Casual 31 Days of Horror - Watching Horror Movies Every Day of October!

Leinfors

Quality Assurance
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Moderator
Re-Logic
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Oh hello!

This year, I decided I wanted to do a little thing where I watched a horror movie I've never seen before every day of October!

I asked some friends, co-workers, and the community for suggestions, and then sorted through them to pick out a bunch of movies that both sounded interesting, seemed fairly well reviewed, and also I'd never seen before!

On the way, I had a bunch of people who were interested in seeing the list, or wanted to try to follow-along on their own, so I decided I'd make a thread here to post the list. I also had some people ask me to do reviews of the movies, and uhh, that may be a lot of work, but I guess I might try it out!

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Being a member of ReLogic, I feel it necessary to add this disclaimer . . . this is ultimately a family friendly forum, and people may follow along, and I think its my responsibility to clarify this:

Warning: I have not seen any of these movies, and, given that they are horror movies, it is HIGHLY likely that they may contain scenes of violence, blood and gore, nudity, or sexual content. These movies may not be appropriate for families, underage viewers, or people who are sensitive/upset by intense scenes. If you decide to watch them, please watch at your own discretion/do research if needed to determine if these movies are appropriate for you/your viewers.

I will, as I watch them, attempt to put some brief content warning tags on them, but at the end of the day, I can't be responsible for the contents of these movies, its just something I'm doing on my own for fun.

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With all that unfun stuff out of the way, lets see the list! I've randomized the order of most of the movies, so there is no real intended progression, but I've scheduled them each for a specific day.

  • October 1st - Southbound (2015)
  • October 2nd - The Babadook (2014)
  • October 3rd - The Endless (2017)
  • October 4th - The Night House (2020)
  • October 5th - Empty Man (2020)
  • October 6th - Creep (2014)
  • October 7th - The Night That Ate the World (2018)
  • October 8th - The Wailing (2016)
  • October 9th - Raw (2016)
  • October 10th - The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
  • October 11th - Daniel Isn't Real (2019)
  • October 12th - Underwater (2020)
  • October 13th - Saint Maud (2019)
  • October 14th - Under the Shadow (2016)
  • October 15th - Malignant (2021)
  • October 16th - The Medium (2021)
  • October 17th - The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
  • October 18th - Pontypool (2008)
  • October 19th - A Cure For Wellness (2016)
  • October 20th - We Are Still Here (2015)
  • October 21st - Crimes of the Future (2022)
  • October 22nd - Mandy (2018)
  • October 23rd - Brightburn (2019)
  • October 24th - Mad God (2021)
Classics Week - Nothing after 1990!
  • October 25th - Suspiria (1977)
  • October 26th - Lake of the Dead (1958)
  • October 27th - Kwaidan (1965)
  • October 28th - The Beyond (1981)
  • October 29th - Phantasm (1979)
  • October 30th - Haxan, or Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922)
  • Halloween Day: Poltergeist 1, 2 and 3


Content Warning: Violence, Blood and Gore, Language

I'm not sure what I was expecting from Southbound, but I was surprised by it, and pleasantly so. It was a short film anthology, rather than a single movie length narrative, but I really liked the way it wove the stories together as if it WERE a single continuous narrative. Though anthologies often share connections like this, with the way this one handled it, one could be forgiven for not even noticing that the stories are changing, which was pretty unique.

I'm so used to horror movies taking an hour to even get the action started, so the way Southbound just drops you right into the action was a nice breath of fresh air. Each of the short stories usually took a few minutes to establish itself and then didn't waste much time getting to the point (except perhaps the 2nd one, which had an intro that dragged a bit more than the others). There are movies where a slow, tension-building crawl through an hour and a half of content is critical to delivering on its premise, but this movie was not that, and it didn't waste time trying to be. Sometimes, you don't need to spend 20 minutes getting to know someone to know that dropping them into an extreme circumstance will have an impact on them, and this story tried to demonstrate their characters DURING the action, instead of before it, and on that front, I feel it did a very good job.

The monsters, seen briefly as they were, were pretty awesome, and despite some lackluster CGI, I thought they were a fairly cool aspect of the story. It introduced them pretty quickly, but then put them on the backburner again for almost the entire film. However, it periodically had them lurking around in the background for the observant eye, so that was neat. As a gamer, I viewed these as the sort of thing that would be pretty awesome to fight in a video game, and they did remind me quite a bit of the Scrag enemies from Quake (but cooler). So they were a great addition.

I don't consider myself an expert on acting, and often I find "bad actors" to be perfectly fine, so I know my opinions are rarely representative. Even so, I didn't have much in the way of particular problems here, except for a bit in the 2nd film. During the middle/end of that segment, as some of the characters began acting crazy/unusually, the protagonist didn't seem to even acknowledge it. She kept arguing with them about her objectives, but never realistically stopped to just shake them and be like "WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?!", which should have been what was happening due to how they were behaving. This could easily be a writing/directing issue as well, but there felt like a disconnect between the protagonists acting and the acting of the other characters. I will say I felt the acting of the protagonist of the 3rd segment was pretty convincing to me; the dude was thrown into a crazy scenario and had no choice but to just roll with it, and I could see myself being similarly shaken. Though not necessarily the most "interesting" segment, I would say it was one of the most well done segments.

Don't have much else to say except that Southbound was an enjoyable experience all the way through, and I was disappointed when it was over. The universe of Southbound sucked me in, it caught my interest and now I want to know/see more, and I think that speaks for itself.

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
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General Tso's Score: 9 out of 10

Content Warning: Violence, Blood, Language, Brief Suggestive Content

I wanted to chalk Babadook up to the other 9000 "someone gets haunted and possessed by a demon/monster/ghost" movie at first glance, but it was nice to see a different take on the genre. I kinda feel like those movies are all the same, so this one was a bit of a fresh take. The monster was actually different, had a lot of fun unique quirks and characteristics that deviated from the normal "demons are evil demons" tropes. and I definitely ended up liking the movie more than I expected.

I think it had some flaws though. Like I mentioned in Southbound, some movies take half their run time to get to the point, and Babadook was really guilty of this. Its clear a slow build of insanity was the intended pacing, but at times, I just sort of got bored with the frustrating life of the protagonists. When things did hit though, they hit pretty hard and didn't shy away from putting Babadook on full display . . . I would have been much more disappointed if it kept him hidden/obscured the whole movie long. It was a long, at times frustrating wait, but they did deliver on it. I wouldn't dock any points for it, but what was up with the awkward stock sound effects? With as much care and creativity that was put into making the Babadook a unique and distinct monster, I found those random "stock dinosaur sounds" to be super out of place. That had to be intentional, right? Still, really weird.

Speaking of the frustrating life of the protagonists, and I do again recognize that this is probably the point, but sometimes watching a movie about people being stressed out all the time is just stressful itself. Not in a scary way, but just in an annoying way because it reminds you of your own stress and the last thing you want to watch is a character spending an hour and a half be stressed out about the problems of daily life. This movie pushed beyond its welcome on this front, and I know both of us found it to just be tedious at times as a result. Was it essential for the tone of the movie to deliver its premise? Perhaps. But I still found that watching a movie about people being miserable all the time comes with a cost.

On more positive notes, I felt like the house the movie took place in was stolen off of a Tim Burton set, and I actually loved it. It was just a little too gothic and dreary to feel realistic, but I liked it even more for that, especially since no one ever mentioned the fact. Was a nice little touch.

Meanwhile, I think the kid protagonist would have survived well in an apocalypse . . . what 6 year old is making home-crafted crossbows and catapult backpacks? As much as I was annoyed at him all movie long, there was a sense of hilarious satisfaction when he finally put his assembled traps and weapons to use. It was like a 2 minute "Home Alone" comedy sequence after 2 hours of anxiety, and it was a very well appreciated breath of fresh air.

Ultimately, I liked the Babadook, but I found its pacing/tone to be a little on the frustrating side. Maybe hit home a little too much? The movie made up with it for its monster highlights and unique moments. I mean, thanks to Mr. Babadook, we have this:

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Leinfors Score Out of Four:
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General Tso's Score: 8 out of 10

Content Warning: Blood, Language

The Endless is one of those movies which is edging more into sci-fi territory rather than horror, but I still think its well within the horror genre, just a solid mix of the two. With that in mind, I don't necessarily expect it to meet some criteria I'd normally expect from horror movies, so I'm going to be a little forgiving with it on that front.

This movie is one that is driven by an engaging mystery and concept hook, and I think on that front, it delivers. This sort of "horror subject matter" is right up my alley as more of a psychological horror thing mixed with sci-fi concepts, so I did find it very interesting and exactly the sort of horror movie idea I'd say I would love to see on paper. We have a sufficiently horrific and to me, intriguing "bad fate" in play, and the movie then seeks to explore that. What could go wrong?

Well, I think it does go wrong in the delivery.

