Shudder releases some supernatural and zombie horror this week, Netflix unveils its Melissa McCarthy / Octavia Spencers superhero team-up, and a couple of found footage gems hit streaming as well
‘Thunder Force’ (Netflix)
In a world terrorized by supervillains, one woman has developed the process to give superpowers to regular people. But when scientist Emily Stanton (Octavia Spencer) accidentally imbues her estranged best-friend Lydia (Melissa McCarthy) with incredible abilities, the two women must become the first superhero team. Now, it is up to the newly founded Thunder Force to battle the super-powered Miscreants and save Chicago from the clutches of The King (Bobby Cannavale).
Filmmaker Ben Falcone has been working with Melissa McCarthy for years, directing her in films like Tammy, The Boss, Life of the Party, and Superintelligence, and Thunder Force looks to be another successful team up for the pair. While playing on superhero tropes and ideas, it also hopes to reimagine what superheroes can look and be like.
‘Genndy Tartokovksy’s Primal (Season 1)’ (HBO Max)
Animator and filmmaker Genndy Tartakovsky is best known for his work on Dexter’s Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack, the Hotel Transylvania franchise, and his original take on Star Wars’ The Clone Wars. His most recent project, Primal, is a blend of fantasy, adventure, action, and even horror.
The series follows a caveman at the dawn of evolution as he forms an unlikely friendship with an almost extinct dinosaur. Without a single word of dialogue, it’s a painting come to life, relying solely on music and graphic imagery to tell the story of two unlikely allies as they navigate through a treacherous world. After bonding over unfortunate tragedies, they seem to become each other’s only hope of survival against a common enemy.
‘The Power’ (Shudder)
Set in the 70s, Britain prepares for electrical blackouts to sweep across the country, trainee nurse Val (Rose Williams) arrives for her first day at the crumbling East London Royal Infirmary. With most of the patients and staff evacuated to another hospital, Val is forced to work the night shift, finding herself in a dark, near empty building. Within these walls lies a deadly secret, forcing Val to face both her own traumatic past and deepest fears in order to confront the malevolent force that’s intent on destroying everything around her.
Writer and director Corinna Faith has cited the Me Too movement as a strong inspiration for the film, notably the way the landscape started changing once resistance began to grow against the silence and passivity of the patriarchy. “The idea that an angry spirit could neatly be put to rest, made quiet at the end of a story, felt plain wrong.” she states. It’s sure to be another horrifying and topical exclusive for Shudder.
‘What Lies Below’ (Netflix)
Written and directed by Braden R. Duemmler, What Lies Below is about a 16 year-old girl named Liberty (Ema Horvath) who returns home from camp and learns that her mother (Mena Suvari) has a new boyfriend, one she intends to marry.
But the man (played by Trey Tucker), who has charm, intelligence and beauty to spare, may not actually be human at all. What Lies Below is both a mystery and a story about monsters, one that keeps you hooked throughout.
‘Blair Witch’ (Hulu)
Filmmaker Adam Wingard is currently riding high off the success of Godzilla vs. Kong, proving his ability to handle giant film franchises in terms of both scale and budget. But the director is also exceptional at much smaller films – look no further than his 2016 Blair Witch, a direct sequel to the original 1999 The Blair Witch Project.
Shot in the same found footage style as the first film, the sequel follows a group of college students and their local guides who venture into the Black Hills Forest in Maryland to uncover the mysteries surrounding the prior disappearance of Heather Donahue, the sister of one of the characters.
‘Trollhunter’ (Amazon Prime Video)
2010’s Trollhunter is another found footage film, one that hails from Norway and draws on the culture and folktales of the region. While it may seem dark and thrilling on the surface, it actually is very tongue-in-cheek, with a sharp, deadpan sense of humor.
The film follows a group of students investigating a series of mysterious bear killings, but they soon learn that there are much more dangerous things going on. As they start to follow a mysterious hunter, they soon realize that he’s on the trail of much larger and mysterious prey than normal.
‘Don’t Panic’ (Shudder)
Best known as Mexico’s homage to A Nightmare on Elm Street, Don’t Panic is about a boy named Michael (Jon Michael Bischof) who’s given a Ouija board from his best friend, Tony (Juan Ignacio Aranda), on his seventeenth birthday. Tony unwittingly unlocks the evil forces of the board, unleashing a wave of violent killings, and the chief suspect appears to be Michael.
