Netflix’s “Slasher” Is Horrifying


The Netflix Original horror series “Slasher” is more than just a classic “slasher movie,” despite what the name suggests. Instead, this new Netflix Original series, which debuted in October 2017 just days before Halloween, is as much a whodunit murder mystery as it is a classic horror movie. The murder mystery takes place over a span of 8 episodes, and with each new episode, we get one step closer to unmasking the identity of the serial killer behind a spate of horrifying murders at a Canadian campground.

Netflix’s “Slasher” is a horrifying version of “I Know What You Did Last Summer”

One of the most popular types of films in the horror genre involves a bunch of teenagers making a lot of wrong decisions or committing wrongheaded acts – and then getting justice meted out to them by a demented serial killer. You could probably lump the whole “Saw” series into this genre, as well as the all-time horror film classic “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” It’s this latter film that really seems to be the inspiration for “Slasher.”

In “Slasher,” a group of young adults must return to the scene of a revenge prank gone horribly wrong. Five years ago as camp counselors, they murdered one of their co-workers, Talvinder, and then buried the body at the campground. They thought their cover-up of the murder would forever go unnoticed, but then they find out that a bunch of real estate developers are planning to build a resort on the site of the camp and might uncover the body.

This is what forces them to return to the scene of the crime, all of them bound by their past guilt. The young adults fear that their crime will be (literally) unearthed, and thus plan to dig up the body and bury it somewhere new. But when they return to the burial site, the body is gone. And then they start getting picked off, one by one, in the most grisly manner possible.

If that basic plot line sounds familiar, that’s because it is. It’s essentially “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” but this time set in the dead of winter in the Canadian wilderness. The one little twist here, of course, is that we don’t know the identity of the killer – and this identity will only be revealed in the 8th and final episode.

Netflix’s “Slasher” comes with more than its fair share of grisly gore

There are some horror films that shrink away from showing particularly nasty bits of blood and gore, leaving it to the imagination to figure out what happened. “Slasher” is not one of those horror shows. Instead, “Slasher” is able to show a horrifying amount of gore, nastiness and blood. There’s a serial killer on the loose, and it’s clear that this killer is going to exact full revenge for the events that went down five years earlier.

Netflix’s “Slasher” includes plot elements from classic Agatha Christie mysteries

In an interview, the show’s creator, Aaron Martin, talked about the various inspirations for “Slasher.” He named several primary inspirations: classic slasher movies in the vein of “Halloween,” contemporary murder mysteries and Agatha Christie whodunit mysteries. This last inspiration might not at first seem obvious, until you consider how the series plays out over a series of 8 episodes.

The inclusion of plot elements from classic whodunit mysteries is part of the reason why “Slasher” is so horrifying. As Martin points out, the goal is not to blame all this senseless rage and killing on a mysterious or mythological creature – such as a demon unleashed from hell or a ghost haunting a burial ground – it is to show that these bloodcurdling murders are the result of a sick, depraved human mind. It’s much scarier when you know that there is a real-life person systematically planning these murders.

So that’s why the Agatha Christie inspiration is so important. Since the action plays out over 8 episodes, it’s important to keep audiences guessing until the very end. This sometimes means lingering on details that may – or may not – be relevant to the identity of the serial killer. And it means injecting a few plot twists along the way to introduce doubts into the minds of the viewer as to who might be responsible.


Netflix’s “Slasher” is also a scary psychological drama that takes you inside the mind of a murderer

The public fascination with serial killers – just check out the outpouring of recent public attention for Charles Manson, the legendary serial killer who died at the age of 83 – has to do with the fact that it seems unfathomable that any human being could act in this manner. So what are their motivations? Is there a “why” behind their despicable acts?

And it’s here, too, that “Slasher” is so horrifying. At the end, when we learn the identify of the serial murderer, we realize how significantly one person’s view of reality can differ from actual reality. The key to unlocking this horror is “Wren,” whom we later find out is Owen “Wren” Turnbull, who committed suicide after being framed for Talvinder’s murder. But is “Wren” really a person, or just a figment of the murderer’s imagination?

Netflix’s “Slasher” will make you afraid of your buried secrets

The real reason why “Slasher” is terrifying Netflix audiences is because, deep down, we all have our secrets that we don’t ever want to get out into the open. And, deep down, we all fear some kind of final justice or retribution for those secrets. That, from a psychological perspective, is what makes this Netflix horror anthology so deeply horrifying – it reminds us that, sooner or later, we will all be judged and we will all need to atone for our past sins. In the case of the characters in “Slasher,” it means paying with their lives. The serial murderer has decided that the price to pay for murdering Talvinder five years ago is death.

“Slasher” is a welcome addition to Netflix’s growing horror genre

The exciting news for fans of the horror genre is that it looks like Netflix is beginning to create some first-rate horror shows. Netflix actually swooped in and purchased the rights to “Slasher” from the TV network Chiller, which ran Season 1 of the show. But now it looks like Season 2 is going to be a smash for Netflix, and that means we could soon be talking about Season 3 for “Slasher.” Each season, the murder mystery changes, but the cast does not – much like “American Horror Story.” So get ready to see some of your favorite characters back again soon as they figure out yet another way to scare Netflix audiences everywhere.


