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Smile, Crimes of the Future, Watcher, and Bodies Bodies Bodies
Weekly Horror Bulletin Newsletter 200
We've got four more hot new 2022 horror films this week. We'll cheerfully begin with a “Smile,” then we’ll “Watcher” some “Crimes of the Future,” and then we’ll clean up all the “Bodies Bodies Bodies”
In the Bonus reviews this week, over at http://horrorbulletin.com, We've got:
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"V/H/S Viral” from 2014
"Incantation" from 2022
Three years ago, this week...
THREE YEARS AGO this week, on episode 47, we looked at: "Mystery of Edwin Drood” (1935), “Phantom of the Opera” (1962), “Freaks” (1932), “Morbid Stories” (2019) and “The Fare (2019)" and they're all fun in their own way.
Listen to that old episode here: https://www.horrorguys.com/hg047/
New Book: The Horror Films of Roger Corman
We do the usual “Horror Guys Treatment” for all the horror films directed by Roger Corman from 1954 up to 1990. Included are 29 full-length films that truly count as horror, and then watched them all. In addition, we’ll look at seven other noteworthy Corman movies that aren’t horror, including his first producing credit, his first directing credit, his favorite non-horror project, and a few others. If you love Roger Corman’s macabre masterpieces, we’ll cover all of them here.
Fourteenth Issue of Horror Bulletin now available
The newest issue of Horror Bulletin Monthly, our monthly compilation of all our reviews, is out now. This includes all the bonus content and is available as both a print book as well as an ebook. If you don’t have time to read the website or email, here’s one more option for you!
Check out all our books!
The Horror Guys Guide to:
Tales to Make You Shiver, Volume 1 and 2
Directed by Parker Finn
Written by Parker Finn
Stars Sosie Bacon, Kyle Gallner, Jessie T. Usher, Kal Penn
Run Time: 1 Hour, 55 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
Despite the upbeat title, as you might guess, this is not a happy movie. It’s downright creepy and unsettling. Nightmarish, in fact. It starts out slowly and builds nicely. The cast is excellent, and the effects are amazing.
From the publisher:
Bring Smile home on Digital! Sosie Bacon stars in the terrifying horror which critics are calling "Haunting" and "Scary as Hell". Buy Smile on Digital now and face your fears with over an hour of heart-pounding bonus content! Including the original short film that started it all. Available at participating retailers. Rated R. From Paramount Pictures.
We begin with a scene of a dead woman, an apparent overdose. Nearby, we see photos of her family, and her young daughter stands outside the room, wondering what is going on– The phone rings and Rose Cotter wakes up from her dream. She’s a hospital psychiatrist. Dr. Desai runs the hospital, and he’s struggling a little to balance her desire to help patients whether they can pay and have insurance or not, and his need to satisfy the board financially.
She gets called in for another new patient, Laura, a girl who watched her professor bludgeon himself to death just last week. The woman says she’s seeing something no one else can see; she knows that sounds insane, but it’s real. It looks like people, but it’s not a real person. “It wears people’s faces like masks. It’s smiling at me. The worst smile I’ve ever seen in my life. It tells me things like, today I’m going to die!”
Laura starts smiling an exaggerated smile and then cuts her face off with a piece of broken glass. She smiles as she falls over dead. Credits roll.
Rose goes home after speaking with the police, visibly upset. She sees Laura standing in her kitchen as her fiancée Trevor comes in. She dismisses it as her imagination; she seems pretty high-strung to begin with.
The next morning, a couple police detectives are asking her about what happened. Joel, one of the detectives, is also her ex. As she goes about her rounds, some of the patients have huge and inappropriate smiles– even the guy was terminally depressed yesterday. She orders that he be restrained. Desai thinks she may have overreacted and forces her to take a week off.
She goes home and suddenly, the burglar alarm goes off. She shuts it off but then finds the back door open. The alarm company calls, and they’re creepier than they should be: “Look behind you.” Then the phone rings for real, and it’s the real alarm people. The police come, and there’s no one there, but the cat has vanished.
