Yes, it’s that time again, the weekend, and time to review the best new movies and television shows added online this week(and last week), to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. And there are some exciting new adds this week, so let’s get started.
Hulu has only one big add this week, Hellraiser, it’s 2022 in-house production. In a remake of Clive Barker’s 1987 classic shocker, Odessa A’zion plays Riley, a young woman struggling with addiction, living with her brother, Matt, played by Brandon Flynn, until she steals a puzzle box from a mansion, at the urging of her boyfriend, Trevor(Drew Starkey). When Matt throws her out, Riley goes to the park, and succeeds in opening the box, releasing the Cenobites, demonic beings bent on destruction. And although Riley survives their first encounter, it becomes clear everyone around her will be cursed by the Cenobites. Jamie Clayton plays Pinhead, and Adam Faison, Goran Višnjić, Aoife Hinds and Hiam Abbass also star, while David Bruckner directs. But many find it underwhelming, and so it gets a 68% on Rotten Tomatoes. Coleman Spilde of the Daily Beast writes “with a painfully overt allegory and a cast of underdeveloped, uninteresting characters, one of the most memorable horror films ever becomes a paint-by-numbers slasher.” But it may suffice if you’re desperately in need of Halloween thrills. But it’s way to scary for me. Hulu also has Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, a 2010 horror flick from Guillermo del Toro(!). This has Sally (Bailee Madison) moving into a Victorian house with her father (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend (Katie Holmes!), which the couple hope to restore. But of course, Sally finds a hidden basement where she opens a door, and lets malevolent creatures out, who want to drag her family down to their world below. Jack Thompson, Garry Macdonald, Alan Dale, Julia Blake and Edwina Ritchard also star, and Troy Nixey directed. Del Toro wrote the script here, but this movie is based on a 1973 tv movie, so keep that in mind. Still, it was nominated for 4 awards in 2010, including Best Film at the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards(?).And it gets a 60% on Rotten Tomatoes, but Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian said its a “minor Del Toro, perhaps, but a must for his fans.” So horror fans might want to watch, but it’s still too frightening for me. But, since Hulu has few other offering this week, I thought I’d mention the always delightful What We Do in the Shadows, the classic FX horror/comedy series. This mockumentary, based on the 2014 movie of the same name written by Clement and Taika Waititi(!), this follows 4 vampire roommates, Nandor the Relentless(Kayvan Novak), Leslie “Laszlo” Cravensworth(Matt Berry) and Nadja of Antipaxos(Natasia Demetriou) and energy vampire Colin Robinson(Mark Proksch), as they try to deal with more profane details of modern life, like hygiene. They inspire little fear any more in public, barely getting a sidelong glance, and poor Guillermo,(Harvey Guillén) Nandor’s familiar, has to spend much of his time building up the vampires‘ egos. Nick Kroll, Beanie Feldstein,Anthony Atamanuik, Doug Jones and Veronika Slowikowska star in the 1st season, and there are 4 seasons available, with 40 episodes in all, for streaming. And this series gets a stupendous 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Erin Maxwell of the LA Weekly/Village Voice writes “for a show that breezes by murder, death, destruction, the end of civilization, and the insignificance of the human experience as a whole, the show is a lovely escape from the times we live in right now. And that might be the darkest thing about it.” And it’s funny. I’m tuning in. And, finally, Hulu has the Halloween cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the 1975 comedy musical. Here, the naïve couple Brad(Barry Bostwick) and Janet(Susan Sarandon) suffer mechanical difficulties on a dark and rainy night, outside the house of Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry). When the outlandish doctor takes the couple in, they meet up with a a lifetime’s worth of bizarre but delightful individuals, like Riff Raff, Rocky and Sal Piro. Oh, and there’s cannibalism. But all in good fun. Richard O’Brien, Patricia Quinn, Meatloaf, Nell Campbell and Charles Gray also star, and Jim Sharman directed. And though it was ill-received in 1975– a much less open time than now, believe it or not-it was nominated for Best Feature Film at the 1975 Faro Island Film Festival. And has since been named to the Hall of Fame at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, and to the National Film Preservation Board registration. And it gets a stunning 7.4/10 on IMDb, and Trevor Johnston of Time Out London said “the material inspires affection, given its knowing pastiche of everything from Universal horrors to ’50s grade-Z sci-fi, and a shamelessly hedonistic, fiercely independent sensibility that must have seemed a welcome relief from the mainstream bombast of other ‘70s musicals.” So stay home, put on that corset, and do the Time Warp dance off again, this year. I’ll be watching.
