In this month’s picks, evil seizes a bathroom, cloaked cultists invade a small town and demons run amok just about everywhere else.
A family of four gathers in their spacious bathroom as a storm rages outside. The teen daughter (Sierra McCormick) anxiously texts someone who’s not responding. Her alcoholic dad (Pat Healy) is suspicious of who’s calling his wife (Vinessa Shaw). The little brother (John James Cronin) thinks a “giant tornado” is on the way.
Then the lights go out, and no matter how hard the family pushes the door to escape, it won’t budge. What happens next is what it looks like when hell breaks loose inside four walls.
This pulsing, nerve-plucking feature film debut from Sean King O’Grady tells a darkly comic existential tale about a teen girl’s coming-of-age and a family’s disintegration by forces outside their control. As if being trapped in a room with your dysfunctional relatives isn’t scary enough, it also serves up shocks of gore and a startling death.
“We did something bad,” the daughter tearfully confesses at one point, one of several unexpected turns the film takes as it reveals how evil showed up at this family’s front door. Make that their bathroom door — this goes on my list of delightfully sinister films set in one location. This new Tubi original, written and directed by Justin Lee, is a horror movie that’s not scary and a comedy that isn’t all that funny. It doesn’t know what it is. I don’t either.
So why recommend it? Because it has a terrific supporting cast, it’s free, it’s just under 90 minutes and fans of VHS-era horror will savor its dollar-bin flavors.
Supposedly set in the ’80s, the story has something to do with robed cult members who terrorize the little town of Hope Valley. But get a load of who’s in town: Billy “Dead Calm” Zane as a satanic conjurer, Tony “Candyman” Todd as a nice guy with combat skills, Meg “They Live” Foster as a waitress and Adrienne Barbeau as — get this — a radio D.J., the same role that she so memorably played in “The Fog.”
A documentary crew is making a film about a woman named Sarah (Sarah Froelich) and the unsolved disappearance of her police officer husband, who vanished while investigating a disturbance at an abandoned Texas hospital. His body cam shows him creeping down dark hallways and encountering a coffin in the chapel. When Sarah comes across additional footage, she suspects that fiendish hands got a hold of her husband that night.
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This effective faux doc was written and directed by Isaac Rodriguez, who based it on his seriously rattling short film “The Cop Cam.” The actors aren’t convincing as documentary subjects, but your skin will crawl when the film switches to its unnerving body cam scenes. The decayed setting — much of the film was shot at an old hospital in Yorktown, Texas — hits the low-budget found-footage jackpot, and the sound design is killer.
My suggestion: Turn off the lights, put on your headphones and let this movie scare your ears off. It’s free on the new horror movie YouTube channel from the distributor Terror Films.