Later that night, something jumps out at Rose, and she grabs a knife, which gets Trevor to freak out. She goes to see her own therapist, Dr. Northcott. The doctor thinks the ordeal with Laura triggered her own past traumas. Rose wants strong medication, but Northcott doesn’t go for it.
She goes to sister Holly’s kid’s birthday party. The boy opens the gift and finds… a dead cat. Rose swears she didn’t do it, but then she spots a smiler in the room with them and makes a scene. She falls through a glass table and ends up in the hospital herself. Desai comes in and says she needs to see someone for some help. Trevor picks her up, and they go home. Even Trevor is already doubting Rose’s sanity, especially when she starts talking about evil spirits. “I am not crazy!” she screams at him. Trevor thinks she may have inherited it from her mother, and he’s not really supportive.
Rose goes to see Mrs. Munoz, the wife of the man who killed himself with a hammer. She describes the same symptoms that Rose has been experiencing. He drew the things he saw, hundreds of pictures of crazy-looking smiling people. He also had seen someone die by suicide.
She goes to see Joel next. She wants to know about Gabriel Munoz and the person he saw kill themselves. Since he’s a cop, he can look that up. It turns out that he was staying at a hotel where a woman, Angela Powell, committed suicide. Joel runs Angela’s name through the system, and she saw a suicide too. It’s all a string of smiling suicide witnesses.
She gets home and finds that Trevor has brough Dr. Northcott over for help. Rose flips out and leaves. She goes to see Holly again and tells her that she’s cursed. She explains the whole thing, and no one would believe this story. Holly cries and says this is exactly what happened to mom; “You sound just like her.” Holly throws her out too.
Joel calls: he’s found twenty other people in the chain, nineteen of which committed suicide themselves. The only guy who survived murdered someone else, and the chain passed on to them. She explains it all to him, and he does believe it to an extent. None of the others survived more than a week.
They go to see Robert Talley, the one survivor, in jail. She talks about her situation, and he knows all about it. The only way out of the chain is by killing someone else– and there has to be a witness to continue the chain. She lies to Joel about what Talley said.
Dr. Northcott comes to the door, and Rose lets her in. Except it’s not really her, Northcott calls on the phone as they talk. The one in front of her starts to smile.
Later, Rose puts a knife up her sleeve and goes to the hospital. She finds that depression patient again, and he’s terrified of her. Dr. Desai comes in, and she stabs the patient right in front of the other doctor. They all tear their faces off. She wakes up out in the car; none of that actually happened.
She decides to leave town and stay alone and isolated, so there’s no one to pass the curse onto. She drives way out into the country to an abandoned farmhouse. It’s not just any old house; this is the house she grew up in, where her mother killed herself. She walks down the halls and looks into the bedroom. She stops at her mother’s room and looks inside.
Flashback: Young Rose goes in there, and her mother asks for help. She asks Rose to call for help on the phone, but Rose refuses and leaves. Yes, it really was her fault. Night falls, and she finds a kerosene lantern as she gets ready to spend the night there. Eventually, she hears someone in her mother’s room. Yes, it’s her mother, and she apologizes for what happened. They have a shouting match, and Rose tells all.
The demon-creature reveals itself to her, and Rose sets it on fire. Rose leaves as the house burns down. She drives back to town, feeling much better now. She goes to see Joel and apologizes for dragging him into the mess. He promises to stay with her forever as he smiles… Wait– she’s not back in town, and the old farmhouse is still there.
The real Joel has tracked her down and follows her into the house; the witness has arrived. The demon shows its true-true form, and suddenly Rose is all smiles. Joel finally breaks in, and– the chain continues…
The smiling situation is horribly stressful, but Rose gives the impression of being a little crazed even before the trouble starts. Competent and dedicated to her work but overworked, tense, and high-strung with trauma from long ago that still troubles her. It would have been good to see Rose have a normal, good day before the trouble started. She falls apart really quickly, and it’s hard to take the ghost thing seriously with her being like that. I suppose this is some allegory for mental illness and a lack of support in general, but it’s not a very good one since there really is a supernatural force at work.
Still, it cranks up the tension as the film progresses, and you know it’s not going to end well for anyone– which it doesn’t. Actually, the further into it we got, the better it got.
