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Story Scream 2021




Rejoice! Spooky season is upon us once again. The air is cool, the leaves are changing, and everything has pumpkin in it. But the best part of the spooky season, dear reader? That’s right. It’s horror movies. And once again the Kolodziejski brothers, Jack and Jeremy, are here with 31 movies to get you through every day of October with delightful thrills and frights. This year we’ve collected movies across the major streaming platforms so you can partake in the best season of the year regardless of which passwords you steal from friends and family. We’ve also recorded a special Story Scream podcast where we walk through this year’s list, which you can check out in full below. In case you prefer we pleasure your eyeballs instead of your earholes, we’ve also transcribed a selection of our discussion below.


Log into your streams and prepare to scream!


FULL PODCAST:




 

Criterion




Jeremy: So first we are going to start with a film from the late nineties, a Japanese film, called Cure directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. It is a horror and also a mystery detective film. It has a lot of film noir elements. This came out in the J-horror renaissance in the late nineties and early 2000s so it shares a lot of DNA with films like Ringu and Ju-on.


Jack: That would be The Ring for our non-Japanese speaking listeners, and Ju-on is The Grudge.


Jeremy: Yes, those are the original titles for those films. Audition is another great one. Cure doesn’t get talked about as much when it comes to the canon of Japanese horror cinema, especially compared to the other Kiyoshi Kurosawa film that we have on this list which we’ll talk about later. Cure is very compelling, very trippy, and has a lot of elements of hypnosis in the narrative. It’s about searching for a murderer and is always keeping you guessing. It has so many great twists and turns. It’s hard to talk about it without getting into specifics and spoilers.


Jack: Yeah, we’re going to keep this spoiler-free, we’re going to keep it light. We’re just going to give you a little taste of each of these movies.




 

NETFLIX




Jack: The first one on our list from Netflix is a movie called His House. Jeremy, have you seen this one?


Jeremy: No actually, that one passed me by. I remember hearing about it last year. It stars an actor from one of my favorite TV shows of last year, Gangs of London.


Jack: Which actor is that, do you know his name?


Jeremy: I don’t want to butcher it, but Sope Dirisu. (Editor’s note: he did his best.)


Jack: Yeah, I’ll give you that, sure. Matt Smith is in it as well. I think a lot of people are familiar with that name. I watched this movie last year. I think it might have made it onto my top ten list. It’s about a refugee family from Sudan who moves to the UK. Essentially they move into this house that’s provided by the UK government. It’s horror through the lens of refugees escaping a war-torn country. In the same lens of creating empathy for a situation that a lot of western viewers may not be familiar with. I think it uses horror effectively to put that situation in perspective. Looking back on it now it has a lot of similarities to Candyman in the way that it leverages folklore to create tension. This is also a movie that understands that British teenagers especially are fucking terrifying.


Jeremy: Oh man. This isn’t on this list but have you ever seen Eden Lake?


Jack: I have not seen Eden Lake, no.


Jeremy: Oh god. Eden Lake with Michael Fassbender is probably the most heinous depiction of horrible British teenagers I have ever seen. That movie gets under your fucking skin.


Jack: British children are deeply scary. Especially when there are more than two or three of them in a pack. Steer clear of that.






Jeremy: So the Clovehitch Killer, you know what’s funny? Remember the Kid Detective?


Jack: Yeah, I watched it fairly recently.


Jeremy: If you've seen the Kid Detective, the Clovehitch Killer feels like it shares some of the same DNA. It’s not nearly as comedic, it’s more or less a much more serious tone. I could also compare it to Super Dark Times which I’m pretty sure we’ve had on a previous list.


Jack: Yeah, I’m pretty sure we have.


Jeremy: It’s about this suburban town where several women were murdered years ago, then one day the killings just stopped and no one ever figured out who the killer was. It’s from the perspective of this teenage boy who is starting to uncover and figure out if that killer from many years ago might be his dad.


Jack: Oh fuck.That’s not good.


Jeremy: Yeah. It’s very good. It reminds me a lot of early David Fincher. It’s kind of like a suburban Seven in a way. It’s very quiet, reserved, the cinematography is not very flashy. It’s very specific and purposeful.


Jack: Cool, that sounds good to me.


Jeremy: Yeah, it’s a good little indie horror film.


 

HULU




Jack: This is a movie about a guy who was formerly in the Jewish Orthodox church in NYC. He leaves the church for his own reasons but is asked by a current member of the church to return and fulfill the duties of a Shomer. I didn’t know this before, but it’s a Jewish ritualistic practice where you’re watching over someone who has recently died and shuttling them into the afterlife by performing this ritual overnight. It reminded me of a movie that I like very much called A Dark Song. Where A Dark Song is heavily influenced by Christian lore, The Vigil is steeped in Jewish lore. It all takes place in the same house for the most part and has some really spooky scenes. If you’ve seen A Dark Song, I think Mike showed it for Beacon Horror Show in the past, check out The Vigil.