For starters, for a story about a relatively psychological horror, most of the time spent exploring the characters felt like a waste. There's a whole lot of time spent developing and exploring these various characters in the commune and showing their personalities, and none of it really mattered. This is mostly because they have a disproportionate and unrealistic reaction to their current circumstances . . . they don't act like they should be acting, and so its really just meeting a bunch of random people. The people on the outskirts in the smaller loops are more engaging, and have a more appropriate reaction to their situation, but even they seem remarkably blasé about the whole affair.

On top of that, the main character arc and relationship of the brothers just . . . didn't feel very relevant to the story at all. There is this narrative the creators are trying to tell about their relationship, and that's fine, and I won't even say it was bad, but it felt like it was running parallel to the story and didn't actually relate to the story at all. You could have taken the entirety of the "horror" element out of it, and just made it a movie about a commune society, and their story arc could have gone ENTIRELY the same. That strikes me as a bit wasteful. I also can't help but feel like the resolution to their story was a bit of a hollow aesop, with them somehow coming to some strange conclusion that "family good/commune friends bad" because REASONS. My least favorite scene in the entire movie was that moment where they break through their relationship barrier, it felt forced, it felt dishonest (and oddly like it was trying to be funny?), and most of all, it felt very tonally out of place because it was happening while literally running away from the movie's monster.

On the subject of the whole blasé thing, I did feel as if there was a distinct lack of URGENCY on the part of all of the characters in the movie. I understand that while they are still figuring it out, they don't know what the stakes are, but once they figure it out, they should be absolutely getting out of dodge. Instead, its like "hey, lets have an emotional chat about our future" while they are on a life and death timer that is actively ticking down. The characters stuck in the outskirts seemed to have a really weird reaction to their presence as well. Like "Oh hey dude, what's up? Good luck, hope you don't get stuck." Why aren't they warning them to get away? Why aren't they begging them for help from the outside world? The main character ALMOST got stuck with the two guys in the cabin and they just didn't even slightly try to impress upon him the severity of the situation. They were all terribly casual about it. If these people have dedicated their lives to escaping their fate, why would they dismiss an outsider so easily? Isn't this their best hope for a solution? Apparently not. The behavior of all of the characters in the movie simply did not match the circumstances they were in, and I have a really hard time reconciling an extremely serious horror scenario with that sort of emotional ambivalence.

My final note is one of a bit of weird plot-hole-y ness. If all of these groups are fully isolated, why do they seem to know so much about each other? The three primary groups (the commune, the guy in the shed, and the two guys in the cabin) all seem fairly aware of the circumstances they are in and the fact that there are others nearby. They all acknowledge and discuss the other two groups as if they were all part of some community, but if the story is to be taken at face value, these three groups are 100% isolated and should have no method of communication with each other. The guy in the shed talks about a number of other "loops" shorter than his own, but how does he have this information? Are characters like the protagonist often coming by and sharing messages about the wider state of affairs? How does ANYONE (except maybe the commune itself) realize they aren't the only one in their circumstances, or have even the slightest understanding of their fate? Everyone just seems to know too much, with no explanation, and yet, no one talks directly about it, which feels like it was an intentional writing crutch because it wouldn't serve to have the twist revealed to the protagonists too soon. The knowledge of the characters doesn't match up with what they should know, and what they DO know doesn't match up with what they say, for no real apparent reason.

Ultimately, I found the Endless to have an amazing premise but a very mediocre delivery, filled with confusing character behavior, tonally inappropriate emotional responses from the cast (I won't say bad acting, seems like bad writing?), a bunch of unexplained plot holes that are handwaved without concern. This film deserved to be better than it was. But, the scary/supernatural elements were portrayed well enough that I can't walk away from this movie with a bad taste in my mouth. The best parts of this movie were everything that didn't involve people talking to each other.

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
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General Tso's Score: 7 out of 10

Content Warning: Blood, Very Brief Nudity, Language

What's that? Two movies in the first few days where the monster is a metaphor for the protagonists grief, possibly even being entirely in their head??? What are the odds!

After watching the Babadook, its going to be natural to try and compare the two movies, with their different approaches to addressing some similar themes. Babadook focused heavily on the strain of being a single parent, with a lot of notes of "I can't do this alone", whereas the Night House was more about the direct absence, a "How could you LEAVE me alone?". Interestingly, they had polar opposite approaches to things like social isolation, with the protagonist of Babadook being alienated and pushed away by her support network, while the protagonist of the Night House rejected advances by her support network and isolated herself.

I don't have a whole lot to say directly about the overarching plot or concept of the movie, mostly because I don't have anything bad to say. At no real point did I find myself unhappy or bored while watching it, though it had a fairly slow crawl to reach its conclusion. It managed to keep events happening frequently enough that I never quite felt like I was WAITING for the movie to begin, it kept things relatively fresh and on edge. The movie was good, the characters were compelling enough and engaging, I usually liked most of them.

The pretty cool element of aspects of the architecture itself changing to be scary was really cool the first few times, it was a clever and startling method of organically putting a scare into the scene. But I found that it lost its charm on about the 3rd time, and at least a couple times I wasn't able to really visually perceive what was happening without rewatching it. It was a great idea, but I think it should have been used in more moderation and combined with some other methods to spice things up.

I'll admit I had a bit of a hard time following the "this part is real/this part is fake" sequences, there was seemingly an intentionally confusing element to some of these which I found, well, confusing, but probably not in a good way. Some things like . . . "oh, you are supposed to recognize that this house is the same as the other house, just reversed" were clear from context, but I didn't visually PERCEIVE it, I had to have it spelled out to me. In fact, I'm not sure what the point of the reversed house thing was, was that one of the "traps"? I may have missed that in the very brief scenes where she flipped through hastily scrawled messages in books that I couldn't read.

As a side note, I took a tremendous amount of satisfaction from the scene where the protagonist unleashed her crap on the helicopter mom trying to bail her son out of his own mistakes. I get the impression she had to deal with stupid conversations like this allllll the time, but for once, she just didn't care. She went full brutal honest and just demolished everything the mother had to say, and couldn't help but just laugh and enjoy the hell out of the scene for that. Best scene in the movie.

Overall, it was a good movie, and I have very little negative to say about it. But it lacked any really strongly compelling or uniquely interesting elements to push it above and beyond just "good", the sort of things that make a movie I love.

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
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General Tso's Score:Out of Town

Content Warning: Blood and Gore, Brief Nudity, Language

As I watched The Empty Man, I enjoyed it. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I don't think this movie knows what it wants to be, and it feels like it was trying to accomplish too many goals crammed into just one story.

We start with a LENGTHY 20 minute prologue sequence, one which was decent and does have legitimate ties to the main story, but it takes over a full hour in the MAIN story before the connection even becomes apparent. So we already have a weird disconnect between two major portions of the film.

And then we have the main sequence, which starts off a some sort of "Bloody Mary meets The Ring" combo pastiche, which is just fine by me, but as the movie progresses it shifts into something else entirely and I feel like it ends as a different GENRE of movie than it began, which sorta invalidates a lot of the earlier tone setting. It starts off in this "solve the riddle to save lives/survive" initial premise, but about halfway through dives into an entirely distinct exploration of psychological and metaphysical concepts which are ostensibly related to the mystery, but feel like a totally different type of movie. This is all mixed in with periodic reminders that the movie is "still a movie about a monster" even though they are spread out every 30 minutes or so.

The movie has a major twist at the end, and I'll be honest, I'm not sold on it. It was slightly foreshadowed, but a significant portion of the movie appears to be directly contradictory to the twist. Its one thing to have an unreliable narrator, but its another thing entirely to have 10-20 minutes worth of scenes which are simply invalidated by the reveal. I'm no stranger this week to movies where the protagonist hallucinates events that didn't happen, as The Night House and Babadook both did this. But this movie has two incompatible storylines: the storyline we saw and the storyline of the twist. By the end of the movie, even the initial threat is rendered . . . if not irrelevant, somewhat disarmed, with the "Bloody Mary/The Ring" threat turning into something else entirely different and more psychological. I'm genuinely not convinced that the groundwork was properly laid for the twist at the end; you should be able to go back and watch a movie again and slap your forehead every time it was "obvious" that the twist was in play without your knowledge, and I don't think this movie can do that. It was too awkwardly done, with too many factors we have to just handwave to make the twist work.

All this really comes together to result in a movie which I feel just couldn't get its focus right. Is it a story about some people on a mountain hike? Is it a detective/mystery? Is it a supernatural "slasher" on a time limit? Is it a metaphysical exploration of the mind and reality? Is it the story we see? Is it the implied story of the twist, the one that basically invalidates most of the movie we just saw? It seems to be all of these in one, and it didn't feel like it accomplished this gracefully. Its one thing to pull a Southbound, and tell 5 different stories in an anthology, but its another to try and cram 5 stories into 1 story all at once. It all started to feel like it fell apart at the end, as all of the different plot threads came cramming together into a variety of sequences, whether real or imagined, and rather than feel like a genuinely confusing dreamlike moment, it just felt clumsy.

