The latest entry in the terrifying Conjuring franchise hits HBO Max, a creepy new original horror arrives on Shudder and more in this week’s guide
‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’ (HBO Max)
James Wan’s The Conjuring series – along with one of his other horror franchises, Insidious – brought back the old school style scares of haunted houses and demonic possession. The series follows the bizarre and terrifying real-life cases of Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), a pair of paranormal investigators. The original 2013 film kicked off an ongoing universe that includes three Annabelle movies, 2018’s The Nun and the following year’s The Curse of La Llorona.
Thankfully, the connections are pretty loose, so you only need to watch the first two Conjuring films before watching The Devil Made Me Do It. The new film has the Warrens wrapped in a murder trial where the defendant claims to have been possessed by a demon. It’s based on the infamous 1981 trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson in Connecticut, and it promises to be another frightening feature full of ghosts and holy warfare.
Caveat is the latest Shudder exclusive that’s both original and uniquely chilling. It’s a wildly impressive debut from director, writer, editor and production designer Damian McCarthy. It’s a movie that instantly creates an uncomfortable and creepy atmosphere and only continues to build in unexpected and scary ways. Several scenes with probably only be seen through covered faces.
The film follows a man named Isaac (Jonathan French) who is recently out of the hospital and in need of cash. He’s offered a job by his former landlord and supposed friend Barret (Ben Caplan), who wants Isaac to keep his niece Olga (Leila Sykes) company while he’s away. What he doesn’t tell Isaac though (until it’s too late) is that he’ll have to wear a harness that keeps him chained up and confined to only certain areas of the house. Oh, and Olga has some serious mental issues. Also, the house is on a small island and Isaac can’t swim. It’s impossible to guess where this horrifying thriller will take you next.
‘Sweet Tooth’ (Netflix)
Based on the DC comic that’s been described as “Mad Max meets Bambi”, Sweet Tooth is a new fantasy series arriving on Netflix this week. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the series picks up ten years after an event called “The Great Crumble” wreaked havoc on the world and led to the mysterious emergence of hybrid babies born part human, part animal. Unsure if hybrids are the cause or result of the virus, many humans fear and hunt them.
After a decade of living safely in his secluded forest home, a sheltered hybrid deer-boy named Gus (Christian Convery) unexpectedly befriends a wandering loner named Jepperd (Nonso Anozie). Together they set out on an extraordinary adventure across what is left of America in search of answers—about Gus’ origins, Jepperd’s past, and the true meaning of home. But their story is full of unexpected allies and enemies, and Gus quickly learns the lush, dangerous world outside the forest is more complex than he ever could have imagined.
‘A Glitch in the Matrix’ (Hulu)
Filmmaker Rodney Ascher is best known for his documentaries Room 237, which dove into the various interpretations of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, and The Nightmare, which followed various accounts of sleep paralysis. A Glitch in the Matrix, which debuted at Sundance earlier this year, is a real mindbender that lays out the simulation theory – the idea that everything we believe to be real is actually a simulation and / or we might just be an algorithm ourselves.
As much as it may feel like sci-fi, Ascher’s inclinations towards things that scare us is still very present. The implications of living in a simulation are disturbing, and the documentary explores the digital continues to distort the reality we live in.
‘Doctor Sleep’ (HBO Max)
Mike Flanagan is a beloved figure in the modern horror scene, having brought to life both The Haunting of Hill House and Bly Manor, as well as several films like Oculus, Hush, and Ouija: Origin of Evil. But tackling a Stephen King novel is no easy task, especially when this particular story is the sequel to one of King’s most famous works of all time, The Shining. Both the book and Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation are masterpieces in their own right, making Flanagan’s job twice as hard.
Thankfully, he’s more than up for the task. Doctor Sleep pays respect to both the original book and the movie, while forging a distinct path all its own. The film takes place decades after the events at the Overlook Hotel in The Shining, following a now grown-up Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) struggling to live with his demons and childhood trauma. At the same time, he has to protect a young girl named Abra (Kyliegh Curran) with psychic powers from a cult known as the True Knot, whose members prey on children who possess the shining to extend their own lives.
‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ (Disney+)
Disney Animation has a long and rich history of bringing timeless animated movies to the masses, many of which become staples of childhood and pop culture. With a slew of recent hits like Frozen, Moana, Big Hero 6, and Zootopia behind them, the studio’s next project is a return to fantasy realms and courageous princesses. After first premiering on Disney+’s Premiere Access, it’s now available to regular subscribers as well.
Long ago, in the world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when sinister monsters known as the Druun threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, those same monsters have returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya (Kelly Marie Tran), and her pet pill bug companion Tuk Tuk (Alan Tudyk), to track down the last dragon (Awkwafina) in order to finally stop the Druun for good. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than dragon magic to save the world—it’s going to take trust as well.
‘Jennifer’s Body’ (Hulu)
2009 horror flick Jennifer’s Body came out during the initial explosion of Megan Fox’s career, and when paired with costar Amanda Seyfried, the tale of a high school girl who goes around killing her male classmates seemed like a surefire hit. Sadly, this wasn’t the case – the film was met with mixed reviews and a poor box office reception, but it has seen a significant resurgence in popularity in the past couple of years, with many now considering it an underrated classic.
