This week, we'll be offering a few recommendations, starting with what's available on live streaming on Netflix. Don't use the service? We'll be offering a variety of movies worth your time on Hulu and Amazon Prime later this week as well.
Tagline: Blood is the strongest bond.
Plot Summary: The Parkers, a cult-like family living in a remote area of the U.S., are in mourning after the mysterious death of their matriarch. While dealing with this tragedy, and a series of floods in the area, they continue to plan for their yearly religious feast. But we're not talking Easter dinner here. This family prefers human flesh to ham or turkey. Meanwhile, the doctor in town, haunted by the disappearance of his daughter, has discovered human teeth in a nearby creek.
Memorable Line: "I just wish we were like everyone else." "Well, we're not."
Reason to Watch: Director Jim Mickle does a great job establishing a sense of heavy dread and building tension. The daughters, played by Julia Garner and Ambyr Childers, turn in performances heavy with misery and desperation. This is also one of the few more recent cannibalism flicks that goes for upsetting realism rather than campy silliness.
Title: The House of the Devil
Tagline: Talk on the Phone. Finish Your Homework. Watch TV. Die.
Plot Summary: Samantha, a college student desperate for cash, takes a job babysitting an elderly lady on the evening of a lunar eclipse. Things aren't what they seem, however, and she soon finds herself fleeing from Satanists.
Memorable Line: Title card: "During the 1980s over 70% of American adults believed in the existence of abusive Satanic Cults... Another 30% rationalized the lack of evidence due to government cover ups... The following is based on true unexplained events..."
Reason to Watch: Even though this movie was made in 2012, The House of the Devil looks and feels like it came from the '80s. It was filmed on 16mm, Samantha frequently listens to music on her Walkman (there's even a jam-out to the Fixx's "One Thing Leads to Another"), and the story uneasily unfolds at a pace much like a flick from the era. This is a genuine homage -- it's not a satire for sure -- and it manages to provide retro-style scares in an effective manner. With films like Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Halloween, the '80s were a great time for horror cinema, after all.
Title: House at the End of the Street
Tagline: Fear reaches out... for the girl next door.
Plot Summary: A newly divorced women (Elizabeth Shue) moves to a fabulous yet affordable home in well-to-do town. Her high-school daughter (Jennifer Lawrence) soon befriends the neighbor, a 20-something boy who has returned to the area after the double-murder of his parents.
Memorable Line: "People don't notice all the secrets around them. Even though they're right in front of them, just hiding, waiting to be found."
"Dickhole is the new asshole." (Ah, thrillers always have the most poetic dialogue.)
Reason to Watch: Most mega-celebrities have at least one paint-by-the-numbers horror flick under their belt. This one came out the same year as Lawrence's Oscar-winning performance in Silver Linings Playbook and the franchise-launching The Hunger Games. Despite some moments of cheesiness, the flick does offer some thrills, and manages to throw in some surprising plot twists that pay off about halfway through after what feels like a standard thriller setup.
Title: Bram Stoker's Dracula
Tagline: Love Never Dies.
Plot Summary: It's a tale as old as time. After returning from war to find his wife dead, Count Dracula forsakes God and becomes a vampire. Hundreds of years later, he finds his dear love reborn as a 20-something British lady. But will he manage to get her to dump her fiance for him? And won't it be awkward when she finds out that he killed her best friend?
Memorable Line: "Take me away from all this d.....eath!"
Reason to Watch: Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Bram Stoker's Dracula is an odd mix of kinda neat old-school effects inspired by the silent-film era, gorgeous production values, and really bad acting. Anthony Hopkins and Sadie Frost set their camp-o-meter to level 10 for their parts as Van Helsing and Lucy. Meanwhile, Winona Ryder never quite figures out how to do a British accent. Keanu Reeves makes Winona Ryder look good in comparison. Meanwhile, head vampire Gary Oldman plays every scene like it's an Oscar clip, whether he's tearing shit up as a strung-out wolf, licking bloody razors while rocking a mini-bun hair-do, or hanging out in a pile of dirt.
Title: The Awakening
Tagline: All the children are gone... except one.
Plot Summary: Set in 1920s England, Florence Cathcart makes a living exposing scam artists who make a living off of seances and haunted houses. When she takes on a ghostly mystery at a boarding school, she finds herself stumped as to where the hoax lies.
Memorable Line: "Boys believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. I'm sure some of them even believe in God."
Reason to Watch: The Awakening is a haunted-house movie with a heavy dose of British wit and psychological thrills. And though it's set post-World War I, it manages to have a modern take on characterizations that allow it to feel fresh and yet still be a period drama. There's also a variety of thrills here, including jumps, twists, and moments that will sit in your head.