Everyone’s favorite Marvel villain kicks off their own series on Disney+, Shudder releases a long lost George A. Romero film and much more in this week’s streaming guide
‘The Amusement Park’ (Shudder)
The Amusement Park was made by horror icon George A. Romero back in 1973, but the movie was never released due to its content. Romero was hired by the Lutheran Society to create a film about ageism and the various problems that the elderly face in the United States for educational purposes. But being the artist that he was, Romero wound up making a film so genuinely disturbing and upsetting that the project was completely shelved, and thought lost until it was found and restored in 2017.
The film is a masterful bit of psychological horror that illustrates the genuine terror of living as a senior citizen, following the events of one old man’s day at an amusement park. Romero more than gets the point across – he practically beats you into action. It’s incredibly fitting that one of the filmmaker’s very best films comes from beyond the grave.
The latest Marvel series to launch on Disney+ following WandaVision and The Falcon & the Winter Soldier, Loki puts the god of mischief front and center. Tom Hiddleston has been stealing scenes since appearing as the character in the first Thor movie, and while Loki did die at the hands of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, a new one from an alternate timeline was created during the time travel hijinks of Avengers: Endgame.
The six episode series has Loki captured by the Time Variance Authority, an organization that maintains the timeline. They give the trickster god a choice: face being erased from existence due to being a “time variant”, or help fix the timeline and stop a greater threat. Micheal Waldron serves as head writer for the show, who is best known for his work on Community and Rick and Morty, and will also co-write the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Awake is a sci-fi disaster movie with an interesting hook: One day, something shuts down everything electronic in the world and for some mysterious reason, no one is able to fall asleep anymore. With everyone forced to go without sleep, people quickly succumb to the psychological effects that include hallucinations and hysteria.
As the world falls into chaos in only a couple of days, a desperate mother (Gina Rodriguez) discovers that her young daughter (Ariana Greenblatt) is still able to sleep. She must decide whether to turn her child in to the military or try to keep her protected, all while fighting the effects of sleep deprivation herself.
‘In the Heights’ (HBO Max)
Lin-Manuel Miranda has been the go-to for big Hollywood musical numbers these past few years, but he first made a name for himself on Broadway back in 2008 with In the Heights. The musical is the story of the tight-knit community of Washington Heights, as lives change and dreams are attempted. The hip-hop style of music for the show was still a novelty thing back then on Broadway, and it became a smash hit that set the stage for Lin-Manuel’s eventual world domination.
The film adaptation is directed by Jon M. Chu, who took over the box office in 2018 with Crazy Rich Asians. That film feels sincerely joyous and heartfelt, so there’s little doubt that same energy will be applied to In the Heights. Chu is no stranger to musical sequences either, having also directed a couple of Step Up films, 2015’s Jem and the Holograms movie, and a pair of Justin Bieber concert films. In the Heights should be the perfect summer movie if you’re looking for joy and celebration.
‘Come True’ (Hulu)
Canadian filmmaker Anthony Scott Burns began making waves in the horror scene with 2016’s Holidays and 2018’s Our House, and his latest film, Come True, is a psychological nightmare that’s been receiving rave reviews.
High school student Sarah (Julia Sarah Stone) is at her lowest point yet when she runs away from home and finds herself with no one to rely on and struggling with recurring nightmares. She chances upon a university sleep study that offers the promise of safety and money and brings her an unexpected friend and confidant in the overseeing scientist Jeremy (Landon Liboiron). But there’s something curious about proceedings and being under observation seems to make Sarah’s disturbing dreams even worse. As the darkness begins to close in, it’s soon clear that Sarah has unknowingly become the conduit to a horrifying, new discovery.
In Manila, where dark supernatural forces pervade the criminal underworld, it’s up to Alexandra Trese to keep the peace – but there’s a storm brewing. Based on the critically acclaimed Filipino komik of the same name, Trese is a new anime-style animated series for Netflix that mixes detective stories with Filipino horror folklore.
The series takes inspiration from series like Constantine, Batman, CSI, and The X-Files, and isn’t afraid to get dark and weird with the mysterious cases that Alexandra investigates.
‘Skater Girl’ (Netflix)
When a teen in rural India discovers a life-changing passion for skateboarding, she faces a rough road as she follows her dream to compete. Prerna (Rachel Saanchita Gupta) lives a life bound by tradition and duty to her parents. But when London-bred advertising executive Jessica (Amy Maghera) arrives in the village to learn more about her late father’s childhood, Prerna and the other local children are introduced to an exciting new adventure thanks to Jessica and her old friend (Jonathan Readwin) who cruises into town on a skateboard.