Retrospective reviews praise the movie for its feminist themes and subversiveness, things that may have been lost on audiences at the time. For those looking to check out a genuinely unique and fun horror comedy that deserves the newfound love, Jennifer’s Body is the one for you.
‘Night of the Kings’ (Hulu)
A young man is sent to “La Maca,” a prison in the middle of the Ivorian forest ruled by its inmates. As tradition goes with the rising of the red moon, he is designated by the Boss to be the new “Roman” and must tell a story to the other prisoners. Learning what fate awaits him, he begins to narrate the mystical life of the legendary outlaw named “Zama King” and has no choice but to make his story last until dawn.
Night of the Kings has played to critical acclaim and awards recognition at several major film festivals the past year, and it’s been well deserved. It’s a masterful piece of art by writer and director Philippe Lacôte, one that emphasizes the beauty of storytelling with fantastical elements amidst violence and terror.
‘An American Werewolf in London’ (Shudder)
John Landis’ 1981 horror classic An American Werewolf in London left a lasting impact on the horror scene that’s still going strong to this day. The film’s visceral effects and groundbreaking makeup work, combined with blasts of comedy, went on to influence tons of future films in the genre. Michael Jackson a even hired Landis to direct the iconic music video for Thriller after viewing the movie.
The film’s plot follows two American backpackers, David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne), who are attacked by a werewolf while traveling in England, causing David to question whether he will become a werewolf under the next full moon.
‘The Wind’ (Netflix)
Emma Tammi’s The Wind is a blend of Westerns and supernatural horror, telling a folkloric tale of madness, paranoia, and otherworldly terror. Lizzy (Caitlin Gerard) is a tough, resourceful frontierswoman settling a remote stretch of land on the 19th-century American frontier. Isolated from civilization in a desolate wilderness where the wind never stops howling, she begins to sense a sinister presence that seems to be borne of the land itself, an overwhelming dread that her husband (Ashley Zukerman) dismisses as superstition.
When a newlywed couple arrives on a nearby homestead, their presence amplifies Lizzy’s fears, setting into motion a shocking chain of events. Masterfully blending haunting visuals with pulse-pounding sound design, the film evokes a godforsaken world in which the forces of nature come alive with quivering menace.
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 six episodes are now streaming.
Also streaming now:
Netflix – ‘Bo Burnham: Inside’, ‘Abduction’, ‘Bad Teacher’, ‘Cradle 2 the Grave’, ‘Million Dollar Baby’, ‘Love Jones’, ‘Ninja Assassin’, ‘Stand by Me’, ‘The Big Lebowski’, ‘The Wedding Guest’, ‘Welcome Home’, ‘‘Xtreme’
Hulu – ‘50/50’, ‘A Most Wanted Man’, ‘A Prayer for the Dying’, ‘The Adventures of Tintin’, ‘Alive’, ‘Across the Universe’, ‘Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid’, ‘Arachnophobia’, ‘Batman Begins’, ‘The Birdcage’, ‘The Blair Witch Project’, ‘Bloody Sunday’, ‘The Dark Knight’, ‘Face/Off’, ‘The Forbidden Kingdom’, ‘Kick-Ass’, ‘Kung Pow: Enter the Fist’, ‘The Last House on the Left’, ‘Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’, ‘Wayne’s World 2’
Shudder – ‘Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed’, ‘Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning’, ‘Eve’s Bayou’, ‘Burn, Witch, Burn!’, ‘Islands’, ‘Terror, Sisters!’, ‘Der Samurai’, ‘Thirst’, ‘Rift’
HBO Max – ‘The Aviator’, ‘Bangkok Dangerous’, ‘Black Rain’, ‘Bless the Child’, ‘The Conjuring 2’, ‘Dr. Strangelove’, ‘Eyes Wide Shut’, ‘The Green Mile’, ‘The Harry Potter Series’, ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, ‘Kajillionare’, ‘Kung Fu Hustle’, ‘The Manhattan Project’, ‘Matchstick Men’, ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’, ‘Shazam!’, ‘Sherlock Holmes’, ‘Stoker’, ‘Three Days of the Condor’, ‘Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride’, ‘Wedding Crashers’, ‘The Wedding Singer’
Amazon Prime Video – ‘Burn After Reading’, ‘Chicken Run’, ‘Colombiana’, ‘Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story’, ‘Fight Club’, ‘Signs’, ‘Step Brothers’, ‘Take Shelter’, ‘The Wrestler’, ‘This Means War’, ‘We Own the Night’
Disney+ – ‘Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs’, ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’
COMING THIS WEEK:
Netflix – ‘Awake’, ‘A Haunted House 2’, ‘Trese’, ‘Lupin (Part 2)’, ‘Skater Girl’, ‘Wish Dragon’
Hulu – ‘Rams’, ‘Legion of Brothers’, ‘The Croods: A New Age’, ‘Come True’
Shudder – ‘The Amusement Park’, ‘Night of the Living Dead’, ‘Reunion’, ‘Beyond the Door III’
HBO Max – ‘Clueless’, ‘Rizzoli & Isles’, ‘Billy on the Street’, ‘Killerman’, ‘Young Hearts’, ‘In the Heights’
Amazon Prime Video – ‘Pinocchio’
Disney+ – ‘Loki’, ‘The Happiest Millionare’