Bates Motel has been an unexpected pleasure since its beginning. Expectations were understandably low before its first-season premiere: yet another reboot or lame-ass prequel of a treasured classic; one more chance to crap on tradition.
But not this time. This time Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore made something special out of the cool, dreamy (as in “nightmarish”) thriller that Alfred Hitchcock produced so long ago. Within minutes, viewers stopped making comparisons, stopped anticipating inside jokes that would crack the concept wide open. Instead, they got something entirely new and, strangely enough, unpredictable. Not to mention more than a little addictive.
Now, five years later, it’s all about to end. Bates Motel is ending its run by retelling the original Psycho on its own terms, in a way that segues out of the quiet madness of the last four years and into something that promises to be both hauntingly familiar and wonderfully new.
And, of course, creepy as hell.
Need proof? Here’s the last known promo for the new season, and lovely and quiet little artifact of the odd, all by itself.
The new, final season begins Monday, Feb. 20.
Beauty — or something that could almost pass for elegance — are rare on film at all, and even more rare in movies about the apocalypse. Christopher-Lee dos Santoss’ The Last Broken Darkness is the first truly stylish post-apoc tale since, perhaps, Joon-Ho Bong’s Snowpiercer. It also looks desperate, hypnotic, and pretty darn fascinating.
Christoper-Lee do Santos is a South African prodigy whose completed his first feature film in his mid-twenties. Now he’s exploriong a world of his own making: an Earth long after a devastating storm of meteroes have literally broken the planet, and drive the last few survivors underground, into silo’s and cellars. But now somthing mor is killing the few remainign humans — something even worse that what drove them into the darkness in the first place.
The Last Broken Darkness stars Sean Camera Michael, a formidably tough-looking fellow you might recognize from Black Sails or the USA Cable series Shooter. Darkness is awaiting a release date, but here is its very impressive trailer:
Trollhunter, way back in 2010, was a rulebreaker when it came to horror genrification. It was sort of a found footage/mockumentary, but done with such a deft and realistic touch that you didn’t really think of it that way. It was a monster movie, too, and a fantasy with a whole set of fairly elaborate rules. But there wasn’t a fairy or magic spell to be seen. It was even a satire, in a way, about bureacracy, government regulation, and human denial. It was also a bit of a cult phenom, and it’s popular even today.
Now André Øvredal, the director of Trollhunter, is returning with a new film that looks like the same kind of rulebreaker. It might be a zombie movie. It might be a medical thriller. It might be nothing of the kind. All we know for sure is that Øvredal is firmly in control,a nd that there are some recognizable and very talented actors in this one: Brian Cox (brilliant Canadian charcter actor you’ll remember him as Agamemnon in Troy, Stryker in a couple of X-Men movies, Langrishe in Deadwood, and of course the voice of the Green Dragon in Scooby Doo and the Samurai Sword) and Emile Hirsch (Lords of Dogtown, Speed Racer).
Even Øvredal’s pathway to this project is unconventional. The story goes that he was inspired to do a horror movie after attending a screening of The Conjuring. He immediately called his agent and told them that they should try and find a good horror script for him. A month later they showed him this script and he was immediately interested.
And here we are. The tense and mysterious trailer gives us just a hint of what might be hiding in the morgue, and frankly … it’s pretty cool:
The Autopsy of Jane Doe appears in a limited number of dark rooms near you on December 21
Don’t confuse this with Don’t Breathe or Lights Out. It’s an unsettling little short all its own, one of the artifacts from a Chilling Tales for Dark Nights, a fascinating YouTube channel that actually hides some gold.
There are a lot of great things in this piece: a rich story, some good scares, and a world around the story that makes you want more — more, in fact, than the aforementioned Lights Out, which got itself made into a full-length movie. Frankly this dark little gem, from writer David Scullion and director Anthony Melton, should be next in line.
Take a look … but do it with the lights on.
… only $1.99 on Kindle right now.
The vast, depressing majority of ‘urban fantasy’ these days is just half-hearted noir in fantasy drag, with orcs taking the place of gunsels, damsels instead of dames, elves as substitute street creeps, and magic bolts as stand-ins for pistols. Most of it, therefore, is not very good and there’s way too much of it.
