One of the worst real-life horrors were the Irish Magdalene Laundries that held "fallen" young women and forced them to work without pay to seek redemption for their sins. Irish director Aislinn Clarke's film "The Devil's Doorway" uses a Magdalene Laundry as the backdrop for this found footage movie that focuses on a pair of priests who are sent to investigate a reported miracle. The elder priest Father Thomas is a scholarly man who has traveled the world and is very skeptical of events like the one he is sent to check out. His younger colleague Father John films the events using a 16mm camera and displays a much more hopeful outlook on the possibility of witnessing a blessed sign from the Lord. Once inside the Laundry, they are met with hostility from the Mother Superior and appalled by the conditions the young women are subjected to. Yet the real terror emerges when the younger priest begins to hear voices of children in a place that has no children and witnesses some unexplained events. It gets worse when the two priests find a young pregnant woman who has the staff on edge and what happens next will test the faith and stamina of the two priests. The Devil's Doorway effectively captures the dismal condition of the notorious Irish Catholic Laundries that were prisons for many young women who worked like slaves and often had no legal protections. Ms. Clarke spent years researching the history of the Magdelene Laundries and uses an old manor house and linen mill as the setting for the movie. The institutional look of the buildings reminds one of prison while creating the perfect environment for the found footage setup. The movie does follow common tactics of found footage movies so much of the film will seem familiar, yet the realistic looking sets and dark interiors will terrify you as the events unfold.
The Ritual plays on a theme similar to that of Deliverance as well as The Descent. Both films center on a group of friends who find their friendship challenged when they get lost and face a threat in the woods. The Ritual does make efficient use of the wooded scenery that adds significantly to the element of fear in much the way that The Blair Witch Project did two decades ago.
Mom and Dad
A mysterious static noise triggers parents into killing their kids as mass hysteria sweeps the nation. Carly and Josh Ryan fight for their survival as their mom and dad plot their demise in this black comedy that features Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair.
Art, the Clown, was the center of the horror anthology All Hallows Eve and this film gives this most creepy clown a chance to showcase his bloody bag of tricks. Like the gory slashers of the 80's this film is bloody in its gore and surprisingly well made given its small budget and cult following.
A woman's sanity is called into question as she is committed to a mental institution against her will. While there she is being pursued by someone and not sure if its real or imagined. Unsane uses ones own suspicion and paranoia to fuel this creepy film directed by Steven Soderbergh and featuring Claire Foy.
Andy Nyman appears in this creepy ghost movie that has him playing a skeptic who investigates a number of supposed hauntings. The cases are told in anthology format and follow in the tradition of the great English horror films of the 1960's. Martin Freeman also appears in this film that wowed the critics and has excellent word of mouth from the audience.
"Upgrade" is an intense action thriller that shows the perils that technology can offer despite the promises of making our lives better. In many respects, the movie reminded me of the original Robocop movie of the 80's with all the action, violence and some of the dark humor thrown in to lighten the mood.
This film is a more conventional horror film in the style of The Conjuring and does not rely on found footage. Instead, we see a paranormal movie that plays into the standard possession tropes that involve Quija board, Catholic teachings and misguided kids playing games they shouldn't.
A biologist is called in to investigate a region that has been quarantined with a mysterious force called The Shimmer. Once inside the team sent in to find the laws of physics don't seem to apply. Annihilation is a sci-fi horror thriller that critics complimented for its ambiguity and style that owes significantly to HP Lovecraft.
Hereditary is a slow burn kind of film that presents an uncomfortable situation for the family and throws in some shocking scenes and unsettling moments of terror. The young daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) stands out with her odd habits such as her tongue clicking as well as the creative but strange toys she makes.
A Quiet Place
A year after an unknown event has left the world mostly empty of people a family somehow survives by keeping as quiet as possible. Despite all efforts to maintain as normal a life as the circumstance allows the threat of death looms closer as the family prepares for its future. How one can survive and fight back is portrayed quite effectively in this thriller from first time Director John Krasinski