I also felt like the entire supernatural premise was grounded in a fairly confusing "in universe explanation". People who know me know that I love my explanation, my in-universe mythos, my lore, etc. I like it when my supernatural stories have an explanation, even a supernatural one, and if you AREN'T going to explain it, then keep it that way, because a bad explanation is worse than no explanation. Well, this movie's explanation was really awkward and tied up with (to me, intentionally) confusing pseudo-science and new age mysticism, and that WAS one of the themes of the movie, that all this mystical jargon they were rambling about was difficult to follow and all over the place, the protagonist repeatedly complained about it. But having your protagonist complain that "this explanation doesn't make sense!" does not actually give you a free pass for having stuff that doesn't make sense. Without going too much into spoilers, I don't really know how the story justifies this supernatural concept ("the Empty Man", this sense of meaninglessness and apathy) while also being a Bloody Mary-style summoned monster that kills you for no reason after a pre-determined timer has passed. Both concepts are valid, but the two concepts don't make sense as one single thing. There's no actual explanation that I saw, even pseudo-scientific, for WHY invoking the Empty Man results in a death sentence, its just an ignored factor of the whole movie, it just happens. And in keeping with my complaint about the movie feeling like it didn't know what story to tell . . . you know what? The entire "The Empty Man is going to get you" part of the movie could have been written out ENTIRELY. Every single part of this movie could have worked fine without that. All of the mystery, the characters who died, the leads and detective work, the twist at the end, the mystical explanations, even the initial prologue sequence . . . everything could have worked just fine, if you wrote out the "monster" of the movie. But the monster is the name of the movie, and the promotional materials made it look like a Bloody Mary/Candy Man sort of thing, and so many people wouldn't have come to see it if it didn't exist. But I think the movie would have been a better movie entirely without the superfluous threat of monster death in play. That could have been its own movie entirely, and would have resulted in a less jarring, conflicting story progression.

Speaking of the monster, I kinda wish it had been a bit more interesting. It played second fiddle to its own movie, and when you did see it, it was almost always so obscured by fog or mist or darkness that you never really picked up more than just "maybe its a Ring Wraith", and even the one sequence where you see it up close and personal, the lights were flickering so badly, you really couldn't see it. The Empty Man was not an interesting "monster" and it seems like the creators knew this, and went out of their way to not even try to deliver on him. I'll take a Sadako/Samara any day.

And yet.

I didn't dislike the movie. Apart from all that stuff, I had a pretty good time watching, the few scares it had were usually pretty good, it was creepy, the prologue was fine (the cave in the prologue was extra cool), it had a number of impactful scenes and set pieces to keep my attention and interest me. I want to give special points to the protagonist/actor, who I found myself frequently and repeatedly LIKING despite him being a rather generic sort of dude. I found his mood and reactions to situations to be very relatable, he felt very human and real, and not like "an actor in a horror movie" which is . . . particularly ironic given the movie itself, lets just say. His "Yeahhh, no" moment was hilarious and turned a genuinely creepy scene into an adorable one too, and that was probably the peak moment of the movie for me. I would watch this movie again, and I'd probably enjoy it. Moment to moment, it was all decent, it just struggled somewhat with crafting a coherent narrative that knew which lane to stay in.

Like the Endless, I enjoyed this movie despite its flaws, perhaps surprisingly so. It had some strong points, I just wish it were better.

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
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General Tso's Score:Out of Town

Content Warning: Violence, Language

Creep is a movie where we all know roughly what's going to go down within the first 5 minutes of the film. It conforms closely enough to horror cliches that there is no real surprise there. If there was any lack of clarity, the title itself does away with it. So when you have a movie with a more or less foregone conclusion, its not about what happens, but its about the journey to get there, and so we have a movie which is going to be entirely driven by "how well can it tell a story that we already know the ending to?".

And I'm willing to say it does a pretty good job on that, to a point. WE, the audience, know something the protagonist doesn't know. And its interesting to see just how long the film can play this balancing act of telling a story of double meanings. Just how far can the eponymous creep go, how weird and pushy and threatening can he get before the protagonist wises up and the cover is blown?

And on that front, they did a pretty good job! They kept it going for a pretty long time, with just enough acting ambiguity to toe the line of "just awkward enough to feel awkward, but not quite awkward enough to panic and get the hell out". That's a difficult balancing act, and had to be carried entirely by the actors, who IMO, did a very good job (especially the antagonist). I read that the two actors in the film were also the writers/directors, and I can see this paying off on a movie like this, where you need to be absolutely sure of how you want your tone to be delivered to play just between the lines. I think for the first half-to-two-thirds of the film, where they play this game of ambiguity, one where the audience already knows the conclusion but is waiting for the facade to break, was very well done.

Unfortunately, everything kinda falls apart after that. Changing courses entirely and beginning a new leg of the story, the last third of the movie was fairly cliche, following a number of over-done tropes I've seen half a dozen times before (the cutting hair with video camera on sequence comes to mind). This entire segment of the movie failed to provide anything interesting, or to enhance the story at all, serving only as an extended delivery for the foregone conclusion I think we were all expecting from the beginning. Losing its primary, well crafted dynamic (the interplay and dialogue between the two characters), it was just an extended focus on the protagonist for 25 minutes, and he was always the less interesting of the two. This movie got one thing right (and it was the only thing it had going for it), and then unfortunately lost track of that thing and ended on a weak generic end sequence that really sullied the impact of the first half.

I think this movie would have been a lot stronger if it had ended a lot earlier, or if the final third had been a true extension of the first two thirds, instead of taking a different path.

If the movie succeeded at one thing though, it was that pretty much the entire movie was anxious and suspenseful. I could instead watch FOR the tension, and instead of watching for "the reveal", I watched for the reactions of the protagonist to the actions of the antagonist. How far will the antagonist push, and how far will the protagonist bend before he breaks? That itself was content enough to stay entertaining, but unfortunately failed to nail the landing for the final act.

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
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General Tso's Score: 8 out of 10

Content Warning: Blood and Gore, Violence, Language

I need to clarify something about myself for this one.

I love zombie movies. A lot of people say "zombies are overdone, no one likes it anymore", but I've been into zombie movies for a long time, before they hit their oversaturation in the 2010-ish-era, and I still like them now. But I'm picky. I've always been fascinated by the survival strategy elements of zombie apocalypse media. Zombie movies have been a giant vehicle for sociopolitical commentary since their creation, and I frankly don't care about any of that. Most zombie movies are either a gore splattered shoot em up, or they are some metaphorical exploration of "social group A vs social group B", delivering some sort of message to us about oppression or what have you, usually at the expense of the actual ZOMBIE CONTENT. For years, I've LONGED for something, that actually explored the logistics of zombie survival. I've read the Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z, they are amazing, but in terms of films? Nothing ever came close. Until now.

The Night That Eats The World spent more time focusing on the day to day activities of what is necessary to survive in a zombie apocalypse than any other movie I've ever seen. It was also featured the most rational strategies I've ever seen from a zombie survivor in a movie (MOST rational, not purely rational, more on that later). And I loved every MINUTE of that. This is what I've been waiting for, for at least 15 years of watching zombie movies. I feel like this is a controversial statement for me to make, and I find myself questioning it repeatedly, unsure if its actually true or not . . . but this is now my favorite zombie movie I've ever seen, dethroning the original Dawn of the Dead (which was the previous winner for focusing on long term zombie survival). Though it was never said outright, I got the distinct impression that the protagonist had seen zombie movies before, he knew what he was doing, almost from the very first moment.

Now, the protagonist was not purely rational. The dude made mistakes, a LOT of them, many of them unforgiveable. But making mistakes is human, I don't expect a movie character to be a mindless robot of rationality. But he also acted intelligently. There were moments where he did things that I never, ever thought a movie character would do, things I was screaming out "Omg, I would just do this, its obvious", and THEN HE DID THEM. I was so impressed. To just give an example, he had zombies trapped in an apartment that he needed to clear, but he was not confident he could engage them in a fight. And in my brain, I was like "okay, so if this were really me, I'd break a small hole in the door and then pick them off one by one while they couldn't hurt me, but no one will ever actually do that in a zombie movie". And then he did it. The sweet bastard drilled a hole in the door and cleared the apartment from safety. I couldn't believe it.

Because he was generally so rational and intelligent about his zombie strategies, I was EXTRA critical of him when he screwed up. Regular horror movie meat popsicles make mistakes, its part of the job, but this guy? I knew he was smart. I expected better. So yeah, he did mess up sometimes, and sometimes he didn't think of obvious solutions. But usually, it was excusable. He's just a human trying to do his best but ultimately fallible. No one is perfect. And as the film progressed, and his desperation and stability deteriorated, he made even more mistakes, which was entirely fitting and in line with the story. Because most of his mistakes were the kind of mistakes I can see a person making because they didn't think it through, or because their emotional state caused them to make poor decisions . . . NOT because they were a walking horror movie trope on a script of stupid. I could relate to his mistakes because they felt human and real, just as I praised his rational thinking because it felt human and real.