Netflix some big titles added this week, like Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, a 2022 horror flick. Based on a Stephen King story, you might expect pure horror, but this is a Ryan Murphy production, so prepared for a more nuanced scare. Jaeden Martell stars as Craig, a bullied and grieving young man, who befriends Mr. Harrigan, played by Donald Sutherland(!), a retired and half-blind billionaire, to whom the boy reads. As their friendship grows, Mr. Harrigan urges Craig to be more forceful and ruthless with his enemies, and avenge his wrongs. Craig buys Mr. Harrigan an iPhone when he buys one for himself, which Mr. Harrigan resists, but soon the pair end up communicating constantly on the phones. When the elder man dies suddenly, Craig is shaken and slips the iPhone into his friend’s casket, only to start receiving calls from it, in the middle of the night. More chillingly, Craig’s enemies start mysteriously dying. Cyrus Arnold, Colin O’Brien, Peggy J. Scott, Joe Tippett and Kirby Howell-Baptiste also star, and John Lee Hancock(The Blind Side) directs. But this movie doesn’t get great reviews, probably because it’s a little slow, and more contemplative than most horror fans want. And it gets only a 43% on Rotten Tomatoes. But Lisa Kennedy of the New York Times says its “less a chiller than a diverting drama about technology with things that go bump in the night, along with some nicely apt ethical quandaries for Craig — and for us.” So I might watch. But Netflix also has a big title with Luckiest Girl Alive, a 2022 thriller. Based on Jessica Knoll’s 2015 novel of the same name, this tells the story of Ani FaNelli, played by Mila Kunis(!) a successful N.Y.C. journalist due to become editor of The New York Times Magazine, also due to be married in Nantucket. But when the a true crime documentarian approaches her about an violent incident in her past, at the prestigious Brentley School, memories and trauma come flooding back, disrupting her entire life. And no one understands, least of all her fiancé Luke(Finn Whitrock!). Chiara Aurelia plays the young Ani, and Scoot McNairy, Thomas Barbusca, Justine Lupe, Jennifer Beals(!) and Connie Britton also star, while Mike Barker directs. But, though it has an important message, this movie fails to hit the mark. And so it get only a 44% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Luke Y. Thompson of the A.V. Club writing “as a book, Luckiest Girl Alive was frequently compared to Gone Girl. The same isn’t likely to happen with the movie version, evidencing the difference a strong adaptation and director can make.” I’ll skip it. Luckily, Netflix has also added The Midnight Club, a 2022 teen horror series from Mike Flanagan(House on Haunted Hill). Based on Christopher Pike’s 1994 novel of the same name, this tells of Ilonka, played by Iman Benson, a star student in the 90‘s, headed for Stanford, until she learns she has a serious form of thyroid cancer, and after treatment, heads to Brightcliffe, a hospice for teens. Soon she makes friends and becomes part of the Midnight Club, whose members tells spooky stories, especially ones about the mysterious facility they’re in and eerie specters that appear in the basement, especially. And Ilonka seeks to survive, she’s encouraged by mysterious stories of survivors of Brightcliffe. Igby Rigney, Ruth Codd , Annarah Cymone, Chris Sumpter, Adia, Aya Furukawa, Sauriyan Sapkota and Matt Biedel also star, and there are 10 episodes available for streaming now. And this series gets an incredible 7.3/10 on IMDb, with Joel Keller of the Decider saying “continues Mike Flanagan’s ability to creep and scare the pants off viewers while building stories with great characters.” I’m watching..if it’s not too scary. Netflix also offers High Water, a 2022 Polish disaster drama series. Based on a true story, this takes place in 1997, with hydrologist Jaśmina Tremer, played by Agnieszka Żulewska, warning officials of potential flooding in the coming summer, which is ignored, of course. But as the catastrophic even draws closer, the scientist is brought back in, as authorities try to avert the disaster. It also tells of locals like Andrzej Rębacz (Ireneusz Czop) leading a rebellion in the face of what could be fatal decisions made by the government to save Warsaw. Tomasz Schuchardt, Anna Dymna, Jerzy Trela, Mirosław Kropielnicki, Blanka Kot and Marta Nieradkiewiczmalso star, and there are 6 exciting episodes available for bingeing now. And this series gets an amazing 7.2/10 on IMDb, with Greg Wheeler of The Review Geek calling it a “methodically paced…slow burn… disaster drama.” And I’m watching. And, finally, Netflix has added Glitch, a 2022 Japanese sci-fi comedy/thriller series. This has Hon Gi-hyo, played by Jeon Yeo-been, a twenty something seeking her boyfriend, Lee Si-kook,(Lee Dong-hwi),who suddenly went missing. And she begins to suspect aliens, and so teams up with Heo Bo–ra (Nana), a UFO researcher, to search for clues, that may or may not be there. Lee Dong-hwi, Ryu Kyung-soo, Jeon Bae-soo, and Jung Da-bin also star, and there are 10 episodes available to gorge on now. And this delightfully funny series gets a 6.7/10 on IMDb, with Riya Singh of LeisureByte saying it “blends comedy, thriller and sci-fi in the best way possible.” And it doesn’t take itself(or it’s subject) too seriously. I’m definitely tuning in.