Directed by Chloe Okuno
Written by Zack Ford, Chloe Okuno
Stars Maika Monroe, Karl Glusman, Burn Gorman
Run Time: 1 Hour, 31 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
There’s lots of tension and suspense in this one. The main character is a stranger in a strange land who barely understands the language, which is a key part of the story. Overall, it’s very well-acted and has a solid script.
Julia is visiting Romania with her husband Francis. The landlady lets them into their new apartment, and the two have sex in front of their big picture window. Credits roll.
Later, Julia looks out the window, and she can see into several of the neighbors’ apartments. In one, she sees a man watching back.
In the morning, she hears screaming and laughing from the next-door neighbor through the walls. She goes out for a walk while Francis goes to work. When she returns to the apartment, she finds the door open. The landlady and maintenance man are repairing her lights. When Francis gets home, they go for a walk and find an ambulance and a crowd of onlookers; something bad has happened. The next morning, she watches the news, and it turns out a serial killer decapitated someone, but Francis downplays the translation.
She tells Francis about the guy across the street who’s always looking back. At dinner with friends, they hear that there have been other decapitations, and they are calling the killer “The Spider.” She meets the next-door neighbor, Irina, who apologizes for making noise.
Julia researches the murderer online, and one victim mentioned someone was always watching her, even when she was alone. That’s the same thing Julia feels about the man in the apartment across the street, so she makes a connection. She starts getting paranoid. She thinks she sees the man watching her in the movie theater, and then again in the grocery store.
Francis takes Julia back to the supermarket to watch the security footage. They find him on the video, but the man hadn’t really done anything overtly creepy or wrong, so Francis doesn’t take it seriously. The evening, she has drinks with Irina, and Irina’s ex bangs on the door. Irina shows Julia her gun. She goes home, looks out the window, and yep– he’s there. She gets angry and waves at him; he waves back. When Francis goes home, she calls the police.
The policeman and Francis go across the street to the apartment where the man lives. When Francis returns, he basically thinks Julia is imagining the whole situation. The next morning, she starts following the man. She follows him into a strip club. She sees that he’s the janitor there. She runs into Irina working there, but she doesn’t know the man.
Irina doesn’t come home one night, and her ex is looking for her the next day. They both hear Irina’s phone ringing inside. She takes the boyfriend across the street to see the watcher-man. The man knocks on the door, but there’s no answer. When she knocks on the door, an older man answers, certainly not who she expected. Then she spots the watcher on her way out of the building.
The policeman returns with Mr. Weber, who lives across the street and is complaining about a neighbor that is harassing him. Yeah, it’s the guy who’s been watching her. The officer wants them to agree to stop bothering each other.
Francis says they caught “The Spider” so it’s definitely not the guy across the street. When Francis makes a Spider joke at the work party, Julia freaks out and makes a scene. They fight, and she leaves the party early. She sees the guy on the subway train, and he tells her why the train has been delayed. They have a conversation. He says that he spends all day looking after his father, and sometimes he just watches people through his window. No one has even noticed before. When she waved at him, he got the idea that she was being friendly. He asks for an apology for giving him a hard time and harassing his father. He seems fairly reasonable, but she’s still creeped out by him.
Julia gets home and packs her bags. She hears music from Irina’s apartment. She goes into the apartment and finds Irina’s headless body. Weber is there, and he knocks Julia out. She hears Francis in the next apartment, but Weber warns her not to scream. Weber cuts her throat when she tries, but only a little bit - enough to take her voice away. She crawls across the floor toward Irina’s gun drawer, but she passes out from blood loss. She dies.
Weber looks up and sees a child in the apartment across the street watching him. Francis calls Julia’s phone and hears it ringing in the next apartment. Francis then catches Weber leaving Irina’s apartment. He also watches as Julia shoots him several times; she wasn’t as dead as she let on.
Buy some drapes; problem solved. Movie over.
There’s a lot of Romanian dialog here, and Julia doesn’t understand any of it, and of course, neither do we, which really helps point out how alien this place is to her.
That’s pretty much the story's core: her vulnerability and paranoia in a foreign land when she gets the idea that someone is stalking her. Does she get a gun or a knife or even pepper spray? No, she just mopes.