And on that note, I want to be clear that although this movie spent copious amounts of time focusing on logistics and strategy, it did NOT shy away from the character development and all that "human element", which I feel has ruined so many zombie movies before. This is mostly a 1-character story all movie long, featuring a single person entirely isolated and suffering the consequences of that. It was an interesting take on that too, as the beginning of the movie established him as a bit of a loner, and even someone took to the isolation of the zombie apocalypse with a natural grace and even enthusiasm. Exploring him slowly becoming more desperate for companionship and contact, and as he starts to make more and more mistakes in pursuit of that contact, fit well with the themes of the movie, and I rarely felt like it was ruining my experience. I once saw a quote from the creators of the Walking Dead which said something like "TWD is not a show about zombies, its a show about people", and I hated that because I'm watching TWD for zombies, not for people. If I want people, I can go watch a soap opera. The Night That Eats The World was a movie about zombies and about a person, and I enjoyed both parts. A rare success on that front for me!

One final note: there was an interesting exploration of themes toward the end of the movie, about two different types of people in this sort of scenario. The "what's the point of surviving here, you are just waiting to die" type, and "what's the point of risking everything to find better, when we can survive here" type. I've always hated the former argument. It shows up in a lot of zombie movies, notably, both Dawn of the Dead movies carry this implication that by surviving in the mall, they've all "given up and died already", and that its only natural and fitting that they should all BREAK OUT and find freedom or some such nonsense. I hate it! Its so dumb! Famous last words of a soon to be dead character. This trope is often forced on the viewer as if it is true, but they've never done any legwork to justify it. This movie revisits the theme in a more direct approach, as an argument between two perspectives on the same matter. The protagonist of this film is a "don't take risks, stay here and survive type", and maybe that is why I liked this movie so much. Finally, a zombie apocalypse with someone I can relate to!

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
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General Tso's Score: 7 out of 10

Content Warning: Blood and Gore, Violence, Brief Nudity, Suggestive Content, Language

I want to start with the good part of this one.

The setting, this quiet, perhaps even backwater town in extremely rural South Korea, was gorgeous. A mixture of rustic farmland and highly traditional architecture made for a great setting for a modern investigative movie, and though I've seen movies set in an "American" style location of similar tone, I've never before seen a highly ruralized Korean setting, and this was a very fresh experience. I don't think I've ever seen a Korean-location film that wasn't in a major city or urbanized area, so this was completely new to me, and I was not disappointed. I also loved the rainy/misty aesthetic present through the majority of the film, it really influenced the tone of the movie, and has stuck with me as part of the "feel" of the movie.

The acting was, to say the least, INTENSE. This was a movie that did not try to restrain the emotional enthusiasm of its characters in the slightest. My interpretation of the film's title is that it is in reference to the frequent scenarios where one character or another completely loses all control and is wailing in grief or misery at the situation they are in, and this absolutely happens probably a dozen times in the movie. I won't say that this level of chewing the scenery is either good or bad, but it definitely felt intentional and consistent, and if that was their goal, they were absolutely successful. This is a movie filled with emotionally extreme characters, and it has a huge impact on the tone of the movie.

Beyond that . . . I don't have very many good things to say.

I couldn't figure out what this movie wanted to be. It was all over the place, and took HOURS to finally settle into what seemed to be its genre of choice, and at a 2.5 hour run time, this was a pretty lengthy movie. I remember at some point around one hour remarking that I still didn't know what this movie was about. It starts off as this police investigation, but with hints of something like a zombie infection, but then shifts gears to a more magical/mystical element, drops the police element almost entirely, starts bringing in Catholicism directly interacting with traditional Korean religious beliefs, and then focuses on possession and ghosts and family tragedy and grief and it was just . . . all so much! The Wailing absolutely was less "genre" consistent than The Empty Man, and struggled to ever pick a lane for long enough to get settled in it.

Even the characters can't seem to decide who they are trying to be. The protagonist, at different points in the film, seems to be a sort of bumbling incapable cop, also a determined investigator, a soft and fearful coward, a ferocious papa bear, a silly nice guy, an angry jerk, a total pushover, a stubborn fighter, in a loveless marriage, but also actually in love in his marriage, everything. His personality seemed to be whatever the plot called for, and if I can say anything its that he accomplished almost all of these roles particularly well, I found him believable and was able to empathize with him . . . but depending on which quarter of the movie I'm in, it felt like a totally different person. Some of the other characters went through dramatic shifts in demeanor as well, so this is hardly isolated (and I'm not counting the ones who were afflicted by the malady, I'm not unfair).

To make matters worse, I actively found many parts of the movie too confusing to follow. There are times in movies where something happens, like a character will just die, and my reaction will be "Oh, I guess they are dying now, I didn't realize". Where events are unfolding and the only reason I know what IS happening is after the fact when I see it happening, and there was no real lead up to it, things just happen without direct cause and effect. I felt that way about this movie. Things happened. They didn't always logically follow what happened previously, or they happened without explanation, things just happened and I'm supposed to follow along with that. But the movie didn't seem to be TRYING to be incoherent. There are movies where a lack of coherence is meant to be a reflection of the protagonists own confusion, but I didn't get that impression here.

The worst part of this was what I feel was active attempts to anti-foreshadow things. The movie left certain plot elements hanging for a long time, and even went to significant pains to imply they were not true. I don't mean lying to the protagonist to mislead them; lying to the VIEWER to mislead them. And when things weren't anti-foreshadowed, they were simply just not foreshadowed at all. There were twists in this movie which I feel were completely inscrutable until the moment they happened, and there were twists where I felt like the movie itself was trying to lie to me about so that when they pulled the twist, I'd definitely be taken off guard.

So what I experienced here, in conclusion, was a (long) movie with a constantly shifting focus and genre, with characters who's personality is changing as the plot calls for it, with a narrative that can't settle down, with plot points that are arbitrary, unforeshadowed, out of nowhere, and even deceptive. And that really negatively impacted how much I was able to enjoy it. I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt that at least some of the confusing supernatural elements were based in cultural folklore and mythology which I'm simply unfamiliar with, and perhaps if I was more knowledgeable on that front, I would have been able to follow the course of the film better. But as it was, I was often bewildered, but not in a good way (I usually love crazy confusing movies). I sat there for hours, waiting for the film to finally begin in earnest, and when it finally did, it was just a nest of contradictory and inconsistent events.

I can't hate this movie, as in the moment, in any given scene, it was well done, with a great setting and powerful acting. But I was really disappointed with the final product, because this movie came highly recommended and had fairly rave reviews (one of the highest reviewed movies on my entire list). With as much praise as it has, I feel as if I'm missing something, and I expected better.

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
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General Tso's Score: 7.5 out of 10

Content Warning: Blood and Gore, Violence, Nudity, Hazing and Bullying, Sexual and Suggestive Content, Cannibalism, Language

The first thing I want to say about this movie is that I don't think I can quite call it a horror movie. Not in the traditional sense, at least. Rather, its a coming of age film with horrific elements, which is definitely not the same thing. It lacks most of the storytelling notes of what makes a horror movie, which is not to say its bad, but rather, I simply would not have classified it as a horror had I seen it previously. But what's done is done, so on with the show.

I'm not sure what to say about this movie in general. It was an extremely character driven piece, set to the stage of an obnoxiously high pressure/hazing college environment. The protagonist is a character who's been under the thumb of her oppressive parents her whole life and is now facing peer pressure conformity at school, pushing her to behave in ways that she isn't comfortable with, and then the resulting consequences of such pressure.

But . . . I had a hard time relating to her. Maybe this says more about me than anything else, but I felt like she just caved and went along with the pressure in a way I have a hard time empathizing with. Of course, she was surrounded by other students doing the same, but unlike those other students, she seemed to express genuine doubts but still went along with it. The whole situation was super unpleasant to watch in general, because I was mentally pleading with her to just put her foot down.

I get that this movie was very much about what happens when a person's entire support network comes crashing down and they are forced into a potent social whirlwind of pressure, feeling attacked on all sides and with no outlet. And then a forbidden outlet presents itself and . . . okay. IDK though, maybe it came down a little too hard and unrealistic though? When even the teachers started to bully her for no reason, when seemingly the entire school faculty and system is nearly absent, allowing this outrageous hazing stuff to go on unchecked, that broke my suspension of disbelief some.

And here I'm not even really talking about the story itself, just the setting. I suppose I don't really have much to complain about . . . following the protagonists spiral was engaging enough on a moment to moment basis, though I couldn't always tell what the story was trying to tell me with its message. Something about "family being there for each other", but also invalidating that same message? That "intense social pressure and hazing is toxic and damaging, and will cause people to do horrible things", but then with a twist that seemingly nullifies that message, absolving the social pressure element of all responsibility for the events that unfolded in the film? What was the point of it all? Just an exploration of one person's life sucking, with little to no resolution to it? I suppose there was a bit of a hope spot with the sister (pro-family message) but if that was the final message of the film, they certainly invalidated it time and time again. Also, the protagonists parents suck. I blame them for everything.

I liked this movie well enough, but despite its particularly unique subject matter, I didn't feel like there was a strong enough narrative or purpose to it to draw me in behind just an idle interest.

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
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General Tso's Score: 8 out of 10

Content Warning: Violence, Brief Nudity, Sexual and Suggestive Content, Some Coerced Sexual Content, Language

There is one thing that completely dominated my perception of this movie . . . the acting.

