From McG and Netflix comes the fun horror-comedy The Babysitter. When Cole stays awake to see what his babysitter does after he goes to bed he accidentally witnesses her and her friends committing a satanic ritual, and soon finds himself being hunted by them. Samara Weaving gives an excellent performance and makes for a compelling villain that's both beautiful and diabolically evil. And Judah Lewis is also pretty good (as child actors go), coming off as a smart, likable kid that audiences want to root for. Additionally, the film balances the comedy and horror quite well, in a tongue-in-check way. Still, some of it comes off as a little too cartoonish, and the gross-out humor doesn't quite fit. Yet despite having a few issues, The Babysitter delivers wicked laughs and entertaining thrills.
A bizarre mystery thriller (maybe?), Paradise Hills is an incoherent mess. The story follows a group of young women who are sent to a therapy resort but soon become suspicious of the "therapy" and begin to plan an escape. Featuring Emma Roberts, Eiza González, and Milla Jovovich, the cast isn't too bad; though their performances are a bit wanting. And the plot hard to follow, setting itself in a dystopian future or alternate reality, mixing sci-fi and fantasy. Still, the set and costume designs are rather interesting and makes for a number of visually stunning scenes. Somewhere in all of this there's a message about conformity and power structures, but it's muddled. Paradise Hills is just a poorly made film that puts too much emphasis on artistic style and not enough on storytelling.
"Fantasies rarely play out as you would expect." Blumhouse reimagines the ‘70s television series Fantasy Island as a horror-thriller. When a group of people are brought to Fantasy Island to live out their personal fantasies, the fantasies soon take a dark turn (in a monkey's pawn type fashion) that leads the guests to suspect that there's more to the island then they've been lead to believe. Starring Michael Pena, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, and Portia Doubleday, the film has a solid cast, and the writers work in some fun call-backs to the television show. Still, the plot is pretty thin and a little convoluted at times. Yet the chases and fight scenes are exciting, and the mystery of the island is intriguing. It has its weaknesses, but overall Fantasy Island is an entertaining adventure film.
The Grimm Brothers' fairy tale is reimagined in the atmospheric horror film Gretel & Hansel. After being thrown out of their home Gretel and her younger brother Hansel head into the forest and come upon an old woman who takes them in, but Gretel soon grows suspicious of the woman and her intentions toward her. As the title suggests this is feminist reinterpretation of the Grimm tale that explores issues of objectification of women, female empowerment, and identity. So much so that there's very little room for story. Yet Sophia Lillis and Alice Krige do their best and play well off of each other. And the film has an interesting aesthetic that helps to create a dark, mystical tone. However, despite its artistry, Gretel & Hansel is dull and monotonous.
The Limehouse Golem is an intriguing and disturbing crime thriller. Olivia Cooke, Bill Nighy, and Douglas Booth star in this sorted tale of a Scotland Yard inspector who comes to believe that a woman accused of poisoning her husband is the key to solving the case of a serial killer known as the Limehouse Golem. Cooke gives an outstanding performance, playing many different roles, house wife, stage performer, street urchin, as she tells her story to the inspector. And Nighy too is quite good, bringing a certain gravitas to his character. Also, the writers do an impressive job at creating mystery and suspense as the investigation unfolds and new suspects come to light. However, it can get a bit graphic and lurid at times. Yet despite a few weaknesses, The Limehouse Golem is a chilling psychological drama.