Jack: The next one we’ve got is called Rare Exports. I watched this one last year for the first time.


Jeremy: A Christmas tale. What’s this doing on a Halloween list?


Jack: Well, Jeremy, let me tell you. Maybe Rare Exports will get you in the mood and ready for Christmas. Maybe save this one for towards the end of October. I think honestly the less you know about this one the better. It’s a Finnish movie about a family that raises reindeer and exports them around the world for people’s, you know, Christmas shit. People order reindeer. Let’s just say they catch Santa Claus without getting too deep into it. And, well, it’s a horror movie so I’ll just let your imagination fill in the rest there. If you haven’t seen Rare Exports I would describe this one as “delightful.” It’s a fun scary movie that’s a little bit Christmassy, a little bit horror, but it’s a very good time.


Jeremy: I remember when it first came out ten or so years ago I was hoping that Rare Exports would just be a blanket term for a franchise. It’s kind of a shame that this specific kind of movie didn’t become more of a thing. But at the same time, it does make it one of a kind.


Jack: It’s definitely one of a kind. It’s certainly not like anything else on this list. If you haven’t seen that one I would definitely recommend you check it out. And I am recommending you check it out because we wrote a whole list of movies for you to check out.



 

HBO MAX




Jack: Jeremy, I know this next one is very near and dear to you, so take it away.


Jeremy: Unless something else comes along that really blows it out of the water, I think The Empty Man might be my number one of 2021.


Jack: Woah.


Jeremy: Yeah. The Empty Man. Technically it’s a 2020 film but this movie really fell victim to the Disney-Fox merger.


Jack: Also, wasn’t there something else that happened last year that kind of fucked up movies and stuff?


Jeremy: Yeah there was something else that kind of fucked up movies. Pandemic or not though, this movie got a fucked up release.


Jack: It’s definitely having its moment in 2021.


Jeremy: Yes. Ever since it came onto digital streaming services it's really starting to find a cult audience.


Jack: Was it actually in theaters last year?


Jeremy: Very briefly. For like one weekend. Then it was immediately taken out. It feels like the only reason they put it in theaters was for a write-off so that they could say they did.


Jack: Well they probably had the biggest opening of that weekend.


Jeremy: (laughs) The Empty Man is a very rare kind of horror. It’s a modern horror epic. It has a scale to it that very few horror movies have. That scale really enveloped me. It’s much like the previously mentioned Cure. The Empty Man has a lot of parallels to Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s filmography as well as David Fincher’s.


Jack: There’s definitely a lot of Fincher in there.


Jeremy: The director of this film, David Prior, has collaborated with Fincher in the past. He’s definitely learned a lot from Fincher. It’s this mystery about this man who’s trying to figure out what happened to these missing kids in this small suburban town and how they’re connected to this urban legend known as “The Empty Man.”


Jack: It definitely has some, let’s say, similarities to something like a slender man kind of folklore but it’s only a small piece of what this movie is. I think elaborating on that would be to do an injustice to this movie. But you are right, it goes places. There’s definitely a grander air of mystery to this one that is really cool.


Jeremy: As it goes on the way the mystery unravels really sucked me in. It deals with some themes, without getting into it, that are close to my heart. Which is how people can get their brains scrambled by certain cult-like institutions, and how an outsider’s perspective sees it. The main actor, I’m blanking on his name, does such a good job playing this very noir-like protagonist where he’s searching through this mystery. He brings a lot of levity to it.


Jack: James Badge Dale.


Jeremy: That’s his name.


Jack: And Stephen Root is in it.


Jeremy: Yeah Stephen Root is in it and plays a very small but great role.


Jack: Every time he shows up somewhere it’s like, hell yeah.


Jeremy: The Empty Man is quite different from a lot of modern horror releases but what it does it does so beautifully and I think it has a much larger audience than what it currently has.


Jack: That it does. It’s reached this cult-like status and I think it’s only going to grow from there. That’s one of the aims of this list we put together this year. Not only to have some variety and give some different flavors of horror, you know horror is such a broad term, but we want to present unique and different things. Different genres and subgenres. The Empty Man is a special one, for sure.






 

AMAZON PRIME




Jack: This one is very near and dear to my heart and I feel like very few people have seen it. If you have, please hit me up so I have someone to talk about it with. It’s called Violence Voyager. This is an animated movie, and I think the first and only animated movie on this list and maybe the only one to ever be on one of these lists.


Jeremy: Have we ever had Coraline on one of these lists?


