Set during the early days of the pandemic, the tense slasher film “Sick” uses the fear and paranoia of mid-2020 to clever effect. Co-written by Katelyn Crabb and “Scream” mastermind Kevin Williamson, the film stars Gideon Adlon as Parker, a college student who is negligent about wearing masks and glib about the virus in general, even as he addresses the his family’s remote cabin to quarantine. with his best friend, Miri (Beth Million). Parker soon discovers that he cannot completely outrun the dangers of the outside world. First, he gets a visit from his needy ex-boyfriend DJ (Dylan Sprayberry). Then the whole house is terrorized by a shadowy assassin, dressed in black.
The slasher threat in “Sick” is a metaphor for COVID-19, and the way everyone worried that a fleeting mistake, like removing your mask or secretly meeting an infected person, could be a death sentence. . For the most part, “Sick” is just a cleverly formulated mid-budget horror movie, well crafted by the writers and directed with flair and energy by expert John Hyams. But real-world wrinkles aren’t just a cynical way to make routine more relevant. They give meaning to all the bloody murder.
“Sick.” TV-MA, for violence, foul language and drug use. 1 hour, 23 minutes. Available in peacock
‘Kids vs Aliens’
There are two kinds of aliens in director Jason Eisener’s sci-fi comedy “Kids vs. Aliens.” The first half of the movie is mostly about a nerdy teen named Sam (Phoebe Rex), who gets tired of helping her younger brother Gary (Dominic Mariche) and his friends make DIY superhero movies in their sprawling beachfront home. in Nova Scotia. When handsome classmate Billy (Calem MacDonald), a bad boy, takes an interest in her, Sam neglects the kids and lets a pack of wild teens into the house to drink, party, and trash the place.
That’s when the other aliens show up: rampaging monsters from outer space, who don’t care which humans are supposed to be cool and which are geeks, because their only interest is using the bodies of our species as fuel for spaceships. A frantic and violent chase ensues, liberally peppered with profanity, as Sam rediscovers his inner action hero and fights to save the gang.
“Kids vs. Aliens” never rises above the level of fanatic pastiche. His clumsiest and most clichéd moments, and there are many, are perhaps meant to pass off as the kind of thing that Gary and his friends like. But while the script (co-written by Eisener and John Davies) is weak, there’s an adorably scruffy vibe here, buoyed up by some attractive costumes and effects. And there’s a legitimately underdog edge, as Eisener and Davies capture how it feels to be underappreciated and outmatched yet bursting with courage.
“Kids vs. Aliens”. Not Rated. 1 hour, 15 minutes. Available on VOD; also playing theatrically, Alamo Drafthouse, Downtown Los Angeles
“There is something wrong with the children”
There is a strong idea, explored all too briefly, at the center of There’s Something Wrong With the Children, a supernatural horror film that is also about the chasm that develops between old friends when some of them become parents. Zach Gilford and Alisha Wainwright play Ben and Margaret, a childless couple who are very vocal about how they love their freedom, even as they privately struggle with Ben’s mental health issues. Carlos Santos and Amanda Crew star as Thomas and Ellie, who advocate for fatherhood but grudgingly admit that raising two children has left them little time to keep their marriage fresh. When their children, Lucy (Briella Guiza) and Spencer (David Mattle), disappear into a deep hellhole near the vacation couples’ rental house, they mysteriously reappear with new, more mischievous personalities. The ensuing finger pointing between adults exposes the cracks in their relationships.
Director Roxanne Benjamin and writers TJ Cimfel and David White handle the dynamic between their four leads well; and their movie peaks in a tense scene where they air their grievances and say things they can’t take back. But Lucy and Spencer figure into that argument only tangentially. Before they are possessed by forces from beyond, the children are often relegated to the background, only appearing when it is convenient for the plot. Then, they turn into pretty standard imps, dealing damage that only occasionally seems to be directed at adults personally, in scenes that are too reminiscent of dozens of other “cabin in the woods” movies. There’s something wrong with the kids, it’s okay. Filmmakers don’t know what to do with them.
