Five horror movies to stream now

By Erik Piepenburg

These new horror movies offer scares from a global perspective, including an Indonesian witch, an Irish vampire, Canadian home invaders and an American family nightmare.


Rent or buy it on Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu.

No movie has divided horror fans in 2021 quite like this audacious fairy tale written and directed by Devereux Milburn.

After a young couple (Sawyer Spielberg and Malin Barr) get kicked off the property where they planned to camp one night, they trek through the woods and come across a house, where a kind but eccentric woman (Barbara Kingsley) invites them to spend the night in her basement. It turns out to be a very bad decision — there would be no horror movies without bad decisions, would there? — that leads to bizarre twists involving the woman’s bandaged-up son, cannibalistic rituals and surreal nightmares starring Popeye.

Detractors are right that there’s a lot familiar in “Honeydew,” from the Hansel and Gretel vibes to the grotesque family dynamics (and meals) that made “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” so bone-chilling. But Milburn puts an original spin on the familiar beats of the backwoods shock genre thanks to his hallucinatory storytelling, John Mehrmann’s unnerving score and Spielberg’s fervid performance. There’s also a wowza celebrity cameo that’ll make you do a double take.

‘Jakob’s Wife’

Rent or buy it on Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu.

When a mysterious figure attacks Anne (Barbara Crampton), the wife of a conservative small-town pastor (Larry Fessenden), it does more than turn her into a bloodsucking monster. The bite from the Master, as the Nosferatu-looking vampire is known, also awakens in Anne a thirst for the self-determination and sexual confidence she’s kept under wraps her entire marriage. Reinvented as a vamp (sorry), Anne is forced to question what it means to be a wife, a woman and a human.

Travis Stevens’ film layers feminism on top of comedy on top of vampire myth and gross-out splatter. It mostly clicks, and the reason is Crampton. With a decadeslong career in out-there films including “Re-Animator,” she’s as close to acting royalty as horror gets. Here she is fearless as a woman discovering her powers within. (Stevens told the horror movie magazine Rue Morgue one of his goals was to give Crampton “her version” of Gena Rowlands’ harrowing performance in the John Cassavetes film “A Woman Under the Influence.”) Crampton’s chemistry with Fessenden, another horror vet, is the film’s activating element.

‘The Queen of Black Magic’

Stream it on Shudder.

Indonesia has a rich tradition of horror cinema that goes head-to-head with the filmography of George Romero and Lucio Fulci. Shudder has a small but primo collection of Indonesian titles, including Kimo Stamboel’s recent re-imagining of “The Queen of Black Magic” (1981).

Witchcraft is a common element in Indonesian horror films, and witchcraft is what you get in this ominous story about Hanif (Ario Bayu), a father who travels with his family from Jakarta to the remote orphanage where he was raised. Things get off to a chilling start when Hanif runs the family car over what he thinks is an animal. (Not quite.) Then his son gets spooked when he hears a story about the evil woman who’s buried behind a closed door at the orphanage. (Not quite.)

When Hanif comes across a bus full of dead children, it’s a stomach-churning sign that almost nothing seen or experienced at the orphanage — caretakers, scars, a menacing creature — is what it appears to be. Revenge, as Hanif learns, is what the supernatural world calls justice.

This is a solidly scary place to start for an introduction to Indonesian horror, as long as you’re good with berserk insects and blood galore.

‘For the Sake of Vicious’

Rent or buy it on Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu.

It’s Halloween night, and Romina (Lora Burke), after leaving her late shift as a nurse, arrives home to find a tense hostage situation unfolding in her kitchen. Chris (Nick Smyth), seething with rage and wielding a hammer, has tied to a chair the bloodied Alan (Colin Paradine), the man Chris suspects of raping his young daughter. When a group of masked invaders shows up at the door just as Romina gets a grip on the circumstances, her home becomes even more of a claustrophobic house of horrors.

With an unforgiving drive that almost never lets up during its taut 80 minutes, this Canadian action-horror hybrid is for fans of ultraviolent horror. I don’t know if the directors Gabriel Carrer and Reese Eveneshen decided to set the most chaotic moments in a small kitchen because it was in service of the story or because their low budget required it. Either way, it feels like each frame fills the screen with violence that’s so ferocious, and also outrageously comical, that watching it becomes the cinematic equivalent of diving into a packed mosh pit at a dive bar. Smyth is jaw-droppingly unglued as a dad near the end of his rope.

‘Boys From County Hell’

Stream it on Shudder.

This goofy horror comedy is set in a rural Irish village where, according to legend, Bram Stoker was so captivated by local tales of an Irish vampire figure named Abhartach that he based “Dracula” on the thirsty bloodsucker. When a construction crew disturbs the cairn over the spot where townspeople believe Abhartach was buried, the vampire is awakened and the village becomes his hunting ground. Not even an evening cup of tea goes by without someone bleeding from the eyes.

Written and directed by Chris Baugh, this is as much a slap-happy creature feature as it is a touching dramedy about friendship and family bonds. Much of the credit goes to actor Jack Rowan, who’s all pluck and charm as the young man who defends his blue-collar hamlet against an ancient evil. I really want to disclose the jaw-dropping weapon used against the vampire in the end, but that would be going out on a limb.

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