American Horror Story: Roanoke Chapter 3 Recap

American Horror Story has been so good this season it has me, as the kids say, shook. Six seasons in and it’s finally found the right amount of gore, scares and fun. I’m hooked! Let’s dive right back in.

Last week ended with Shelby, Matt and Lee looking for lost little Flora, whose sweater was up a tree. They’re still looking for her this week with the help of the townspeople (who knew there were townspeople?) and a distinct lack of help from the local police. There’s a pile of remains that is part pig guts and part Flora’s doll, but no Flora herself. So everyone heads out into the woods to try and find Flora.

Continue reading

Scream Queens Season Two Recap: Warts and All

Scream Queens is far from a perfect show – very, very far – but this week, it asked us to love it anyway. Warts and All is the name of the second episode of the already underwhelming second season, and it gives us more clues, more mysteries and more returning characters.

We pick up right where last week left off, with Chanel #5 thankfully alive and telling the police about the new killer, the Green Meanie. The police, led by a detective who admits she never graduated high school, is useless as ever and assume Chanel #5 is making it all up. Chanel and Chanel #3 agree, assuming #5 did the murder herself out of jealousy that they had dates and she didn’t. Dean Munsch doesn’t buy it and calls in now-FBI agent Denise Hemphill, who once again thinks Zayday is the killer.

Continue reading

‘Manchester by the Sea’ Review: A Grounded Look at Death and Grief

By the time Manchester by the Sea premiered at TIFF this September, it already had months worth of buzz, Oscar prognosticating, and stellar reviews. The film had played at Sundance in January, where critics immediately heaped praise upon star Casey Affleck’s performance. It’s sure to be an Oscar contender, they swore, or at the very least a critic’s darling like last year’s Carol. Nine months later, the film screened again, first at tiny industry festival Telluride, then at the massive film festival that is TIFF.

The film, by American writer and director Kenneth Lonergan, follows a Boston-area janitor and loner (Casey Affleck) as he returns to his hometown of Manchester-by-the-Sea after his older brother (Kyle Chandler) dies of a heart condition, and tries to navigate the grieving process alongside his 16-year-old nephew (Lucas Hedges) and deal with his ex-wife (Michelle Williams).

Continue reading

Toronto After Dark Announces Its First 10 Films

Fall is a great time to be a horror fan in Toronto. September brings us TIFF’s Midnight Madness, of which I’m a huge fan, and then immediately the hype starts up again for Toronto After Dark Film Festival. In a lot of ways, Toronto After Dark is Midnight Madness’ kid brother. While TIFF is all about red carpets, world premieres and Hollywood stars (even at midnight!), Toronto After Dark is a smaller affair, taking over one screen at Scotiabank theatre. The films are rougher, sometimes, less polished than Midnight Madness’ lineup that included Blair Witch and Free Fire. In many ways, this makes Toronto After Dark feel like a more authentic horror fest: it’s the kind of stuff you’d discover at the back of a video store one day, searching for a title you hadn’t seen before. There are some gems, some new favourites and some that you’ll probably never watch again. Toronto After Dark (I can’t bring myself to call them TAD) just announced the first slate of films on this year’s lineup, and it’s shaping up to be another exciting year of strange, creepy, and delightfully scary  diamonds in the rough.

Continue reading

American Horror Story: Roanoke Chapter 1 & 2 Recap

As a horror fan, I’ve learned to live with subpar quality. For every You’re Next, there’s three Purge movies, four Paranormal Activity sequels and a half dozen terrible found footage movies. There’s a lot of bad you have to sort through to find the good, and a lot of concessions you have to be willing to make. I can forgive a bad performance when there’s a good scare, or focus on good monster design or gore when other aspects of the movie are lacking. It’s not that my standards are lower or that I’m going to give bad movies a pass, it’s that I’m willing to give the bad a try to see if there is something worthy there after all. That brings me to season six of American Horror Story.

Continue reading

Scream Queens Season Two Premiere Recap

If you watched the Emmys this past Sunday, you might have been surprised to hear Ryan Murphy’s name mentioned as American Crime Story: The People vs OJ Simpson collected numerous awards. Murphy, best known for being the creator and showrunner of Glee and American Horror Story, was also the driving force behind The People vs OJ, serving as executive producer and director for multiple episodes. The People vs OJ was a masterclass in television: tightly written, smart, evocative, well acted and profound. Essentially, it is the least Ryan Murphy-esque show to have Ryan Murphy’s name in the credits. Murphy’s MO is usually camp, outrageousness, incredible ensemble casts with not enough material to go around, some genuinely brilliant moments and too many conflicting ideas happening at once. With that in mind, Scream Queens is perhaps the most Ryan Murphy-esque show on his resumé.

Continue reading

‘The Belko Experiment’ Review: A Bloody Fun Day at the Office

If you’re anything like me, the phrase “Battle Royale meets Office Space” is enough incentive to purchase a ticket to The Belko Experiment. The Belko Experiment comes from director Greg McLean (Wolf Creek) and writer James Gunn (Slither, Guardians of the Galaxy), and premiered to a sold-out crowd in the Saturday night slot at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness program.

Continue reading

A Lifelong Love of Alfred Hitchcock vs Hitchcock (2012)

They say we should go into movies blind, with zero expectations and completely open minds, but I find that almost impossible. All our life experiences up to the moment we enter the theatre have shaped our tastes, likes and dislikes. Sure, if you’ve never liked a Western before you might still be blown away by True Grit, but it’s hard to really feel that going in. “This time, this might be the Western that impresses me!” The same is true for the opposite. If you love Stephen Speilberg’s work, how do you not get excited about his latest film? We as an audience have expectations and it shouldn’t be a hindrance. If liking the Harry Potter books gave me unrealistic expectations for the movie, that’s the fault of the filmmakers for not living up to the material, not me for wanting to be impressed. Anyway, this is a story about why I hated the movie Hitchcock.

Continue reading

‘Don’t Breathe’ Review: Just A Few Steps Away From Greatness

Director Fede Alvarez’ Evil Dead remake catapulted him to the top of modern horror filmmakers. While the likes of Ti West (The Sacrament) and Adam Wingard (You’re Next) have become festival darlings, it is the likes of Alvarez, James Wan (The Conjuring, Saw) and Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity) that are the moneymakers, the ones that get bodies into the seats. Alvarez’ Evil Dead was a financial success, topping the box office on its opening weekend and making back more than double its budget. Don’t Breathe is on the same path, easily outperforming Sausage Party and Suicide Squad at the box office on its debut this past weekend.

With Sam Raimi in his corner (executive producer) and a proven box office record, Alvarez is seemingly here to stay. But do we want him to? Is Alvarez a worthy successor to Raimi?

Continue reading