It was fine. Very suspenseful and paranoid. There really weren’t any great surprises here, but it was well done.
Short Film: Scooby-Doo: Blair Witch Project (1999)
Directed by Casper Kelly, Larry Morris, Steve Patrick
Written by Casper Kelly, Larry Morris, Steve Patrick
Stars Frank Welker, Mary Kay Bergman, Scott Innes
Run Time: 9:39
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
The name says it all. What happens when the Scooby Gang ends up in the Blair Witch’s forest?
The Scooby gang get lost in the woods while trying the solve the mystery of a mysterious creature lurking within the forest.
This isn’t particularly new (it’s from 1999), but it’s a lot of fun and really well done. It uses the voice actors from the “real” series, and it’s a clever mesh of animation and live action. If you’re a fan of both series, it’s definitely worth a watch!
Crimes of the Future (2022)
Directed by David Cronenberg
Written by David Cronenberg
Stars Viggo Mortensen, Lihi Kornowski, Lea Seydoux, Scott Speedman, Kristen Stewart
Run Time: 1 Hour, 47 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This was weird and wonderful, taking body horror to a whole new level. The direction is brilliant. The script is intriguing. The soundtrack is amazing. The actors are all great in their roles. The Horror Guys wish they had three thumbs each to give this a rating. In the world of this movie, things like three thumbs would actually be a possibility.
Also note, it's probably best to go into this one unspoiled, and we both strongly recommend the film. Unless something major comes out in the next month, Brian's leaning toward this one for #1 of the year.
A boy and his mother, Djuna, live on the beach in a really dirty old house. The boy eats the plastic trash can as his mother watches. A little later, the mother smothers the boy with a pillow. Afterward, she gets a phone call and tells the person on the other end to come and pick up Lang’s son’s corpse.
It doesn’t take long for Lang to arrive, and he quickly finds his son’s lifeless body in bed.
We cut to a strangely shaped object suspended in the air with tubes. It moves as if it is alive somehow, and the tubes are fleshy. Caprice walks in and opens the window for it. Inside the thing lies Saul, who is connected to the weird cradle device. “I think this bed needs new software. It’s not anticipating my pain anymore.” There is a new hormone in your bloodstream, Caprice explains to him. There’s something medically wrong with Saul, but they’re treating him with technology. He’s growing a brand-new organ, never before seen.
Later, Saul sits in a living massage chair that helps him eat, and then they go outside for a walk. They go to the organ registry and meet Wippet and Timlin. Human bodies are changing, and new organs must be registered for security reasons. They are concerned that human evolution is going wrong and is too out of control. For example, now that pain has disappeared from humanity, no one takes care of themselves anymore. Saul has been getting his new organs removed regularly, but not everyone who grows them does. Saul and Caprice remove them as part of performance art.
They stick viewing tubes into Saul’s body and look at it; they say it’s beautiful. They “tattoo” new organs so that if they get passed on genetically, they can track them as they stop being human.
Berst and Router come by to adjust Saul’s pain-reliever bed for him. They’re really impressed when they find out he has a Sark automated autopsy table; Caprice uses it for her art. It’s a performance, as the machine does an autopsy on Saul, who isn’t dead. It cuts him open as the others watch from the sides. He finds it orgasmic as the little needles and problems poke at his innards. It pulls out the new organ and then seals him up.
Afterward, Timlin asks him if surgery is the new sex. She wants him to cut into her now. “An artist of the inner landscape,” Berst calls him. Even in the future, art people are pretentious! Lang is there as well, and he poisons one of the other audience members at the after party by giving him a strange looking food bar - one just like one that he ate himself during the performance.
Detective Cope questions Wippet and Timlin about Saul. He doesn’t believe that new organs and growths can be considered art. They try to convince him of the whole thing, but he doesn’t get it, and it’s just a little twisted. Saul probably wills these new organs to grow.
Caprice says the growths are accelerating, and Saul shrugs it off saying that they’ll just have to start cutting faster.
We cut to Klinek, a man with ears on top of his head and all over his body, getting his eyes and mouth stitched shut. He’s literally all ears as he dances for an audience. A critic doesn’t care for all the ears, but she likes the dance.
