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FILM / Captain Canada's Movie Rodeo / October 2018

Image © Nathan Alan Schwartz

Image © Nathan Alan Schwartz

The films reviewed in Captain Canada’s Movie Rodeo are pulled from a list of films that was started when the column started. The list covers everything I’ve seen for the first time between 2012 and the present.

The worst thing you can say about the horror streaming service Shudder is that their definition of horror is a little on the broad side. This doesn’t bother me personally, but I have a feeling it might annoy anyone who considers themselves to be a purist. I probably don’t want to hang out with your whiny ass anyway, but you’re still entitled to interpret a movie genre as massive and ancient as this one in whatever fashion gets you through the day.

Or the long nights, which I think we can all still agree is the best time to watch something like The Exorcist III or The Host.

This isn’t designed to be an ad for Shudder. It is one of the most affordable streaming services currently around. It has a fairly deep inventory of horror movies, as well as films that more or less tread the line between terror and something else. If nothing else, it has a free trial, and a selection of films and shows exclusive to the service that are at least worth a glance on your part.

The Shudder exclusives are what we’ll focus on for this month’s special Halloween edition of the column. In keeping with the fact that I like to review movies I’ve seen for the first time, the films chosen were picked largely on the basis of their titles, or at least on the strength of anything I’ve perhaps heard about them (such as Let Me Make You a Martyr).

Hopefully, this will be a greatest hits rundown of the Shudder exclusives. As I write this introduction, which I always do first for this column, I honestly have no idea.

Sounds like fun right?

Let Me Make You a Martyr (2016): C-

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Marilyn Manson’s stunning, frightening turn as a contract killer literally raises this otherwise wretched film from A “D” to the lowest possible “C” grade imaginable. His performance is the only thing in Let Me Make a Martyr that is significant enough in the positive column to warrant a recommendation at all.

I’m still tempted to say don’t bother. Let Me Make You a Martyr is ugly, and it doesn’t really seem to want to be anything else. It is a shallow interpretation of daily circumstances casually monstrous, the pretention of it all starts to bug you early on. By the time you’re halfway through this story of intense family dysfunction, you can’t believe good actors and potent atmosphere are being so effortlessly wasted on shitty characterizations, empty shock efforts, and a plot that makes it clear that you’re better off not caring about these people at all. Niko Nicotera, Mark Boone Junior, and Sam Quartin do their best with this meager script.

Unfortunately, in the end, you just don’t care if Nicotera’s Drew Glass will square things with Boone’s abusive adoptive father figure, or if Drew will finally help his lover and adoptive sister (Quartin) get the hell away from their town and reputation. Manson provides the movie’s one redeeming feature, and he really is that good.

Another Evil (2016): B-

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Directed by Carson Mell, an excellent writer who also wrote this film’s screenplay, Another Evil is secretly the offspring of What About Bob? And Poltergeist. The Exorcist may have thrown in, so we can’t really be clear on how their threesome gave way to this fascinating, genuinely funny movie.

A movie about ghosts that quickly becomes a character study of the ghost hunter (Mark Proksch, who is clearly on the cusp of even bigger things), Another Evil is weird, compelling, and even charming. The worst thing you can probably say about this film is the way Dax Flame’s Jasper Papadakis is infuriatingly passive at times. The film squanders the best possible payoff for his realization of just how dangerous this ghost hunter actually is. It settles for a conclusion that’s still pretty good. Despite that, Carson Mell is another horror director to keep an eye on.

Small Town Killers (2017): C-

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It’s hard to recommend this Danish dark comedy to anyone. The story of two idiot husbands (Nicolas Bro and Ulrich Thomsen) hiring an alcoholic Russian (Marcin Dorocinski) to kill their gross, dumb wives (Mia Lyhne and Lene Maria Christensen) is a story that is eager to offend. It is also a movie that loves to pile on as much ridiculousness in its 90 minute lifespan, you honestly want to know where it all goes. To be honest, despite a dumb script and largely unlikable characters, Small Town Killers keeps you involved. Perhaps more impressively, it actually eventually goes somewhere interesting. Particularly when the wives hire an elderly British woman (a scene-stealing Gwen Taylor) to kill the husbands, when they get wind of what those bozos are trying to do.

By the end of the movie, the two couples almost redeem themselves. At least one of the characters, and I won’t say which, experiences something akin to actual growth as a human being. In a movie filled with surprises of varying success, that might be the most shocking element.

We Are the Flesh (2016): B


Hey, remember the time you saw the controversial “classic” Salo, and thought “That’s all fine and dandy, but I can still feel my soul a little”? If so, have I got a movie for you!

We Are the Flesh will probably be one of the darkest films you will ever see. Barring that, it will at least be the darkest film you’ve seen this year. Barring that, well, I don’t know. I probably don’t want to hang out with you.

I’m honestly stalling right now. We Are the Flesh, which is directed by Emiliano Rocha Minter, is sick shit indeed. It shows without so much as blinking the lengths a brother and sister (Diego Gamaliel and María Evoli) will go to survive the horrors of an ongoing apocalypse. Noé Hernández is pure, organic evil as their “savior” in such horrific times. There is honestly not a lot you can really say, except that the movie depicts incest, and that’s honestly not even the worst thing these two are forced to do. We Are the Flesh is shocking, but its characters, atmosphere, and story allow it to be much more. The challenge on your end is whether or not you’re willing to stay through this to experience those qualities. If you can’t, I honestly don’t blame you.

Prevenge (2016): A+

Of all the Shudder exclusives I caught on the service, Prevenge is far and away the best of the lot. Written, directed by, and starring Alice Lowe (who you may remember from Hot Fuzz), Prevenge takes a fascinating premise to dark, hilarious lengths. A pregnant woman (Lowe) goes on a killing spree, specifically targeting the men and women who she holds responsible for the death of her husband, who died during a rock-climbing expedition.

The fun part of this? She’s pretty sure her unborn baby is actually telling her to do these things. The psychic pep talks between them is some of the best British dry comedy to ever grace a batshit crazy horror movie. Prevenge doesn’t say for sure if she’s nuts, which is perhaps one of its best features. The presence of a story that is sincerely funny, while also offering blistering commentary on everything from motherhood, to grief, to reconciling with a deeply unwanted reality. Prevenge is a whirlwind, and beyond the excellent cast, the film is a pitch-perfect showcase for Alice Lowe’s numerous, singular talents.

Gabriel Ricard writes, edits, and occasionally acts. His books Love and Quarters and Bondage Night are available through Moran Press, in addition to A Ludicrous Split (Alien Buddha Press) and Clouds of Hungry Dogs (Kleft Jaw Press). He is also a writer, performer, and producer with Belligerent Prom Queen Productions. He lives on a horrible place called Long Island.