“There is something wrong with the children.” Not Rated. 1 hour, 31 minutes. Available on VOD
‘All eyes off me‘
Writer-director Hadas Ben Aroya’s Israeli drama “All Eyes Off Me” is a good example of a “relay” film, in which a minor character in one section of the film becomes a main character in the next, and so on. The film opens with a prologue that introduces Danny (Hadar Katz), a free-spirited bisexual at a wild party, searching for Max (Leib Levin), the boy who recently impregnated her. The story then shifts to Max, who has fallen deeply in love with Avishag (Elisheva Weil), who tests her devotion when she asks him to start physically abusing her during her sex. The film ends with Avishag in love with Dror (Yoav Hait), an older and more spiritual man, who is confused as to why a beautiful young woman desires him.
Ben Aroya seems more concerned with exploring small moments of awkward human interaction than making a big statement. Because of this, there’s an elusiveness to “All Eyes Off Me” that can be a bit frustrating, as Ben Aroya lingers on long, circular conversations, or extended explicit sex scenes, with no clear goal in mind.
But the film is vigorously candid about the younger generation’s pursuit of sensual pleasure (and pain). And he’s graced by Weil’s terrific performance as Avishag, a multi-layered character who oscillates between maudlin sentimentality and extremes of human desire. One minute she’s crying as he watches a singer in a reality competition on the broken screen of his cell phone. The next, he’s asking the boyfriend he hardly likes to slap and choke her. She is both fascinating and terrifying.
“All eyes off me.” In Hebrew with subtitles. Not Rated. 1 hour, 28 minutes. Available on VOD
Mixing outlandish folklore with slapstick, writer-director Fabián Forte’s Argentinian horror film “Legions” tells a story that spans generations before landing in a surprisingly emotional place. Germán De Silva plays Antonio, who served as a shaman in a remote town plagued by demons before deciding to move to the city to improve the life of his daughter Helena (Lorena Vega). He tries to keep his devil-fighting practice alive in his new urban world; but that only gets him thrown into an insane asylum, where he has to rally his fellow inmates to help him get to Helena before the coming blood moon unlocks his latent powers and awakens the forces of evil. .
Forte spends much of the first hour of “Legions” establishing its premise, raising the information dumps by having the hero explain it to his eccentric friends at the institution (who are also putting on a play based on his life). The blood-soaked last act ties it all together, combining comedic mayhem with a sweet family reunion, as the heroes face off against a pack of demons. It would be an exaggeration to say that the film has something profound to say about the preservation of cultural legacies and traditions; but the father-daughter connection makes it easy to cheer these humans on as they battle the hordes of hell.
‘Legions’. In Spanish with subtitles. Not Rated. 1 hour, 28 minutes. Available on VOD
“I’m sorry for the devil”
The haunted house movie “Sorry About the Demon” addresses a question that is rarely asked in stories of demonic possession: What happens if you try to bargain with evil spirits? In the opening scene of Emily Hagins’ light-hearted horror comedy, a family convinces a basement-dwelling beast named Deomonous to leave their daughter with the promise of a substitute soul. Enter Will (Jon Michael Simpson), a recently dumped drug addict who needs a place to stay and ends up renting the cursed property for a suspiciously low price. Soon, he’s being tormented by Deomonous… until the demon decides Will is too much of a loser to possess him. “Sorry About the Demon” is too loosely paced, and there’s a broad tone to the jokes and performances that skews corny. But the central comic premise is a hoot; and the film has an unexpectedly philosophical dimension. What will satisfy Deomonous? What about Will? Hell, what do any of us really want?
“I’m sorry for the devil.” Not Rated. 1 hour, 45 minutes. Available on Shudder
Also on VOD
“The Fabelmans” is one of this year’s Oscar favorites, and not just because almost every Steven Spielberg movie inevitably racks up a few nominations. No, this film is unusually resonant, using Spielberg’s childhood fascination with film, and the pain of seeing his parents’ marriage fail, as the context for a moving coming-of-age story about a boy who learns the power of illusions just like yours begin to fall. Available on VOD; also playing theatrically on general release
Available now on DVD and Blu-ray
“The menu” It savagely parodies gourmet culture through the darkly comic story of a burnt-out celebrity chef (Ralph Fiennes) who invites a group of snobs to his private island, where he proceeds to feed them high-end cuisine and do them bodily harm. The DVD/Blu-ray edition includes three deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes featurette. Fox Searchlight (also available to stream on HBO Max)