Plenty of different breeds of horror hit streaming services this week, from zombies to serial killers to possessed animatronics, as well as Pixar’s latest film and an inspiring documentary on HBO Max
Censor is inspired by the video nasty era of the UK, which saw a wave of absurdly violent and gory exploitation films flood the video cassette market. Naturally, this brought a harsh crackdown on what kind of content films should be allowed to show, and strict censorship laws swiftly followed.
The film follows Enid (Niamh Algar), one of the members of the censorship board who considers her work to be an essential public service. As she pores over countless hours of graphic violence, she believes she’s protecting people from things no one should have to see. But when she views a film that brings back memories of a childhood incident, her entire world comes crashing down. Censor is an exceptionally smart horror film, one that tackles several social topics at once while still supplying plenty of bloody scares.
‘Willy’s Wonderland’ (Hulu)
In what is perhaps the most perfect premise ever for a movie, Willy’s Wonderland stars the one and only Nicolas Cage as a lonesome drifter who takes a job as the night shift janitor for an old and run-down family entertainment center. But when the building’s creepy animatronic characters suddenly come to life, he finds himself in a fight for survival as they attempt to kill him and make him a permanent resident.
Directed by Kevin Lewis, written by G.O. Parsons, and produced by Cage himself, Willy’s Wonderland is a must-see for its zany and savage blend of action, horror, and comedy. It’s pure delight.
Shudder’s latest exclusive is a Russian horror flick that blends elements of The Thing, Alien, Event Horizon, and others. Set in 1984 Soviet-era Russia, Superdeep takes its name from the real Kola Superdeep Borehole, the deepest borehole in the world. In the film, it’s the site of a secret Soviet facility that’s been shut down following strange events and sounds emanating from the hole.
A team of researchers, led by a brilliant epidemiologist named Anya (Milena Radulovic), journey to the location to uncover the truth. What they find threatens the entire world. Written and directed by Arseny Syuhin, the version on Shudder will be modified from the original Russian cut and will be in English.
‘The Devil Below’ (Netflix)
Directed by Bradley Parker, The Devil Below follows a group of four amateur adventurers who specialize in exploring remote and forsaken places. The group pay a visit to Shookum Hills, a town in the remote Appalachian Mountains, which was abandoned decades ago due to a mysterious coal mine fire.
They soon discover something far more terrifying than they ever could have expected. What started as an adventure quickly turns into a desperate fight for survival against a mysterious force. The creepy coal mine setting is definitely an inspired location.
‘Not Fade Away’ (Hulu)
The feature directorial debut of acclaimed creator of The Sopranos, David Chase’s Not Fade Away also stars the incomparable James Gandolfini in one of his final roles. The 2012 film is set in 1960s New Jersey during the British Invasion, following a young group of friends who attempt to make it big as a rock band.
Besides having an excellent soundtrack, Not Fade Away is also a genuinely touching coming-of-age drama about a young man named Doug (John Magaro) who drops out of college to devote his energies to the rock band he founded in high school, much to the chagrin of his father (Gandolfini). When Gene (Jack Huston), the band’s lead singer, has a mishap that temporarily knocks him out as frontman, Doug takes over. The band’s new sound is a hit with the crowd, leading to Gene’s ever-increasing resentment. Meanwhile, Wells (Will Brill), another bandmate, struggles with the group’s reach for fame.
During the 1950s, in Portorosso, a seaside town on the Italian Riviera, a young boy named Luca (Jacob Tremblay) shares adventures with his new best friend Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer). But Luca and Alberto are hiding a secret: they are both sea monsters from a world below the water’s surface.
Pixar’s latest animated feature is streaming exclusively on Disney+ with no additional charge like we’ve seen with their past couple of Premiere Access releases. It worked with Soul last year, and likely will again with Luca, which promises to be a beautiful coming-of-age story about childhood friendship.
‘Revolution Rent’ (HBO Max)
Rent revolutionized Broadway in the 90s; the rock opera ran for over a decade and won numerous awards, launched multiple tours and international productions, and continues to inspire to this day. Revolution Rent, a new documentary on HBO Max, captures the process of putting together a historical production of the show in Havana, Cuba. The 2014 show marked the first time Cuba and The United States staged a co-production in over 50 years.
Director Andy Señor Jr. has played the role of Angel all over the world, and brings his knowledge and love for the musical to his homeland. In addition to the tireless work of putting the show together, the documentary also explores his attempts to connect to his heritage.
‘Black Summer (Season 2)’ (Netflix)
The company behind Z Nation returned to the world of zombies in 2019 with Black Summer, a series set in the early days of a catastrophic zombie apocalypse. It follows a woman named Rose (Jaime King) who is separated from her daughter when the dead start to rise and things start to get crazy, and must learn how to survive in the new, harsh world while journeying to reunite with her.
The second season will swap the first’s summer setting with a cold and brutal winter. Now that the apocalypse is a few months in, frantic survivors and violent militias roam the roads, making the world more dangerous than ever. All eight episodes of the second season are now streaming.
‘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). The Little Things was 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 for a month. It’s now back on the streaming service.
‘The Conspiracy’ (Shudder)
A masterpiece of horror mockumentary filmmaking, 2012’s The Conspiracy takes viewers deep into the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories and mysterious and powerful world syndicates. It follows two young filmmakers (Aaron Poole and James Gilbert) who select a crazed conspiracy theorist as the subject for their next project, but when he disappears, they soon come to believe that the man isn’t as delusional as they originally thought.
The film is full of thrills and rising paranoia, as the two friends get themselves far deeper than they ever would’ve believed possible. A world of secrets and backdoor deals and chilling terror awaits them, and you.
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 eight episodes are now streaming.
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. The first two episodes are now streaming.
Also streaming now:
Netflix – ‘Sir! No Sir!’, ‘Lowriders’, ‘Penguin Town’, ‘Mobile Suit Gundam Movies’, ‘Fatherhood’
Hulu – ‘DragonHeart’, ‘Born to Play’, ‘Gone Girl’, ‘The Obituary of Tunde Johnson’, ‘The Outside Story’, ‘Her Name is Chef’
Shudder – ‘Evilspeak’, ‘Housebound’, ‘The Similars’
HBO Max – ‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin’, ‘Super Friends’
COMING THIS WEEK:
Netflix – ‘This is Pop’, ‘Good on Paper’, Murder by the Coast’, ‘Godzilla Singular Point’, ‘Sisters on Track’, ‘The Seventh Day’, ‘Ray’, ‘The A List (Season 2)’, ‘The Ice Road’
Hulu – ‘The Guilt Trip’, ‘Hostiles’, ‘Monster Trucks’, ‘An American Haunting’, ‘False Positive’
Shudder – ‘An Unquiet Grave’, ‘City of the Dead’, ‘Homewrecker’, ‘The Antenna’
HBO Max – ‘Fatale’, ‘LFG’, ‘My Heart Goes Boom!’
Disney+ – ‘The Mysterious Benedict Society’, ‘Wolfgang’