Oct 31 2012

Sandy and Me: 5 Streaming Netflix Movies That Got Me Through the Storm

Published by at 10:00 am under Lists,Movies

Happy Halloween, everyone! I am sitting on my couch in longjohns (sexy and I know it), eating ramen noodles from a cup while the power cuts in and out. In other words, I am one of the lucky ones. To all our Unreality readers and contributors here on the east coast, I hope you are safe, warm, and dry. And not wanting for food, either. We have ice cream and beer if you want to come over.

While I was enduring the worst of Sandy’s wrath, I spent a lot of time trolling Netflix’s Watch Instantly options. I was lucky enough to have power most of the time, so I never really faced losing my laptop completely, which helped keep my movie marathon going. Here are five movies (among many) I watched as the wind howled around me, all available to stream on Netflix. Lucky for you, they’re all very Halloween appropriate.

1. The Tall Man

I’m almost positive this movie was pitched under another title which was later changed in order to capitalize on the Slender Man craze. Nonetheless, it’s a very decent psychological thriller starring a generally fantastic Jessica Biel. It’s written and directed by Pascal Laugier, famous around this and other sites for Martyrs.

httpv://youtu.be/s_QqA0sDMec

There are a couple of horror movie tropes being bandied about: mainly the systematic abduction of children and the sinister secrets of a small town and its people. However, there’s a nice twist about three-quarters of the way through that wasn’t exactly shocking, but pleasantly satisfying. And The X-Files‘ Cancer Man is both in it and awesome.

2. The Shrine

This movie starts out as fairly typical B-movie horror with the typical B-movie acting accompanying it. Well, that’s a bit unfair since the the actors actually do manage to turn in good performances, but some of their motivations are for sh*t. I know from experience there’s only so much you can do in that situation. But like The Tall Man, The Shrine manages to bend our expectations in a pretty great way, and once it gets its legs, you will definitely want to see it through to the end.

httpv://youtu.be/1mpiuO0F01o

One thing I thought was absolutely brilliant was the lack of subtitles for the Polish villagers, leaving us exactly as confused as our protagonists. There’s even a little sumthin’ sumthin’ for lovers of Doctor Who’s weeping angels.

3. The Moth Diaries

I’ve read and written extensively on vampires, going so far as to center my whole college thesis around them. For a second, I even thought I would become some kind of nerdy-cool vampire scholar. And then I graduated and was presented with my student loan bill. You can only imagine my excitement when I stumbled across this little gem in my “Top 10 for Sara” row. A modern retelling of Carmilla, The Moth Diaries centers around three students at an all-girls boarding school, one of whom may very well be a vampire.

httpv://youtu.be/Z8_Sc67ZP1w

One thing I dislike about much of modern vampire literature is the lack of subtlety when dealing with the inherent sexuality (or worse, the complete castration of the vampire a la Twilight). I’m a true-blue gothic vampire fan. I like the idea that the vampire awakens a deep desire, as opposed to trading in it like currency. So I enjoyed the hell out of this film. It takes place in present-day, it’s got some real sexytimes in it, and the main character (Sarah Bolger) does a great job “going crazy” from her newly aroused (see what I did there) feelings.

4. The Innkeepers

This is a charmingly old school haunted house tale from director Ti West, who also helmed the pretty wonderful House of the Devil. I almost put HoD on this list since I also watched it during the storm, but I actually enjoyed this a touch more. West is a master of the slow burn, and he’s also fantastic with character development. I loved almost everyone in the super small cast of The Innkeepers, and those I didn’t love escaped my affections simply by not having much screen time.

httpv://youtu.be/VQ6rnOXFhEQ

A lot of viewers complain that the ending is less than satisfactory, and I can certainly see their argument. However, the hubs and I thoroughly dissected this movie after we watched it, and he ended up kind of blowing my mind with his interpretation. And I realized even if he’s totally off the mark, there’s a lot to be gained upon further reflection of The Innkeepers, and that alone makes it worth catching in my book.

