Stream it on Shudder.
I’m not a huge zombie fan, but this taut Spanish-language film from the Uruguayan director Gustavo Hernández is an assured and surprisingly artful take on undead mayhem.
The film begins with Iris (Paula Silva) and her young daughter, Miriam (Sofía González), alone at the massive sports club where Iris works as a security guard. When Iris leaves Miriam to secure the front door, she doesn’t realize that outside a virus has turned people into blood-hungry zombies, and one of them has entered the building. When she returns, Miriam is gone.
As Iris fends off zombie invaders in her desperate search for her daughter, she makes a fortuitous discovery: After each attack, the infected stay still for 32 seconds before attacking again. It’s a neato twist and one of many zigzags that fuel the film’s action-packed finale.
Intense and bloody, Hernández’s film hits the sweet spot for horror fans who enjoy both zombies in pursuit and a final girl with guts. I was especially taken by moments of dreamlike beauty, including a bravura underwater fight and a dazzling scene in which orange smoke fills a room, forcing Iris to battle ghouls through a majestic haze.
Because of a coronavirus lockdown, Jonathan (Brendan Hines) and Sara Burke (Tatjana Marjanovic) are spending their honeymoon stuck at the tony Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. Their only companions are Ty (Kevin Daniels), the general manager, and Adela (Ola Kaminska), a housekeeper.
There are worse places to spend weeks in pandemic-related seclusion, right? Maybe not: When Sara peeks through the hotel ledger, she learns that another guest is registered. She and Jonathan have never seen him, but we have : He’s the guy crawling across the floor in the distance behind Sara’s back her. As the film ended, I couldn’t help but recall a song about another ghostly California hotel: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”
This playfully macabre film, from the co-writers and co-directors Chris Beyrooty and Connor Martin, skillfully combines one of my favorite horror movie locations — an empty hotel, in this case the actual Roosevelt — with one of the newest horror subgenres: the coronavirus nail-biter. The puzzling ending is a letdown. But I admire how the film explores the real-life horrors experienced by workers who were cooped up in hotels during the worst days of the pandemic and kept from their families in service of strangers.
This harrowing film takes a fictional trip through cult madness with a discomfiting story about what happens when screwy ideologies convince good people to do very bad things.
In a small Spanish town, a group of UFO true believers meet in the office of their leader Julio (José Ángel Asensio) to discuss aliens, occultism and extraterrestrial prophecies. Among them is José Manuel (Nacho Fernández), whose young niece recently went missing in a case that’s put the town in the national spotlight.
When Julio dies and a strange man comes to José with word from beyond the grave, it slowly and damningly becomes clear that what we thought were nutty but harmless beliefs are actually far more sinister.
The writer-director Chema García Ibarra has crafted a singular vision of shocking wickedness, shot on beautifully washed-out 16-mm film as a bonus. This is not a horror movie of gotchas; Ibarra apportions the terror in morsels. The film starts off as darkly comic but finishes with a grim view of human nature, a descent that reminds us that demons sometimes look like the guy next door.
Charlie (Dan Stevens) and his wife, Michelle (Alison Brie), are looking forward to a weekend at an oceanside home-share mansion with Charlie’s brother, Josh (Jeremy Allen White), and his girlfriend, Mina (Sheila Vand). But the night gets messy as drugs and sexual secrets upend friendships. But wait: Why is there a camera hidden in the ceiling? And who is the stranger outside?
When Dave Franco’s feature film debut was released in 2020, he told me in an interview that he was inspired by his own paranoia about home sharing.
“The country is as divided as it’s ever been,” he said, “but we trust staying in the home of a stranger because of positive reviews?”
Since then, suspicion — of neighbors, social contracts, even truth — has only deepened, unfortunately, which is why this slow-burn thriller remains unnerving. Don’t expect questions to be answered — Franco is more interested in unsettling than explaining.
Sybil Pittman (Libbie Higgins) is the smiling host of “All Dolled Up,” Cleveland’s only internet program dedicated to old dolls. But Sybil ‘s boss at her sad customer service job her ca n’t stand her, and her her harpy stepsister her, Mitzy (Lynne Acton McPherson), berates her for being “looney tunes.”
One day a package arrives at Sybil’s door, and inside there’s a worn doll head with the name Oopsie on the back. She pretties it up as best she can by attaching it to a doll body, painting its face a garish shade of pink and dressing it in a dowdy blue gown.
But when Baby Oopsie starts talking, urging Sybil to kill in ways that make Chucky sound like Pope Francis, Sybil realizes her little friend is a bloodthirsty demon eager to bring toy hell to earth.
This playfully object film — from the writer-director William Butler and the B-movie team at Full Moon Features — will be a treat for fans of low-budget schlock cinema. Unfortunately, it wears out its welcome at even 70 minutes. But stick with it for Higgins, whose unhinged performance reminded me of Priscilla Alden’s frenzied dramatics in the criminally unseen “Criminally Insane” (1975).