WHAT IS THE ACTING IN THIS MOVIE?! Every single person, even extras with 2-3 lines, have the most robotic, emotionless, dispassionate and even irrelevant responses, behavior, and dialogue pretty much the entire movie long. When I say this dominated my perception of the movie, I'm not exaggerating. From the very beginning, this odd, detached characterization was all I could think about. It distracted me, it confused me, it made me question everything, it made me question the movie's genre, it made me think that this was the main focus of the movie. It massively amplified the suspense and tension, seeing all of these characters behave robotically in response to increasingly intense and serious scenarios, even when the subject was one of the death of family members. I kept waiting for that moment where they all cracked, where a character (probably the protagonist) would finally lose it and all of this insane restraint and self control would come crashing down and they'd unleash a torrent of emotion. And you could see the cracks in the facade, you could see when the characters were struggling to contain their emotional intensity, even while engaging in ultra courteous and controlled dialogue, so this just ratcheted up the tension even more.

Every once in a while an actor would catch on to the weird behavior and make a scene about it, which was extra weird to me, because every actor did it. Nicole Kidman picking a fight with Colin Firth for asking about mashed potatoes during a life and death situation, but then not 20 minutes later, he urgently asks her to come down to see the children and she decides to stop and put on a fancy black cocktail dress. Its almost odd to me that she called out the mashed potatoes because this is clearly a WORLD defining trait of this movie. When the entire world is crazy and apathetic, asking for potatoes during a life crisis isn't out of character, but calling out the potatoes is.

I want to take a moment and say that I don't think the acting was a bad thing. It was CLEARLY intentional, you don't get a dozen actors all acting this crazy by accident, and so I consider it to be a primary goal of the director, and in that regard, it was a massive success. Mission accomplished. That it was done so oddly and completely increases my respect for the movie, but I can't not be completely tunnel visioned on it.

If 80% of the way through this film, they unveiled a huge twist, and it turned out the movie took place in some sort of simulation, or an alien zoo where humans were made to act out roles against their will, or that the entire population were androids being trained to behave as people . . . some sort of off the wall reveal to explain this crazy world where people seemed like they were on the verge of snapping yet carried themselves with constant and total restraint . . . I would have not batted an eye. In fact, I was almost hoping for it. The strange behavior of the characters, to me, was the most defining part of this movie, it was everything that made this movie special, and if the director had chosen to focus on that as the main plot element, it would have been completely warranted. That ultimately is not what happened, but it would have felt completely natural. In the end, for some reason, this is a world where this sort of at-a-distance courteous social awkwardness pervades all of society, where most of our characters have some nearly sociopathic and selfish desires, and people's attachments to others are surface level at best, and usually self serving.

In a way, I guess that would be a good way to describe this movie: a society entirely comprised of high functioning sociopaths, all collectively agreeing to abide by the rules and going through the motions of civility and culture. But there is no heart here, there is no warmth or passion. Between the cracks in the veneer, when tension is high and the rules aren't holding together quite right, the selfish and self-serving elements of these people come to the fore.

And I've said basically nothing about the movie itself. Well, this is a movie about tension and suspense and people and family. And if it had been "any normal movie" about those subjects, I probably would have found it rather disinteresting. But combined with the impressive accomplishment of getting an entire cast to behave the way they did, it completely transformed the film for me, and turned it into something else entirely. This movie is a profoundly strange experience, yet one which takes place entirely in the locations of every day life and in fairly normal scenarios. I don't know if its for everyone, but I've never seen anything like it, and it impressed me to say the least.

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
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General Tso's Score: 7.5 out of 10

Content Warning: Blood, Violence, Sexual and Suggestive Content, Language

I was on board with this movie from pretty early on. Unlike a lot of horror movies, it took just a few minutes for the subject matter of the movie to be introduced, and instead of building tension slowly prior, it started off by introducing the subject matter and then building with it. And that's pretty refreshing at times, I've watched half a dozen movies in the past two weeks that took their sweet time getting to the point (not inherently a bad thing, but one does get impatient sometimes).

As such, its title is hardly a spoiler. Daniel, the protagonist's imaginary friend, isn't real. We find that out in the first 5 minutes, glad we got that out of the way. Instead, we get to observe the evolution of the protagonist and Daniel, and see where things go from there.

One thing I liked about this movie was that it kept things moving and kept things exciting. Daniel is an intense, energetic character who amplifies every scene with his presence. When the two are alone, the protagonist is talking with Daniel. When they are in public, Daniel is coaching the protagonist and making commentary or providing information, a constant background element that allows two levels of dynamic at all times. And despite this boisterous atmosphere, I never felt like the movie failed to keep building tension and anxiety, both through the conversations with Daniel, as well as strategic camera cuts to let the audience see reactions he is having which the protagonist doesn't necessarily see.

Its a bit spoilery, but one thing I really liked about this movie was when it shifted from being purely psychological to actually supernatural. Psychological movies can be fun, but I've seen a bunch of them in this marathon project, and I'll always prefer a supernatural element to a non-supernatural one. So once it became clear that the subject matter was actually supernatural, I got even more invested, and some of the visuals and topics explored from that point on were even more enjoyable as a result.

There isn't a whole lot I feel I can say about this movie without spoiling too much of its subject matter, but I found it a pretty active, entertaining watch, with minimal "downtime" as far as horror movies are concerned, and that's pretty rare!

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
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General Tso's Score: 8 out of 10

Content Warning: Blood, Violence, Language (Is actually PG-13)

This movie was a lot of fun! Like with The Night That Eats The World, I was particularly interested in the subject matter of this one, as I love underwater scenarios and horror. Games like Bioshock and Subnautica are among by all time favorites, and movies in the same vein are no exception. I loved the setting, I loved the lighting and atmosphere, I loved the underwater sequences, I loved the parts on the stations. The "threats" were both impactful and suitably threatening; at no point did I feel like the characters were exaggerating a not-threat. This movie starts off fast and hard and the characters spend 95% of the run time on a time limit to save their lives, and it rarely loses momentum enough to calm down.

There's only one thing I have to say about this movie that isn't positive . . . and its that this movie didn't do anything original. It was a completely cookie-cutter, trope-standard, run of the mill horror movie. It just did it all really, really well. I've seen half a dozen movies which followed the same fairly cliché story arc and even subject matter; even with "underwater" movies alone, Leviathan, DeepStar Six, The Abyss, Sphere, and Deep Blue Sea all had tons of similarities (and came decades earlier). In the non-underwater genre, there are a ton of space/alien movies which follow a very similar plot as well. There was (nearly) nothing in this movie that I didn't see coming a mile away or hadn't been done before in one or more of these movies, and "attacked by ferocious underwater creatures while my underwater base is being destroyed bit by bit and I need to find a way to escape to the surface" really shouldn't be THAT common a genre, but apparently it is. Underwater, in my opinion, took this genre and made the best rendition I've seen yet. And so it gets tremendous praise from me for doing so . . . but it still didn't do anything new. If this were the first horror movie ever set in this setting, I'd give this movie a perfect score, but as it stands, its just a (highly successful) refinement of a very well tread formula.

Without spoiling anything, I want to give bonus credit to the "final boss" of the movie's threats. While still technically another "unoriginal" element, its inclusion FELT amazing, and it did take me off guard. Its part of what puts this movie firmly in my favorite "underwater horror" films, possibly the top slot.

Also +1 for Little Paul. What a unique little addition of flavor, I got attached super quickly, and I definitely felt like it had a lot of emotional significance despite having . . . less than 30 seconds screen time or dialogue relating to it. Well done, you got me in the feels.

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Leinfors Score Out of Four:
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General Tso's Score: 9 out of 10

Content Warning: Blood, Brief Nudity and Sexual Content, Rape, Violence, Language

Saint Maud, much like Raw, ended up falling well into "this is not a horror movie" category, much to my dismay. Rather, its more of a psychological/suspense thriller, with an extremely long and slow burn towards a brief climax and conclusion.

I want to be fair to this movie, but I should say that this is not my style of movie to begin with, I don't particularly prefer this genre, and I would not have included it on the list if I had known the content as well as I do now. As a result of this, I did not enjoy the movie very much, but I don't think this necessarily reflects on the movie's content itself, but simply more that it isn't the sort of movie I generally enjoy.

The comparisons to Raw are not unwarranted (though I don't mean to imply the movies are the same). They are both in depth explorations of a person's psyche and struggling with feelings of isolation and pressure, as well as a degree of mental instability, especially observing their spiral into that instability. They also feature little in the way of a "monster or threat" from which the protagonist is trying to survive or avoid, only themselves.

I can see people enjoying Saint Maud for its storytelling, I felt like it was engaging enough for what it was, and I rarely found myself bored with it. Its "dear diary" narrative structure worked pretty well to give a decent insight into the mind of the protagonist, and rarely did I ever feel like I was unable to relate to her despite her twisted and distorted worldviews at times. This seemed like a case of successful storytelling and character writing, and that's a plus.

