Misery (1990)

A terrifying and consistently suspenseful adaptation of the Stephen King shocker, Rob Reiner’s “Misery” achieves something rather rare in cinema: A Stephen King adaptation that manages to be both a faithful adaptation as well as a strong movie in its own right. Kathy Bates is electrifying as Annie Wilkes, who torments James Caan over the…

Janet Jackson – Unbreakable (2015)

After a seven-year hiatus, Janet Jackson’s return to the spotlight is a bit of a letdown. Mind you, the music is fine and so is the production (if a bit messy and overlong, as with most of Jackson’s albums since 1993’s “Janet”), but after such a long silence, it’s a disappointment that the best thing…

The Conjuring 2 (2016)

While 2013’s “The Conjuring” managed to become a modern horror classic rather quickly thanks to its effective screenplay, terrific performances (particularly by Vera Farmiga and the always-excellent Lili Taylor), and slow-build horror scares that packed a punch, its bloated, overlong sequel seems to go in the opposite direction. On paper, documenting the Enfield poltergeist –…

Before I Wake (2016)

Despite a terrific concept and strong direction from the reliable Mike Flanagan, “Before I Wake” never really seems to come alive. Maybe it’s the weak script, which eschews a great storyline in favor of horror movie banalities and squanders many opportunities to engage the audience. Maybe it’s the poor performances of both Kate Bosworth and…

Family Guy (Season 4) (2005-06)

Returning after a years-long hiatus following its cancellation after Season 3, Seth MacFarlane’s no-holds-barred sitcom is a bit of a shadow of its former self here. Mind you, it’s still often hilarious but has become more hit-or-miss, with several extended segments where the fact that there’s a reference (usually to an 80s pop culture item)…

Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)

Between a troubled production (which included extensive re-shoots, re-casting, and a screenplay seemingly written as filming went along), it’s no surprise that “Exorcist: The Beginning” is a bit of a mess. It’s better than one might expect given its troubled history, but there’s very little story here, and the plot consists mostly of Stellan Skarsgaard’s…

The Exorcist 3 (1990)

Although it’s an improvement over the execrable “Exorcist 2,” this second sequel isn’t anything to write home about. Novelist William Peter Blatty, who wrote both the original novel as well as “Legion” on which this is based, made the transition to director here, and his inexperience shows: It’s easy to see what he was going…

Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (1972)

A demented take on “Hansel and Gretel,” this curious Shelley Winters vehicle is an underrated horror gem. While she was never a great actress, Winters had an undeniable screen presence that made her fascinating and perplexing at once, and never has that been more obvious than here: Playing a grieving widow and mother who dotes…

The Witch (2015)

Almost unbearably intense, this horror-drama from Robert Eggers is a serious horror fan’s dream come true. Set in 17th century New England, it follows the banishment of a family from a plantation to the unforgiving woods, where they must battle not only the harsh elements but also a sinister, malevolent presence in the woods that…

Berberian Sound Studio (2012)

Reminiscent of Roman Polanski’s early paranoid classics, like 1965’s “Repulsion” and 1976’s “The Tenant,” as well as Italian giallos and specifically Dario Argento’s 1977 “Suspiria,” Peter Strickland’s horror thriller plays like the audience is watching someone’s nightmare. It’s rare to watch a horror movie that is primarily about sound – more specifically, sound mixing –…

The Weeknd – Beauty Behind the Madness (2015)

Soaked in self-loathing and hedonism, The Weeknd’s “Beauty Behind the Madness” is a bonafide, soul-shattering masterpiece masquerading as a Top 10 album aimed at teenagers. While the music itself is an exciting fusion of modern hip hop (with traces of classic rock and trip-hop) and soulful R&B (often not unlike Erykah Badu’s later works), the…

Rewind This! (2013)

A lovingly assembled documentary ostensibly about VHS collectors, “Rewind This” makes for a surprisingly informative and entertaining lecture on the history of cinema and broadcast media, in particular throughout the 1980s and 1990s. With rare footage from everything from Z-grade 80s cinema like “Deadly Prey,” direct-to-video Japanese action movies and even the original bootlegged South…