Screen Crusades: Weekly Streaming Guide 10.23

Screen Crusades: Weekly Streaming Guide 10.23

- By Chris Hudson

The return of Borat on Amazon Prime Video breaks up the horror barrage, though this week offers plenty of harrowing content choices.

The return of Borat on Amazon Prime Video breaks up the horror barrage, though this week offers plenty of harrowing content choices with 'Unsolved Mysteries' coming back to Netflix while HBO Max concocts the family epic retelling of 'The Witches', and Russell Crowe loses his mind again (this time in a more homicidal manner).

Plus the first Star Wars content in about a year is on its way, a Metallica masterpiece and Pennywise the dancing clown pops into your bedroom just in time for Halloween.


'Unsolved Mysteries Vol. 2' (Netflix)

Following up on the smashing success of Vol. 1 of the rebooted franchise, Netflix offers up six more in-depth dives into previously unsolved mysteries in time for the darkest holiday for those looking for more of a real-life if 2020 needed any more.

'Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan' (Amazon Prime Video)

A film that really needs no introduction. Sacha Baron Cohen returns as iconic character, Borat, for a second round of comedic warfare on America. Filled with the typical over the top sexual, slapstick and political tomfoolery - Borat once again turns the mirror on America in his journey through it.

In the 14 years since we last saw him, Borat is in prison labor for bringing shame to the country through his previous film outing. Now though, a new opportunity appears - bring Kazakhstan pride by infiltrating America again and bring a gift to "Pussyhound" Mike Pence putting Kazakhstan in the good graces of Trump's America (Borat has to go through Pence as he believes President Trump remembers his defecating Trump Towers bush episode in the previous film).

As always, Cohen really becomes his characters, and Borat is the cream of the crop of them. Impersonifying them at every level, to the point where he’s indistinguishable to the American public. His facial expressions are always a comedic delight. This time the character is too recognizable as people hound for photos with the iconic reporter from Kazakhstan (something he thinks might be from his trademark suit so he runs in strong tighty whities throughout Texas).

Traditional laugh out loud comedy ensues, no matter what party you gravitate towards - like utilizing a fax machine for a text message exchange with a poor Texan middle-manning the conversation which includes an accidental dick pick.

Some sequels lose what made the original great and just double down on a certain aspect, often retreading without that creative spark. No sequel hangover here, yes the storyline is somewhat familiar but what we loved is Cohen's charismatic hilarities that he constantly creates for his character. The improv wit to pull this off is legendary.

Leading us to Maria Bakalova who is phenomenal in the role of Borat's daughter, and new gift for Mike Pence. She matches Cohen on a handful occasions, playing perfectly off him - a scene at an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy clinic is especially strong. Her character is asked a lot of and there's no situation she's doesn't run full force through.

Utilizing American morals, or lack thereof, to play off of - the setups are like a high functioning chess match, not only delivery a comedic punch but leveling devastation in societal commentary.

How much you may enjoy this film may depend on your current view of the state of the affairs as this film leans into political commentary more than the last, especially in today's more hostile polarizing climate - that said there's still a TON of great hilarious moments that will satisfy both sides of the aisle.

'The Witches' (HBO Max)

Famed director Robert Zemeckis brings his usual wow-inspiring precise visuals while Octavia Spencer and Anne Hathaway shine in this holiday classic retelling.

Spencer never disappoints with her infectious charisma and Hathaway chews through everything in her way in a character she fills with an exciting joy. Its nice to see respected talented actresses get something enjoyable to play while still being able to flex their talents.

Adapted to the screen by Zemeckis, Kenya Barris (creator of Black-ish), and legendary director - Guillermo del Toro, from the 1983 book by Roald Dahl - a legend in his own right (James and the Giant Peach, Matilda and more).

Zemeckis has proven he can embody and elevate the holiday spirit in a nice family wrapped film (The Polar Express), and that's exactly what's unpackaged here. Zemeckis walks the line of absurdity in such a fine way that appeals to adults and children with a special magical charm in this epic fairytale-esque journey.

The film is a great addition to the Halloween genre filled with fun lore, grand swelling, goofy witty dialogue and exciting visuals all while tackling societal issues underneath it all.

"From the mind of Roald Dahl and as reimagined by acclaimed filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, The Witches is a wickedly fun adventure as a young boy stumbles onto a secret coven of child-hating witches as they plot to turn the world’s children into mice. A fresh Halloween classic for this generation, in a story that celebrates courage, teamwork, and unlikely heroes, offering a completely distinct kids proposition with a quirky, delightfully twisted tone in classic Dahl style."

'Unhinged' (VOD Services)

A darker, more violent take on 'Falling Down' sees Russell Crowe take road rage to the homicidal extreme after being honked at. Dragging the entire city through carnage in his bad day as he stalks the honking mom, the film works as a horror action thriller as Crowe goes out of his way to destroy her life.

"Academy Award winner Russell Crowe stars in Unhinged, a timely psychological thriller that explores the fragile balance of a society pushed to the edge, taking something we’ve all experienced- road rage - to an unpredictable and terrifying conclusion. Rachel (Caren Pistorius) is running late to work when she has an altercation at a traffic light with a stranger (Crowe) whose life has left him feeling powerless and invisible. Soon, Rachel finds herself and everyone she loves the target of a man who decides to make one last mark upon the world by teaching her a series of deadly lessons. What follows is a dangerous game of cat and mouse that proves you never know just how close you are to someone who is about to become unhinged."