Written and directed by Rubén Galindo Jr., Don’t Panic is a fun take on the slasher genre, which was slowly beginning to decline during its 1988 release. Michael’s quest to prove his innocence and save his friends is a wild and bloody time.
‘The New Mutants’ (HBO Max)
Filmmaker Josh Boone is best known for directing the film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars, and began working on a fresh spin-off of the X-Men franchise soon after that movie’s success. By taking a horror approach to the superhero genre, Boone hoped to kick off a younger team of heroes known as The New Mutants.
But the film faced an overly prolonged production thanks to the arduous process of Disney acquiring 20th Century Fox. With over two years having passed since the film’s original planned release, it flew in mostly under the radar and audiences didn’t seem too interested in becoming invested in a franchise that had already reached its end. Still, The New Mutants is a noteworthy look at what Fox might’ve had in mind for the future of their version of the X-Men.
‘The Standard’ (Hulu)
This documentary is the tale of ten special forces combat veterans and forty civilians converging on Jacksonville Beach, for what is considered to be the toughest endurance event in the world. At over 48 hours and over 80 miles, the pass rate for participants is less than 2%. Inspired by Special Forces training, the event is not only a way to test one’s mettle, but it’s also an attempt to bridge the military-civilian divide. It is a roller coaster of emotions for both the candidates and the cadre.
The challenge is a condensed interpretation of the US Army’s 24-day Assessment and Selection. For the participants, the event is a chance to test their limits while paying tribute to those who serve. For the Cadre, it’s an opportunity to honor their community and connect with civilians.
‘Zombie for Sale’ (Shudder)
When the illegal human experiments of a pharmaceutical company go wrong, one of its undead test subjects escapes and ends up in a gas station owned by the Park family. When the Park family uncovers the undead visitor, they hatch a plan to exploit this unexpected fountain of youth for profit.
This Korean horror comedy is both a refreshing take on the zombie subgenre and hilarious in its own right. With a strong ensemble cast that delivers plenty of charm and and quirkiness, Zombie for Sale is one of the best recent zombie flicks that’s keeping the concept alive.
CONTINUED WEEKLY EPISODES:
‘Invincible’ (Amazon Prime Video)
Invincible is based on the groundbreaking comic book from Robert Kirkman, the creator of The Walking Dead. The story revolves around 17-year-old Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun), who’s just like every other guy his age — except his father is the most powerful superhero on the planet, Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons).
The hour-per-episode series also stars a powerhouse cast that includes Sandra Oh, Zazie Beetz, Gillian Jacobs, Zachary Quinto, Jason Mantzoukas, Melise, Mark Hamill, Mahershala Ali, Seth Rogen and more. The first five episodes are now streaming with weekly releases through April 30 after that.
‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ (Disney+)
After the very different style of WandaVision, the next Marvel Studios Disney+ series is set to return to the more familiar look and feel of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The series takes place mere months after the events of Avengers: Endgame, and puts the spotlight onto Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) following the retirement of their friend and leader Steve Rogers.
Sam AKA The Falcon is grappling with being given the responsibility of possibly taking up the mantle of Captain America, whilst Bucky is struggling to find his place in a world that’s only seen him as a villain – the brainwashed assassin known as the Winter Soldier. The series has been delivering on large-scale action on par with Marvel’s feature length films, while the episodic format allows for more in-depth time with two of the more secondary characters of the MCU.
Also streaming now:
Netflix – ‘Escape From Planet Earth’, ‘This Is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist’, ‘JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (Season 3)’, ‘Night in Paradise’
Hulu – ‘Girl’
HBO Max – ‘Ted’
Amazon Prime Video – ‘High-Rise’, ‘Pulse’
COMING THIS WEEK:
Netflix – ‘The Stand In’, ‘Dad Stop Embarrassing Me’, ‘Dark City Beneath the Beat’, ‘The Master’, Crimson Peak’, ‘Rush’, ‘Synchronic’
Hulu – ‘Desierto’, ‘Knuckledust’, ‘Paranormal Activity 4’, ‘Spontaneous’, ‘Fly Like a Girl’
Shudder – ‘The Last Drive-In With Joe Bob Briggs’, ‘The McPherson Tape’, ‘Alex de la Iglesia Double Feature’, ‘The Banishing’
HBO Max – ‘The Nevers’, ‘Infinity Train (Season 4)’
Disney+ – ‘The Kid Who Would Be King’, ‘Rio’