‘The Little Things’ (HBO Max)
Back in the early 90s, Steven Spielberg took a pass on a script about two obsessed and clashing officers on the pursuit of a serial killer, citing that it was too dark for him. It would be shopped around to different filmmakers - Clint Eastwood, Warren Beatty, and Danny DeVito were all separately attached to direct at various points - until now, nearly thirty years later. Fittingly, the writer of said script, filmmaker John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks, The Founder), is in the director’s chair, and the film features powerhouse performances from its three Oscar-winning stars: Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto.
The film follows Kern County deputy Deke (Washington), who comes into confrontation with a Los Angeles detective named Jimmy (Malik) while the two investigate the crimes of a serial killer (Leto). It will be the first major release of 2021 for Warner Bros. following their announcement that they would be launching all of their theatrical films for the year simultaneously on HBO Max.
‘Don’t Let Go’ (HBO Max)
Detective Jack Radcliff (David Oyelowo) gets a shocking phone call from his recently murdered niece Ashley (Storm Reid). Working together across time, they race to solve the crime before it can happen.
That’s the premise for Don’t Let Go, a thriller that blends in elements of science fiction and horror to create a truly unique film. Produced by Jason Blum of horror genre titans Blumhouse Productions, the film features standout performances from its cast and an immediately intriguing premise.
‘The Queen of Black Magic’ (Shudder)
A loose remake of the 1981 film of the same name, The Queen of Black Magic is the latest Indonesian horror film to land on Shudder. Written by Joko Anwar (Satan’s Slaves, Impetigore), it follows a trio of orphans who return to the orphanage where they grew up. They bring their families along with them, but something is strangely wrong with the place. The orphanage is almost entirely empty, and the couple people there are vague about why that is. Disturbing supernatural occurrences begin happening as well, and some family members begin acting as if they’re possessed.
It’s sadistic and gorey, but the film’s scare sequences are methodically and expertly crafted to create dread and suspense until the scenes ramp up to a bloody frenzy. On top of it all is an intriguing mystery and the idea that some secrets can never stay buried. If you’re looking to give Indonesian horror a try, The Queen of Black Magic isn’t a bad place to start.
‘Mortal’ (Amazon Prime Video)
Mortal offers a combination of fantasy and action, which makes sense considering that it’s based on Norse mythology.
The film follows a man (Nat Wolff) cursed with the ability of pyrokinesis, but is offered help by a young psychologist (Iben Arkelie). It’s directed by Norwegian filmmaker André Øvredal, who is known for Trollhunter, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, and more recently, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
Nightbreed is a 1990 cult classic created by horror icon Clive Barker. While he’s most known for creating the Hellraiser and Candyman series, Nightbreed steers away from his usual slasher style towards a more dark fantasy feel.
The film follows a mental patient named Aaron Boone (Craig Sheffer), who is fleeing the police when he stumbles upon a tribe of monsters and outcasts who hide from humanity in an abandoned cemetery.
‘Rawhead Rex’ (Shudder)
Another Clive Barker creation, Rawhead Rex (what a title!) is a good old fashioned B-movie monster flick. This one is a real hidden gem, and Shudder is looking to give it a possible new life.
The film follows a destructive pagan god as he goes on a chaotic rampage through the Irish countryside. What more could you possibly need?
‘The Untold Story’ (Shudder)
For those looking for something a little different, The Untold Story is a shockingly violent Hong Kong crime-thriller from 1993. Directed by Herman Yau and starring Danny Lee and Anthony Wong, the film is based on a true crime: The Eight Immortals Restaurant murders.
Gruesome and gut-churning, The Untold Story relays the true story of the slaying of a family of 10 in their own restaurant. The film does, however, give into the sensationalism that was churned up about the event at the time, with many alleging cannibalism was involved. Try not to watch this one while you’re eating.
‘The Woman’ (Shudder)
This 2011 horror film is a wild ride from start to finish. Bloody, bizarre, and teeming with rage, The Woman stars Pollyanna McIntosh as the sole survivor of a clan of vicious cannibals.
When an arrogant lawyer (Sean Bridgers) captures her and foolishly tries to tame her, he ends up way over his head. It’s a violently satisfying time.
‘Chick Fight’ (Amazon Prime Video)
When Anna (Malin Åkerman) joins an all-female, underground fight club to turn her mess of a life around, she soon discovers she’s much more personally connected to the history of the club than she ever could have imagined.
Chick Fight is a fun action comedy that offers big laughs and a story of female empowerment of the literal, physical sort. The cast also includes Bella Thorne and Alec Baldwin.
Disney+ is finally adding the throwback of all throwbacks to its streaming selection. Dinosaurs is a family sitcom starring dinosaur puppets that aired from 1991 to 1994, and all four seasons will be available when the series hits the streaming service.
A collaboration between the Jim Henson Television, Michael Jacobs Productions, and Walt Disney Television, the series has been applauded for not only its presentation and witty sense of humor, but for also tackling a surprising number of topical issues. Environmentalism, sexual harassment, racism, censorship, drug abuse, and even corporate crime and government corruption are touched on by this landmark show.
CONTINUED WEEKLY EPISODES:
Not only is WandaVision the first Disney+ series from Marvel Studios, but it’s the first new piece of Marvel Studios content in over a year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic derailing their movie release plans. That’s a lot to live up to, and WandaVision takes a big gamble by not being your typical superhero entertainment. Instead, it’s a homage to classic sitcoms of the 50’s onward, filmed in front of a live studio audience and all.
The gamble pays off. WandaVision is funny and charming, and its two leads, Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen, hilariously commit to the bit. But there’s a bit of mystery involved as well, and for those familiar with Wanda’s powers, you’ll know that not everything is as it seems. The first four episodes of the series are streaming now, with a new one arriving each week.
‘The Stand’ (CBS All Access)
Clocking in at over one thousand pages, Stephen King’s dark fantasy epic The Stand has been frustrating creatives with how to adapt it to the screen nearly as long as it’s been inspiring them to attempt it in the first place. Filmmaker Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars, The New Mutants) is the latest to take a crack at it, separating the book into a nine episode miniseries for CBS All Access.
The Stand follows the survivors of a devastating plague that brings an end to civilization as we know it. Spread out around the remains of the U.S., they begin to band together in two distinct locations: Boulder, Colorado and Las Vegas, Nevada. As one settlement attempts to rebuild a society better than before, the other gives into the nihilistic, violent, and selfish tendencies of human nature, and it eventually leads to conflict. The miniseries has a stacked cast that includes Whoopi Goldberg, James Marsden, Odessa Young, Owen Teague, Amber Heard, Jovan Adepo, Henry Zaga, Gordon Comier, and Alexander Skarsgård. The first seven episodes are now streaming, followed by the final two on February 4th and 11th.
COMING THIS WEEK:
Check back next week for full write-ups
Netflix - 'Beverly Hills Ninja', 'Inception', 'Shutter Island', ‘The Bank Job’, ‘The Patriot’, ‘Zathura’ (2.01) ‘Kid Cosmic’ (2.02)
Hulu - ‘American Psycho’, ‘District 9’, ‘Grosse Pointe Blank’, ‘Mars Attacks!’, ‘Ninja Assassin’, ‘The Omen & The Omen II’, ‘Only God Forgives’, ‘Phase IV’, ‘Possessor’, 'Star Trek' (OG Film Series), ‘The Rainmaker’, ‘The Shootist’, ‘Witness’ (2.01)
Shudder - ‘Vampire’s Kiss’ (2.01) & ‘A Nightmare Wakes’ (2.04)