There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
2020 Netflix Halloween Countdown
As crazy as it is to believe, it is already October 2020—it has been a bizarre year, for sure. For the past three years, I have been spending October watching and reviewing some of the spooky, scary, gory, chilling, and horror-themed movies on Netflix. With each review, I will include a table that ranks these movies from best to worst. This year will be my fourth year doing this, and I plan on publishing a new review each day. Some will be from movies that I have reviewed before, but there will be some new movies on here is well. So if you are looking to get in the Halloween spirit by watching some Halloween-style movies, then these articles are for you!
Jackson (Ben Lloyd-Hughes) has roped his sister Angela (Florence Pugh) into running a paranormal scam. Along with a couple of friends, the two siblings run a scam where they prey on people who think their houses are haunted. The group then swoops in, sets up cameras, pretends Angela is a gifted medium, and they even play strange sounds to put on a show for their clients. Angela then tells the ”spirits” to leave, Jackson collects the payment, and they pack everything up and go home.
On the last job, however, Angela saw something she could not explain. At first she thought it was a prank by her brother, but she begins to suspect that she has inherited her mother’s gift, the same gift that she has been pretending she had. Now, Jackson has taken a job at an old lady’s haunted house, but Angela grows weary of the place once she finds out what happened there. Nonetheless, they take the job, and the group of paranormal scammers then walk straight into a very dangerous situation.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
Florence Pugh (+6pts)
The Premise (+5pts)
Suspenseful & Exciting (+4pts)
The Car Crash (-5pts)
Pro: Florence Pugh (+6pts)
I thought Florence Pugh did a great job in this movie. The rest of the cast delivered mostly unremarkable performances, and it resulted in a group of characters that I did not care much about, but Angela was the exception, and Florence Pugh was the reason why. Her character got a decent amount of character development, but most of this was internal in the sense that what she was thinking was rarely spoken. That meant that a lot of her character's development came from how Florence Pugh acted in each scene. It was clear how she felt about certain things due to what Florence Pugh did with the character, and it made Angela the standout in an otherwise dull, one-dimensional group of characters. Florence Pugh gave her character depth, she gave her character a real personality, and she gave her character a strong screen presence that greatly contributed to how engaged I was in the story.
Con: Jackson (-3pts)
I really did not like this character. Part of this may have been due to the way Ben Lloyd-Hughes played the character, but I have a feeling he played the character exactly how the filmmakers wanted him to. I say that because of the flip that happened to the character‘s personality in the middle of the movie. In the beginning of the movie, he was your typical scam artist. He was the mastermind behind the protagonists’ operation, he was selfish, and he had the type of self-destructive behavior that you would expect a scumbag like him to have. Then there was a flip in his personality in the middle of the movie.
In the beginning of the movie, he was almost an antagonist for Angela, but not quite. He was just a very unlikable character. Then something happened that made that change, and I had a problem with this. I thought the change was too sudden and too absolute, as he was basically a whole new character. I also thought that the character was so unlikable in the beginning of the movie, that it made me not care about him, even when I was supposed to. I cared about him to the extent that I cared about the main character Angela—with him being her brother—but beyond that, I really did not care about what happened to this guy, and I think that hurt the movie.
Pro: The Premise (+5pts)
I actually really liked the premise of this movie. It was a movie about a group of scam artists, who preyed on people who thought their houses were haunted. The group pretended to be a group of paranormal hunters, who would get the imaginary spirits to leave, and then collect a paycheck from their clients. Then surprise, surprise, they eventually encountered an actual haunted house. It was an interesting idea, and I liked the setup of this movie for that very reason. I also liked seeing how the characters—specifically Angela—came to terms with the fact that the house they were in was really haunted. The last chunk of the movie took a turn for the worse, but I thought that both the premise and the setup of this movie were pretty interesting.
Con: Predictable (-4pts)
As interesting as I thought the premise and the setup were, I thought the filmmakers could have done a much better job with the main haunted house and the story surrounding it. The filmmakers clearly wanted it to be mysterious and they clearly wanted it to lead to a surprise reveal. However, I saw that reveal coming from a mile away. I knew exactly who the true antagonist of this story would be as soon as the main characters met them. I also knew what the motivations of the spirits was going to be, well before the characters in the story figured it out. These were obvious predictions and they took almost all of the fun out of the movie’s mystery.
Pro: Suspenseful & Exciting (+4pts)
While I thought the main plot points and big reveals were pretty predictable, the filmmakers were still able to make the movie moderately suspenseful and exciting. It was not the kind of suspense and excitement that will have you biting your nails or grinding your teeth in anticipation, but it was the kind of suspense and excitement that will keep you watching. I never knew when or where the spirits would pop up next, but I knew there would most likely be a jump scare when they did. I also knew who the antagonist would end up being, but I did not know what they would be up to, how the protagonists would find out, or who would fall victim to them before they did. Both of these things contributed to the suspense of this movie, and while there were certainly key parts to this story that were predictable, I thought the filmmakers were able to effectively dial up the suspense and excitement anyway.
Con: The Car Crash (-5pts)
I did not have a problem with the car crash itself, but everything after it could have used some work. The car crash marked a turn in this story. At first, the movie was an interesting horror movie about a group of scammers who had walked into a real haunted house. Then it was a predictable horror story, but it still had some suspense and excitement. Then the car crash happened, and the movie took another turn for the worse. After the car crash, the true antagonist revealed themselves, but I had a few problems with this. Given who the true antagonist was, the reason for the crash made no sense, as it seemed to go directly against the responsible character's motivations. Then there was everything that happened after the crash.
It was just a very different movie after the crash, and the story lost all of its steam in the process. The movie became slow and repetitive. The first repetition involved a protagonist that I did not care about, being caught by antagonists who had received no development. What this ended up doing was it made me not care at all about the first iteration of the scene, because I did not care about any of the characters involved. However, this also made the second iteration less exciting, because while it involved a character I did care about, I had already seen the scene before, so I knew what was coming, and I knew in my gut that the character would somehow escape. The filmmakers started with an interesting premise, then they turned it into a predictable but suspenseful story, then the crash came and the filmmakers delivered a disappointingly redundant and uninteresting finish.
Grade: C+ (78pts)
I liked this premise based on the trailer, but then the movie started and I got to see these characters in their element, and I was definitely interested to see where their story would go. Unfortunately, once the movie got to the point where these characters got to the main haunted house, the major plot points became pretty predictable. On top of that, after the car crash, the movie became disappointingly redundant, and it took all of the steam out of the story, steam that I thought the beginning of the movie built up pretty effectively. I also did not like the character of Jackson at all, and given what I know about where the filmmakers would eventually take his story, the filmmakers definitely should have spent more time making us care about him during the setup of the movie.
One of this movie's strengths was Florence Pugh in the lead role. Her character was somewhat interesting on paper, but Florence Pugh gave her the kind of depth and personality that got me invested in seeing where her story would go. Additionally, despite the movie's predictability in the main storyline, I thought the filmmakers still did a pretty good job at keeping things suspenseful. It definitely did not live up to the potential that the beginning of the movie established, but it could have been a lot worse.
Train to Busan
In the Tall Grass
The Babysitter: Killer Queen
Hold the Dark
Would You Rather
The Open House
I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House