• Matt Miller

Spooktacular Movies You Might Have Missed


This Halloween, we’re living through a pandemic that we’ve only ever seen before on screen. While it may mean a deficit of tricks and/or treats, there is one silver lining – it’s a perfect excuse to cozy up on the couch and watch some of the finest, spookiest films. Get your popcorn ready, because this week we look at the best in the horror-comedy genre.

Horror and comedy. Frights and laughs. While at first glance they may seem complete opposites, upon closer look they share a similar bond. Both are designed to get us out of our comfort zone and subvert our expectations. At times, the set-up to both scenarios may feel similar, with horror simply missing the comedic punchline. With that in mind, it should be no surprise that these genres have been played off each other for years. If you like your scares equal to your laughs, here are three lesser known films to keep in mind for the Halloween season.

What We Do in the Shadows (2014), available on Hoopla.

Maybe the most famous of horror monsters is the bloodsucking vampire. The infamous Count Dracula is the second- most portrayed fictional character in cinematic history – just after Sherlock Holmes (there are books where they meet, yet somehow no movie!). In What We do…, Kiwi comedians (including Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement) take the familiar subject matter and add a twist: a mockumentary approach showcasing the vamps as undead roommates. Being immortal, it turns out, can get a little tedious, especially when there are chores to do. The commitment to deadpan and situational humor are pulled off exceptionally by the cast, who make the whole film feel like an improvised version of an MTV reality show. With a comedic style similar to This is Spinal Tap and Best in Show, this flick is a welcome antidote to the overwhelming amount of melodramatic vamp-centric films that have become popular.

Vampires vs. the Bronx (2020), available on Netflix

Keeping with the vampire theme, one of the latest Netflix flicks offers up some biting (sorry) satire. For such a light comedy, the film dives headfirst into difficult themes, such as gentrification, social injustice and inherited poverty. Our protagonists are three tween boys from the Bronx who, in the process of trying to better their community and avoid the gravity of gang life, uncover the dark plot of a real estate company run by vampires. The shadowy company of ‘Murnau Properties’ (a nod to director F.W. Murnau who made Nosferatu, the first real vampire film) are systematically taking over the bustling Bronx community for cheap real estate – and easier prey. The film slyly styles the vampires as white, upper-middle class investors, willing to overpay for property, Whole Foods and boutiques. As the vampires infiltrate the neighbourhood they force the residents out, sucking the life and spirit from the community the same way gentrification happens in real life. Even more depressing is the notion that multiple bodies can go missing, yet no one of authority bothers to investigate the inner-city disappearances. While the film has some tonal issues, and a relatively weak third act, it is well worth the watch for the precocious young actors who tap into a Goonies-esque sense of adventure and give us a sense of hope for the next generation.

Happy Death Day (2017), on Netflix

Since the Groundhog Day concept of living the same day repeatedly has been played to death, it might as well include, well, death. Unabashedly over-the-top, the story follows the ‘hot blonde university girl’ Theresa, aka Tree, on her infinite birthdays where each day she ends up being brutally murdered. But Tree is no ‘Scream Queen,’ and she is not going to take things lying down. Deciding to viciously fight back, Tree sets out to find her killer and end them before they can end her. Delightfully campy, Happy Death Day revels in its slasher roots, akin to the tone that the Scream series set 20 years earlier.

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