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5 horror movies to stream now

Harold Torres in “Disappear Completely.” (Netflix)

By Erik Piepenburg

This month’s picks include demonic forces from Mexico, Mongolia, small-town America and hell itself.

‘Disappear Completely’

When we first meet Santiago Mendoza (Harold Torres), he’s a modern Weegee, a Mexico City crime photographer out to capture the one gruesome shot that might make the front page of a tabloid. By the time Luis Javier Henaine’s formally audacious and boldly nihilistic supernatural thriller is over, Santiago is a void, fulfilling the title’s sinister promise.

Santiago’s descent begins one night when a dead body scares the bejesus out of him by opening its eyes and screaming “Kill me, please.” As Santiago leaves the scene, an unseen force knocks him out, then over the next few days he starts to lose his senses to the point where he can’t smell a corpse, taste his morning coffee or feel a glass shard in his foot. A visit to a witch doctor only makes things worse for him and, most tragically, his dog. After Santiago encounters a demon in the woods — a scene with one of the scariest single sounds I’ve ever heard in a horror movie — the film takes an experimental turn that’s bracing in its brutality. It ends on a savage note, and to explain how would spoil its savage power. Trust me, it’s something to see, or rather, hear. (Stream it on Netflix.)

‘Late Night With the Devil’

David Dastmalchian, the star of this nutso found footage(ish) film, recently told an interviewer that he thought the movie was like Johnny Carson meets Jerry Springer meets “The Exorcist.” I am someone whose parents religiously watched Carson, had a job in Chicago giving tours of the “Jerry Springer Show” set and loves William Friedkin’s possession film, so let me say: I couldn’t agree more.

Written and directed by siblings Colin and Cameron Cairnes, the film takes place on Halloween night in 1977 during a live broadcast of a late night talk show hosted by Jack Delroy (Dastmalchian). Eager for a ratings win, Jack and his team book a well-meaning parapsychologist (Laura Gordon), and one of her patients, a traumatized young girl (Ingrid Torelli) who claims to be possessed. As the show unfolds in real time, guests are hit by bizarre afflictions and Lily is overcome by a ghoulish force that eventually turns the soundstage into a death trap. A hallucinatory finale, along with the spot-on period costumes and production design, make this a scary movie that’s as impish as it is heart pounding. (Stream it on Shudder.)


As soon as Erkhme (Erkhembayar Ganbat) and Selenge (Selenge Chadraabal) move into their rural cabin, it becomes clear that neither person — nor their nosy neighbor (Sukhee Ariunbyamba) — are who they claim to be, and nothing is as it seems. For starters, Erkhme gives Selenge pills to calm her down, since she seems to be held there against her will for a reason that becomes clear only in the film’s dastardly final stretch. A grimly playful sense of the macabre permeates this twisted Mongolian tale from writer-director-cinematographer Baatar Batsukh.

At just 75 minutes, the film is a taut nerve-plucker that darkly but tenderly explores mental illness, which in Mongolia remains “very taboo,” as Batsukh told an interviewer. Batsukh disorients us with dizzying camerawork, oddball cuts and saturated colors that ooze through doors and windows — a nod, perhaps, to Darren Aronofsky, to whom the film is dedicated. (Rent or buy on major platforms.)

‘Moon Garden’

If it’s gross-out horror you want, skip this pick. If you’re in the mood for a macabre fairy tale set in a dystopian otherworld as imagined by a little girl, do yourself a favor and watch this fanciful nightmare.

Written and directed by Ryan Stevens Harris, the film mostly takes place inside the head of Emma (Haven Lee Harris, the director’s daughter), a girl who goes into a coma after falling down the stairs trying to escape from her arguing parents (Augie Duke and Brionne Davis). Emma’s subconscious is a perdition of ominous landscapes and menacing creatures, including a trench-coated entity with chattering teeth — like something from a Tool video directed by Dr. Seuss, to be Generation X about it. It’s not all peril, though, thanks to a kindly spirit guide whom Emma befriends.

Harris and his cinematographer, Wolfgang Meyer, team up to make the film’s ingeniously designed stop-motion animation and lovingly hand-stitched in-camera effects look like a million bucks. As Emma, Harris is assured and fearless beyond her years; try to keep your jaw off the floor when she bolts through a tunnel of bedsheets. (Stream it on Shudder.)

‘When the Trash Man Knocks’

It doesn’t look like writer-director Christopher Wesley Moore had much money (or lights) when he made this from-the-heart slasher. But he makes up for it with a sleazy story, a sympathetic gay protagonist and a brutal central psycho — catnip for those of us who love VHS-era slasher films but lament how they rendered queerness invisible.

The killer here is named Crispen, a towering, masked psychopath who returns to his small hometown every Thanksgiving clutching a meat cleaver in search of victims to chop up and put into garbage bags, hence his nickname the Trash Man. (He’s played by Derek Bond, whose many credits on the film include cinematography and catering.) Moore plays Justin, a mousy gay man whose agoraphobic mother leaves knives around her home in case the Trash Man comes looking for her which, of course, he does.

The film takes too many detours away from Justin’s story, introducing marginal characters who provide the Trash Man with more victims but bloat the run time. But when the film is good, it’s gory: I lost count of how many glistening weapons plunge into eyeballs, throats and bellies. It’s a raw and scrappy treat. (Stream it on Tubi.)

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03 mai

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