Pretty Harper (Katie Stevens) finds out some Halloween haunts are a bit too intense in Haunt.
It’s time to look back at the past year and see what horror flicks left an impression. There was an eclectic and diverse selection this year and there were some solid mainstream horror offerings, as there were some really effective indies. So, without further ado, here are my ten best/favorite horrors of 2019!
…and a couple of honorable mentions that deserve a shout out, too!
(NOTE: There are a few titles here initially released in 2018 at festivals or limited theatrical release, but I did not catch up to them till VOD or home media in 2019 and felt it unfair not to include them!-MZNJ)
(To get to our reviews of these titles use the search engine at the top of the page!)
College co-ed Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario) is trapped during a hurricane in a flooded house full of gators in Crawl.
MONSTERZERO NJ’S HALLOWEEN HOTTIE OF 2019…KAYA SCODELARIO
It’s Halloween🎃!…and as it has become tradition, it’s time to announce MonsterZero NJ’s Halloween Hottie of the Year!…an actress that has not only captured our hearts, but gotten our attention with a strong performance, be it as a final girl or a femme fatale!…
…and our Halloween Hottie of 2019 is…Kaya Scodelario!
Kaya Scodelario has already faced clashing titans, outwitted home invaders in Tiger House and battled undead sailors alongside Captain Jack Sparrow in his latest adventure, so facing a pack of hungry alligators shouldn’t be a problem for this pretty and talented English actress. Her character, Haley, is a college swimmer whose skills are put to the extreme test when she travels home during a raging hurricane to find her father. The house is flooding and soon she and her injured dad are being stalked in the submerged cellar and hallways by some very hungry gators. Resilient, smart and tough as nails, Haley proves one doesn’t have to battle supernatural serial killers, or paranormal critters, to be final girl material!
(Click on the highlighted links or on the movie poster to read a review of Crawl, one of the most thrilling and fun flicks of this past summer!)
Kaya Scodelario as Haley in Crawl!
Haley, a young woman risking it all to find her father in a massive hurricane!
As the storm rages outside, something is definitely wrong inside the house.
Haley finds a wounded father and a pair of hungry gators in the flooding cellar!
College swimmer Haley puts her skills to the test and goes on the offensive!
With more gators lurking outside and waters rising inside, will Haley and her dad escape?
Kaya has quite a strong resumé having been in Clash of the Titans, the Maze Runner flicks and the latest Pirates of the Caribbean adventure, to name a few. She is a versatile actress that has performed in a variety of TV and movie roles since she began her career in 2007. She showed final girl potential, taking on home invaders in the flick Tiger House and that she can do horror, playing opposite Zac Efron in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. In 2019 she lived up to that potential, taking center stage as the gator battling Haley, in one of the years most entertaining suspense chillers!
HALLOWEEN HOTTIE OF 2019 RUNNER UP, KATIE STEVENS!
As it is now tradition, we have a runner up! A fairly new face on the horror flick scene, Katie Stevens does strong work in Haunt as the emotionally wounded Harper, a young woman who has substituted an abusive father for an abusive boyfriend. When her friends take her out on Halloween night to forget about the guy, they find themselves at a strange off-road Halloween haunt and are soon fighting for their lives. Harper learns to stand up for herself and fight back in true final girl style! In Haunt, Katie Stevens showed that she’s a young actress to keep an eye on!
Katie Stevens as Harper in Haunt!
Halloween haunt troubles.
This year was, again, a tough choice…or maybe MonsterZero NJ is just an old softie when it comes to final girls. Both these ladies were great in their roles and really brought it as their respective film’s lead!
(And don’t forget to check out our previous Halloween Hotties by simply going to our Halloween Hotties main page!)
Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage.com
HAPPY 60th BIRTHDAY SAM RAIMI!
Legendary horror director Sam Raimi hits a milestone birthday today at 60 years young! Raimi is the creator of the now classic Evil Dead franchise, as well as, produced a number of horror flicks for other up and coming filmmakers, not to mention directed three Spider-Man flicks! Happy Birthday to this legend of modern horror!
New flick from director Alexandre Aja (Haute Tension, Piranha 3D) and producer Sam Raimi is basically 2010’s Burning Bright with alligators instead of a tiger…and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Flick has massive category 5 hurricane Wendy hitting Florida so hard even rescue operations are imperiled. College student Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario) defies evacuation orders to track down her father Dave (Barry Pepper), who hasn’t answered texts or calls. She finds him at their old family house unconscious in the basement and soon finds out why…the rapidly flooding house is surrounded by a pack of very hungry alligators.
