Friday, October 25, 2013

Weekend Stream for 10/25/13

The Weekend Stream is a weekly feature curating content from the current selection on Netflix's US streaming service for you to watch each weekend. Just search for the bolded titles on your preferred Netflix-watching device, and you're in business! Since content can disappear from Netflix with little or no warning, there's always a chance a title will no longer be available by the time you read this, so you'd better act fast, see?!

Weekend Stream for 10/25/13

Given that Halloween is less than a week away, I thought I should highlight some CREEEEPY content befitting the spooky season. But since I've been talking about old-school classic creepers in my TCM Tuesday posts, I'm going to focus on more recent movies here. Enjoy!

For me, it's just not Halloween without Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, director/animator Henry Selig's imaginative stop-motion musical about the denizens of Halloween Town and their attempts to take over Christmas. I don't even know why I'm bothering to describe this one, since most of you know what it is and what it's about. Made before the Tim Burton aesthetic went from interesting to ubiquitous, the film has a certain energy and macabre sensibility, where the monsters that haunt us are just decent folk trying hard to do their (admittedly gruesome) jobs well. Danny Elfman's songs are memorable and fun, and every painstakingly-animated frame shows love and dedication. It is one of only maybe a handful of legitimate holiday classics made during my lifetime, The Nightmare Before Christmas is great for kids and adults alike and makes a perfect bridge between holiday seasons.

For a more mature audience, there's the Swedish vampire flick Let the Right One In. It deals with a bullied, introverted boy named Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) and his relationship with his new neighbor Eli (Lina Leandersson), who looks like an adolescent girl but happens to be an immortal blood-sucking creature of the night. The two form a close, touching friendship that is only slightly complicated by Eli's need to kill and feed off of other people. John Ajvide Lindqvist's screenplay (based on his own book) neatly plays with the conventions of vampire fiction, and Tomas Alfredson's sensitive direction and Hoyte van Hoytema's cold cinematography create a sense of place and character that truly makes this film stand out above all of the other "teen vampire" stories. It is dark, bloody, and legitimately creepy in its portrayal of horrors both human and paranormal. The US remake, Let Me In, is fine in its own way, but it does not compare to the original. Few films do.

Both of the previous films are self-aware on some level, but they've got nothing on The Cabin in the Woods in that regard. Directed by Drew Goddard from a script he co-wrote with Joss Whedon, the film consciously evokes the style and tropes of classic horror movies, but does so for its own genre-bending, reality twisting purposes. The set-up involves five young people who roughly correspond to archetypal horror characters—including Kristen Connolly as Dana, the "virgin," Dollhouse's Fran Kranz as a pothead "fool" and Thor's Chris Hemsworth as a brainier-than-normal "jock"—going off to stay in the titular cabin. There, for at-first-unclear reasons, men (Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins) at a remote facility secretly manipulate their reality and bring about a paranormal event. To say anything more would spoil the fun. It's not a difficult film to grasp, but it's certainly pleasant to watch the plot twist and turn until we figure out what's going on. Full of typically-sardonic Whedon banter, The Cabin in the Woods is a must for any horror aficionado.

I don't have a specific TV choice for this week, as I can't say I watch much "horror" television. But some thoughts include The Twilight Zone, the classic sci-fi series whose first two seasons are still streaming, or the 90's paranormal conspiracy phenomenon The X-Files, whose entire run is streaming as we speak. But I encourage you to browse Netflix's listings for yourself and see if any other TV/film horror floats your boat. I will see you back here next week for more mediocre reviews!


  1. Already done did The Nightmare Before Christmas! Agreed. It's just not Halloween without it. (Also just got a Tim Burton box set for cheap off Amazon. It's his Warner Bros stuff only, but hey, Batman, Beetlejuice And Pee Wee on blu-ray!)

    I very nearly threw on Let The RIght One In last night, but got sidetracked by Good Neighbours (hey... I like Jay Baruchel, what can I say). Gonna throw on Beetlejuice today while I do stuff around the house.

    1. I've been considering that Tim Burton set... it's a tough call, but I might just spring for it in spite of my Burton fatigue.

      I can't say I know Good Neighbours... any good?