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October 13, 2022 / barton smock

( I don’t have time to be smart but I am afraid

so a quickly compiled loosely categorized list of horror/thriller movies for Halloween that I'd recommend, some recent some not, I don't have time to be smart, no debate though bc I'm right, if I said something about the thing then what I said will be included:


(The Night) - Psychologically patient, Kourosh Ahari’s The Night is a knockout of a horror film that follows a couple and their child long enough that something behind us begins to live with the guilt of being temporary. With the dual portals of imagery and language, the performances by Shahab Hosseini and Niousha Jafarian go from ghost to ghost, barrier to obstacle, knowing that a shallow grave is deeper than a jump scare and that one eye is never surprised there’s a second. 


(You Won't Be Alone) - Goran Stolevski's You Won't Be Alone is an awestruck and forged thing of first creatures and last acts that makes up both words and silence and puts them together to say body in a way that doesn't forget the teeth or how to pull them from the stories of the horribly bitten and damn if the lit work of Noomi Rapace, Alice Englert, Sara Klimoska, and Anamaria Marinca doesn't keep a lonely fire, hold the quiet, and give it air.

(Nanny) - Elegantly untouched by director Nikyatu Jusu, who knows that stories are owed their belongings, Nanny is a delayed stunner of a film that never feels behind or slow but instead, and in line with the spiritual and physical fluidity of Anna Diop's fictile performance, stops and starts in a depth that feels both timeworn and newly doomed. 


(Hatching) - Misshapen and willful, Hatching is a vividly off-kilter horror movie of painted-on happiness and colored-in connections in which director Hanna Bergholm gives us both the double lives of the dead inside and the lonely ghosting of those unsurprised to be caught on camera.


(The Swarm)


(Speak No Evil) - An arrival numb to departure, Christian Tafdrup's Speak No Evil is an out-of-body duet unsung by people too close to partnership and camaraderie to see a single evil let alone name any tune not already on another's tongue. It is important that a film this alone remain within itself at length, or forever, and with performances and visuals that achieve both the hermetic and wild, it painfully and almost perfectly leaves itself an inheritance of inaction and etiquette enough to afford its callous but necessary payoff.

(The Swerve) - The Swerve is both ascent and descent, is both invite and mousetrap, and is all so slowly and elegantly killed. What Azura Skye does in this film is dissolving, and with the lower beauties that her performance is able to unearth, she is able to replace being looked over with being decidedly invisible. If cure has no choice that poison hasn’t already tried, then illness is all of the above.

(What Josiah Saw) - Creatively and gloriously unreliable, Vincent Grashaw's difficult and restoring What Josiah Saw chooses how it begs and gets two-headed performances from all involved. Nick Stahl gives his ghost a ghost, Scott Haze retraces steps that didn't touch the earth, Robert Patrick closes every space in which he appears, and Jake Weber gets the story wrong with a menace that kills the right. But, damn, this is really Kelli Garner's movie. From the moment Garner's Mary puts the path in her path with the body language of anti-destination, the movie makes a scenic witness of its periphery and goes about vicariously burning itself beside the salvage of Garner's nervously resigned vision.

(Resurrection) - While keeping confession pinned beneath the unholy ripple of Tim Roth's flickering muscle of a performance, Resurrection, as guided and committedly freed by director Andrew Semans, is a film of secret chaos and bodily left turns that lovingly loses its permission to a possessed and wholly overtaken showing from Rebecca Hall. While surely mad and caringly unpredictable, it wouldn't be able to talk its tongues without the work that Grace Kaufman does as a child who moves the happening from under the accident with a waiting lonely enough to cradle the hurting young and uncarried old.

(The Dark and The Wicked) - The Dark and The Wicked is a hopeless beauty of a film, and Marin Ireland and Michael Abbott, Jr. use the sibling performance of their lived-in bodies to avoid possession and give us something humanly frightening. After this and In The Radiant City, am thinking they were born to play siblings.

(Kill List)



(Come True) - Come True as directed by Anthony Scott Burns is a film of impulsive longevity that crops trauma and isolation with the yield of sleep. I’m not sure how many left fields one can come out of, but was glad for how Julia Sarah Stone centered her performance and guided her character as touch to the overly handled. If you need to leave something behind, I’d suggest watching this film once today and then once tomorrow if you can get there.





(Hunter Hunter) - Hunter Hunter, as directed by Shawn Linden, is a slowburn resignation of hunger and skin that seems it might close in on itself only to come loose like a B-movie rabbit jumping from the reappeared hat with a half-human hand in its mouth. Grim magic that knows violence when it sees it, and knows also how to make itself scarce when needed.


(Bodies Bodies Bodies)

(Sissy) - Sissy, as directed by Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes, stops time long enough for its slasher sensibilities to overtake both homage and mantra with the faster sisters of fomo and isolation all while tracking the otherworldly un-mirrored performance of Aisha Dee as it duels for the same safe-space nostalgia and the right to say to everyone and to no one 'if it's not in the frame, it didn't happen yet'. Dee is exodus and revelation, and moves the end times back into the middle where belief must re-earn its brutal beginnings. Full of backhanded admittance and disappearing permissions, this movie is proudly and gloriously someone's fault.


And finally, and so unfairly maligned, imperfect but beautiful, I have to also recommend (The Empty Man)

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