'ParaNorman' (Netflix)

The Academy Award nominated stop-motion animated family flick follows an outcast kid who feels more at home with the dead ghosts he can see around town than the breathing humans around him. When tasked with saving the town from the dreaded curse, Norman has to step outside his comfort zone while bringing family fun horror hijinks.

"A misunderstood boy who can speak with the dead, takes on ghosts, zombies and grown-ups to save his town from a centuries-old curse. Featuring the voices of Kodi Smit-McPhee, John Goodman, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Elaine Stritch, Leslie Mann, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Jeff Garlin."

'32 MALASANA STREET' (Shudder)

This Spanish-speaking supernatural creep-out (scaringly based on true-events) drops as a Shudder Exclusive about a precious family moving into a charming home that unravels into a dangerous game of survival.

"It’s 1976. The Olmedo family has left the countryside for a new life in Madrid. But their new home becomes a house of horrors in this hit supernatural thriller based on actual paranormal events. Starring Begoña Vargas, Iván Marcos, Bea Segura, Sergio Castellanos, José Luis de Madariaga, Iván Renedo, Javier Botet. Directed by Alberto Pintó. A SHUDDER EXCLUSIVE"


'Star Wars: The Mandalorian' - Season 2 (Disney+ 10.30)

The most anticipated series of the year returns on Disney Plus.

Among the important talking points of the new season, include individual episodes directed by Robert Rodriguez, Rick Famuyiwa, Carl Weathers and series creator Jon Favreau.

There will also be some prominent additions to the ensemble cast including Timothy Olyphant as Cobb Vanth, Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano, and Temuera Morrison, formerly Jengo Fett, now playing playing Boba Fett.

The second season of the series begins streaming on Disney + starting October 30th. According to Favreau, the season will include episodes of various lengths, with a much more expansive approach to the characters in the story. In fact, Favreau has cited Game of Thrones as a source of inspiration for the second season.

'Truth Seekers' (Amazon Prime Video 10.30)

The stars of the beloved 'Three Flavours Cornetto' trilogy -Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End - are back in a spectacular return via the Amazon Prime streaming platform.

“Truth Seekers” is a half-hour comedic horror series that follows a three-person paranormal exploration team. Though the focus is mostly from that of Frost’s character, the combination of the two have proven so successful previously, it’s hard to imagine that Pegg will be a bit player.

“Truth Seekers” is a horror comedy series about a team of part-time paranormal investigators who team up to uncover and film ghost sightings across the UK, sharing their adventures on an online channel for all to see. However, as they stake out haunted churches, underground bunkers and abandoned hospitals with their array of homemade ghost-detecting gizmos, their supernatural experiences grow more frequent, more terrifying and even deadly, as they begin to uncover a conspiracy that could bring about Armageddon for the entire human race.

'Metallica Through the Never' (Netflix 10.28)

This concert film mash-up is visually electrifying matching an explosive storyline in tandem throwdown vs a masterfully epic Metallica live performance that spares no detail.

"As Metallica performs a roaring live set for fans in a sold-out arena, a young roadie named Trip (Dane DeHaan) is sent on a mission to meet a disabled truck and retrieve a particular item. However, the routine task turns into a surreal odyssey when Trip's van is hit by another vehicle and he subsequently finds himself up against a death-dealing horseman. As Trip flees through desolate streets, he has only his wits to help him avoid the deadly horseman and deliver Metallica's cargo. Directed by Nimród Antal"

'His House' (Netflix 10.30)

A refugee couple find the home they ran to might be the one they need to run from as this geo-political thrilling horror unravels into sinister visuals eliciting strong Jordan Peele vibes in the process.

"After making a harrowing escape from war-torn South Sudan, a young refugee couple struggle to adjust to their new life in a small English town that has an unspeakable evil lurking beneath the surface."

'IT: Chapter Two' (HBO Max 10.27)

The sequel to the absolute horror smash featuring legendary character Pennywise The Clown (made iconic for a new generation by Bill Skarsgård), picks up 27 years later as Pennywise returns for his traditional destruction of Derry, Maine. This time our grown survivors must face more than Pennywise, as scars created between the previously un-separable crew are reopened when they all team up again to try and end Pennywise for good.

Though the film burns a little slower with less intense scares than the previous outing, the cast - especially Skarsgård in what should have been an award-winning performance, carry the film long enough to make it a worth-while watch.

"Evil resurfaces in Derry as director Andy Muschietti reunites the Losers Club—young and adult—in a return to where it all began with “It Chapter Two.” Because every 27 years evil revisits the town of Derry, Maine, “It Chapter Two” brings the characters—who’ve long since gone their separate ways—back together as adults, nearly three decades after the events of the first film. Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty,” “Mama”) stars as Beverly, James McAvoy (“Split,” upcoming “Glass”) as Bill, Bill Hader (HBO’s “Barry,” “The Skeleton Twins”) as Richie, Isaiah Mustafa (TV’s “Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments”) as Mike, Jay Ryan (TV’s “Mary Kills People”) as Ben, James Ransone (HBO’s “The Wire”) as Eddie, and Andy Bean (“Allegiant,” Starz’ “Power”) as Stanley. "
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