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!
After a group of explorers search a cave system underground in the United States, they end up breaking through a cave wall to discover a much deeper, greater cave system, which had previously been blocked off for millions of years. The explorers are initially excited by their discovery, but then they hear a faint, strange noise coming from the darkness. Suddenly, a swarm of flying beasts is upon them. These monsters are carnivorous, they are deadly, there are many of them, and they have all been released into the world from which they had been cut off from for so long.
It does not take long for these creatures, now known as Vesps, to start making contact with the rest of the world. Their numbers are seemingly infinite, and they manage to devastate whole cities with shocking speed. Hugh Andrews (Stanley Tucci) wants to keep his family safe, so he initially adheres to the advice given on the news: stay inside, and stay silent. However, realizing that Vesps are completely blind, and only hunt and navigate based on sound, Hugh quickly realizes that being in or near a city is the worst place to be. Thus, he chooses to take his family on the road, but Vesps are quickly spreading across the nation. For now, it seems, the only chance of survival is to stay silent, but it may only be a matter of time before this family's luck runs out.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
Hard Decisions (+3pts)
A Silent Place (-2pts)
Stanley Tucci & Kiernan Shipka (+5pts)
The Cult (-4pts)
The Vesps (+5pts)
Predictable & The Ending (-4pts)
Pro: Hard Decisions (+3pts)
I always like when filmmakers throw difficult moral dilemmas into their stories, as it helps make movies a lot more compelling. The filmmakers of this movie threw a bunch of moral dilemmas in here, all of which circled around survival, but two of these dilemmas stood out from the rest. The first did not involve any main characters and took place on the subway. It was an impossible decision that these characters were faced with, and there was going to be a tragic outcome either way. They chose what they thought to be the lesser of two evils, I only wish we got another scene with these characters, showing their remorse over what they had done.
Then there was the dog scene, which any pet lover will feel strongly about. You will understand the impossible situation the characters were in, you will understand the decision that was made, but the outcome would have been far more tragic had the characters made a different decision. Similarly, I wish we got more time with the characters after this scene, showing how the decision impacted them. I wish there were more of these moral dilemmas in the movie, and I wish the ones that we got were given more focus, but regardless, the ones that were in here made this story quite a bit more tragic and more compelling than it would have been without them.
Con: A Silent Place (-2pts)
Seeing the trailer for this movie in 2019—barely a year after the hit movie A Quiet Place was released in theaters—it was impossible not to see the similarities between the two movies. Both movies were about the sudden arrival of violent, man-eating monsters that could not see and could only hunt and navigate through sound. Both movies were also about a family trying to survive. Both movies had a father, a mother, a son, and a daughter—The Silence also had a grandmother, although she was not exactly a game changer. Both movies also had the older child—the daughter—be deaf, which meant that all of the family members knew sign language. Due to all of these surface similarities, I did not think that this movie would be much more than a lazy attempt by Netflix to capitalize on the buzz that people had over A Quiet Place. That still very well may be what this movie was, but it was not nearly as big of a problem as I thought it would be.
The two movies had the same setup on paper, but the two movies also went in different directions with that setup. A Quiet Place jumped forward to when its family had already settled somewhere, and it was really about what its characters had to do to live normally. The Silence kept the focus on its family’s survival throughout the initial outbreak—or invasion, or whatever you want to call it—and the family’s goal of finding somewhere safe to hopefully ride this thing out. It was hard to look past the similarities between these two movies, but this mostly felt like a very different movie, and I did not think this was as big a problem as I thought it would be.
Pro: Stanley Tucci & Kiernan Shipka (+5pts)
Neither of these two delivered game changer performances, but they delivered a couple of strong performances that took this movie to another level. Stanley Tucci played the father, desperate to save his family and willing to make the hard decisions necessary to do so. Kiernan Shipka played his deaf daughter. Stanley Tucci is always great, and in this movie he brought the drama and relatability that helped get me invested in this otherwise unbelievable story. Then there was Kiernan Shipka, who played her role convincingly, and carried the role of secondary protagonist well. Neither of these performances were game changers—like I said before—but without them, I do not think I would have been nearly as invested in this story.
Con: The Cult (-4pts)
As soon as the cult leader was introduced, I got pretty disappointed. It has become quite the overused apocalyptic story trope, for the protagonists to be surviving monsters or zombies, only for a sinister cult to show up and throw a wrench into the story. This storyline was predictable, it was generic, and it made it clear that the filmmakers ran out of creative things to do with the monsters. Can filmmakers still introduce a cult into these types of stories and manage to do interesting things with them? Of course, but this cult was about as generic and uninteresting as they come.
Pro: The Vesps (+5pts)
The Vesps were the flying, sightless, sound-driven monstrosities that devastated the world in this movie. If you saw the trailer, then you know what to expect from these things. There were no real surprises from them, but they served their purpose. They seemed to be easily killed, but their vast numbers made them an unstoppable force anyway, and that made for a lot of suspenseful moments. Were these monsters anything special? No, but they worked pretty well for this story.
Con: Predictable & The Ending (-4pts)
If you have ever seen an apocalyptic monster movie before, then you have seen the plot for this movie. Something unimaginable was going on, as monsters were on the loose, devastating the human population. One family did not feel safe where they were, despite the news telling them to stay home, stay inside, and stay quiet. Thus, they decided they need to travel to a more remote location, but surprise, surprise, their road to their hypothetical sanctuary was not exactly safe either. It was just a really predictable story, and then it became clear what the ending to the story would be, and it was the most obvious, predictable, overused ending for these types of stories. This movie had some exciting, suspenseful moments, but the plot connecting these moments was disappointingly predictable from beginning to end.
Grade: C+ (78pts)
It was hard to go into this movie without being ready to compare it to A Quiet Place. The two movies simply had too many similarities to set that comparison aside, but after starting the movie, I quickly realized that this movie would take that same premise in a very different direction. Unfortunately, when choosing that other direction, the filmmakers chose a very predictable one. This movie was disappointingly predictable from beginning to end, but that does not mean that the movie was without its exciting and intense moments.
I really liked the few impossibly difficult decisions that certain characters in this movie had to make, and while I wished that the filmmakers lingered on the deciding characters’ emotions a little longer after the decisions were made, I liked that these difficult decisions were in here. Additionally, the monsters served their suspenseful purpose, and the two lead actors—Stanley Tucci and Kiernan Shipka—did well in their respective roles. All of this, however, came together to make for a pretty average movie. It had its strengths, but it had some pretty significant issues as well. You could definitely find better horror movies out there, but you could also certainly find worse ones as well, as this movie ended up being pretty typical.
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