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  • Tristan Shaw

The Weekend Watchlist

Wormwood (2017) - Wormwood is a docudrama about the mysterious death of Frank Olson, a CIA employee and scientist who fell out a 13 story window in 1953. At the time of his death, Olson’s family was told that he committed suicide. Later skeptics, however, suspect that he was murdered. This Errol Morris documentary is made up of interviews with Olson’s son Eric, who believes the government has covered up the events surrounding his father’s death. These interviews are combined with news reports and dramatic reenactments. Currently, I’m only two episodes into this six part mini-series, but it’s fascinating stuff so far.

Streaming on Netflix.

Demons (1971) - Avant-garde director Toshio Matsumoto- who passed away back in April- is best-known for Funeral Parade of Roses, a gay retelling of Oedipus Rex in ‘60s counterculture Tokyo. While that movie was released on American home video for the first time in November, the rest of Matsumoto’s work is hard to come by here. I’ve wanted to watch his movie Demons for years, and was finally able to track it down last week. Based on a kabuki play, Demons is the tragic story of Gengobe Satsuma, a ronin who begins to lose his mind as he seeks revenge against a geisha who robbed him. It’s haunting and surreal, and I fell in love with the bleak black-and-white look. After watching this, I’d say somebody really needs to get around to releasing Matsumoto’s movies in the U.S. (Hint, hint, Criterion Collection!)

Better Watch Out (2017)- Part horror-comedy, part Christmas movie, this was a pleasant surprise I found on Shudder. On the night of Christmas Eve, while his parents are at a Christmas party, 12-year-old Luke stays home with his 17-year-old babysitter, Ashley. Luke awkwardly tries to seduce Ashley, but his plans are interrupted when a masked man breaks into the house. What ensues is a clever twist on the home invasion genre, complete with Christmas carols, dark humor, and a twisted parody of Home Alone’s paint bucket scene. Honestly, the less you know going into this movie, the better.

Streaming on Shudder.

The Void (2016) - On the one hand, I want to give kudos to The Void for attempting to translate Lovecraftian-style horror into film. It features a weird cult, pervasive gloom, and yes, even tentacles. The monsters look great too, and from what I’ve heard, were all made with practical effects. On the other hand, The Void falls short of its goals and just isn’t that good. Its forgettable cast is trapped inside a hospital, threatened by a mob of cultists outside and some freaky monsters within. Despite a premise like this, there’s very little effective tension or scares. It’s a half-baked, underwhelming experience, more of a homage to gorey classics like The Beyond and The Thing, rather than the subtle, existential horror of H.P. Lovecraft.

Streaming on Netflix.

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