February 2020 Review: The Best and Worst Movies I Saw Last Month
Updated: May 8, 2021
February 2020 Review:
February has been a decisively better month than January. I am not sure what it is about the movies I have seen so far, but the overall quality has been much higher. Not only that, but I am pleased that movies released in 2020 have been much stronger than last month. This month I watched 25 horror movies. I am very happy with this crop of movies and hope next month is just as strong. Here are the three best and three worst movies I saw in February 2020. Enjoy!
WORST #3) 30 Miles from Nowhere (2019); Director: Caitlin Koller; United States
A group of old college friends return to Wisconsin to attend the funeral of one of their former classmates, a psychologist who died by suicide. After converging at his old home, the group begins experiencing a variety of unexplainable and unsettling phenomenon. 30 Miles from Nowhere offers absolutely new or interesting to the “cabin in the woods” subgenre of horror films while also being mind-numbingly tedious. Abrasive characters can sometimes add charm to a good horror-comedy, especially if they have redeeming qualities or face serious karmic justice. Unfortunately, this awful group does not have either going for them. At several points during the film, I had to ask myself how or why these people even became friends because they are just genuinely awful. Upon further investigation, I read that this was supposed to be a comedy. I feel like I don’t need to explain why that is an issue for a horror-comedy. Nothing in this movie sticks— the jokes, the scares, the ending. It’s all a flat, boring mess that begs to be forgotten about which you are certain to do roughly fifteen minutes after the ending credits roll. Do yourself a favor and stay 30 miles away from this movie.
Overall Score? 3.5/10
BEST #3) Come to Daddy (2020); Director: Ant Timpson; Canada/Ireland/New Zealand/United States
Any movie that begins with a juxtaposition of quotes about fatherhood from William Shakespeare and Beyoncé before introducing us to any of the action is bound to be a unique journey. Come to Daddy follows Elijah Wood as Norval, a man traveling deep in the wilderness to connect with his long-lost father. What follows is a series of murderous hijinks that will leave your sides split. Through a few twists and turns, audience members learn that not all is what it seems in this cozy seaside mansion. Elijah Wood acts as the emotional anchor of the film. Wood’s performance begins with puppy dog eyes and yearning monologues for paternal bonding that crescendos into unhinged hilarity. Norval feels like a real person. He’s charming and seems to genuinely care about family while still posturing as a materialistic poser. Come to Daddy works because it so earnestly injects a healthy dose of fun into the formula of typical child-parent reunification horror. The violence is over the top, the comedy is fresh and well-timed, and the supporting cast give solid performances. It won’t please all audiences but Come to Daddy is sure to be a contender for one of the best horror comedies of the year, and it is only March!
Overall Score? 7/10
WORST #2) Altar (2017); Director: Matt Sconce; United States
Altar is a found-footage story of a woman and her brother traveling with her college friends deep in the mountains for a reunion. Long after making a wrong turn, they set up camp anyway and fall prey to an ancient supernatural trap hidden within the woods. With Altar, Director Matt Sconce adds to the ever-growing list of films that attempt to capture the magical and frightening energy of the iconic Blair Witch Project and fail miserably. Altar is an incoherent and derivative mess of a film that lazily stitches together shaky camera shots and young adults yelling at various volumes and intervals then calls itself a movie. Somehow Altar stretches its 80-minute runtime into some interminable endurance contest to see how long its viewers can stand its inanity. Characters have little backstory or redeemable qualities while storylines and character arcs are introduced and dropped almost immediately (a guy is literally dating his former high school student and somehow this is never mentioned again?) I’ll admit that this movie frustrated me. Found footage films have so much potential to be inventive with their storytelling to where even bad films in this subgenre get some points for trying to do something different. Altar could not even be bothered. Tiresome and unnecessary, I pray you find a better movie to watch.
Overall Score? 3/10
BEST #2) Color Out of Space (2020); Director: Richard Stanley; United States
I wrote about the beautifully gorgeous Color Out of Space earlier this month (check it out here), so I will not go into too much depth. Boasting beautiful shots and an engaging story, Color Out of Space is a captivating stint in Lovecraftian horror that deserves to be seen in all its phantasmagorical glory.
Overall Score? 8/10
WORST #1) It’s in the Blood (2012); Director: Scooter Downey; United States
Made for tv, It’s in the Blood follows a man reconnecting with his father on a trip out in the woods. Once there, they are stalked by a strange creature hellbent on tearing them apart. Bland, forgettable, and empty, It’s in the Blood does everything wrong when creating a compelling creature feature. For one, the monster is revealed way too early on in the film and thus ruins any surprise or suspense that could develop— effectively killing all mystery from the get-go. Furthermore, the creature design is tepid and uninspired, littered with piss-poor special effects that make Syfy original movies look like they were Marvel or Pixar caliber creations. The story of It’s in the Blood gets even more convoluted when it attempts to explain the estrangement between the father and son. It all stemmed from an incident where the father’s coworker (a police deputy) abused his daughter in a shed, kidnapped and tied up his son, and forced the father to make a choice between them regarding which should live. Oh, I forgot to mention this all stemmed from the deputy’s intense jealousy that the daughter was hooking up with the son? Yeah, there’s a lot to unpack with this movie and you won’t want to talk about any of its contents. If you are every unfortunate to run into this film, do yourself a favor and choose to spend your time doing anything else.
Overall Score? 2.5/10
BEST #1) The Lodge (2020); Directors: Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz; United Kingdom/United States
The Lodge follows a woman and her two soon-to-be stepchildren spending the holidays in a remote house in the middle of a snowstorm. The less that is said about this movie, the better. The Lodge is a dark and disturbing tale of how trauma and grief push good people into doing terrible things. Riley Keough stars as Grace, the other woman of the father of Aidan and Mia, played by Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh respectively. The majority of conflict in The Lodge centers around Grace’s attempts to bond with the children and their cold reception to her olive branches. Severin Fiala and Veronika Freanz have a knack for crafting claustrophobic and tense relationship-center horror films. The duo helmed 2015’s creepy Goodnight Mommy and have followed it up with this sister-film. The dreary cabin exudes darkness and lifelessness which further punctuates the creeping dread and isolation of the hapless inhabitants of The Lodge. Keough gives a wonderfully tragic performance, walking the line between heartbreaking naivety and something softly sinister. Martell and McHugh boast impressive performances given their age and the maturity of the themes The Lodge tackles. Both handle everything with aplomb and dark innocence. The Lodge is a frozen horror picture of unrelenting tension and dread that is sure to get under your skin.
Overall Score? 8/10