If your expectations for Knock at the Cabin are based solely on M. Night Shyamalan’s previous film, Old (2021), those expectations probably aren’t high. Despite its fascinating concept, Old is stiff and awkward with unbalanced performances and an unrefined script. You might be tempted to make the same judgment about Knock at the Cabin after watching the first five minutes. The movie opens with stiff, over-rehearsed dialogue and awkward closeups that create an uneven tone and set a low bar for the rest of the movie. With vintage horror aesthetics in the opening credits and a creepy yet playful score, it’s difficult to tell whether or not Knock at the Cabin is taking itself seriously. But gradually, and then all at once, the tone becomes deadly serious. As the plot develops, it’s clear that Knock at the Cabin doesn’t suffer from the same problems as Old. M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film is a vicious, relentless mind game propelled by surprising and intense performances. With a script that gets exponentially better along the way, Knock at the Cabin far exceeds expectations.
“Dad, can you tell me a scary story?”
This is not how most children ask to be put to bed, but brave young Anna (Taliyah Blair) isn’t afraid of a few ghosts and goblins. Plus, her dad, Harry (Jonathan Nyati), is a great storyteller. Thus begins Jamie Hooper’s The Creeping, a delightful horror flick that will bring back memories of swapping ghost stories over a bucket of Halloween candy. While The Creeping is undeniably a ghost movie, it’s more likely to make you feel nostalgic than scared. Hooper takes a straightforward scary story and embellishes it with an R. L. Stine-esque style that will make you want to mix in some candy corn with your popcorn.
Part Expressionist Melodrama and Part Campy Horror, “The Attachment Diaries (El Apego)” Sends Mixed Messages About Trauma and Mental Health Issues [Chattanooga Film Festival]
Content/trigger warning: The Attachment Diaries deals with sexual assault, self-harm, mental illness, and abortion. These subjects are also briefly discussed in the review below.
The Attachment Diaries is a difficult movie for two reasons. First, it focuses on a handful of difficult topics (including abortion, which has just become more relevant than ever in the United States), and it presents those topics in a blunt and, at times, irreverent way. Second, it’s difficult because it asks us to think about imperfect people in imperfect situations. The film appeals to very raw and carnal emotions, asking viewers to indulge in the thoughts and feelings that we aren’t supposed to think and feel. It’s a good thing that The Attachment Diaries is so masterfully shot, because it may take several viewings to make sense of it.
If the first trailer for Jordan Peele’s Nope piqued your curiosity with its foreboding tone and vague details, then you were probably bummed out by the final trailer, which seemed to give everything away. You’ll be pleased to know that despite its revealing final trailer, Nope still has a handful of surprises to offer. While it's not quite as intense or chilling as Peele’s first two feature films, Get Out (2017) and Us (2019), Nope is a well-developed, well-rounded, and well-crafted flick that is sure to delight crowds at the theater. It’s filled with all the thrills and chills of a summer box-office hit, bringing together the best of comedy, sci-fi, and horror. And, of course, every shot is accented by Peele’s penchant for the disturbing. As the talented writer and director proved with his first two films, Peele has more than a few tricks up his sleeves when it comes to plot twists, uncanny visuals, and bizarre narratives. Peele has not only joined the ranks of 21st century auteurs - he’s also leading the charge.
If you want to avoid a horror-movie situation, it’s probably best to stay away from isolated cabins in the dead of winter. Stephen King was certainly onto something when he set The Shining and Misery in snowed-in Colorado abodes. The strange, frigid silence of a snowstorm is the perfect backdrop for stories about isolation and hopelessness. That’s why director Damien Power was so drawn to No Exit, a novel by Taylor Adams, which also takes place during a blizzard in Colorado. In Power’s film adaptation of the book, which premieres February 25, 2022, on Hulu, Power makes the most of the snowy, isolated setting. He creates the ideal setup for the heroine, Darby (Havana Rose Liu), to undergo intense physical and psychological distress.