I did get the feeling the events of the film were somewhat meaningless and nihilistic though. It initially had an air of mystery to it, some of its subject matter was left open to interpretation for a very long time, but I felt that it ended on a more decisive note which killed off a lot of its narrative strength by taking away that room for interpretation, and settling on a more solid downer note. I think that was to the film's detriment.

I will give this movie credit for one particular thing. I have never once seen a movie where the entire meaning and content was completely and utterly changed within a single second of screen time. If nothing else, this film accomplished that, and that's impressive.

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
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General Tso's Score: 8 out of 10

Content Warning: Blood, Violence, Language

A part of me is beginning to wonder if watching so many horror movies back to back is detrimental to judging them, because the comparisons to movies are becoming more and more pronounced with each one. Under the Shadow is VERY similar to Babadook, using some of the exact same themes and sorts of subject matter. The parallels are particularly potent here, though I'm not trying to imply that it was attempting to copy or clone it.

What carried this movie wasn't precisely its horror subject matter, but instead its setting and cultural themes. Under the Shadow takes place in Iran during war in the 1980s, and it heavily incorporates the cultural themes of that time into the plot, including both the social, religious, and gender role changes occurring at that time. Additionally, its very strongly impacted by the anxiety of living "under the shadow" of the danger of war. Rather than saying Under the Shadow is a horror movie tinged with themes of a war-torn Iran, it is more accurate to say that it is a cultural period piece about war-torn Iran with horror themes. And that is certainly a completely different approach to a film than Babadook, even though the horror elements and some of the family/social themes were similar.

Its also worth noting that the horror threat was a strongly culturally influenced one, which resulted in a fairly different "type" of creature feature, even though the end result was quite similar in practice. I'll admit, this movie might have the closest thing I've ever seen to an actual bedsheet ghost that managed to be scary, so that's something worth giving credit for.

This is a movie about a protagonist who is trying to juggle a battle versus family/children, a battle versus society, and a battle versus the supernatural all at once, and trying to determine which one takes priority in terms of severity, with all of them squeezing in on her at once relentlessly. I think it accomplished that fairly well.

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
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General Tso's Score: 8 out of 10

Content Warning: Blood and Gore, Violence, Language

Uh oh! We got a stinker here! Unfortunately, 14 consecutive movies streak without anything worse than "decent" was broken by Malignant. To say I'm disappointed would be an understatement, as this movie was recommended to me by a couple of people, and it doesn't resemble what I was told to expect in the slightest.

From the first two minutes, I had this profound sinking feeling that Malignant felt like a bad made for tv B-movie. From some pretty profoundly bad acting and line delivery, to strangely crappy camera work, and an ever present and completely unnecessarily dramatic background score, it just reeked of something I might have seen and chosen not to watch on Sci-Fi channel in the early 2000s.

But I stuck with it, hoping that maybe it just had a weird start. Maybe even an intentionally weird start. The director of this movie, James Wan, is responsible for Saw, Insidious, and the Conjuring, all three pretty decent movies of different genres. Insidious is actually one of the scariest movies I've ever seen, and one of my favorite horror movies, and done with a very skilled touch in my opinion. First two minutes? Bad. First ten? Getting worse. So as I'm sitting here watching Malignant, and its so bad, and just . . . not getting any better (and at times getting worse), all I can do is give him the benefit of the doubt. "Surely", I say to myself "This is all a trick. This is some sort of bait and switch like Cabin in the Woods, its all a parody of bad made for TV horror movies, and in like 45 minutes to an hour, he'll do the reveal and the movie will turn amazing. Right?"

I was wrong. The movie never got better. I felt like I couldn't go 30 seconds without some overzealous weepy score drowning out and ruining the dialogue and creepy moments . . . it actively ruined most of the ambience and atmosphere of the movie, and I don't know how he could let this happen after having done a movie like Insidious (which exercises very solid control of music and sound). At least 3 or 4 times, there would be a dramatic moment compounded by outrageous overacting and an intense burst of tone-inappropriate dramatic music. A few times, the film shifted into an odd "action/building" montage that almost reminded me of Saw due to the more intense music, which was pretty out of place for an otherwise suspense-oriented movie.

I'll go on a limb and say that the premise/story of this movie wasn't necessarily doomed from the start, I think it could have been handled well. Though I don't find it particularly amazing (in fact, I'm sure I've seen at least two horror movies or shorts with a nearly identical subject matter), there was potential here, and somehow, a director which I know knows better completely squandered it. I'd love to know what went wrong there.

I will give the movie a little credit where its due. The antagonist monster's aesthetic design was, at times, pretty good. It usually looked pretty cool, sometimes even scary, and that was generally enjoyable in those moments. One particular scene stood out, an action/fighting sequence which was, somehow, fairly well choreographed and engaging to watch, like a fight scene out of Equilibrium. Why a 2 minute martial arts combat sequence was the best part in a nearly 2 long horror/suspense thriller, I don't know, but it hardly raises my approval of it as far as horror movies are concerned.

Both reviews and recommendations of this movie spoke of it as crazy and over the top, but in a good way, something I often look forward to in movies. I love crazy and intense movies. This was not that. This movie was sloppy, poorly done, and boring. I don't know what others are seeing in it. In the end, this movie got some slight grudging respect from me for a decent looking monster and 1 good fight scene, and the rest was a hokey, cheesy, low budget mess done by a director who was better than this.

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
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General Tso's Score: 5.5 out of 10

Content Warning: Blood and Gore, Nudity, Sex and Suggestive Content, Violence, Cannibalism, Language

Its going to be impossible not to contrast The Medium with The Wailing. Both are possession movies set in rural Asian communities featuring shamanistic cultural elements, and written by the same person to boot. I've already felt like most possession movies are extremely similar, but The Medium tried to mix things up in its own way.

I'm not a big fan of found footage style movies, they are usually an excuse for bad shaky cam to avoid showing anything relevant, and the narrative needs of "always filming" often interfere with story telling. To its credit, the camera work in The Medium was usually spot on, very stable, and didn't "avoid" showing the action, so crutch averted. There were often some times where the narrative elements broke my suspension of disbelief, such as when an emergency happens and the cameraman won't lift a finger to help because they are too busy filming. Or for example, the half dozen times or so when a character would half-heartedly shoo them off, tell them to stop filming, and promptly forget about them again when they continued filming. It tried to give lip service to the presence of an extra character at all times, but rarely followed through, and it did feel awkward. But, though I dislike this format, this was far from the worst I've seen of it.

However, the specific style of found footage here was that the film was a documentary, and so periodically throughout the movie, there would be interview sequences set in a 1-on-1 environment, with characters delivering exposition in a very natural and useful way. This made very solid use of the found footage style that I rarely see, and I do feel that this (both as exposition and for altering the tone of the movie) were a successful and positive use of the format. The acting of the characters felt very natural to this style as well; there is a difference between "acting for film" and "acting like a person in real life", and this movie did a great job with the latter.

The rustic setting was engaging, though not quite so much as The Wailing's particularly scenic atmosphere and set pieces. The cultural distinctions and elements explored in the movie were definitely unique and brought some flavor and educational value to the movie (especially in the form of the documentary style). There were some things which felt so unusual but were simultaneously fascinating, like the use of neon lights for funerals or churches . . . something I've never seen before, but now I suddenly wonder why not.

Though slow paced at times, I was never bored with this movie. The documentary interviews kept the slower segments moving via dialogue and exposition, and the suspense and progression of the threat kept me engaged throughout. If this movie had not been found footage (perhaps intercutting some of the key periodic interview segments, but otherwise following traditional film format), I think it would have been a stronger movie, but as it stands, it ends up merely being good.

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
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General Tso's Score: 8.5 out of 10

Content Warning: Blood and Gore (its an autopsy, it shows the viscera of a corpse), Extensive Nudity (its an autopsy, so of a naked corpse), Violence, Language

I think I'll go on a limb and said that Autopsy of Jane Doe may have been one of the "scariest" movies on the entire list. Unusually, as a horror fan, I don't really get scared by horror movies, I just enjoy them for the aesthetic or the concepts. But if I felt that any movies captured the proper atmosphere and tension and "scary" feel that I would most expect from a successful horror movie, it was this one. The clinical and dialogue-driven nature of the autopsy itself really captured the experience of "these characters" as they worked their way through the events of the film, closely approximating a sort of real-time approach. The setting (almost exclusively in a basement level autopsy clinic) kept things close to the vest, with a persistent sense of isolation from the rest of the world, even more so once the storm begins and cuts them off further. Everything came together to create a fantastic overall feeling of dread and helplessness, which I feel worked for the movie wonderfully.

There is very little I have to say that is negative about this movie. I think perhaps a little bit of the "mystery" of the narrative was a little too unclear at times. "Why are some of things happening exactly as they are happening, even after the explanation?" is a question I asked just a few too many times for a movie which is otherwise very clinical and freely giving with the exposition. There are movies that are complete mindscrews intentionally, and there are movies that try to explain everything . . . this felt like a movie that intended to explain things, but fell just a little bit short in fully doing so.

