HUMANIST VAMPIRE SEEKS CONSENTING SUICIDAL PERSON – Review by Justina Walford

What a perfect cocktail of sweet teen innocence, old vampire family quirks, and blood! While the outcome is predictable, the fun is in taking the ride to the end. I adored Sasha’s dysfunctional and fully relatable family. Suicidal Paul is charming in his insecurity, strengthened by his budding relationship with his future murderer. This is not a horror film, settle in for a teen romance with fangs.

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TRIM SEASON – Review by Justina Walford

Horror movie on a weed farm. You know, sometimes a film’s premise doesn’t do the film justice. Trim Season is not campy stoner fun. It is female gaze horror with uterus-owning characters who have depth and beauty even as villains and more importantly, even as victims. While the film doesn’t play at being more than a scary movie, it fully embraces the evolution of the genre. If you want to root for characters created for the female gaze, some solid choice gore scenes, and beautifully shot cannabis smoking, Trim Season is worth a watch.

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CARNAGE FOR CHRISTMAS – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Another year, another sack-full of jaw-dropping professional accomplishments for horror filmmaker Alice Maio Mackay. If Mackay is somehow not already on your radar, so impressive is her CV that you are forgiven for thinking it could only be the result of a drunk, delusional AI program: at a mere 19 years of age, her latest film Carnage for Christmas is her fifth feature. May might for some seem a random month to premiere a Christmas-themed movie, but for those of us already under Mackay’s spell, it’s Christmas whenever she damned well says it is. Consciously inspired by the Pamela Sue Martin fronted Nancy Drew Mysteries of the late 1970s, Carnage for Christmas feels like a wry punk twist on the murder-of-the-week formula, a defiantly queer Murder She Wrote for a new generation.

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ABIGAIL – Review by Susan Kamyab

It’s rare these days to not be able to predict the end of a movie, especially one that appears to be formulaic, but I can assure you, you won’t know what to expect from Universal Pictures’ new, surprisingly funny thriller, Abigail. After a group of criminals kidnap the ballerina daughter of a powerful, wealthy man, they must wait 24 hours in an isolated mansion to collect their 50-million-dollar ransom, but things quickly go awry when the group discovers they are locked inside with no normal little girl. What proceeds to happen is an entertaining, creatively shot blood bath that will shock and humor audiences.

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CANNIBAL MUKBANG – Review by Nadine Whitney

Aimee Kuge’s debut feature Cannibal Mukbang is an indie horror with heart… and liver… and plenty of other fleshy bits. A romance, satire, revenge thriller, and a film for the chronically online. Paying homage to low budget exploitation genre movies, Cannibal Mukbang is also a savvy dive into pernicious capitalism, misogyny, and “ethical consumption.” Cannibal Mukbang is the kind of film which comes bolting out of the gates heading straight to the jugular and tugging at the audience’s heartstrings. A tragicomic romance with cannibalism as a sensually transmitted “disease” and a stick in the eye satire on capitalism and our cultural relationship to being fed. Cannibal Mukbang is one hell of a calling card for Aimee Kuge, and a sizzling debut.

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THE FIRST OMEN – Review by Nadine Whitney

Arkasha Stevenson’s 1971 set The Omen prequel is a gloriously gothic vision mixed with genuine body horror and dark critique of extended abuse in the Catholic Church, and it is sophisticated and chilling. Two characters return from the original film. Father Brennan (originally played by Patrick Troughton and here played by Ralph Ineson) and Father Spiletto. Otherwise, The First Omen written by Ben Jacoby is mostly an original beast which plays with the lore set out by Seltzer but does so in a manner more punishing and psychologically sadistic than any of the films since the original.

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EASTER BLOODY EASTER – Review by Justina Walford

Caveat: if you do not like low-budget campy horror, do not watch this film under any circumstances. The characters are over the top, and the one-liners are cringe-worthy. If you do like low-budget campy horror, especially holiday-themed ones that are one part Jaws and two parts Rocky Horror Picture Show, my dear reader, please read on. I love very low-budget, campy horror films. I’ve even written one. The genre is a sandbox for writers and directors to explore our voices. We forgive an over-the-top line or a cheesy special effect because the point of the film is to have a good time from conception to screening. It is very clear this cast and crew had a great time. The plot is chockful of WTF: Jeanie’s husband is missing and his car is found with blood and fur around it. That seems, well, weird enough, but it gets weirder. That fur is the town legend’s Jackalope, a horrible human-rabbit monster that has origins in the town’s early days. And it makes bunnies its minions.

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IMMACULATE – Review by T.J. Callahan

Immaculate is a conception of the blasphemous kind that takes place in a convent where young women enter, but they never leave.. Set in a remote abbey in the picturesque Italian countryside, Immaculate tells the story of Sister Cecilia, an American nun who decides to leave the tragedies of her childhood behind to start a new life serving with a well established order. However, she soon learns “Satan himself often masquerades as an angel of light.”

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LOVELY, DARK, AND DEEP – Review by Justina Walford

Lovely, Dark, and Deep is not a slasher film. It is not for mere entertainment. It is an emotional film in a dark, shadow world about grief, regret, and sacrifice. The plot seems perfect for horror: Lennon, a new park ranger in the isolated back-country tries to uncover the truth about her sister who went missing years ago and instead confronts her regret and grief in the supernaturally charged wilderness. We spend much of the film unsure if what we see is her madness or the madness of the wilderness, but we know that as we go on this journey with Lennon, every eerie and haunting moment is connected to the painful process of loss.

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DEPARTING SENIORS – Review by Justina Walford

The film opens to a classic 80’s horror start: a bully, a mask, and a murder. But it’s not a rip-off. It’s nostalgia. Clare Cooney purposefully shoots the film so you feel like you’re watching a slasher from decades ago. Even though the film is set in 2019, the lighting, clothes and shots have a pure Gen X feel. Rarely do we see 2000’s tech, a glimpse of a cell phone is rare. Jose Nateras does his part by writing classic characters with constant Gen X references. An early joke harkens Ferris Bueller. The class talking about Moby Dick sends us back to Heathers. Every scene is seasoned with memories.

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