“Knocking” Takes Its Time Building Suspense, but Cecilia Milocco’s Steady Performance Will Keep You Hooked
If you’ve spent any time living in an apartment building or a dorm, you’ve probably had a few run-ins with noisy neighbors. It takes guts to knock on a stranger’s door and ask them to keep it down. Depending on what kind of noise you hear, you might even opt to skip the awkward conversation and call the police. But what happens when nobody else can hear what you’re hearing? What do you do when someone is calling out to you for help and the police don’t believe you? Who can you turn to when your neighbors think you’re having a psychotic break? In Frida Kempff’s psychological thriller, Knocking, a woman named Molly (Cecilia Milocco) becomes suspicious of the men in her apartment building when she hears persistent knocking and crying coming from the floor above her at night. No one else can hear it, and no one is interested in helping her solve the mystery. But Molly knows what she heard, and she’ll stop at nothing to help the unknown woman on the other side of her ceiling.
Mothers, Hide Your Children: Another Cinematic Adaptation of "The Legend of La Llorona" Hits Select Theatres Friday, January 7, 2022
In the trailer for The Legend of La Llorona, a distraught mother (Autumn Reeser) asks, “What is ‘a llorona’ and what does it want with my son?” Clearly, this mother isn’t a fan of low-budget horror. If she was, she’d probably recognize the Mexican folktale of La Llorona, or “the weeping woman,” which has served as the inspiration for a number of forgettable spooky flicks over the years. In 2019, the legend was brought to life in two film adaptations that proved to be somewhat more popular than their predecessors — Michael Chaves’ The Curse of La Llorona (the sixth feature installment in The Conjuring Universe) and Jayro Bustamante’s La Llorona.
Discover New Life in “All the Moons (Todas las Lunas),” an Enchanting and Bittersweet Vampire Fantasy [Fantasia International Film Festival]
No country’s literature or filmography is short of romance stories. If a writer tells you they’re working on a piece about love, you’ll probably assume they’re talking about romantic love. We live in a culture that prioritizes romance and marriage, and it’s easy to forget that other types of love can be just as fulfilling. When Igor Legarreta and Jon Sagalá wrote a screenplay about a girl searching for love in her doomed existence as an immortal vampire, they decided not to turn their bloodsucker story into a romance. In All the Moons, which screened at the Fantasia International Film Festival in August, the young heroine discovers meaning in her wretched existence not from a romantic relationship, but from the love of a lonely man who becomes the parent she never had. Legarreta and Sagalá undertook a great challenge in choosing to write a vampire movie (at this point, what hasn’t already been done with vampires?), however, they made the most of this fantasy/horror sub-genre by exploring parent/child relationships and the question of consent in matters of life and death. The final product, directed by Legarreta, is an enchanting fantasy that wraps the joy, wonder, and melancholy of an entire lifetime into a single feature-length film.
Experience the Wacky Psychedelic Love Child of "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "Kung Fu Hustle": Watch "Prisoners of the Ghostland" on AMC+ and Shudder
There’s just no other way to put it: Sion Sono’s Prisoners of the Ghostland is just downright bizarre. But is it a bizarre work of genius, a bizarre flop, or something in between? This absurd dystopian action flick scores so highly in some categories and so poorly in others that it’s difficult to rate the film overall. The production design is outrageously fun, the cinematography is breathtaking, and Joseph Trapanese’s score is bursting at the seams with memorable motifs that work perfectly in a genre-driven movie. But the script? Let’s just say it’s a good thing Nicolas Cage has so much experience pushing bad dialogue to its limits. Thanks to Cage’s performance, Prisoners of the Ghostland falls into the “it’s so bad, it’s good” category. If you can accept the movie for what it is — a wacky celebration of genre created by an experienced director who has earned the right to do whatever he wants with his movies — you might not hate Prisoners of the Ghostland too much.
Undeniable Cast Chemistry Shines Bright Against the Dark Forces at Play in “When I Consume You” [Fantasia International Film Festival]
Do your worst childhood fears ever come back to haunt you? Does it feel like the monsters in your closet never left? Most of us outgrow our fear of shadows, monsters, and the dark, and we can now keep the closest door open at night and venture down the dark basement staircase with ease. But for Daphne and Wilson Shaw (Libby Ewing and Evan Dumouchel), the lead characters in Perry Blackshear’s When I Consume You, the haunting presence that plagued their childhood never left them alone. As the brother and sister grapple with the struggles of adulthood, a slew of mental health issues, and the lasting effects of a bad home life, they’re also haunted by a relentless stalker who has been watching them with malevolent yellow eyes since they were kids. After years of living in fear, Daphne and Wilson decide it’s high time to seek revenge.
"Our embodied spectator, possibly perverse in her fantasies and diverse in her experience, possesses agency...finally, she must now be held accountable for it."