February 2022 Review: The Best and Worst Movies I Saw Last Month
Thanks to Covid, I have found some additional unexpected issues regarding my health, which means I have had much more time to devote to movies this month. After watching dud after dud, I am very happy to share that the few good movies that I did watch this month are absolutely worth the struggle. In total I watched 51movies, 43 being first time watches and 8 that were re-watches. As always, I will share what the best and worst three of the month are, but I also want to introduce a new segment where I share the re-watch with the most dramatic ratings change. Without further ado…
Re-Watch Highlight: Lake Mungo (2008); Director: Joel Anderson; Australia
Alice, a teenage girl, is found drowned in a lake but her story doesn’t end after her body’s discovery. Her family feels the echoes of her presence reverberating in their lives long after she is buried in the ground. They search for answers in video tapes which lead them down a dark path in uncovering the full picture of what happened to Alice leading up to her death. Is Alice really dead? Is she alive somewhere else? Or is her spirit trying to send a message from the other side? Back when After Dark Horrorfest came out, I initially had lukewarm feelings for this mockumentary. Since then, I’ve noticed that it has gained a cult following, so I naturally wanted to revisit it and see if it resonates with me this time. While I didn’t enjoy it outright this second time around, I can appreciate more of what they were going for here. The slowest of slow burns with a unique setup, Lake Mungo isn’t for everyone, but fans of more restrained storytelling may rejoice in its offbeat nature. This viewing gave me a better appreciation for its strengths, but I still cannot say that I enjoy the film. Out of all the re-watches I did this month, this was the biggest rating change.
Previous Rating: 4.5/10
New Rating: 5.5/10
WORST #3) Tales from the Hood 2 (2018); Director: Rusty Cundieff, Darin Scott; United States
Four tales of terror are told by a master storyteller to a skeevy politician who intends to harness the power of words to fuel his latest investment and invention: a robot police officer. The first story follows a doll collector who gets more than she bargained for when searching for her latest addition. The next deals with a fake psychic channeling a real ghost who seeks revenge against the men who murdered him. Two young men fall victims to a pair of beautiful women who have sinister intentions for them in their home. Lastly, victims from the past beseech a local politician to do the right thing. I’m a big fan of the original 1995 anthology film, which disappoints me to say that Tales from the Hood 2 is a mess of a film that has half the bite and half the heart of its predecessor. The hook for this series is to center Black horror stories and present them in a morality tale fashion in a modern context. Unfortunately, the segments here are muddled and feel strangely off from the time that it was released. This sequel isn’t much to look at, but if you are a fan of anthologies or Black horror in general, you may find something to appreciate.
Overall Score? 3.5/10
BEST #3) The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976); Director: Matt Cimber; United States
Molly leads a normal life. She works hard at her job as a bartender, loves to babysit her nephews, whom she adores, and every now and then she will murder the men she takes to bed. Her fantasies of truly enjoying herself with her many suitors are sullied by her memories of childhood, which consisted of her abuse at the hands of her father. She has chosen to remember him as a hero and often tells stories of his grand adventures to her nephews. As her delusions grow stronger, Molly will go on a killing spree that will finally alert authorities to her activities. Will they be too late? Easily the biggest surprise of the month is this wonderfully weird 70s gem. A psychosexual descent into madness, The Witch Who Came from the Sea is a tragic tale that espouses more on the horrors of childhood abuse than the traditional slash and hack fare one might expect from the plot. The terror comes from Molly’s manifestations of grief and torment at the hands of her father which makes not only for a terrifying watch but a heart wrenching one. If you are looking for a more conventional slasher, look elsewhere, but if you are searching for something unique and captivating you might just find it with The Witch Who Came from the Sea.
