The Netflix Weekend Watchlist
The Frontier (2015) – I’m a sucker for an interesting crime film, and this one from writer/director Oren Shai with co-writer Webb Wilcoxen definitely qualifies. In a likely nod to Psycho the film opens with a young woman arriving at a motel in the middle of nowhere with a secret, only to stumble upon darker goings-on. The similarities end there, but what follows is a tense and off-beat thriller with an engaging cast of characters centered around the motel’s diner. The movie stars Jocelin Donahue (The House of the Devil), Kelly Lynch (Drugstore Cowboy), and Jim Beaver (Supernatural).
Victoria (2015) – This German film, directed by Sebastian Schipper (Absolute Giganten) is also a crime thriller, but any similarities end there. The movie – shot in one continuous take – follows Victoria (Laia Costa), an immigrant from Spain living in Berlin. She goes out to a club one night and encounters a group of men, and the five of them spend the night wandering around the city. Victoria is eventually dragged into an early morning heist, which plays out for the rest of the film. Aside from being technically impressive (the single shot lasts the entirety of the 138 minute run time), the film is unpredictable, sometimes brutally, and enthralling throughout.
Beyond the Gates (2016) – If you’ve enjoyed or are enjoying the throwback 80's horror vibe of Stranger Things or Stranger Things 2, I’d recommend checking out this horror film from director Jackson Stewart (making his feature film debut). Less upscale 80's horror, and more B-movie VHS rental, the movie is about two brothers (Graham Skipper and Chase Williamson) packing up their missing father’s video store, and dealing with their unresolved family trauma. While there, they discover an old VHS game called Beyond the Gates and decide to take it home and play it. Unsurprisingly, this opens up some kind of demonic gateway and gory and gruesome things follow. There’s some shaky acting, and the story doesn’t fully hold together, but it’s a fun way to spend a Saturday night.
I Am Not a Serial Killer (2016) – My favorite of the four films this week is the one I’ll probably say the least about. In brief, a young man who has been diagnosed as sociopathic works with his single mother at her funeral home. When a series of brutal murders begin happening in the town, he is drawn to investigate, as much to find the truth as to assure himself that he isn’t committing the murders without realizing it. I’ll leave the summary there, as even some of the smaller details of the film are what make it so engaging. The movie is an based on the first book in a series by Dan Wells, and was directed by Billy O’Brien (The Hybrid) and stars Max Records (Where the Wild Things Are) and Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future).
Stranger Things, Season 2 (2017)- Okay, so I'll admit that at this point I've only watched the first episode of the new season, but I'm so excited to dive in and binge the rest! Not only are the old characters back, but there are some mysterious new characters that promise to add some intrigue to the storyline. I have some pet theories about Sean Astin and Paul Reiser's characters, in particular, but I'm keeping those close to the vest until I see how this season plays out.
The Invitation (2015)- A bit of a slow burn, this horror film is really more about trauma and recovery than it is about gore and mayhem. When Will (Logan Marshall-Green) is invited to a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife and her new husband, he expects it to be uncomfortable, but of course he gets more than he bargained for when he starts to suspect that the couple has joined a cult. The consistent use of misdirects, smokescreens, and diversions makes it impossible to tell if Will is just paranoid, or if his suspicions are valid. I don't want to give anything away, but I will say that if you can make it through the awkwardness and tension of the first three quarters of this movie, the end is totally worth it.
V/H/S (2012)- Like any horror anthology, V/H/S is a bit uneven in execution. Some of the segments suffer from less-than-stellar acting and contrived narratives, but when the film works it really works. I think the first segment (featuring some sort of vampire/succubus creature) is probably the best of the bunch, if for no other reason than the fact that it invokes the very real horror that men inflict upon women every day. The social commentary on rape culture, revenge porn, and sexual violence is pretty poignant, especially for a horror film (no offense intended to the genre, but it tends to skew conservative regarding sexual politics).
New in Theaters This Week...
[Click the posters for more information]