Nearly forgotten about at this point, I wonder if the introductory scene with the police at the beginning (as they walk around the crime scene in another location) was necessary at all. Perhaps the same information could have been conveyed via photographs, or even with an audio recording that was provided by the police? I don't feel it added anything substantial to the movie, but was one of the few deviations from its isolated setting, and perhaps it could have been cut back and enhanced that even further.

One bit of praise I think I want to give is that the exact scope of the supernatural elements in play is very undefined and broad. Whatever the plot needs, these powers are pulled out of a hat and used to further the plot point, and normally, I would call this out as a flaw. Writing new powers into play every time the plot needs it, out of convenience? Unacceptable! Except this movie does it just fine, which is impressive. It all felt like part of the mystery of the film, even though in hindsight, the amount of supernatural potency in play is on the level of a demi-god at least. Every time a new feature showed up, I never questioned it, it just seemed to fit the nature of the story.

- Shared Hallucinations (Visual, Auditory, etc)
- Reanimation of the dead
- Localized reality bending (with seemingly no limits?) - Possibly a pocket dimension of some sort
- Immortality/Partial Invulnerability/Regeneration
- Wound Transference

I feel bad not giving this movie a "perfect" score, because I don't really have any obvious flaws to point to. It was a very well done movie. But it just didn't quite inspire me or catch my interest on the level that would put it as one of my favorites, so instead, it only comes very close.

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
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General Tso's Score: 8.5 out of 10

Content Warning: Blood and Gore, Violence, Language

Wow, this movie was fantastic. I don't even know where to begin. Well, lets begin at the beginning.

The movie starts off with an audio only monologue seemingly about irrelevant and nonsense content (though it ends up being relevant later), but it was instantly engaging. It was crisp and clear and brought all of my attention straight to the movie (instead of that somewhat monotonous, fuzzy introduction that so many horror movies spend 5-10 minutes on). The nonsense of it all only further incited my curiosity, and from that point, I already felt like I was in for a treat.

The vast majority of this movie takes place inside of a radio station, with even 90% of that majority within a single room (the recording and engineering studio) for the station. The only deviation from this is a brief 2-minute beginning sequence as the protagonist drives to the studio, and even this managed to keep me engaged, with the first "sighting" of the phenomenon of the movie. But not only was it a minimalist setting, almost all of the movie took place over the radio. The protagonists are a radio DJ, a manager and a technical engineer for that station, and throughout, they are constantly on the air, reporting news or taking calls. While watching, I thought to myself "this whole thing could have been formatted as a radio broadcast", and sure enough, there IS an audio-only broadcast edition, which sounds like it would be really fun to check out some time. Either way, this distinct format, isolated mostly to a single room and constantly "on the air" gave the movie a very unique flavor, and there was never a dull moment, because you can't have dead air! Something was always happening, someone was always talking, and yet the film still managed to properly convey dread and fear and anxiety.

The actors/characters all really carried their weight in their own ways. The actor for the radio DJ protagonist did a fantastic job, he was a bit of an abrasive jerk but I found him very endearing and enjoyable to watch anyway, and he REALLY sold the "radio personality" thing. The manager and the engineer each brought a totally different personality to the dynamic, and the (relatively late to the party) doctor character was actually hilarious. He was so deadpan and totally serious but some of the things he said were so off the wall. Despite that, he also managed to successfully play Mr. Exposition to a fairly complicated topic, and it seemed to fit pretty well into the narrative, not feeling out of place. Also worth noting, nearly everyone in this movie who became afflicted by the phenomenon did a wonderful job of "acting" it, and this was, IMO, no easy task (more on that next).

Without spoiling too much about the film, this movie is ostensibly a zombie film, but it is a very non-traditional type of zombie. Those afflicted are subjected to a very distinct psychological state, and behave VERY uniquely . . . and the acting really carried this. It was genuinely creepy, every time. Every time a character was affected, they did such a good job showing it. It was subtle and unsettling, and I just feel like I'm running out of adjectives.

This movie is about a complex, difficult to understand horror concept, but ultimately, it was filmed in such a unique way that played to the strengths of dialogue driven story telling and talented actors. Without its unique "radio station" hook, this movie would have been a shadow of what it was, and without such skilled acting, directing and writing, it would have been a hokey B-movie mess. Instead, it was absolutely amazing, and I hated for it to end. This is a new all-time favorite for me for sure.


Leinfors Score Out of Four:
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General Tso's Score: 9.5 out of 10

Content Warning: Blood, Nudity, Attempted Rape/Sexual Assault, Violence, Language

I have mixed feelings about this movie. It has a great setting, some wonderful visuals and scenic camera work, numerous particularly creepy sequences, and a really solid mystery-based narrative throughout the whole movie. But I think it failed to nail the landing. Not because the landing was bad, but because it was the wrong landing for this movie.

This movie has a very similar tone and style to something like Shutter Island, and I make that comparison to give an idea of what the "genre" is of the first 90% of the film. Its a fairly somber, grounded exploration of a mystery, with implied conspiracies and secrets abounding, all set in a relatively modern setting (a clinical one at that, quite like Shutter Island). But the ending dramatically changes the tone of the film, ramping up everything to significant degrees, and bringing in some supernatural, perhaps even fantasy elements, along with a distinctly "Gothic Horror" vibe which stands at odds to the previously clinical/modern investigative approach of the rest of the movie. The violence escalated dramatically, suddenly jumps into some pretty explicit sexual content (Jason Isaacs, no! Bad!), and a last minute reveal results in a "monster" in what had otherwise been a film about normal people.

I didn't inherently hate the ending, I don't think it was bad in its own right, but it felt like the ending to a different movie. And I had really been getting into the overarching mystery vibe of the rest of the movie, so it just seemed rather jarring when the shift was made.

I really did like most of what the rest of the movie did, with some creepy but unexplained sequences involving mysteriously vanishing doors, inexplicable creatures being where they shouldn't be, and other possibly hallucinatory moments. They all came together to give me this sort of "unreliable narrator/dream-like experience" understanding of the movie, and its a shame that the ending completely ignores these elements and delivers its own unrelated solution to the situation.

To me, this was a good movie that had the ending to another potentially good movie duct-taped to the end, resulting in a final product that just doesn't feel as good as it should.

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
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General Tso's Score: 8 out of 10

Content Warning: Blood and Gore, Violence, Drug Use, Language

This movie felt like one of those awkwardly shot re-enactment scenes on true crime documentaries. Awkward acting, bland and sloppy camera work, and a profoundly bland setting really just came together to create an extremely unimpressive movie here.

I'll start with the good: the monsters of the film are actually pretty horrifying to behold (in the few moments when you actually see them), and the implication of the fate they bring has a distinctly "Hellraiser" level of horrific suffering. Though late and brief, the 2-3 minute sequence towards the end of the movie where the monsters are unleashed, suddenly wreaking absolute havoc and mayhem on the townsfolk during the climax was actually intense and pretty awesome, especially after over an hour of boring . . . I was so starved for content by this point that seeing these random people getting massacred was a breath of fresh air.

And that is about it.

This movie doesn't make very much sense. It doesn't have very interesting characters. It isn't done well.

The two main protagonists felt like extremely amateur actors, and that's unfortunate, because they dominate the majority of the screen time. The wife in particular delivered all of her lines in a distinctly "soap opera" way, and the husband was little better, truly embodying that "re-enactment" vibe. Their friends were done a little better, and I'd say that the stoner character was probably the only competent actor in the movie, not only doing an adequate job but actually delivering some amusing and engaging banter (unlike literally everyone else in the movie).

Beyond that, the rhyme and reason of why the events happen the way they do in this movie just don't make any sense. We've got a supernatural threat in this house that is established QUITE clearly as having hostile, murderous intent, and it does not seem to have any qualms about attacking and killing people within only a few minutes. It even, seemingly, has the ability to leave the house without restriction. But for no apparent reason, the two protagonists have been living here just fine with no consequences. It hurts, but does not kill, a technician, even though it could have. But then it arbitrarily kills other people nearly immediately. There is no "it takes time to gather power and kill you" clause, it just can and will kill you the moment it decides to. The lore of the movie implies it is an actively malevolent force that NEEDS to kill as well. So why is it killing inconsistently? There is no explanation for this, and if the movie were consistent at all, there wouldn't be a movie, the main characters would be dead in the first 5 minutes.

At one point, one of the antagonist humans just randomly shotgun murders a (seemingly allied) person, in public, with no apparent motive or repercussions. This is not clarified and is immediately forgotten. One of the victims dies in their car on the road leading to the house. People come and go on this road for the rest of the movie and no one sees or comments on this.

This movie could have been a 5-10 minute horror short showing the massacre sequence at the end, and it would have been rather enjoyable. Instead, it spent an additional 70 minutes trying, but failing, to establish a worthwhile plot, develop boring and poorly acted characters, and only served to repeatedly undermine its own few strengths.

I've spoken pretty negatively about this movie, and I stand by that. However, it felt like it was fairly low budget, and there were at least some enjoyable moments in there that actually fit the horror genre, so I don't consider it as bad as Malignant, but only just barely.