Amazon has a delightful add this week with Catherine Called Birdy, the 2022 adventure comedy from director Lena Dunham(!). Based on the beloved 1994 novel by Karen Cushman, this takes place in 1290, where Lady Catherine, aka Birdy, played by Bella Ramsey, is independent and resolute not to marry. So when her destitute father Rollo (Andrew Scott), begins to arrange a marriage, any marriage, to get a good dowry, Birdy uses all her resources to stay single. She and her friends, Perkin (Michael Woolfitt) and Aelis (Isis Hainsworth) start ugly rumors about the Lady Catherine, and, finally, Birdy takes up the sword(and other weapons) to resist the stereotypical Medieval female destiny. Lesley Sharp, Billie Piper, Joe Alwyn, Dean-Charles Chapman, Paul Kaye and Ralph Ineson also star, and Lena Dunham wrote the script here, along with directing. And this movie gets an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair says “free-wheeling as the movie seems, there’s a careful control at work, a restraint that prevents Catherine Called Birdy from teetering into the noxiously ironic. There’s a deep affection — a humanism, really — at the heart of the film.” I’m definitely watching..twice. Amazon has added Bring It On, Ghost, a 2016 Korean horror fantasy series. Ok Taec-yeon stars, here, as Park Bong-pal, a young man with the power to see ghosts, and so he works as an exorcist, but he wants to earn enough money to afford a procedure to take his powers away(?). That is, until he meets Kim Hyun-ji (Kim So-hyun), the feisty spirit of a high school student he meets, where else, but a haunted high school. And so she convinces him to team up and work together to return spirits to their proper place. Kwon Yul,Kim Sang-ho, Kim Min-sang,Son Eun-seo, Lee Do-yeon and Kang Ki-young also star, and there are 16 episodes available to gorge on now. And this series gets a 7.6/10 on IMDb, and the Drama Llama called it “one of the better dramas out there.” And not too scary. I’m watching. And, finally, Amazon offers Season 1 of The Killing, a 2007 Danish crime drama series from the Topic channel. Here, police detective Sarah Lund, played by Sofie Gråbøl, puts off retirement to investigate the murder of a young woman, that may lead to Copenhagen‘s political elite. Morten Suurballe, Bjarne Henriksen, Lars Mikkelsen, Ann Eleonora Jørgensen and Marie Askehave also star, and there are 20 episodes available for bingeing, before November 1, when they revert back to the Topic channel. And this series has been nominated for numerous awards, and went on to win Best International [series] at the 2011 BAFTA‘s and Best International TV Drama at the 2013 UK Crime Thriller Awards. And it gets an astounding 8.4/10 on IMDb. And although an American version was made in 2011, Mike Hale of the NY Times said this Danish one is better, adding “the Danish show can get a bit slow and melodramatic at points — and clarity of structure does not make implausible coincidences more believable, it just makes them more obvious — but it offers a kind of formal, old-school satisfaction that the jumpier, more cryptic (as opposed to more mysterious) American adaptation has lacked.” I’m tuning in.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!