Then, once in a while, something really worthwhile shows up. Like Flex, the first in a new series by the amazingly named
Steinmetz is a damn strong writer. His imagery is vivid, his ideas are uncommon and unexpected, and there is a welcome relentless logic to the world he’s created. If you’re going to make magic ‘real,’ he seems to be saying, it has rules … and the rules can bring tragedy as well as power — no exceptions.
Flex is the first in the ‘Mancer series, and it a semi-brilliant attempt to make new addicts, you can get it for a mere $1.99 on Kindle, right now Just click here and get a copy. With so much imitation and repetition out there, it’s a joy to find a new set of stories that are neither of the above.
Let us know what you think.
Short subjects are enjoying a bit of a renaissance these days, but sadly most of them — especially in the horror and speculative genres — are either highly imitative or just plain poorly made. Not so with Aftermath, a twenty-minute tale set ina near-future ice age that has more to say — like most good post-apoc stories — about humans and their strengths and weaknesses that it does about the blood and guts and big ol’ explosions at the end of the world.
It comes from filmmaker Jeremy Robbins, and it’s definitely worth a look:
Sometimes you can tell a whole story in just a few minutes — like eight minutes and a few seconds, which is all it took Michael Chaves to tell The Maiden. It’s a smart, scary, beautifully made short, available on Vimeo and right here …
Every time we think the zombie trope has finally run its course, something like Train to Busan comes along, and we’re reminded there’s still some activity left in the old corpse yet.
Check out this trailer. Things happen fast on the train, and they don’t stop happening. The zombies look to be your standard fast-moving maniacs at first, but — as in all the best dead-folks-walking iterations — it’s the humans that pose a far greater threat. Add the normal glut of bravery, cowardice, fear and rage, ratchet it up to 70 mph (how fast is that in kilometers?), and something exciting and terrifying happens.
Train to Busan s the work of writer/director Sang-ho Yeon, and though it seems impossible, this is his first live-action feature (he’s been an anime director up ’til now). It premiered in the U.S. briefly this summer; it’s currently unavailable in VOD or anywhere else, and there are rumors it’ll be out on October 28. We’ll keep an eye out for it. Meanwhile, watch the trailer and put it on your “Watch When It Gets Here” list …
Okay, this is funny. We’re still weirded out by Benedict Cumberbatch talking American, and it takes a little while getting started, but we’re up for trying to turn, “Do you want to go home with Marcus?” into the next threatening internet meme. (Btw, Dr. Strange premieres at an interdimensional portal near year on Nov. 4,)
Yes, yes, the Ouija Board is just a made-up thing that Parker Brothers hacked together a few decades ago, and it has about as much authenticity as a haunted version of Hungry Hungry Hippos … but over the years, it has developed a kind of urban-legend power all its own, and Ouija: Origin of Evil plays off all that accumulated weirdness to make a move that seems — at least judging by this trailer — exceedingly creepy. (And yes, we know that “talking boards” and even the “Ouija” name has been around for centuries, but this version, this design, and its popularity as a ‘harmless’ parlor game showed up in the mid-Sixties.)
It’s got a few things going for it. Number one: director/co-writer Mike Flanagan, who’s the guy behind Oculus and Hush. And the cast includes Doug Jones, probably the creepiest physical actor working in film today, Kate Siegel, the beautiful actress who did a hell of job as the lead in Flangan’s Hush (and who also happens, purely by accident, to be married to him), and — get this — Henry Thomas as the male lead. Yeah, that cute little boy from E.T. is all grown up and weeeeird. Talk about your fantasy pedigree.
There’s also something icky and charming about setting it in 1967, when Ouija was still new and nobody knew what it would become. And Flanagan’s done a great job in placing it in the long-ago time (was it really fifty years ago? Damn!), and featuring the (terribly familiar) possession of an innocent young girl, giving the film both an innocence and a weirdness that serves it — and us horror fans — well.
It’s coming October 21. Don’t get it confused with the really awful horror film called Ouija from a couple of years ago. this is all different and, we’re betting, all better. Check out the trailer and circle 10/21 on your calendar: