‘Pyewacket’ may be the best under-the-radar movie of the year and a flick that I am willing to bet Netflix wishes it got it’s hands on.
‘Pyewacket’ is, hands down, the best horror flick I have seen so far this year.
It resonates. It perfectly weaves a tense, gripping and disturbing story into a beautifully crafted, and well paced, film.
During a time when the “jump scare” is the “go-to” move of every horror movie, ‘Pyewacket’ doesn’t heavily lean on the trend, yet, proves to be scarier than a lot of the flicks that do just that.
In ‘Pyewacket’, a teenage girl who is grieving from the recent death of her father is trying to find herself, as most teens at her age are, while dealing with a myriad of personal issues.
Leah, who is played by Nicole Munoz, is a goth teen that is interested in the Occult and has a rather contentious relationship with her widowed mother, who is visibly battling depression and grief and is prone to emotionally abusive, alcohol fueled outbursts, when arguing with Leah.
Writer-director Adam MacDonald paces the first hour of the move very well, as it is steeped in plenty of story setup, but not too much so that it loses your interest.
It is all relative, it is all important, and it pays off later in the movie in grand fashion.
Leah and her mother (Laurie Holden) continue to ride an emotional roller coaster relationship and, eventually, Leah’s mother abruptly announces that the two are moving out to the country for a “fresh start”.
Leah, being the angst-riddled and depressed teen she is, lashes out in anger, and opts to turn to the occult to cast a spell to kill her mother.
MacDonald does a fine job of showing the pure emotion of Leah’s actions, but, also reminds the viewer that, above all else, she is purely acting out as dramatically and irrationally as most teenagers her age may, although maybe not using a death curse as a vehicle of expression.
Leah’s actions, in their entirety, may not be palpable but provide a layer and tone that creates the tense emotion for the rest of the film.
While most films go right to the scares, almost in excess, MacDonald takes a different approach with ‘Pyewacket’, instead denying the viewer the satisfaction of the scare immediately, allowing the movie to draw out, thus demonstrating an astute understanding of pace and timing that craft the real “scare”.
Eventually, the pyewacket comes, and the build is a slow one, but, one that eventually floods out into terror and a gripping and tense sequence that feels rewarding, although brutal, for the viewer.
‘Pyewacket’ may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It demands a dedication to seeing the story through and veers off from the jump scares that films rely on these days, providing a refreshing approach to building a lasting scare.
With that being said, it will hard for movies to top ‘Pyewacket’ for me this year, as it has set the bar, for me, for how films that deal with the occult, demonic hauntings or supernatural should unfold.
Fright Nerd Score
85.5 frights Summary it will hard for movies to top 'Pyewacket' for me this year, as it has set the bar, for me, for how films that deal with the occult, demonic hauntings or supernatural should unfold. Fright Nerd Score85.5
Earlier this year, directory Jaco Bouwer dropped his horror/drama ‘Gaia’, which just made it’s arrival on the Hulu streaming platform courtesy of XYZ Films, kykNET Films, and Film Initiative Africa, as part of their Huluween celebration.
According to the official rundown: “A park ranger takes shelter with two survivalists after an attack by mysterious creatures in a primordial forest.”
This film bursts with colorful and detailed imagery that cast ominous tones, diverse moods, and illustrates a hallucinogenic environment that is filled with unique creatures, and plantlife that takes on a life of their own.
Gabi (Monique Rockman) ventures into this forest and is immediately interwoven into the troubling dynamic of a father and son survivalist lifestyle. Barend (Carel Nel) is more of a deranged preacher high off the mushroom dust that is part of his “faith”, and demands that his son Stefan (Alex van Dyk) live a life that he determines to be pure – a secluded one away from society, reliant on the forest and the worshiping of the forest God.
Gabi attempts to convince Stefan of a world outside of the forest, one where he can grow, learn, and thrive, despite his father’s constant obsession on their forest life. As Gabi grows closer to Stefan, with oddly sexual undertones, Barend becomes more detached and intensely obsessed with the big tree in the forest which is where he makes his offerings, and is the altar for which he prays.
As the forest creatures continue to threaten, and as the forest slowly infects and kills those it selects, Gabi rushes to help Stefan escape to the outside world.
REVIEW: No One Gets Out Alive
Netflix’s new horror, Santiago Menghini’s ‘No One Gets Out Alive’ hit the ground running in late September as a number of positive reviews rolled in for the film, which is the adaptation of Adam Nevill’s novel.
According to the official synopsis: “An immigrant (Cristina Rodlo) in search of the American dream is forced to take a room in a boarding house, where she finds herself in a nightmare she can’t escape.”
Ambar is a struggling immigrant, one who is also undocumented and fighting to hide her identity, who is forced to rent a room in a multi-room home that is undergoing extensive renovations and only houses women.
Ambar struggles at her new job, where she is constantly behind and on the chopping block with her manager, but befriends a co-worker by the name of Kinsi (Moronke Akinola) who promises her an American ID card to help her get situated in the country.
As the home’s dark past continues to bubble up, so does Ambar’s desperation. Aside from the dreams of her mother’s hospitalization leading up to her death, Ambar is also haunted by the ghosts of the home, which seems like a video playback of the murders that took place in the home over the years.
As the movie progresses and the hauntings more intense, Ambar starts suffering loss after loss, and falling deeper into the home’s grasp.
The owners hide a mysterious ancient box in the basement, one that demands to feast on the heads of the living, and provides an ominous power to those who feed it. While the monster that comes out from the box is comical, it doesn’t take too much away from the entire movie.
A dark journey filled with struggle, loss, and fear molds Ambar into considering a darker path than the one she was on.
REVIEW: Tragedy Girls
During this Halloween season there will be a lot of movies available for horror fans, and while a bunch of new releases will be popping up throughout the month of October, I started to dig into some horror movies that have surfaced over the past few years that I had not gotten a chance to check out.
One such movie was Tyler Macintyre’s 2017 horror/comedy ‘Tragedy Girls’, which is now available on Hulu, and stars Brianna Hildebrand, Alexandria Shipp, Craig Robinson, Kevin Durand, Jack Quaid, and Josh Hutcherson.
According to the official synopsis: “Teenage crime reporters Sadie and McKayla are hot on the trail of a crazed serial killer. After capturing the maniac and holding him hostage, they soon realize that the best way to boost their social media stardom is to commit the murders themselves.”
The movie is a fun journey through a number of horror movie tropes, and despite being somewhat hollow at points and drifting away from the finer details in certain scenes, the cast performances and the personality of the movie more than make up for it, providing an entertaining experience.
Sadie and McKayle are obsessed with building a social media presence, while also authoring a memorable killing spree that will go down in history, and the movie hilariously shows their first few murders that, by circumstance, end up looking like accidents, which upsets the girls.
The girls are intensely focused on popularity via social media platforms, and driving viewers to their website, and also socially they go through the motions to fit in, such as cheerleading and prom planning.
But it fails to land in their intended way, which forces the girls to step up their game, and get more brutal with their killings.
As their popularity grows, their mindsets appear to change, especially as a relationship evolves between Sadie and Jordan (Quaid) which drives a wedge between the girls and shifts Sadie from a psychotic killer to a caring, socially engaged student that deviates completely from her destructive path.
The kills are hilariously brutal and the story, aside from some logical bumps in the road, provides plenty to bite into that doesn’t drag the movie down.
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