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!
The year is 1905, and Thomas Richardson (Dan Stevens) has returned home to a terrifying message. His sister has been abducted by a dangerous cult. The cult clearly discovered who she was, which meant they discovered who her father was, a very wealthy man. They have taken her to their remote island, and they are demanding ransom in return for her life. The only problem is, Thomas’ father is old and now lacks the mental capability to comprehend what is going on, let alone make a journey to the remote island.
Thus, Thomas must make the journey himself. He has been advised to go undercover within the cult, and verify that his sister is still alive before giving them any ransom for her life. The cult is dangerous, and it is led by a charismatic, self-proclaimed prophet named Malcom (Michael Sheen). Malcom has no shortage of devoted followers, so infiltrating the group and saving his sister will be no small feat. Yet to make matters worse, Thomas soon discovers that the cult is not the only thing on this island.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
The Cast (+6pts)
Jeremy & Ffion (-3pts)
The Island (+6pts)
Tom’s Trauma (-2pts)
The Cult (+6pts)
The Answers (-5pts)
Pro: The Cast (+6pts)
The cast was full of great performances from talented actors, but the actors playing the main characters really helped sell this premise. Dan Stevens as Thomas Richardson was great, playing an emotionally tormented character trying to put his own issues aside in his attempt to save his sister. Then he had to sell all the craziness that he witnessed on the island, as we were introduced to almost everything right along with him, so he was really the lens through which we saw everything. Then there was Michael Sheen as the island's prophetic cult leader.
Michael Sheen is great in everything that he is in, and this movie was no different. He was a captivating enigma in the role of the cult leader, and it was great to see him becoming more and more unhinged as he was losing control over the situation. The cast of this movie had plenty of other strong performances—such as Lucy Boynton as Andrea, and Mark Lewis Jones as Quinn—but Dan Stevens and Michael Sheen were the obvious standouts. Nonetheless, the whole cast really came together and made this a far more compelling story than it would have been with a less talented cast.
Con: Jeremy & Ffion (-3pts)
I did not hate the storyline between these two characters, but it felt like a disappointing distraction from the more interesting things that were happening on the island. This storyline went in a really typical direction, and it did not really add anything to the overall story. Both actors—Bill Milner and Kristine Froseth—did fine with their respective parts, I just did not care about the story they shared. It became apparent that the filmmakers just wanted us to care about Jeremy for a scene that would come later in the movie, but we would have cared about him in that scene, even if the filmmakers did not develop his storyline with Ffion. It was not that this storyline got a ton of focus, but I thought it got way more focus than it needed to, given the impact—or lack thereof—that this storyline had on the overall story.
Pro: The Island (+6pts)
The island was full of mystery and suspense, as Thomas Richardson felt absolutely surrounded by enemies. He put himself straight into the lion’s den—so to speak—in order to save his sister, and it made for a suspenseful story. Some of that suspense came from the cult that he was trying to infiltrate, and I will get into that later, but the rest was from the strangeness that was happening on the island itself. I do not want to spoil any of this, but basically know that the cult formed on this island for a reason. There was something else there, and it became the driving force behind the leadership of the cult. Everything surrounding this thing was interesting—until the end—and then there was the stuff in the barn which was suspenseful and had me on the edge of my seat in suspense, as I kept getting this feeling that Thomas Richardson had bitten off way more than he could chew. The filmmakers did a great job at making this island feel mysteriously interesting, and the suspense surrounding the barn made for an exciting wrench that was thrown into Thomas Richardson’s plan.
Con: Tom’s Trauma (-2pts)
Throughout the beginning of this story, the filmmakers kept teasing some trauma that Thomas Richardson had been through. The movie started with another character claiming they had thought he was dead. Then we saw him periodically taking some form of medicine, and grabbing his head in extreme pain before he taking it. It was clear that he had been through something, and it made the character feel unstable and unhinged at times. Then we learned what his traumatic experience was, and while it was bad, it was not so bad when compared to other things that happened in this movie. It also never really went anywhere, as pretty much as soon as we figured out what it was, it sort of got swept under the rug and forgotten. The filmmakers set this up and got me interested, then they revealed what actually happened, and it quickly became a pointless afterthought.
Pro: The Cult (+6pts)
There was Michael Sheen at the helm, as the charismatic prophet leader. Then there was Mark Lewis Jones as Quinn, the thug, extremist with violent tendencies. Then there was the police force, the curfew, the creepy blood jars, and so much more. There were a lot of creepy and mysterious things going on in this cult, but it was also a more than formidable obstacle for Thomas Richardson.
Thomas Richardson was in the middle of it, and there was no escape. He had to save his sister and the only way to do that was to overcome this seemingly insurmountable obstacle. The filmmakers did a great job of setting everything up, both in terms of getting me intrigued with the mysteriousness, as well as getting me curious to see how Thomas Richardson was going to succeed—or if he even would. I had my issues with how the filmmakers wrapped everything up, but I was definitely interested in this cult all the way through the end of this story.
Con: The Answers (-5pts)
This was one of those movies where the filmmakers did a masterful job of setting things up in a really interesting way, but they were not able to fully capitalize on it. The filmmakers masterfully introduced a ton of questions and mystery surrounding Thomas Richardson’s past, the cult members, what they were doing, and the mysterious entity on the island. I was totally invested in each of these things, but when it came time to answer or resolve these mysteries, the answers usually felt underwhelming. It felt like the filmmakers had great ideas for mysterious seeds to plant throughout their movie, but they had no idea what those seeds would turn into. They just planted those seeds, and came up with answers on the spot, even if those answers were not very interesting or satisfying. The result was a movie that started off great, but the more answers we got, the more disappointed I was with the result.
Grade: B- (83pts)
This movie had a strong cast. With Dan Stevens in the lead role as the tormented man on an impossible mission, Michael Sheen as the charismatic, power hungry cult leader, and a plethora of other talented actors playing interesting characters, the cast ended up being one of this movie’s strengths. Then there was the effectiveness in which the filmmakers setup the cult and the island. The cult was mysterious, and it felt like a dangerous, insurmountable obstacle for Thomas Richardson. Then there was the island itself, which was mysterious in its own right, with plenty of dark secrets to keep horror fans watching intently.
Unfortunately, as masterfully as the filmmakers set everything up, I thought they struggled to deliver satisfying answers. Each reveal felt like somewhat of a let down, and it made it obvious that the filmmakers had a great premise, but did not seem to know how to stick the landing. Then there was the romance storyline, which did not get a ton of focus, but it still got way more focus than it deserved, given that I do not think anyone will be all that interested in it. It was a movie with a great start, and it was honestly a pretty engaging horror mystery for most of the time it was on. It just seemed like the filmmakers struggled to wrap everything up in a satisfying way.
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