Lang comes to Saul and asks if he could do a live autopsy on his dead son as a performance. Saul likes the idea but isn’t sure about the legality.
Saul and Caprice lay together in the autopsy chair and let it cut them repeatedly. Better than sex! Cope comes to see Saul and says he’s been very prolific. They talk about Caprice being in the dark about Saul being an undercover stoolie. Saul gives Cope information about a Dr. Nasatir who might be trouble. He also asks about Djuna, who is in custody for murdering her son. Saul wants to see her.
Saul goes to see Dr. Nasatir. He wants to install a Riplock, basically a big zipper, in Saul’s abdomen. He mentions an upcoming “Inner beauty pageant.” He’s going to try for “Best original organ,” so he gets the zipper device installed.
Saul talks to Djuna in prison. She killed her son Brecken because he ate plastic; he had organs that made him eat plastic and synthetic stuff. He could digest it. She blames Lang for “inventing” his son. She says Lang probably has the body; the police never got it.
We see that Lang is part of making large numbers of the weird food bars, the same thing that poisoned the man at the party. There are a number of people working together on the project.
Caprice hosts a party for the surgically inclined, and it looks like a fun group of people, albeit they’re a little messy. Afterward, Caprice gets bumps installed in her forehead. She also decides she wants to do the Brecken autopsy for the show. Saul doesn’t want to get his latest organ removed right away; he wants to wait for it a little.
Wippet shows Saul his safe room, where they archive their more “provocative material.” Wippet’s also the guy who runs the inner beauty pageant. Timlin pulls Saul aside afterward; she’s worried about Wippet. She’s sexually obsessed with Saul. Clearly, Saul is weirded out by both of them at this point. Saul asks Timlin about organs that can digest plastic.
Saul and Caprice go to see Lang, who has his dead son in a meat freezer in his living room. Lang offers Saul one of his food bars, but Saul doesn’t bite. Lang and Saul have eating problems, as did little Brecken; Lang says he should let his body lead where it wants to go.
Detective Cope wants Lang and his “group of freaks,” so he tells Saul to go ahead with the Brecken show. Cope says that the food bars Lang has are poison to normal people, but Lang and his people eat them all the time; they are evolving away from the human path.
Berst and Router show up at Dr. Nasatir’ s place to work on his massage eating chair. He doesn’t survive the experience.
Lang reveals everything to Saul and Caprice; they want to evolve and start feeding on humanity’s industrial waste. They thrive on plastic. Brecken hadn’t had surgery, but he got the ability genetically. His son was supposed to be a sort of low-key messiah for the movement.
It’s time for the Brecken show. Most of the characters come to watch. They cut inside and find the organs are all tattooed— Wippet looks shocked and leaves. So does much of the audience, they are clearly appalled at the tainted performance. The organs weren’t beautiful, they were horrifying. Outside, Berst and Router drill Lang’s skull full of holes and kill him.
Saul meets Cope again that night. Cope tells him that Brecken really was born with his mutation, but they tattooed the organs to make it look like he’d had the same operation that Lang had. The two of them pieced together what happened and who did what. Now Lang is a martyr, which is just what the cause needs, Saul realizes.
Saul continues having trouble eating real food, and he’s clearly feeling miserable in his feeding chair, so Caprice hands him one of Lang’s plastic bars. He bites it and smiles blissfully. Clearly that was just what his body needed.
It’s weird right from the get-go. The bio-mechanical world is really interesting, and the whole thing is an exploration of surgery becoming too common and normalized. H.R. Geiger would love these machines. “Accelerated Evolution Syndrome” sounds pretty cool.
There’s body horror, and then there’s body horror, and then there’s David Cronenberg, making it an art form. This may be the sexiest movie I’ve ever seen that didn’t actually have any sex in it. Well, at least not what normal people would call sex.
We both loved the soundtrack and had it playing for several days after watching the film, which is unusual for us.
The first half hour had me ready to call it number one of the year. The soundtrack alone is awesome. An hour into it, I was still intrigued. It almost lost me with the Brecken autopsy, as it wasn’t quite clear what happened, but it was soon explained by the detective. Yeah, this one was a major winner for me!
Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022)
Directed by Halina Reijn
Written by Sarah DeLappe, Kristen Roupenian
Stars Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Rachel Sennott, Pete Davidson, Lee Pace
Run Time: 1 Hour, 34 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It’s a little different take on the trope of a group of people trapped together and getting slowly killed off. The acting is good, with characters that are well-developed. You don’t like a lot of them, but that’s part of the fun. Overall, this one is a winner.
Two girls, Bee and Sophia, are making out in the woods. Sophia says, “I love you,” but Bee remains silent. Credits roll.
They drive up to the big automatic gate and can’t get their car window open. They drive up to the huge house in the woods. They’re meeting David, Jordan, Emma, Alice, and Greg there. Sophia and Bee have come for the hurricane party. This is David’s dad’s house. Suddenly, it starts to rain.
Bee feels out of place with these people; she’s not from the same class as the other rich kids. She regularly calls her mother for status updates. Sophia is just recently out of rehab. Someone says Greg was in Afghanistan or something, and he’s way older than all the others. David is a spoiled rich guy.
They all play a game called “Bodies bodies bodies,” where one of the group plays a murderer. If you’re the murderer, you have to “kill” someone by touching them on the back. Then they have to figure out who did it. First, they play a game where they all hit each other. Hard.
They turn out the lights and play their game in the dark. They soon find Greg face down on the floor; he’s the body. Before long, Greg and David are really getting on each other’s nerves. They’re clearly not having a lot of fun with this game, but at least could start hitting each other again.
The hurricane picks up, and all the lights go out for real this time. Bee goes to the restroom and finds David outside, mortally wounded. It looks like his throat has been cut. As the girls panic, he dies quickly. All five of them run to the car for help, but nobody has keys. They all go back to the house. Jordan finds a machete out in the mud; that’s what Greg used to open a champagne bottle last night and now it’s covered in blood.
They all gang up on Alice– how much does she know about Greg, anyway? Greg’s supposed to be asleep upstairs, and he’s the only one who is not accounted for. Emma’s gone too. They go to Greg’s room, and he’s not there, but he’s got all kinds of survival stuff in his suitcase. There’s lots of talk about Max, who was there last night and left before all this started. Max had punched David in the face.
They eventually find Greg sleeping in the gym with a relaxation mask on. He was wearing headphones and hadn’t heard anything until now. He thinks they’re still playing a game and chases them. Greg’s confused about what’s a game and what really happened. He’s slow on the uptake. Things quickly spiral out of control. Until Bee hits him over the head with a dumbbell and kills him. Alice still swears that Greg didn’t do it. Alice says he wasn’t a military veteran; he was a veterinarian’s assistant.
The girls start infighting, and feelings that simmered below the surface start coming out. Everyone then wanders around in the dark for a while. Before long, Alice trips over Emma’s body. They all turn on Bee, who was conveniently close to all the deaths. They literally throw her outside into the hurricane. She ends up coming back in through a doggy door and sees Jordan pick up a gun.
Bee comes in and accuses Jordan. We get the truth about Bee, and it’s pretty mundane. Jordan pulls out the gun that she swore she didn’t have. Sophie’s also got truth issues on top of her previous drug problems. Alice and Jordan go at it as well until Jordan shoots Alice in the leg. They all wrestle– on top of the gun, and then it goes off again– finishing the job on Alice. There’s more wrestling over the gun until Jordan gets thrown over the balcony and lands on a bunch of glass bottles. Bee runs from Sophia; she’s afraid of her.
When the sun comes up, Bee walks through the house and checks all the bodies. Bee pulls out the gun and tells Sophia she wants to check the texts on her phone. Alice had been accusing Sophia of cheating with Jordan. They wrestle over the phone and fall into the pool. Turns out that’s not her phone!
They see on the phone who really killed David.
Max shows up. “What happened?”
Those cell phones all have mighty good batteries. I liked the way they used FaceID at the end with David. We still never really find out if Sophia was cheating.
Each character has a lot of personality, and they all act appropriately. They’re all terrible people, and they all get what’s coming to them. Only Greg was murdered; the rest was the group's own paranoia and incompetence.
The end makes it all worthwhile. Perfect!
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