14) Before I Wake
Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting Of Hill House became one of the year’s hottest serial horror hits, but it wasn’t the director’s only Netflix Original. The streaming juggernaut also unearthed his long-shelved Before I Wake – shot to be one of Jacob Tremblay’s earliest appearances – which morphs a terminal medical affliction into a child’s boogeyman.
Much like in Hill House, Flanagan commands emotion and terror as a swirled flavor. How sobering a take on grief in small minds that manifests into monstrous images, unafraid to smash together fantastical butterflies fluttering around empty rooms with “Canker Man’s” many appearances. It’s confident, compassionate storytelling that doesn’t sacrifice fanged genre bites to the gods of emotional torment. Don’t let Netflix’s poor marketing and dump strategies bury Before I Wake.
For some unexplained reason, Paramount and Bad Robot spent big-budget dollars on a *gonzo* midnight exploitation idea. It’s called Overlord. Part Spielberg war epic, part icky Lovecraftian grave-robbing damnation. Nazis inject test dummies full of glowing serum to create super soldiers, and only behind-enemy-lines Americans can stop Germany’s unnatural plot.
Saving Private Ryan gets a double shot of Re-Animator, and while midsection bloat could have exited “the attic” sooner, I *live* for this kind of mainstream filmmaking. Director Julius Avery pays off a “Nazi Zombie” tease that’s so much more, hooking gunk hoses to elastic fetal pouches like yesterday’s news. There’s so much fun to be had with Overlord – please reward Hollywood for risking it all on such ambitious horror ideas that don’t get studio treatment anymore.
David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, Michael Myers. Who could predict these names would effortlessly reboot the Halloween franchise for modern times? Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode, a survivor adapted to 2018’s gender leveling; a slasher film about womens’ necessary bonding to defeat common foes because no one’s listening.
Not only does this film contain one of the year’s most exquisitely disturbing genre kill sequences, but generations of Strode women prove their worth against a masked monster. Green gets so much right about sequel culture, franchise rebirth, and proper handling of an iconic property with inherent legacy. It’s bloodier and viler than the Halloween titles we know, sold in a way that owns every second.
Welcome back, Michael!
Panos Cosmatos is responsible for the most metal-as-fuck movie of 2018, but you won’t know that until midway through. Mandy sows humble oats of romantic entanglement and cult interference before sprouting into a thorned bush nurtured by Nicolas Cage’s bloody tears. A quest for revenge that grants “Rage Cage” something more than “memeable” highlights à la The Wicker Man.
You’ll get Cage chugging from a vodka bottle in his underwear, screaming pained war cries. You’ll also get muted Cage aggression that doesn’t require overacting to sell, a beautifully tragic blood moon aesthetic, and justice by novelty sized chainsaw. Quite frankly, it’s the most proficient usage of Nicolas Cage since Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans.
That does it for Part 1, but stay tuned for our remaining picks, as they’ll be online tomorrow!