Jack: I don’t think so. Even when we had some Disney+ movies on our list last year I don’t think any of those were animated either. Maybe we’ll consider more animated stuff in the future. The director’s known as just Ujicha. It’s a...hmm, have you watched the trailer for this Jeremy?


Jeremy: No, I haven’t, but I can vouch that Jack has been talking about this one a lot.


Jack: Yeah, I think the minute I finished watching this movie I texted you and said “dude, you should watch this fucking movie.” It’s honestly one of the weirdest movies I’ve ever seen. It’s so unique and cool. Right down to the animation style all the way though to just...honestly, I’m not even going to say too much more. You can check out the trailer if you want to see more of what this is but honestly, I would just dive in. You’ll either take that recommendation and say “fuck yeah Jack that was really cool and I loved that” or you’ll say “Jack please never talk to me again.” Your mileage may vary. It’s animated in a papercraft style. All the animation is hand-painted paper dolls, I guess, for lack of a better word, that’s held up in front of a video camera. It creates this uncanny look that is just..just watch this movie. It’s very cool. And I need more people to see it so I can talk to them about it.




 

SHUDDER





Jeremy: So the next one is a unique specimen, as it’s both a new release and an old release at the same time. This is the Amusement Park. What this is is an old lost film directed by George Romero, originally made in the 70’s as a PSA against elder abuse.


Jack: Oookay…I didn’t know the tidbit about the PSA.


Jeremy: The reason it was more or less abandoned is that, well I guess you get what you pay for because if you hire George Romero to make a PSA, he’s going to make some fucked up shit. Especially early George Romero where he was real hungry. I think the people who commissioned George Romero essentially denied it and it remained buried for forty years until it was recently restored. You can see it for yourself on Shudder and see an old man be severely physically abused in an amusement park to quite a disturbing degree.


Jack: Great. PSA!


Jeremy: It works more like a film than it does a PSA. It’s a weird one. But it’s worth seeking out.



Jeremy: Angst is a hell of a thing from the early 80s. It was a prime example of a “video nasty.” This movie was banned in Europe for how violent and fucked up it was. It’s worth looking into the video nasty movement of the 80s where the UK government banned a whole bunch of horror and exploitation films.


Jack: Or just check out Censor, which is all about that. A recent movie.


Jeremy: Yeah that one’s not on our list but Censor takes place within the midst of that.


Jack: I think the only reason Censor isn’t on our list is because it’s still only available for rental, not on a streaming service.


Jeremy: I feel like that one is prime to come to Hulu.


Jack: Yeah give it a couple of months.


Jeremy: So Angst is a very, very intense film. It’s a very simple premise about a serial killer stalking a woman. But it’s really relentless in the way it portrays how the serial killer goes after this woman. It really puts all the emotions and the disturbing context upfront and center and very realistically portrays it. This one’s not an easy watch. It might shake you a bit.


Jack: Kind of sounds like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.


Jeremy: People have made comparisons. It came out around the same time. It’s not a feel good movie in any way. If you don’t like the portrayal of realistic violence and realistic depictions of people getting hurt real bad maybe don’t seek this one out. But if you want something that’s a bit more challenging.


Jack: Sure, well horror comes in all flavors and we’re trying to get some variety with these lists.



 

TUBI (FREE!)



 

YOUTUBE (FREE!)


Occult (2009)


Jack: We’ve got one more final movie on here, and it’s another bonus. This one I heard of recently and watched the entirety on youtube. Someone just uploaded this movie to youtube, so ethical considerations aside I don’t know, but you can’t find it anywhere else as far as I can tell. Occult is a fictional documentary. You can think of something almost in the same wheelhouse as Lake Mungo. Every year I want to put Lake Mungo on this list and look back to see that we’ve already done it. If you haven’t seen that one, that one rocks as well. Occult is another Japanese horror film about a small documentary team who is trying to learn more about this mysterious stabbing case. As they unravel the case it gets into some cosmic horror sort of vein. Similar to pulse and lake mungo it has a very chilling atmosphere to it. It’s pretty low budget so some of the effects are not the best, but I personally think that adds to the character of it. With what it’s dealing with I think that works in its favor, almost. Every one of the movies on this list has a trailer associated with it, but this link just has the whole movie. It’s a fun one.


Jeremy: I haven’t actually heard of this one.


Jack: Yeah I saw someone mention it recently and went looking for it. I found the whole thing on Youtube and couldn’t find it anywhere else.




 


Jack Kolodziejski

Co-Head of Podcasting

Jack makes drugs for a living, but not necessarily the fun kind. He enjoys international travel and discussing music, movies, and games in excruciating detail.








Jeremy Kolodziejski

Jeremy is younger than he looks, and has passionately studied the art and craft of filmmaking for as long as he can remember. He is currently a freelance wedding videographer and is also heavily involved in Competitive Fighting Games. You can follow him on Instagram @prof_k.o