Each month, we’ll take you on a trip down the proverbial video aisle to look at some of the latest and best indie horror releases you need to check out.
July certainly starts off with a lot of fireworks! The 2 most significant genre happenings of the Summer kick off the month a mere 1 day apart from each other: Midsommar and Stranger Things season three. After the hugely successful Hereditary, Ari Aster’s highly anticipated Midsommar has a lot of stellar buzz surrounding its July 3 release and is poised for solid box office numbers.
This is important because the film is an independent production and looks to bolster indie distributor A24’s already solid standing in releasing compelling, original films and that’s something we should all get behind and support. Also, I’ve been following actress Florence Pugh’s ascending career for the past 3 years, and Midsommar is her much deserved moment. She’s about to blow up.
The next day, on Independence Day, the kids from Stranger Things seek independence of their own as they come of age in the summer of 1985. This nostalgia fueled series has without question become a cultural phenomenon and I wonder how many people will skip 4th of July fireworks to continue binge watching Eleven and the dark goings on in the small town of Hawkins. Here’s hoping these kids on bikes (and now no doubt kids at the mall), get to experience some kids-on-Summer-break story arcs and have a little vacation before their inevitable return to the world of the Upside Down.
With both Midsommar and Stranger Things, one thing is for sure: we’ll all be watching them together. Join the conversations on social media about these 2 genre events and enjoy the moment of this great original content. As for the rest of July we have some goodies to fill out the month including the latest from Child’s Play and Fright Night filmmaker Tom Holland and a new Critters movie with Dee Wallace!
Let’s go down the video aisle and see what else July has to offer.
(Available now on DVD, Blu-ray and digital)
This movie is a trip…literally. What made this film work so well for me was the fusing of both the madness of the body and the madness of the mind. When the dancers are rehearsing we see them moving and twisting at limb breaking speeds, demonstrating years of training their bodies how to move and behave. It’s breathtaking to witness.
Equally breathtaking is the onset and full on immersion of the LSD trip as the camera follows the dancers as they lose control of their minds, bodies and reality itself. Climax is a dizzying, neon washed nightmare with an in your face, pulsing electronic score. It’s this constant beating score that brilliantly connects the madness in the film, changing from a controlled method to guide movement into a chaotic rhythmic alarm that creates a desperate countdown toward meltdowns of the mind. Let Climax take you. Sofia Boutella just might melt your screen.
“French dancers gather in a remote, empty school building to rehearse on a wintry night. The all-night celebration morphs into a hallucinatory nightmare when they learn their sangria is laced with LSD.”
FIRST LOOK: THE TOP OF THE RELEASE PILE
Chris Moore’s script is solid and pulls no punches. The film succeeds largely because of its strongly written characters and ability to find razor sharp humor in its biting social commentary. Horror and dark comedy are two difficult genres to pull off and Triggered effortlessly blends both in a highly entertaining film. The main character, Callee, is smartly written to speak up for every social cause, fighting for justice through her outrage. Yet she feels no compassion for the lives of other people and is ultimately focused on only herself. This conflict within Callee is what holds the entire film together and Meredith Mohler is superb in making the character work in an incredibly deep and rooted performance.
Amanda Wyss is the perfect counterbalance to Callee as Principal Fielding. Wyss plays the role with a sturdy sweetness that shows she’s experienced more than she lets on. Triggered is an inspired genre mix of dark comedy, horror, and mystery about the evils and anxieties that run through even the quietest towns and the deepest parts of the human mind. It’s a fresh feeling film with a layered story, fantastic script, and spot on performances. Put this one on your watch list, it’s a blast!
“Two teenagers fake an attack by a legendary serial killer for a little attention, but the plan backfires when this triggers the real killer to resurface and go after them.”
Terror in the Skies
I never knew Illinois had such a storied history of winged Cryptids and this film does an excellent job of laying out all the varied sightings across the entire state. The film breezes by at only 68 minutes long but packs in several interviews and eyewitness accounts accompanied by past newspaper clippings and some reenactments. All of the segments come across as well-researched — offering a lot of compelling information and doing a solid job making these creatures out to be oddly majestic at times as well as scary.
It’s easy to see why creatures from above would be so terrifying considering they can just swoop down upon us without warning, and there’s an actual account of this happening in the film! Terror in the Skies is very well done and presents a good case that the Prairie State may be home to creatures us humans have yet to understand. Check this one out, you’ll be entertained, challenged, fascinated and learn something new all at the same time.
“Journey to the Prairie State and discover hundreds of years of terrifying reports of encounters with massive, winged creatures. From mysterious, fog shrouded cliffs to suburban backyards to busy city streets the skies about the Land of Lincoln continue to harbor mysteries.”
This anthology is a follow up to 2013’s Hi-8 and boasts a lot of fun, low budget horror filmmaking. The props are a bit cheesy, the performances are mostly so-so, and sometimes we get treated to the occasional eye popping, gore soaked practical effect. But it’s exactly these elements that add to the trashy charm of Hi-Death and make it pretty enjoyable!
But as with every anthology, some stories hit and some do not. The second segment of the film is a bit of a drag, but the following segment, “Night Drop”, offers a great time in a video store after hours and is my favorite of the film. I also enjoyed the final segment, “The Muse”. Hi-Death makes for an entertaining midnight watch, it’s a gritty, cheap and glorious throwback to old school, shot on video schlock fests and it’s damn proud of it. Because Hi-Death wears it’s black heart on its sleeve so evidently is why it’s worth checking out.
“Five horror tales to blow your mind. When two young women take the “Terror Tour” through the underbelly of Hollywood, they are led into a bizarre world of unspeakable horror. Their first stop proves that “Death Has a Conscience”, but doesn’t spare the unlucky souls who stumble into his path. Next, a meeting with the “Dealers of Death” exposes the perils of collecting murder memorabilia. Then, it’s off to a quick “Night Drop”, where your next movie rental may be your last. An actress’ worst nightmare unfolds as she is forced to perform a terrifying “Cold Read”, and our Terror Tour comes to a disturbing end as we meet the ancient, seductive evil known as “The Muse.””
TO BE WATCHED: MORE GREAT HORROR
This trailer has the feel of a solid Tales From the Crypy episode and that vibe is enough to get me interested. But having Daisy Ridley announce herself as being Death and declaring she wants some company is what really wins me over on wanting to give Scrawl a watch.
“A boy writes a comic book with his best friend, and finds situations depicted in the comic book coming to life. Along with the appearance of a mysterious girl, the boy is forced to face the reality of what he has written, and begins a battle to attempt to rewrite death.”
We got Dolph Lundgren killing zombies here. I’m not going to pretend this movie looks amazing or even that great. But I am going to suggest that on a hot Summer night and within arm’s reach of a few beers, Dolph shooting up the undead should have some fun moments.
“A mysterious virus has killed billions and turned many others into bloodthirsty zombies. Unable to stop the virus, the government develops a video game, “Dead Trigger,” that mirrors the terrifying events that curse the world.”
The Dark Within
This film looks like it would make for a good midnight watch on a hot Summer night. Spooky, mysterious, and dark looking, The Dark Within seems like a solid horror based mystery.
“A disturbed man with unknown psychic abilities tries to unravel the mystery of his parent’s disappearance while battling his own demons.”
This looks like one hell of a beautifully horrific and stylish film. The story seems to run deep and a lot of themes from family to religion promise to be explored by this trailer and Lauryn Canny just looks awesome here. Darlin’ looks fantastic, I’m really excited for this one!
“While a bishop attempts to refine a wild and feral teenage girl, the ferocious woman who originally took her from her family conducts a desperate search to find her once again.”
Home invasion movies creep me the hell out! Trespassers looks to be full of stylish and disturbing thrills, and we get Fairuza Balk as one the home invaders, which is just the type of casting that grabs my attention. There’s also a twisted fun-house feel to the trailer. And I think this flick is definitely worth checking out.
“Two dysfunctional couples rent a luxury desert home hoping to sort out their lives. As they are about to settle in for a fun night, a neighbor turns up at their front door saying she has car trouble. And without knowing it, the four friends have landed in the wrong violent place at the wrong time.”
Dread (formerly Dread Central Presents), is quickly becoming a real player in the indie horror film market. They’re Inside looks like another quality release with this intense trailer that looks to offer some solid scares. I’m looking forward to this one!
“When two sisters go to an isolated cabin in the woods to film a passion project, family secrets start to get in the way, as do masked strangers filming a passion project of their own.”
Dee Wallace returns to the Critters universe! The Critters look absolutely wonderful in this new film, and it appears to capture the adventurous fun of the original with just enough of the goofiness of the sequels. This is one of my most anticipated new releases of the Summer. I simply cannot wait for this one!
“While babysitting for a professor of a college she hopes to attend, 20 year old Drea struggles to entertain the children Trissy and Jake, along with her own little brother Phillip. When Drea takes them on a hike, she’s unaware that mysterious alien critters have crash-landed and started devouring every living thing they encounter.”
Rock, Paper, Scissors
Director Tom Holland (Child’s Play) and writer Victor Miller (Friday the 13th) team up for this intensely dark and killer looking slasher flick! Finally being released after kicking around for a couple years, Rock, Paper, Scissors features a great cast and a good old fashion slasher flick feel that horror fans will not want to miss out on.
“Peter “the Doll Maker” Harris returns to his ancestral family home after being released from the state’s hospital for the criminally insane. Once inside the old house, memories from a tortured childhood and ghostly visitations from his past victims shake Peter’s resolve. It isn’t until Ashley enters his life that Peter makes a fateful decision, a decision that will rekindle old desires that always ended in murder.”