Yes there will definitely be times when you are watching this film and things like “What…?” “How…?” “Why…?” “But…?” will pop into your head. And that’s to be expected; this is the Jordan Peele joint, so there’s going to be moments where, like his earlier films, Peele wants you to sit and think about stuff rather than spoon-feeding you. He wants you to roll around those screen moments in your brain parts, and discuss them with folks. And believe me, my screening buddies had lots to chatter about outside the theater. I’m betting you will too.

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TrailerWatch – Laurie Strode goes toe-to-toe with Michael Meyers in “Halloween Ends” trailer

This is what we’ve been waiting for, Halloween fans. The moment where Laurie finally – figuratively and hopefully literally – faces off with her nemesis.

There’s no synopsis on the trailer. Just brief moments from the film flashing on screen. After the sputter that was Kills, I’m hoping things go out with a bang. And lots of blood. [EDIT – they just released the synopsis, so here ya go!]

Four years after the events of last year’s Halloween Kills, Laurie is living with her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) and is finishing writing her memoir. Michael Myers hasn’t been seen since. Laurie, after allowing the specter of Michael to determine and drive her reality for decades, has decided to liberate herself from fear and rage and embrace life. But when a young man, Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell; The Hardy Boys, Virgin River), is accused of killing a boy he was babysitting, it ignites a cascade of violence and terror that will force Laurie to finally confront the evil she can’t control, once and for all.

Halloween Ends on October 14th, 2022. Fingers crossed for a treat.

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Baltimore Screening Pass-palooza – “Vengeance”!

Before hitting the multiplex, please consider the health risks involved with participating in group gatherings at this time. Take very good care of yourselves – I wanna see you on the other side.

Ready for some payback? Synopsis!

VENGEANCE, the directorial debut from writer and star B.J. Novak (“The Office”), is a darkly comic thriller about Ben Manalowitz, a journalist and podcaster who travels from New York City to West Texas to investigate the death of a girl he was hooking up with. With an ensemble cast that includes Issa Rae, Ashton Kutcher, Boyd Holbrook, J. Smith-Cameron, and Dove Cameron.

Ready? Let’s go!

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