Determined to empower and encourage their newfound passion, Jessica sets out on an uphill battle to build the kids their own skatepark, leaving Prerna with a difficult choice between conforming to society’s expectations of her or living out her dream of competing in the National Skateboarding Championships. Skater Girl promises to be a heartwarming coming-of-age story that shows the worldwide appeal and transformative power of skateboarding.
‘Pinocchio’ (Amazon Prime Video)
Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone had been seeking to make his own film adaptation of the classic children’s tale The Adventures of Pinocchio since he was a young boy. He finally made his wish come true in 2019, creating an ambitious film with spectacular visuals and production design that reinforces the timelessness of Carlo Collodi’s original story.
What’s most impressive is the film’s naturalist approach to its effects, with many of the characters brought to life with prosthetic make-up rather than CGI. It earned the film two Oscar nominations for Best Costume Design and Best Makeup and Hairstyling, as well as a slew of other awards from various organizations.
‘Lupin (Part 2)’ (Netflix)
Netflix’s French crime thriller series Lupin only just launched its first batch of episodes in January, but the show quickly became a massive hit for the streaming service. In that first month, it was watched by over 70 million households, making it the most-watched non-English series on Netflix ever. The second part of its first season is now out, and the series has already been approved for two more seasons.
The story follows professional thief Assane Diop (Omar Sy), the only son of an immigrant from Senegal who had come to France to seek a better life for his child. Assane’s father is framed for the theft of an expensive diamond necklace by his employer, the wealthy and powerful Hubert Pellegrini (Hervé Pierre), and hangs himself in his prison cell out of shame, leaving the teenage Assane an orphan. Twenty-five years later, inspired by a book about gentleman thief Arsène Lupin his father had given him on his birthday, Assane sets out to get revenge on the Pellegrini family, using his charisma and mastery of thievery, subterfuge, and disguise to expose Hubert’s crimes.
Reunion is the story of a pregnant woman who finds the past flooding back in terrifying ways when she returns to her childhood home to spend time with her estranged mother.
Reunion is set in a classic claustrophobic house full of shadows and mysterious noises, and is a slow burn style thriller that takes its time setting up its pieces before its shocking finale. A nice slice of the New Zealand film scene.
CONTINUED WEEKLY EPISODES:
‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch’ (Disney+)
The Bad Batch is the latest of Star Wars’ various animated series, and the first to premiere on Disney+. Originally introduced in the prior series, The Clone Wars, the Bad Batch are a squad of clone troopers that had genetic mutations occur during the cloning process. This has given them unique abilities that other clones do not, and together they form an elite squadron to battle on the front lines of the war.
The series begins with the squad dealing with the galaxy-shattering events of Order 66 and the end of the Clone Wars. It will certainly be interesting to see what happened to the clone army in between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, and the series also introduces a new female clone named Omega (Michelle Ang) who joins the Bad Batch on their missions. The first seven episodes are now streaming.
Also streaming now:
Netflix – ‘A Haunted House 2’, ‘Wish Dragon’
Hulu – ‘Rams’, ‘Legion of Brothers’, ‘The Croods: A New Age’
Shudder – ‘Night of the Living Dead’, ‘Beyond the Door III’
HBO Max – ‘Clueless’, ‘Rizzoli & Isles’, ‘Billy on the Street’, ‘Killerman’, ‘Young Hearts’
Disney+ – ‘The Happiest Millionaire’
COMING THIS WEEK:
Netflix – ‘The Devil Below’, ‘Sir! No Sir!’, ‘Lowriders’, ‘Penguin Town’, ‘Black Summer (Season 2)’, ‘Mobile Suit Gundam Movies’, ‘Fatherhood’
Hulu – ‘DragonHeart’, ‘Willy’s Wonderland’, ‘Not Fade Away’, ‘Born to Play’, ‘Gone Girl’, ‘The Obituary of Tunde Johnson’, ‘The Outside Story’, ‘Her Name is Chef’
Shudder – ‘Superdeep’, ‘Monstrous’, ‘The Retreat’, ‘Evilspeak’, ‘The Conspiracy’, ‘Housebound’, ‘The Similars’
HBO Max – ‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin’, ‘Revolution Rent’, ‘The Little Things’, ‘Super Friends’
Disney+ – ‘Luca’