5. Apartment 143

This is a Paranormal Activity style movie about a family being haunted by a restless spirit. They hire a paranormal research group that includes a psychologist to try and figure things out. The acting in this is across-the-board fantastic, especially for a horror film. There are a few scares implied to come from causes outside the supernatural, which I thought was a unique and creative tactic.

httpv://youtu.be/nxZ9PyeVoGg

The trailer actually doesn’t do it justice. Apartment 143 is less about scary jump shocks and more about the why and wherefore this family, and especially the patriarch, is being haunted. And it’s filled with characters that actually act fairly reasonably for a scary movie, which is a pretty great change of pace.

Bonus level!

Just for grins, I thought I’d list the DVDs I’ve watched over the past three days, and a one-line review of each. If nothing else, it may give you insight into what makes Sara Clemens tick.

The Princess Bride: Mandy Patinkin is, was, and always will be a BAMF.

Kill Bill, Vol. 1 and 2: O-Ren Ishii is cooler than Bill or even The Bride. There I said it.

Horror of Dracula: Christopher Lee is the greatest Dracula of all time. There I said it.

The Sound of Music: Glad to see that’s still totally AWESOME.

From Hell: Grapes! Grapes! It’s all about the grapes!

The Neverending Story: Turn around, look at what you see-ee-he-ee-he-ee-he-ee. In her face, the mirror of your dree-ee-he-ee-he-ee-he-eams.





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7 responses so far

  • David R

    This isn’t the first good thing I’ve heard about The Innkeepers, but it might be the one that finally gets me to track it down.

    And From Hell is a really cool movie.

  • http://commanderbedlam.com Benny Bedlam

    I was thinking of doing a list like this too, but with apocalyptic films like 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow since students here started movie marathons in that genre to pass time. Seems like kids here have a morbid sense of humor or they’re just in denial that the apocalypse is coming!

    Anyway, I have never watched any of these movies. I’ll probably watch it with my friends today to celebrate Halloween. Apartment 143 looks awesome!

  • http://saraclemens.com Sara Clemens

    Benny, watching the Nothing blow Atreyu around while he screams for Falcor was definitely more thrilling than it had ever been, so I totally get the urge to watch films like those! I’d do the list, if I were you.

    David R, totally. That’s why I have the DVD. It’s a cool graphic novel, too, and a lot of people give the movie crap because it approaches the story from a different direction, but I actually adore them both.

  • trashcanman

    West Coast, baby! Sorry, was that inappropriate? Anyways, Moth Diaries had lesbian Twilight written all the hell over it from the opening scene and got progressively sillier from there. Terribly executed right down to hamhandedly trying to legitimize itself by ramming the Carmilla inspiration down our throats. They actually EXPLAIN THE PLOT OF CARMILLA in the film. If there is any more obnoxious way to talk down to an audience, I haven’t seen it. If I can offer a NF Instant recommendation for this stormiest of nights, I just watched “Satan’s Little Helper” and it was surprisingly awesome. Stay safe and dry this Halloween, guys and gals. The world needs nerds.

  • http://saraclemens.com Sara Clemens

    A mite inappropriate, yes, considering people are dead. We’ll just have to agree to disagree about The Moth Diaries. I also wish they didn’t spell out the Carmilla connection, as it undercut my small surge of pride at seeing the parallels myself. But for all I know that’s how the book handled it. And there is a strong lesbian subtext told from an entirely female perspective which might be “silly,” but it certainly ain’t Twilight. At least these girls have actual sex, for chrissakes.

    I’ll have to check out Satan’s Little Helper. Slither is also an awesome choice for Halloween Netflix viewing, though I feel like many of you Unreality readers will have already seen it. But if not, Nathan Fillion and Elizabeth Banks!

  • Charlie Ward

    Wow. It seems we have reached the point where we can joke about a tragedy that is ONGOING.

    Come on, trashcanman. Just. . .come on.

    Anyway, interesting list, Sara Clemens. If only horror movies didn’t make me cry, I might give some of these a go. Oh well. . . .

  • bigpartymaker

    I watched The Shrine a couple of weeks ago and was also pleasantly surprised. Nice twist there.
    I thought the same about The Last Exorcism, which I also streamed. Sometimes the twist saves the whole film

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