Tired of wasting your weekend nights on patios with friends? Looking to spend a little more quality time with your streaming services? We got you! Here is our latest curated list of Netflix selections!
Demon Inside (2013)
Dir. Alfonso Pineda Ulloa. Starring: Paz Vega, Johanna Murillo, Alfonso Herrera.
Synopsis: A talented psychic develops severe agoraphobia after a violent attack and loses faith in her gift – but it may be the only thing that can save her from her demons.
When you’re in the mood for: Slow burn; stalker; psychological horror; supernatural; international; mystery.
AKA Espectro, Demon Inside is an extraordinarily well-shot and well-acted psychological horror film exploring the effects of trauma in the wake of violent sexual assault. The cinematography is truly glorious. Protagonist Marta is sensitively portrayed by the always-magnetic Paz Vega, whose performance adroitly captures the mental confinement of living with agoraphobia. As Marta moves from asylum to apartment to try to recover from her life-changing trauma, she finds that the demons in her building are even deadlier than the ones in her head.
I loved Demon Inside. I had to break up my viewing over two days and found myself looking forward to returning to the world of the film. Ulloa keeps the tension at a lively simmer throughout, interspersing flashbacks, possible hallucinations, and found-footage elements throughout to tell a delectably creepy and unpredictable story. While the film borrows the technique of found-footage via multiple security cameras from Paranormal Activity 2, this is slickly executed within an otherwise traditional film. There’s a soupçon of Rear Window, here, and a generous hint of The Grudge, too. Content note: the film does contain a graphic scene featuring sexual assault early on in the film.
My rating: Loved it.
The Guest (2014)
Dir. Adam Wingard. Starring: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Sheila Kelley.
Synopsis: A mysterious soldier is welcomed into the home of his fallen friend, but a series of strange events and deaths seemed linked to his presence.
When you’re in the mood for: Psychological horror; black comedy; thriller; mystery.
I cheered when I realized that Netflix had added this enormously fun and smart Wingard & Barrett production to their lineup this month. If you only know Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett from their work on 2016’s tepid sequel Blair Witch, then you need to watch You’re Next and The Guest immediately. In The Guest, Wingard and Barrett develop a unique and tantalizingly potent mixture of psychological horror, mystery, infectious black comedy, and thriller.
Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) thoroughly dispels any notion that he can be typecast through his extraordinary and deliciously sly performance as David, a stranger and soldier who appears at the door of his fallen friend’s home to pay his respects to the family. When the heartbroken mother invites him to stay with the family so that she can get to know him and David begins to help them heal, a mystery slowly begins to deepen – who is David? What is he really there for? And why have bodies started to appear in the small town? The film also stars the superb Maika Monroe (It Follows) as the family’s skeptical goth daughter, Anna. As with You’re Next, the soundtrack is stellar, synth-laden and has made it onto my Spotify playlists.
My rating: Loved it.
The Silenced (2015)
Dir. Lee Hae-young. Starring: Park Bo-young, Uhm Ji-won, Park So-dam.
Synopsis: A young girl with tuberculosis arrives at a sanitarium school and quickly becomes embroiled in its strange and disturbing mysteries.
When you’re in the mood for: Mystery-thriller; period piece; slow burn; medical horror; international.
Set in 1938, The Silenced takes place on the grounds of a sanitarium school near Seoul, South Korea. A new student, Ju-ran (Park Bo-young) arrives at the remote boarding school to discover that the building and its inhabitants are hiding terrible secrets. As the girls are treated for their diseases, abnormal new symptoms begin to emerge, including new violent behaviours. When the girls start to vanish one by one, Ju-ran must work to find the answers to the mysteries – before she disappears herself.
The film is a deftly-spun (and moderately bloody) tale of schoolyard bullying, medical meddling, and emotional isolation shaped and guided by Lee’s skilled and thoughtful direction. The performances are both impactful and understated; Park Bo-young, in particular, turns in a strong performance as Ju-ran. The costuming is outrageously gorgeous in the opening scenes; all sumptuous satins, vivid hues, and 1930s styling. Even when the fabulous garments give way to the sterile sanitarium uniforms, the set design continues to offer charming period details and a striking palette.
My rating: Really liked it.
Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)
Dir. Leigh Whannell. Starring: Stefanie Scott, Dermot Mulroney, Lin Shaye.
Synopsis: An aspiring young actress asks a retired parapsychologist for help contacting her recently deceased mother, only to attract the attention of something far more sinister – and deadly.
When you’re in the mood for: Haunting; ghost story; paranormal; teen drama; jump scares.
Another day, another Blumhouse release. Insidious: Chapter 3 follows all of the traditional beats of the haunting story wrapped up in the drama of a family trying to cope with the loss of a beloved wife and mother. Phantom knocks and mysteriously ringing bells escalate to more disturbing paranormal fare in due time, until eventually the professionals are called in to banish the evil spirits and restore normalcy. Fans of the franchise will see some familiar faces as Leigh Whannel, Lin Shaye, and Angus Sampson make a return in this third installment. See if you can spot the brief cameo by James Wan.
The jump scares are extremely jumpy this time around, but the film also works to build tension more artfully as well – this is where it is at its best. A scene with an entity prowling slowly and silently around the room while Quinn lies helpless on the floor is particularly effective, as is the immersive seance set piece that closes out the second act. Insidious: Chapter 3 doesn’t recreate the sub-genre and it isn’t anywhere near as innovative as Insidious 2. But while it offers nothing terribly original in the way of plot, much of its imagery is chilling and well-designed enough to make it a decent addition to a Friday night fright-fest.
My rating: Liked it.