A Brief History
On October 14, 2020, we take the time to (briefly) review four of the latest movies from Blumhouse, a production company that has been pumping out films for a movie hungry world crippled by the coronavirus pandemic. Working with Amazon streaming television service, Welcome to the Blumhouse is a series of horror movies in various types of circumstances, including sci fi, supernatural, human frailty, etc. We have within the past couple weeks watched 4 of their films and will briefly review them here. Those films include The Lie, Black Box, Nocturne and Evil Eye. As always, we will refrain from getting overly specific with the stories so as to avoid spoilers. Each of these films is of the science fiction/horror movie genre, our favorite type of movie! Jason Blum certainly seems to be on a movie making roll…
The Lie, starring Mireille Enos, Peter Sarsgaard and Joey King.
Directed by Veena Cabreros-Sud, The Lie brings The Killing (television series) star Mirreille Enos back together with Sud, a combination that works extremely well. In fact, Enos has become one of our favorite actresses. The divorced parents of Kayla (Joey King) are thrust into an impossible situation of having to construct and maintain a convoluted series of lies to protect their daughter from prosecution for murder. Tension, plot twists and irony are rife in this film, with excellent acting all around. Not a tech heavy “eye-candy” film, this movie relies on a strong story and strong performances. Kind of depressing, though, as many horror/drama movies tend to be. Running time is 97 minutes, about right for this type of film. We liked the movie.
Black Box, starring Mamoudou Athie, Phylicia Rashad, Amanda Christine, Tosin Morohunfola and Troy James.
This horror sci-fi movie has a premise of transplanting a person’s memories and personality into the brain of another person, kind of an electronic/digital brain transplant without the surgery. The main character loses his wife in an accident that leaves him brain damaged and in a coma. He awakens with limited memory and much confusion, causing him to wonder what the heck is going on. Unfortunately, he finds out, and is not happy with what he finds out! Available on Amazon Prime, this 100 minute long trip into the dark world of medical and science ethics moves right along. As with The Lie, we enjoyed Black Box and can safely recommend it to our readers.
Nocturne, starring Sydney Sweeney, Madison Iseman, Jacques Colimon, and Ivan Shaw.
Yet another of this year’s plethora of horror thrillers from Blumhouse, Nocturne, as the name may hint, deals with music. Sisters at a music academy vie for musical supremacy in a concerto competition when one of them finds a mysterious notebook that belonged to a recently deceased classmate. Supernatural and magical overtones combine with sibling rivalry to horrify they audience. Another made for television via streaming service winner, this time featuring a director by the name of Zu Quirke! Seriously, if that name is not enough reason to check out this film, we do not know what is! On the downside, this is the movie we liked the least of the bunch. Although we still enjoyed the well made film, the ending was a bit confusing and we were left not sure what the reality was. Also, while the plot explored the convoluted and complicated relationship between sisters and teen angst, there was not the level of “action” we like to see in horror films, that is, blood and mayhem. Of course, this is a personal preference and does not reflect negatively on the film makers and their product.
Evil Eye, starring Sarita Choudhury, Sunita Mani and Omar Maskati.
For this film, Indian megastar Priyanka Chopra lends her production assistance to Jason Blum to produce a film centered on characters of Indian heritage, directed by twin brothers, Elan and Rajeev Dassani. A young couple is bedeviled by the girl’s mother who has deep reservations about the young man in her daughter’s life. Is the superstitious mother on the right track or is she needlessly destroying a young love? There will be blood! Yet another winner for Amazon/Blumhouse. This time, Jason Blum and friends hits the horror nail on the head, with violence, tension, and a supernatural aspect to the story. Melding the Old World and New World gets a new wrinkle with the South Asian connection, showing once again that India has come up to the big leagues when it comes to producing actors, actresses and movie makers.
Special Bonus Selection! The Invisible Man, starring Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Harriet Dyer, Michael Dorman and Oliver Jackson-Cohen.
One of the few box office successes of 2020, the year of the pandemic, TIM cost only $7 million to produce and yet raked in a whopping $134.7 million at the box office, quite a feat in a year when most theaters are closed. The film now is showing on HBO, so you do not have to risk your health to watch the 124 minute feature film. Although loosely (we do mean loosely) based on the HG Wells story, this edition is kind of like the Kevin Bacon Hollow Man film of 2000, giving the story a modern, high technology angle to the invisibility idea, but retaining the theme that being invisible invites one to the darker places in one’s mind. Plenty of tension and frustration in the film for the main character, a wife in an abusive marriage that wants to escape her domineering and controlling science genius husband. Yes, there will be blood! Despite the low budget, the film has a polished veneer and special effects are much better than the budget would imply. Acting and directing is good, even excellent, though the story line here and there is a little implausible. Lots of fun and great entertainment. If you missed it at the theater, be sure to catch it on HBO. The Invisible Man is a worthy edition of a long and cherished sci fi/horror movie tradition. Director Leigh Whannell is building a resume of quality horror genre films, so keep an eye out for her movies.
Question for students (and subscribers): What are your top three favorite horror movies? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Mellor, Lee. Behind the Horror: True Stories That Inspired Horror Movies. DK, 2020.
Skal, David. Fright Favorites: 31 Movies to Haunt Your Halloween and Beyond. Running Press Adult, 2020.
The featured image in this article was shared with Dr. Zar by Kim Moss of KIMMOSSPR for the purpose of officially promoting these films and their premiere screenings in other articles on our site. The image is also being used here as this article is a follow-up to those earlier articles in that this article presents critical commentaries of our reactions to the films that we advance screened.