The first in a planned Netflix trilogy of horror movies this film has great style and a way over the top filmmaking aesthetic that is a lot of fun if not ever truly scary.
Set in the fictional town of Shadyside in 1994, the film follows a group of teens who inadvertently incur the wrath of a witch that has cursed their town for centuries.
Even as I wrote that description dozens of plot holes come to mind regarding this story. Hopefully some of these inconsistencies make sense in the two follow ups coming out soon. As it is this is a movie that makes sense in the moment but falls apart with too much time to think about it.
Regardless, there’s a lot to like here. For a start the young actors are all solid performers. I especially enjoy Kiana Madeira as Deena the troubled teen trying to get over her ex. And Julia Rehwald as Kate. I enjoy everyone in this movie. They are fully committing to their parts and are very charming company. I genuinely cared very much for these characters as they endure their perils.
My favorite part about the film though is how over the top the film making is. The movie is full of wild color. Dark shadows, Dutch angles, match cuts, and just crazy editing rhythms. I mean this director is going for it. He is has all the tools in the toolbox , and he is using all of them. And he’s spilling some glow paints in the toolbox too just for good measure. I really like the look of the film and the wild energy behind the camera. It’s a fun movie to watch.
Is it scary? No. It uses a lot of cheap jump cuts. It never effectively builds up the tension to a peak and then shatters our nerves with one good moment. Instead this feels more like an adventure with serial killers in crazy masks. I actually think this works to the films advantage though. If you have some friends over to watch a Halloween movie this one will work for a wide audience. It’s not going to terrify your more sensitive friends. It’s not going to satisfy the most hardcore horror head, but it will keep everyone’s attention. There’s a little gore, a little supernatural, a little slasher, and a little undead. Something for everyone. What’s most important is that it’s fun. I was entertained throughout.
My big issue is that it sacrifices an ending for the sequel setup. This movie nailed the ending, but at the last minute it pulls the rug out from under us to setup the sequels that are coming in the next two weeks. I hate when movies do this, but I’m going to withhold judgement until I see the sequels if it pays off, I’ll forgive this ending, if not I’m going to come back here and rewrite a scathing indictment of this ending.
All in all, it’s a fun movie that sets up a fun world. I enjoyed this one, and I’m looking forward to seeing the next two.
It’s my cup of tea. B+