God bless Lovefilm, they seem to know what their customers want and act accordingly.

Every time the summer holidays or half term roll around they add a bunch of kids entertainment and now as we are in October and it’s coming up to Halloween they add a whole load of horror films for your viewing pleasure.

Cinema distributors could learn a thing or two from this model, exactly how many horror films are being released in cinemas this Halloween? Oh that’s right only one, The Haunting in Connecticut 2, which doesn’t even make sense as its set in Georgia.

Django Unchained

Django Unchained (2012)

Quentin Tarantino’s most recent film is not his best as some have claimed. Tarantino really milks people’s love of his dialogue in the mid-section which means that the pace drags massively for about 30 minutes. It’s not like in Inglorious Basterds where the pace of each scene actually leads somewhere and built tension.

The part set in Candyland takes a really long time to get anywhere and feels like padding even if it is rich in dialogue and performance. Apart from these flaws this was still one of the best films of the last year, dodgy racial politics aside. Funny, violent and brilliantly performed by Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and of course Christoph Waltz who should just be in every Tarantino film from now on.

Available on NOW TV

Alex Cross 1

Alex Cross (2012)

The latest attempt to bring detective Alex Cross to the screen in a franchise casts Tyler Perry as the titular ‘tec. This latest version features a chilling Matthew Fox as a deranged killer and Perry sadly doesn’t even have the acting chops to keep up with an actor best known for TV.

Whereas Kiss the Girls and even Along Came A Spider were very considered and plotted affairs allowing the characters to breathe, Alex Cross is much more of an action film. Viewed on a pure entertainment and visceral level then Alex Cross is fine, it just could have been a brilliant franchise re-invention with a bit more care.

Available on NOW TV


Hideaway (2011)

Not to be confused with the 1995 Dean Koontz film which starred Jeff Goldblum. Previously known as A Year in Mooring, Hideaway is a low-key and charming indie film which stars Josh Lucas as a shell-shocked and bereaved high flier who seeks solace in a rundown boat off the coast of a lake in New England.

Whilst there he bonds with a waitress and another bereaved man in hiding and learns to live again. It may be cliché, it may be contrived and obvious but somehow this worked on me and I found myself truly involved in this character’s journey. It’s also shot really really well which adds to the overall mood. It’s barely an hour and ten minutes long and therefore won’t drain your day away so give it a chance.

Available on NOW TV

Room 237

Room 237 (2012)

This obsessive documentary about the obsessive Stanley Kubrick and the obsessive amounts of detail he put into The Shining, probably works better if you view it as the best DVD extra ever rather than a complete film. Some of the theories here are ridiculous; stuff about Minotaur’s and certain malevolent extras in scenes hold very little weight and could have been excised. However the stuff about the whole film being a confession by Kubrick that he faked the moon landing gains more credence the more that you think about it.

Where the film really scores though is in its reveal that The Shining is a film that is supposed to be viewed both backwards and forwards and the footage it shows of the two frames overlapping is eerie to say the least in terms of how it works. Worth a look if you are a fan of Kubrick or The Shining, just be prepared to be wanting to watch the actual film immediately afterwards.

Available on Lovefilm

Sleep Tight

Sleep Tight (2011)

One of the great unsung pieces of horror from the last few years is this film from REC co-director Jaume Balaguero which is a Hitchcock like tale of a pervy handyman in an apartment building perving over pretty Clara.

The lengths he goes to in order to get close to her whilst being undetected are extreme to say the least and the film is mostly from the villains point of view. So like the recent Maniac, it really challenges your empathy and makes you feel like you need a good shower later. Also has one of those devastating endings the kind of which put South Korean cinema on the map.

Available on Lovefilm

Grave Encounters 2

Grave Encounters and Grave Encounters 2 (2011 and 2012)

Much as I may be sick of found footage and all that it entails, I have to hand it to The Vicious Brothers for actually delivering on all that static camera footage that yields nothing in the Paranormal Activity series.