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Will “Pitch Perfect 3” Be the Last?


When the first “Pitch Perfect” movie burst onto the scene back in 2012, few could have predicted that just five years later, we’d be talking about the end of a film franchise trilogy. And, yet, that’s exactly what’s happening with the upcoming release of “Pitch Perfect 3” in December 2017 – fans across the Internet are already speculating about this film being the last for the beloved Bellas. But is that really the case?

If “Pitch Perfect 3” does well at the box office, it won’t be the last

A lot has to do with the performance of “Pitch Perfect 3” at the Hollywood box office. The first film was essentially a sleeper hit, grossing $65 million at the domestic box office. It picked up a huge cult following, though, once it hit the On Demand and the streaming markets. That paved the way for “Pitch Perfect 2,” which was an absolute box office smash, bringing in $184 million.

So you can see how high the bar is set for “Pitch Perfect 3” – if the film meets or exceeds expectations (i.e. the $200 million mark), then there is a good chance that there will be a “Pitch Perfect 4.” The only question, though, is whether this fourth film would feature the same set of Bellas, or whether it will feature an entirely new set of fresh faces singing a cappella. So keep your eye on the box office numbers on December 22 – a huge opening weekend would be a good sign that “Pitch Perfect 3” won’t be the last.

This might be the last “Pitch Perfect 3” with the Bellas

Heading into the release of the film, there’s a lot of speculation that the Hollywood production studios are coming to grips with the fact that, in order for this film franchise to keep going, it will need a whole new cast of girls. Back in April 2017, film screenwriter Kay Cannon said as much, calling this film “the end of the Bellas as we know them.”

In fact, the whole premise of “Pitch Perfect 3” seems to set up a scenario in which we’d see a whole new cast of singers in the next sequel. Clue #1 is the fact that the whole premise of “Pitch Perfect 3” is that nobody wants a bunch of grown-up adults who only sing a cappella – the Bellas are told over and over again in “Pitch Perfect 3” that there’s no demand for them anymore now that they’ve graduated college. There’s no real “job” for them anymore, and so they decide to embark on a USO tour in Europe.

Moreover, here’s Clue #2: one of the plotlines from the upcoming film is that Beca (played by Anna Kendrick) might be leaving the group once and for all. Talent agents want to sign her to a contract to sing solo, but don’t want to sign all of the Bellas. That obviously leads to a huge conundrum: Will Beca actually leave the group and everything it represents in order to pursue her own solo singing career?

The next “Pitch Perfect” movie might actually be a spin-off

That naturally leads to the following question: Would it make sense to spin off “Pitch Perfect” with one of the lead characters only? The most obvious choice would be Anna Kendrick in the role of Beca.

Another possible spin-off choice would be Rebel Wilson in the role of Fat Amy. During the filming of the new movie, she has teased the fact that we’ll learn more about the young life of Fat Amy and how she acquired her name. That could become the basis for a new spin-off exploring her previous life and how it will move forward in the future. Based on Rebel Wilson’s starring roles in other comedies, this is certainly an option.

And, consider this: Rebel Wilson was the first cast member to sign up for “Pitch Perfect 3” back in April 2015. At the time, she even suggested that if the studio couldn’t get all the cast members back for this film, she’d consider doing a Fat Amy spin-off. So the idea of a separate Fat Amy franchise was already percolating in the back of everyone’s minds more than two years ago!

What would a sequel to “Pitch Perfect” actually look like?

So, we basically have three scenarios to consider. The first scenario is the most unthinkable one, and that is the total and complete end of this beloved film trilogy. Certainly, most of the marketing surrounding this film would have you believe it. One of the taglines for the movie is “Last call pitches,” and this would seem to suggest that, yes, this is the “last call” for the film franchise.

The second scenario is that the film franchise would continue, but in a different format – either as a spin-off of one of the lead characters (Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp or Hailee Steinfeld) or as an entirely new cast of Bellas who are still in college.

The third scenario is the most exciting one: there will indeed be another “Pitch Perfect” and it will be better than any of the three films so far. Over the past two months, the cast members have been adding social media post after social media post suggesting that the whole cast is inseparable and would never break up. One cast member even compared the filming process to being in summer camp with a favorite set of girlfriends.

Rebel Wilson, for example, recently posted a photo on Instagram with the caption “Bellas for Life,” And Anna Kendrick, also rumored to be headed out on a solo “Pitch Perfect” project, quickly put those rumors to rest in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, when she said that the cast “would do them forever” if given a chance.

So is it really a possibility that this “Pitch Perfect 3” won’t be the last? Just six months, that possibility seemed remote at best. Everything about the upcoming film – the plot line, the marketing tag line and the rumors – seemed to suggest that the trilogy was coming to an end. But “Pitch Perfect” fans have been so vocal in their support of the film that it looks like the momentum has swung now in favor of a “Pitch Perfect 4.” That would make the best holiday present ever from the girls we’ve grown to love so much!