Overall Score? 7.5/10
WORST #2) Slender Man (2018); Director: Sylvain White; United States
Teenagers obsessed with the latest internet trends fall down a rabbit hole when they discover the lore behind Slender Man. Slender Man is a creature that lurks in the forest with the form of a man, only impossibly thin equipped with the power to transform with its unique abilities. His goal is to terrorize, trance, or take his victims. After the teenagers summon him through a ritual, they find themselves at the mercy of his sick and twisted games. I had doubted the terrible reviews of this film for so long because I refused to believe that a studio released horror film could be that bad. My friends, Slender Man is that bad! Disregarding the bungled mythology of the entity itself, the story is plodding and a generic retread of virtually all demonic-esque movies from the past two decades. The scares are predictable and offer no originality or innovation to make them worth your while. Joey King does her best to lead this shallow supernatural horror out of the woods, but even she struggles to sell the silliness of it all. In the end, worn tropes and hilariously bad effects win out to make this one paper thin creepypasta adaptation certifiably… crappy.
Overall Score? 3/10
BEST #2) Blood Glacier (2013); Director: Marvin Kren; Austria
Researchers at a remote outpost in the Austrian Alps discover something truly extraordinary and terrifying in a melting glacier. They bicker about what action they must take as they understand the importance and danger of their find, but they must impress the Climate Minister who is on her way to visit with some local journalists. Their choice leads to them understanding the true nature of the lifeform that lay dormant for all these years, something that causes the organism to mutate the DNA of its host and transform them into bizarre and horribly grotesque creatures. I had been aching for this film to receive a streaming release of its original German audio cut for so long and I am delighted to report that the wait was entirely worth it. Blood Glacier is a tense and outrageous creature feature with bombastic effects and terrifying creature design. Naysayers will claim it is a blatant rip-off of John’s Carpenter’s masterpiece The Thing, and I vehemently disagree. Blood Glacier takes a similar premise and takes it in a different direction. While isolation is a focal point, the horror comes from more Earth based fears than alien. Blood Glacier lacks the paranoia and unpredictability of The Thing and instead opts for a more modern approach to fears on climate change and the angst that comes with it. A fantastic location, great camerawork, and solid performances, Blood Glacier is one creature feature you’ll go bananas for.
Overall Score? 7.5/10
WORST #1) Happy Little Bunnies (2021); Director: Patrick McConnell; United Kingdom
While a man seeks therapy from a psychologist with unusual methods, a crazed killer in a bunny mask terrorizes the perverted men of a small town. As the man and his therapist descend down a dark and disturbing path, the young man begins to wonder if he is the cause for all the deaths around him, or if there are even worse truths to be uncovered. Easily the most frustrated and irritated I have been watching a movie in a long time, Happy Little Bunnies is a deadpan dissection on the nature of violence and its intersection with sexuality. Despite saying nothing new or interesting on its subject matter, it gleefully revels in the killing of those who are deemed to be perverse. While the morality is irrelevant, it’s interesting to see how little the killer’s motivation is explored and how the victims are put on display instead. Regardless, the more offensive aspect of the film is in its lack of good performances or tension. It’s a slasher without finesse, which hurts more than whatever knife it sticks in the back of its victims, which would be a much more forgiving way to dispose of Happy Little Bunnies moving forward.
Overall Score? 3/10
BEST #1) Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight (1995); Director: Ernest R. Dickerson; United States
A man with one singular goal in life is on the run from someone determined to take him down. After a nasty car crash, the man makes his way to a rundown inn in the middle of nowhere. He’s introduced to a menagerie of quirky locals before being subdued by the police. His detainment is short lived when the man chasing him is revealed to be a demon known as The Collector whose mission is to retrieve a special key from him. This key will unleash chaos onto earth if the ragtag group of humans don’t put a stop to him. A camp fest through and through, this wacky demon zombie hybrid flick is perfect to watch no matter your mood. There is so much to love about this wonderful 90s gem. It’s tense, hilarious, and captivating from start to finish. What really anchors this film is its performances. William Sadler’s Brayker and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Jeryline make for great heroes that are not without flaws yet incredibly easy to cheer on in their quest to defeat The Collector. Billy Zane, however, steals the show as the charming and manipulative demon determined to unleash Hell on Earth. Filled with scares, shrieks, and even a little bit of steam, Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight is the key to having a great night in celebrating some of horror’s best.
Overall Score? 8/10