Here’s a quick rundown of the movies we’re most excited about that are screening in New Orleans this week, including some spooky selections to help kickstart your Halloween celebrations.
Movies We Haven’t Seen (Yet)
Assassination Nation – A feminist cyberthriller take on the Salem Witch Trials that appears to fall halfway between Unfriended & The Purge – like a meaner, glibber Nerve. This got extremely divisive reviews out of Sundance earlier this year, which has me twice as curious as I’d already be for any Evil Internet thriller, one of my favorite modern genres.
Hell Fest – It’s the start of October, which means it’s time to indulge in as many gimmicky, mainstream horrors as possible before Halloween comes & goes. This one is set at a haunted house amusement park, appearing to fall halfway between the grime of The Funhouse & the slick production of the Final Destination series in its basic aesthetic. It almost doesn’t even matter if it ends up being any good; it’s just the exact right season to see a ridiculous horror movie big & loud with a first-weekend crowd.
Lizzie – A costume drama/psychological thriller in which Chloë Sevigny plays famed 19th Century axe murderer Lizzie Borden and Kristen Steward costars as her servant/lover. I don’t know how to sell that premise to you if you’re not already on the hook. Only screening at AMC Elmwood.
The House with the Clock in Its Walls – Eli Roth made a name for himself in one of horror’s worst creative slumps: the torture porn nu-metal aughts. He hasn’t been of much interest to me as a result, but recent tongue-in-cheek pranks like the Keanu Reeves head-scratcher Knock Knock have been slowly changing my mind on that, so his directing a PG-rated haunted house comedy for children certainly has an unignorable allure to it. I’m foolishly optimistic.
Phantom of the Opera (1943) – Long after the silent 1920s Lon Cheney original helped launch Universal’s Famous Monsters brand, the studio produced this Technicolor talkie remake to mixed commercial & critical success. It may not be the ideal version of Universal’s Phantom offerings, but it still seems worth seeing on the big screen for some early Halloween Season chills. Playing Sunday 9/30 & Wednesday 10/3 as part of Prytania’s Classic Movies series.
Movies We Already Enjoyed
Suspiria (1977) – The new 4k digital restoration of the Dario Argento face-melter is returning to The Prytania after its sold-out screenings played to ecstatic crowds last October. The giallo lighting has never looked more intense, the Goblin soundtrack has never been more deafening and, since Luca Guadagnino’s upcoming remake has recently been gathering intense buzz on the festival circuit, there’s never been a better time to revisit this cult horror classic. Playing Sunday 9/30 as part of Prytania’s Kill-o-rama series.
Mandy – Panos Cosmatos’s follow-up to Beyond the Black Rainbow is being sold as a badass psychedelic freakout starring an unhinged Nic Cage in a heavy metal revenge fantasy. The truth is much stranger than that, as the film is in actuality a slow descent into the Hell of personal grief, much more grotesque & distressing than anything that could be considered feel-good badassery. It’s metal. It’s psychedelic. It deserves to be seen as big & as loud as possible. Just don’t expect it to be a party. Only screening at The Broad Theater.
BlacKkKlansman – BlacKkKlansman is a much better-funded, more commercially minded picture than we’ve seen from Spike Lee in years, one that filters satirical jabs at Trumpian racial politics through a classic buddy cop genre structure & a historical look back at the not-so-distant past of the Ku Klux Klan. It’s been a while since a movie had me ping-ponging between such extremes of pure pleasure & stomach-churning nausea, making for one of the year’s most essential cinematic experiences.
White Boy Rick – Extremely well-behaved in its style & structure as a biopic, approximating what Good Time might have felt like if it were a mid-90s VHS rental at Blockbuster Video instead of a modern stylistic freakout. This is the kind of movie your aunts & uncles are asking for when they say they just want “a good story” without all the artsy-fartsy stuff getting in the way, but that’s not always a bad thing.
Searching – Full disclosure: this one is a controversial pick among the Swampflix crew. It’s basically the Lifetime Movie version of Unfriended, where a trashy genre we love for its cruelty & absurdity is softened by safer, less goofy sentimentality so that it can appeal to the cheesiest of suburban parents. James & I complained about it at length on a recent episode of the podcast, but Britnee was a big fan, as she’s all-in on the Lifetime aesthetic. Either way you fall, it’s worthy of discussion and its success can only mean good things for a gimmicky, technophobic genre we all love.