Aja directs from a script by Michael and Shawn Rasmussen (The Ward) and delivers a fun and sometimes intense thriller. We follow the father and daughter as they try to evade the reptilian predators both inside and outside, while the storm intensifies around them and slowly fills the house with water. There are some very suspenseful moments as Haley tries to get out of the basement and get help for her injured father, who is too hurt to escape on his own. It makes for some very tense moments as the vicious reptiles can come from almost anywhere and often do. In case we’ve forgotten what damage a gator can inflict, some would-be looters and a couple of cops arrive to become gory gator fodder to remind us. The film does slow down for a few moments here and there to give us some character development and some father/daughter bonding. It works both for and against the movie, as it does build a nice relationship between Haley and David, turning them into three dimensional characters, but also stops the momentum dead, at times, as the alligators seem to disappear during these moments. Once the third act kicks in, though, it’s all cat and mouse between Kellers and alligators as the waters rise in the gators’ advantage. Here Aja does what he does best and provides some intense and brutal action. The film looks great with a lot of underwater photography in the flooded house and Haley is put through some very tense and suspenseful set-pieces as she tries to escape and/or save her dad. A fun summer flick with some gory bite that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome at a brisk 87 minutes.
It’s basically a two character show with the occasional gator snack showing up. Actress Kaya Scodelario has been through this before in Tiger House, where she played John McLane to a bunch of thieves that lay siege to her boyfriend’s house. Her Haley is courageous and resilient and does just as well against alligators as her Kelly did against home invaders. Scodelario proves she is not only a good actress, who can bring intensity, but she can kick ass as an action heroine. She gives Haley some nice depth in the quieter moments between scenes of her battling her reptilian adversaries with anything and everything available. Barry Pepper is also solid as her father, Dave. His character is both mourning a divorce and injured by gator bite and Pepper gives him some depth, so we feel for him. The two actors have a nice on-screen chemistry and work very well together portraying a father and daughter, who have their issues with each other. Good casting especially since the movie is very much on their shoulders.
Alexandre Aja is a versatile filmmaker even though he does seem to prefer the horror genre. This flick is not as intense or savage as his Hills Have Eyes remake, or outright bonkers like his ridiculously gory and fun Piranha 3D. It’s a mainstream thriller with some intense moments and some gory action, but not enough to scare off the casual movie goer. It does slow down for some character development and while that’s a good thing in making us care for these folks, it does kill the momentum in a few spots. Otherwise this is a tense and entertaining popcorn thriller from a director who knows intensity.
On a side note…This is a case of the trailer giving away too many good moments. If you plan to see this and haven’t watched the trailer yet…DON’T!
3 (out of 4) alligators!
For those interested but be WARNED, trailer is SPOILER heavy…
Boring Australian thriller moves it’s plot along with a lot of coincidences, but without the cleverness to give it purpose or make it work. Story has seedy bar owner, Slim (Paul Holmes) hiring a strange Croatian hit man (George Shevtsov) to kill his partner-in-crime, Rusty (Bob Newman). On his way out of town, an accident and twist of fate puts the killer at the doorstep of Marilyn (Georgina Haig), one of Slim’s bartenders, who has seen the two men together.
Written and directed by Paul China this is a thrill-less thriller that accomplishes very little and takes almost all of it’s 80 minute running time before we get a confrontation between the captive Marilyn and the hit man. China is trying way too hard to make this a flick in the spirit of a Cohen Brothers movie, but lacks the creativity and cleverness that makes their thrillers, like Fargo and Blood Simple, so successful. The only reason the killer arrives at Marilyn’s house at all, seems to be to make it convenient for he and Slim to encounter each other again, later on. Also, why doesn’t he just kill Marilyn and be done with it, like anyone else who gets in his way? And as for that hit man, the cowboy hat wearing Croatian never really exudes much menace and he should for this to work a lot better. There is little or no suspense till literally the last five minutes and the excessive blood-letting seems to be for it’s own sake. Even the final scene is just mean-spirited and unnecessary and done simply to try to give the film’s climax some irony and impact. Epic fail. Georgina Haig seemed to make a resilient heroine, not that she was given much to do bound and gagged to a chair for most of the flick. Dull and forgettable.