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Why Netflix’s “Gerald’s Game” is Haunting


This has been a banner year for adaptations of Stephen King horror works, with both “Dark Tower” and “It” captivating movie audiences in 2017. And now we have Netflix’s new “Gerald’s Game,” a film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same name from 1992. “Gerald’s Game” is a psychological horror film from director Mike Flanagan (“Oculus,” “Hush”) and the result is haunting.

Netflix’s “Gerald’s Game” is so haunting because it captures the feeling of being helpless and trapped

The action kicks off with the married couple Gerald and Jessie Burlingame going for a vacation in the woods. Things turn a little kinky in the bedroom, as Gerald decides to handcuff his wife to the bed and carry out a rape fantasy while she’s wearing nothing more than some very sexy lingerie. Mid-way through, however, Gerald (played by Bruce Greenwood) has a heart attack and falls to the floor. That leaves Jessie (played by Carla Gugino) to figure out how to disentangle herself from this situation – she’s literally chained to the bed spread eagle, in the middle of nowhere, unable to call for help. Oh, and the front door also happens to be open, meaning that anyone – or anything – can wander in.

So much of the action is based on this terrifying scenario and the feeling of being helpless and trapped. How will Jessie break free? And how will she deal with strangers who enter the log cabin in the woods? The film is shot in such a way by Mike Flanagan to capture all of this terror and helplessness – he tries to create a suffocating feel to the action with his tight camera angles.

Netflix’s “Gerald’s Game” taps into deep, dark feelings that have been repressed inside the heroine’s mind

Where “Gerald’s Game” is scariest and most haunting, however, is when it shows us what is happening inside Jessie’s mind. She begins to hallucinate all kinds of things, and is clearly losing it. She imagines her husband Gerald speaking to her and taunting her, reminding her of some painful memories. She then begins to think that perhaps this is the real Gerald, and the two worlds – the real and the fictional – begin to clash.

It is much as if we are seeing a nervous breakdown in slow motion. It’s no wonder that Stephen King himself, after seeing an early rough cut of the film, called it “hypnotic” and “horrifying.” Where things get really horrifying, of course, is when Jessie begins to unlock all the deep, dark feelings that she has been hiding from herself ever since she was a young girl.

Netflix’s “Gerald’s Game” brings us face-to-face with the painful memories of sexual abuse

The kinky sexy games between Jessie and Gerald conjure up all kinds of memories that have lain dormant for so long. In this case, we are really seeing a form of sexual amnesia, in which Jessie remembers painfully how her father Tom sexually abused her when she was just 12 years old. We see the events play back in her memory, and it is truly haunting.

Netflix’s “Gerald’s Game” introduces the very haunting “man made of moonlight”

While Jessie is slowly breaking down and battling her inner demons, there is one more twist to this horror story – and that’s the arrival of “the man made of moonlight.” This is a Grim Reaper-like figure that shows up at her bedside. We learn that he is a deformed serial killer who digs up bodies and eats them. And he carries around a box of trinkets from his victims.

Jessie, as might be imagined, has no idea of what to do. She at first thinks that this figure – whom she names the “man made of moonlight” – is Death personified. It is the Grim Reaper, ready to take her with him to the underworld. Then, she suspects he might actually be real – and begins to come up with a plan to escape. She will offer up her wedding ring to him, if only he will help her escape her predicament.


Netflix’s “Gerald’s Game” captures the horror of random violence

While much of the true terror and horror is taking place within the mind of Jessie, there are still elements of real-world horror that are too grisly even to mention in great detail. For example, remember how the door to the cabin in the woods is wide open? Well, it turns out that a stray dog wanders in and decides to bite a chunk out of the arm of her dead husband. That’s the kind of random violence that is really so haunting – the idea that pure evil can manifest itself like that, at a time when we are most vulnerable.

Netflix’s “Gerald Game” shows us the haunting ways any marriage could be hiding deep, painful secrets

What makes the movie especially haunting is the fact that it shows the degradation of a seemingly happy marriage. The beginning of the movie plays out much like a slickly-produced Viagra movie – handsome, older man takes beautiful wife to a romantic location to rekindle their marriage and pops a Viagra “when the moment is right.” But from there, the degradation begins.

How was Jessie to know that her husband secretly harbored rape fantasies? Or that he would attempt to torment her from beyond the grave? It turns out that their marriage was glossing over a lot of deep, painful secrets – and that Gerald knew a lot of ways to torment her without her even knowing it. There is a lot that goes on inside her mind, as she works to separate the “real” Gerald from the “fictional” Gerald. Is that really him tormenting her, or just her mind playing tricks on her?

“Gerald’s Game” is a great new horror film from Netflix

In the final analysis, “Gerald’s Game” is a great new addition to the Netflix horror genre. Mike Flanagan, who has earned the reputation of being a cult horror filmmaker for works like “Oculus” and “Hush,” certainly brings his A-game to his Netflix debut. He channels the darkest, most disturbing elements of the original Stephen King novel from 25 years ago, and the results are just absolutely haunting.


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