Even those of us a few years removed from our college days no doubt remember the stress of finals week. Those late nights spent staring bleary-eyed into a textbook on a subject far removed from our majors yet essential, from a bureaucratic perspective, to our futures just the same. Tensions were high during those dying days of the semester, and it’s there that Final Exam resides, a slasher more concerned with academics and social circles than actual slashing. Other films, from all genres, have played in this space, but few have done so with such a stunning lack of, well, anything.
Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell is a classic over-promise-under-deliver scenario. Based on the title and marketing, this, the sixth film in the Tremors series, seems to promise graboids – the franchise’s iconic giant, carnivorous worms – stalking a frozen Arctic tundra. Admittedly, that scenario makes no sense. Permafrost, one can assume, would not be an ideal habitat for a subterranean predator whose tactics are based entirely on moving swiftly through lose soil in pursuit of prey.
Soon I'll get to actually reviewing Man Vs., but first, a confession. While others chose to spend their Friday evenings in college during the mid-2000s grooving to Usher (featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris) or The Pussycat Dolls at a house party or bar, this reviewer could frequently be found in the company of good friends and one Les Stroud, a.k.a. “Survivorman.” As such, the antics of Stroud – and his more charismatic (and more British) survivalist compatriot, Bear Grylls – remain a nostalgia-addled guilty pleasure.
John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place is the rare movie that isn’t so much meant to be watched as it is experienced. It’s built around a gimmick that can only be fully appreciated in a crowded theater, like a no-tech version of something B-movie icon William Castle might have dreamed up half a century ago. Instead of vibrating chairs or hovering skeletons, Krasinski’s ploy is far more terrifying to modern moviegoers: silence. It’s almost as if, within its opening moments, the filmmaker dials down a theater’s soundscape until viewers feel guilty about breaking the tranquility.
Nails certainly has a grabby premise. It’s one bound to catch the eye of more than a few horror fans aimlessly scrolling through their streaming options, even those left jaded by the seemingly ceaseless onslaught of ghostly horrors. A co-production of the United Kingdom and Ireland, Nails puts a paraplegic (Shauna Macdonald), in the very early days of her recovery from a devastating accident, In this rundown treatment center she encounters a dangerous supernatural entity revealing the building's dark past.
A badly scarred madman with a foul sense of humor stalks his victims across a surreal, fantastical landscape in this Wes Craven film. If this answer came up in say, Final Jeopardy!, and your answer wasn’t accepted, you’d almost certainly have a legit gripe to lodge with the show’s judges. It’s not hard to imagine folks assuming this synopsis is in reference to Craven’s perhaps mildly overly-acclaimed but still iconic A Nightmare on Elm Street.
The Ritual gets off to as strong of a start as almost any horror flick in recent memory. Just moments after introducing us to a group of five aging college buddies planning a “lads’ trip,” the film plunges two of them into an unbearable, yet utterly plausible nightmare. As the rest of the group waits outside, Luke (Rafe Spall) and Rob (Paul Reid) head into a liquor store to pick up a bottle, only to stumble upon a robbery in progress.
Even without the benefit of a cushy, post-Super Bowl release slot, Veronica, the Spainish tale of supernatural shenanigans released stateside by Netflix, has managed to generate quite a bit of buzz on some corners of the web. Written and directed by Paco Plaza of Rec series fame, the movie takes viewers to Madrid circa 1991 where, after the death of her father, 15-year-old Veronica (Sandra Escacena) plays caretaker to her three younger siblings as her mom works to make ends meet.
Europa Report is a science fiction thriller that, for two-thirds of its runtime, derives said thrills from the process of discovery. It’s a movie that lavishes in the science of science fiction, paying loving tribute to the pioneer spirit and thirst for discovery that motivates otherwise sane people to strap themselves to a rocket and blast themselves into the great void of space.
The greatest mystery in The Vault, a flimsy bank heist meets haunted house mashup, has nothing whatsoever to do with the contents of the titular secure storage space. Instead, it has to do with just what in the heck James Franco is doing playing the gloriously mustachioed assistant manager of a haunted bank beset by a pack of robbers.
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