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
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General Tso's Score: 7 out of 10

Content Warning: Blood and Gore (Frequent Shots of Internal Organs, both Alive and Dead), Nudity, Sexual and Suggestive Content, Violence, Language

This is an interesting one . . . and one I hesitate to call a horror, and yet I can't dismiss it as one either.

To start, Crimes of the Future is a body horror, by David Cronenburg, famed FOR body horror movies. And keeping with that, the movie has a substantial quantity of strange biological mechanisms, body modification, blood and gore, dissection, the works. It is gory and grotesque in that way, and so if you are someone who is "horrified" by this sort of content, then yes, it would do that. However, the story is not a horror story. Its more of a science fiction drama, in that there is no horrific threat or monster pursuing the protagonists . . . in fact, I'd say the protagonists were in complete relative safety throughout the entire movie. Not to say that there weren't characters at risk or characters who die, but this was a pretty cushy movie for the characters, all things considered.

But this was still a really interesting movie to me, it was very artsy and cinematic and just had this whole feel of dramatic flair. The music had a pretty substantial impact on the movie, lending it an air of gravitas and intensity in many scenes. I'm normally not one taken in by movie soundtracks, but I think this one was essential to the feel of the movie.

One thing I'll say against the movie is that I felt as if its story ended VERY abruptly, without certain plotlines being fully resolved. While I won't say that the ending did not feel suitable as an ending, it came quite abruptly . . . I did not actually feel as if the movie had a climax, and so it took me somewhat off guard. Certain character arcs had an inexplicable, unexplained element to them which I find fairly frustrating, and it did hurt my overall perception of the movie.

In the end though, I actually liked this movie! It was a very unique setting and concept, in a science fiction future, and I think it definitely stuck with me for being so out there. While I can't give it much praise as a horror movie (it really just wasn't a horror movie), it's definitely a very memorable sci-fi movie.

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
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General Tso's Score: 7.5 out of 10

Content Warning: Blood and Gore, Nudity, Sexual and Suggestive Content, Violence, Language

Oh boy, this was a treat. I don't even know where to start with this movie.

It's a stunning visual experience, just to start. Intense lighting, extreme symbolism, intentionally aged and grainy film appearance, great camera angles, this thing was an experiment and it showed, and I loved it. Add in some periodic and unexpected cartoon sequences to break it up, and you've definitely got something different.

I found out after watching Mandy that it was done by the creator of another favorite movie of mine, Beyond the Black Rainbow. While I was watching, I felt it. "Man, this movie feels so much like Beyond the Black Rainbow!", I said that specifically. Sure enough, it was, and it shows. Both have a very distinct visual style, and I was super excited to find this out after watching it.

I can't help but say that this might be the best use of Nicholas Cage in a movie I've ever seen. The right combination and utilization of his quiet seriousness intermingled with his crazy outrageousness resulted in a perfect recipe. I never exactly loved him as an actor, but I loved just about every minute of him in this movie. Whether it be in the calmer, quieter moments at home, the handful of moments when he made snarky remarks ("Don't be negative", I loled), and then once unleashed, every second of his absolute rampage of destruction just felt like the perfect fit.

At its core, this is a revenge story, and to that end, its a bit of a gore fest. It is a spectacle, it is not subtle, it is extreme, and it wants to revel in it, and it does just that.

The horror elements are not extremely prominent, but what is there was really cool. The "villains" felt like spiritual successors to Hellraiser's Cenobites in a great way, and the "real life" horror of the events that unfold in the movie hit all those emotional strings.

I wish there had been more to this movie, I would have loved to spend more time getting to know the protagonists before the plot went down. If it had been a short tv series perhaps, or just an hour longer . . . I can always tell when one of these movies is just right, because I'm so sad when its over. GG Mandy.

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
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General Tso's Score: 10 out of 10

Content Warning: Blood and Gore, Eye Injuries, Brief Suggestive Content, Violence, Language

WIP

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
General Tso's Score:
7.5 out of 10

Content Warning: Blood and Gore, Brief Nudity, Suggestive Content, Violence

WIP

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
General Tso's Score:
8 out of 10

Classics Week - Nothing after 1990!

Content Warning: Blood and Gore, Violence, Language

WIP

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
General Tso's Score:
6.5 out of 10

Content Warning: Minor Violence, Language (It could probably be rated PG)

WIP

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
General Tso's Score:
7.5 out of 10

Content Warning: Blood and Gore, Brief Nudity, Suggestive Content, Violence, Language

WIP

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
General Tso's Score:
9 out of 10

Content Warning: Excessive Blood and Gore, Eye Injuries/Gore, Violence, Language

WIP

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
General Tso's Score:
7.5 out of 10

Content Warning: Blood and Gore, Nudity, Sexual and Suggestive Content, Violence, Language

WIP

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
General Tso's Score:
8.5 out of 10

Content Warning: Brief Nudity, Suggestive Content, Violence, Language

WIP

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
General Tso's Score:
8.5 out of 10

Content Warning: Blood and Gore, Sexual and Suggestive Content, Violence, Language

WIP

Leinfors Score Out of Four:
General Tso's Score:
8.5, 7.5, and 6.5 out of 10
 

SchatGirl

Headless Horseman
That's insane, Leinfors! I admire your dedication to the month of Spooky. :D

Have a good time and plenty of scares!

(A challenge mode would be to watch these movies in the darkest area you can manage. :D)
 

Leinfors

Quality Assurance
Staff member
Moderator
Re-Logic
Well then, week 1 down! And its been a pretty good week!

I usually say that horror movies, as a genre, have the lowest average quality of any genre out there. Its not that horror movies aren't or can't be good, its that there are just SO MANY MORE bad horror movies out there than other genres . . . IDK why. So I'm pretty pleased with what I've watched so far, with Creep being the only movie I can say I didn't have a pretty good time watching (and even Creep wasn't bad). Starting with Southbound (pretty great) and ending the week on The Night That Eats the World (amazing, this is a favorite now) was a fantastic start to this month, and I'm looking forward to what lies ahead of me.

Why are all of my movies so similar, entirely by coincidence?? Aside from the Classic's week, I put these movies into a randomizer to put them in order, I didn't decide which ones would come first. But there have been SOOOOO many similarities so far, and I'm only up to 5!

This is 2 movies in a row with a humanoid personification of "nothingness/meaninglessness" (with The Night House doing double duty with 2 movies that personified grief), the 3rd movie with highly unreliable narrator sequences/action without their volition, the 4th movie with lethal car accidents, the 4TH movie with attempted/successful suicide, the 2nd movie that had on screen suicide by hangings, the 3rd movie where the protagonist is grieving a spouse who died before the plot, the 3rd movie where the monster is a non-corporeal, possibly purely imagined entity.

Rewatched The Endless, it was a fun second take, there's a lot of early foreshadowing/dialogue with loaded meanings, which are only apparent on a second watch. It was a nice touch, and I did think it added some extra quality to the movie. There are a few of times where one of the protagonists will ask a question, and someone will answer with a really non-committal response, which they took one way but I can see now was VERY intentionally meant as not-an-answer, so that was fun. However, after about the halfway point, I didn't glean anything extra from the movie, so it wasn't a major shift overall.

Overall, my rating on this doesn't change much. Just a little bit of extra "rewatch bonus" material.

Apparently this is "car accidents in movies month".

What do we have here?
- Southbound: Entire plot of Story 3 was the protagonist hitting Story 2's protagonist with his car, ultimately killing her
- Babadook: The protagonist's husband died in a car accident before the movie, the day she gave birth to her son
- The Endless: The protagonists mother died in a car accident before the movie, leading to them being raised by the cult
- The Empty Man: The protagonist's wife and child died in a car accident before the movie (not really, lol)
- The Wailing: The protagonists hit a character's corpse that is falling off of a mountain, seemingly killing it (not really, lol). Another character is found dead in a car, from a car accident?
- Raw: At least twice in the film, a car is deliberately run off the road in order to kill its occupants

The Night House and The Night That Eats The World be like "Hey we got nothin to do with this".
 

Leinfors

Quality Assurance
Staff member
Moderator
Re-Logic
Been working hard on the update hotfixes, so haven't had time to update the reviews, but rest assured, I'm completely caught up on the movies! Will try to do more reviews this weekend.

Got reviews up for Autopsy and Pontypool, will work on more as I have time. :)
 

Daikonradish

Steampunker
Been working hard on the update hotfixes, so haven't had time to update the reviews, but rest assured, I'm completely caught up on the movies! Will try to do more reviews this weekend.

Got reviews up for Autopsy and Pontypool, will work on more as I have time. :)
Better late than never, and can't rush greatness. Frankly, there's no going wrong with a horror movie to relax after witnessing a Terraria issue. `:D

Wouldn't it feel delightful if others can take a moment and share their experiences? Reading's one thing, participating is another. `;)
 
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Leinfors

Quality Assurance
Staff member
Moderator
Re-Logic
Its a tough call but either Pontypool or Mandy, both of them were amazing, and both General Tso and myself rated them VERY highly.

As a third place contender, there would be Mad God, which I personally found fascinating, but General Tso not so much.
 
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