The Grave Encounters films follow a Most Haunted like TV crew as they shoot their latest episode inside an abandoned mental institution. Things get weird and then the crew find they can’t escape and the ghouls come out. To say that Grave Encounters is actually scary is an understatement, there are those that think it goes too far and shows its hand rather too much.

I’m of the opinion that due to the effects work and the pacing, it works perfectly as a roller coaster ride that you should definitely give a chance. The sequel dilutes the original somewhat by coming across all Meta and then hitting the exact same spooky beats but still as Halloween approaches; these two should be near the top of your viewing list.

Available on Lovefilm


Juan of the Dead (2011)

Though the title might riff on Edgar Wrights breakthrough feature which in turn riffed on George Romero classics, Alejandro Brugues revolutionary Cuban splatter flick is more influenced by Stephen Chow and slapstick comedy than any zombie film that has come before.

Brugues pulls of a rare feat in combining comedy, splatter and political commentary perfectly and that this film got made at all is amazing considering the strict social political climate of Cuba where media is heavily controlled. Sadly this got denied a proper cinema release last year and then a low-key DVD release.

Now that this is streaming it’s a perfect opportunity for those who wrote it off as a cheap imitation to eat their words. Juan De Los Muertos is simply wonderful.

Available on Lovefilm

The Devil’s Business

The Devil’s Business (2011)

Somehow this has been compared to Ben Wheatley’s Kill List in some quarters which hasn’t really done the film any favours. Sean Hogan’s low budget film is much more of a theatrical piece set all in one location with two actors giving it their all as menace and dread practically drip off the screen.

This is one of those rare films that hints more at unspeakable horrors rather than shows you and is all the better for it. Sadly it decides to show you something in the climax and doesn’t have the budget to do so and subsequently comes off the rails. Still for most of its running time this is an effective little mood piece and a master class in how much you can do with very little.

Available on Lovefilm

Before Dawn

Before Dawn (2012)

Another low-budget, effective British mood piece. Dominic Brunt’s film isn’t as great as some have made out but is mostly an effectively bleak and compelling zombie film. Brunt directs as well as stars as one half of a married couple whose marriage is failing and they go to a remote cottage to try to repair the damage. Whilst they are there the world comes to a zombie shaped end outside.

Brunt directs actors with skill and finesse and certainly creates a mood, when the film tries to be more ambitious is where the cracks show with one zombie chase around a car reminiscent of a Benny Hill speeded up run around. Still a solid film rather than a great one and a promising debut by Mr Brunt.

Available on Lovefilm

I Am Legend

I Am Legend (2007)

I am of the opinion that to do a true adaptation of Richard Matheson’s classic I Am Legend, you wouldn’t really need that much of a budget. Yet Hollywood has continuously thrown huge amounts of cash at the none more bleak story trying to turn it into a crowd pleaser.

The most recent attempt starring Will Smith and directed by Francis Lawrence is an incredibly frustrating film. On one hand the atmosphere and Smith’s performance is brilliant but then we get the least convincing CGI vampiric infected ever and all the terror is drained from the premise. Then we get a compromised ending completely at odds with the original novel. Still that first hour is gold and a deserted and devastated New York is wonderful to behold.

Available on Lovefilm

The Good German

The Good German (2006)

This throwback to 1940s noir films sits somewhere between the commercial and the artistic output of director Steven Soderbergh. The film is perfectly cast with George Clooney as the flawed hero, Tobey Maguire as a scumbag and Cate Blanchett as the femme fatale between them.

It may not thrill as much as the films that it is trying to emulate but it remains a gripping and stylish film throughout and now that Soderbergh is retired it’s well worth revisiting.

Available on Lovefilm

Matchstick Men

Matchstick Men (2003)

This has perhaps Nicolas Cage’s last great performance as an OCD con man who finds his life thrown into disarray when his estranged daughter comes back into his life. Amongst Ridley Scott’s films this is perhaps the most underrated and is funny, thrilling and really well written with a brilliant supporting turn by Sam Rockwell.

Sadly the last ten minutes ruin what has been an otherwise pretty great ride so you should probably turn it off at the natural ending rather than the tacked on one that clearly doesn’t belong with the rest of the film.

Available on Lovefilm