This Week In Horror – June 14

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The KreepWelcome back, my creepy kreep-sters. This week in horror, I have several scary suggestions to taunt and titillate even the creepiest of my coveted chilling cinephiles.

From ghastly ghosts to paranormal pandemics, let the calamitous crimson flow.

Awake (Netflix)

This was Bird Box on crack. It also took me by complete surprise. The pacing, the script, and the special effects were all top-of-the-line here, folks. Awake was like a cruel, relentless rollercoaster ride that seemed to slow down a bit but then up the hill and down it went as the time just mercilessly tick-tocked away. And it’s Gina Rodriguez’s gut-wrenching performance that makes Awake work so well. She’s brilliant, powerful, resourceful, and determined to achieve her goal: save the children at all costs! If there’s one flick to stream this week, Awake is the one you want to snuggle up to. but please, leave the kiddies in their beds. After all, sleep is good.

Director: Mark Raso
Screenplay: Joseph RasoMark RasoGregory Poirier
Cast: Gina Rodriguez, Ariana Greenblatt, and Lucius Hoyos

Global hysteria ensues after a mysterious catastrophe wipes out all electronics and takes away humanity’s ability to sleep. Scientists race against the clock to find a cure for unexplained insomnia before its fatal effects eliminate the human race. When Jill, a former soldier, discovers her young daughter may be the key to salvation, she must decide whether to protect her children at all costs or sacrifice everything to save the world.  

Things Heard And Seen (Netflix)

I really enjoyed this quaint horror mystery. I admired Amanda Seyfried and James Norton’s performances a lot, but it was also the stellar supporting players that helped stoke the flames of horror authenticity. Old magnificent pros such as Karen Allen (Star Man, Indiana Jones) and F. Murray Abraham (Oscar-winner for Amadeus) helped make this intimate ghost story feel a bit like the grand horror fare of the 1970s, and I liked that. A slow burner with a few hard punches and a bunch of scares, Things Heard And Seen, although not a whole-hearted horror feast, is a truly satisfying midnight snack.

Directors: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Screenplay: Elizabeth Brundage, Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, James Norton, Natalia Dyer

After moving to a small town with her husband, a young artist begins to suspect that their home harbors some dark secrets.  

Dead Birds (Amazon Prime)

I stumbled across this Civil War-era horror ditty quite by accident and was very pleased with the spine-chilling and gruesome results. Dead Birds is truly hair-raising with extremely rich visuals, solid sound design, good special effects, and solid performances all around. Henry Thomas, Isaiah Washington, and Michael Shannon (to name a few) are all familiar faces and their presence certainly helps to elevate this scary story above and beyond its sparse original theatrical release.  I also adore a slow cooker and Dead Birds takes its time but to wonderful effect. One of the truly rare western horror films out there and should be viewed by horror aficionados and western fans alike.
Director: Alex Turner
Screenplay: Simon Barrett
Cast: Henry Thomas, Michael Shannon, Patrick Fugit, Isaiah Washington, Nicki Aycox

William (Henry Thomas), a Confederate soldier, has gone AWOL with a crew of other men. As the group, among it a runaway slave (Isaiah Washington) and a nurse (Nicki Aycox), makes its way along, it stops off to rob a bank clean. Looking to plan a getaway, the gang heads into an empty house to hole up for the evening. As the soldiers start arguing with one another, strange things begin happening in the house — and everyone in the group soon realizes that the place is haunted.