Do you ever stare at the multitude of options on Netflix? Do you scroll through and look at all the little synposes and thumbnails trying to decide if it’s worthwhile, but ultimately accomplishing nothing? Well, I’ve been there more than a few times. Luckily, I am related to a film buff, with a particular expertise on the horror movie genre. I used to dislike the genre, but as I’ve gotten older, I definitely have become more interested in the macabre. So on Saturday morning after the gym and being productive, I texted my brother, Bill, and asked for some help. He called me immediately and said that it would be easier to scroll through and make his recommendations over the phone. First, we covered my preferences:

  1. Minimal gore
  2. Emphasis on tension building
  3. Supernatural elements welcome
  4. Period pieces welcome

So here goes my marathon mini reviews and rankings, brought to you in part by Bill Freeman and Netflix!

The Invitation – A+

This was a great starter for the marathon. Very moody and atmospheric with a great startling opener of our protagonist, Will, accidentally hitting a coyote en route to his ex-wife’s home for an out of the blue dinner party. Will and his current girlfriend Kira are just a few of the guests, with all of their old friends and a few new sinister characters being invited as well. The camera work, scoring, the unreliable narrator, and some artfully placed flashbacks really build up the tension to a wild climax that explores the darker side of humanity and how we deal with grief. The acting was also consistently solid, both from the lead and the entire ensemble. I highly recommend checking this film out, especially if you enjoy a psychological twister. The Invitation is really unique and palatable even for someone less interested in the horror genre.

Logan Marshall-Green gives a dynamic performance in the moody 2015 thriller, “The Invitation”, directed by Karyn Kusama.

Creep – B

Creep stars Mark Duplass, of The Duplass Brothers (executive producers of Wild, Wild Country and Evil Genius). He is also known for lighter jaunts in The League and The Mindy Project. The style is found footage (think The Blair Witch Project) and the premise is of a videographer named Aaron that takes a day job with a stranger (Duplass). Immediately, Duplass conveys a bizarre and increasingly sinister demeanor, playing strange pranks and telling unsettling stories to Aaron throughout the day. Things escalate quickly and Aaron realizes he is in serious danger. Duplass’ tension building and very creepy performance really carry the movie, but the found footage format isn’t my favorite because it takes you out of the story at times. Still worth a watch!

Who knew Mark Duplass could be so creepy? This image speaks for itself.

It Follows – B+

This has been the most fun of the bunch! This film is about a college student in either the early 1990s or late 1980s Michigan that has a sexual encounter with a man who then tells her she will be followed by a supernatural entity, at walking speed. If it catches her before she has sex and passes it on to someone else, she will be killed. The concept is really interesting and the scoring and cinematography is also excellent. Plot points that are problematic are a little hard to ignore, namely the fact that these kids are seemingly doing whatever they want, having sex and fleeing the entity, with little parent supervision or presence. Regardless, It Follows makes for really fun movie.

Maika Monroe in David Robert Mitchell’s “It Follows”

Gerald’s Game – A

Gerald’s Game is a 2017 Netflix release and is a faithful adaptation of Stephen King’s 1992 novel of the same name. Also, another very interesting concept. A woman and her older husband take a trip to a getaway home in Maine to spice up their marriage. Jessie is handcuffed to the bed and after an argument, her husband Gerald dies from a heart attack brought on by Viagra. Jessie must fight to survive in order to escape from the hand cuffs. She is visited by hallucinations of herself, Gerald, “Death”, and flashbacks of her childhood that ultimately guide her to freedom. Carla Gugino gives a very assured performance as Jessie. The film ends unexpectedly, yet faithfully to the book, which at the time was apparently very polarizing. This film is very well done, but warning: there was an incredibly gruesome moment that I couldn’t watch. That said, the themes in this film are the strongest of the four I watched, typical of a Stephen King story.

Bruce Greenwood and Carla Gugino in “Gerald’s Game”, directed by Mike Flanagan. Based on the novel by Stephen King.

Let me know if any of you have seen these or if you give them a try! Again, I’m not a gory horror movie person, so these are pretty tame in that regard, minus one seen in Gerald’s Game. Now that is thunderstorming again, I think I’ll continue with the next two that Bill suggested…

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