Five Horror Movies to Stream Now – The New York Times

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This month’s picks riff on disorientation, with an unknowable ex, an unnatural house and an uncanny dad.

Rent or buy on major platforms.
Steph (Steph Holmbo) starts a new life after leaving her awful boyfriend by getting a new apartment and a new group of friends. But she’s having bizarre dreams of traipsing through the woods, and what’s worse, her furniture sometimes moves on its own. Then, in this strange film’s strangest scene, Steph digs out the flesh of a giant watermelon, turning the floor where she’s sitting into what looks like a brutal crime scene — a taste of the spectral, time-collapsing horrors to come.
For their feature debut, the directors Joseph Kolean and Zachary Gutierrez, who go by Perry Home Video, have made an experimental horror film that will stump some people but mesmerized me. (When a friend tells Steph, “I’ve been feeling really weird lately,” I started to as well.) Holmbo, who co-wrote the script with the directors, told the blog What Sleeps Beneath that the film was inspired by past relationships of hers that were “deeply toxic and unhealthy, often especially in unexplainable ways.” That notion of heartbreak and survival as the ends of supernatural means comes alive here, thanks to a disorienting story, a slow-burn visual style and a score, by Roberto Garza, that knocked me off balance.
Stream it on Netflix.
Critics are divided over the bonkers feature film debut by the Saudi writer-director Meshal Aljaser. Detractors think it’s busy and empty. Fans are in love with its visual and narrative thrills. They’re both right.
Set on a single day, the film follows Sara (Adwa Bader, electric), a young woman who, in an act of furtive rebellion against her wealthy, traditionalist family, sneaks out with her secret boyfriend, Saad (Yazeed Almajyul), to a lavish party in the desert. But as Saad speeds along a dark road, he hits a camel, a fatal fate that the animal’s mother mourns off camera with a cry that sounds like it came from hell’s waiting room. From there, this genre-hopping film, equal parts psychological thriller and maverick dark comedy, shifts into warped warp speed.
Watching the film gave me a “Run Lola Run”-like rush. Aljaser’s camera almost never stops swooping and reversing. Angles look like it hurt to get them. One nutso long shot looks like it was filmed from Mars. After almost two hours, I was in love with its showiness. But I was also left wanting for a Saudi genre film this cuckoo and bold to offer a clearer takeaway.
Rent or buy on major platforms.
Armand (Achille Reggiani) agrees to take over his late father’s bowling alley, to the relief of Armand’s cop half brother, Guillaume (Arieh Worthalter). Boyishly handsome, Armand has no problem taking home a young female bowler one night. But what begins as a fling turns into a horrific rape, a scene that the director, Patricia Mazuy, depicts with the same unflinching brutality that made the monstrous assault in Gaspar Noé’s “Irreversible” a dealbreaker for many viewers. Armand, it turns out, is a serial killer, and Guillaume is the investigator assigned to the case.
Mazuy’s film mines many dark themes — animal cruelty, sins of the father, toxic masculinity — that don’t always gel. Yet she is such an assured director that she makes this sometimes hard-to-stomach drama — and I mean that narratively and sometimes physically — worth watching. As a police procedural, the film stretches credulity, but as a neo-noir drama about a psychopath and his corrupting emotional zigzags, it shines. Reggiani has a grim countenance that makes his deeply disturbing performance feel natural, which he should take as praise. Simon Beaufils, the cinematographer, makes a bowling alley look like the devil’s playground.
Stream it on Tubi.
Chris (Chris Page) wakes up in a room in a big, haphazardly furnished house that he doesn’t recognize. One of his arms is covered in blood. There’s a Post-it note that tells him not to go outside, and another on the bathroom mirror that says “Don’t stay in here too long.” Another note is even more ominous: “Don’t let it see you.” His handwriting matches that of the person who wrote the messages, but that doesn’t solve the mystery of where he is and why a creepy claw is trying to rip through a shower curtain.
That’s the cryptic setup to the writer-director Alex Davidson’s twisty film, but I don’t want to say more. Because what I thought was a psychological thriller with science fiction undertones (and nearly no dialogue) turned out to be a fresh spin on a genre I won’t mention — the better to keep from spoiling this film’s final surprise.
Stream it on Tubi.
Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t: Good advice, generally. But what if the devil you know is your dad? That’s the unsettling premise behind Sebastien Blanc’s freakish science fiction-horror hybrid, his feature film debut.
William (Tobi King Bakare) wakes up from a coma, unable to speak, after being seriously injured in a car accident. His adoptive father, Richard (Steve Oram) takes him home to recover, but warns William that his mother, Amelia (Ramona Von Pusch), who was with William in the car, doesn’t want to see him.
But wait: Why is dad digging a big ditch in the backyard and being evasive about his wife’s whereabouts? And how come the refrigerator is full of rotten food? And what is that thing with glowing eyes in the kitchen?
With a script that’s both contemplative and creepy, Blanc delivers a scary meditation on parenthood and the promise, and perils, of an afterlife. Race too: William is Black and his parents are white — they speak but he doesn’t — infusing issues of adoption, forgiveness and consciousness with “Get Out”-like discomfort, even with an ending that veers toward B-movie territory.







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