Where To Stream: Shudder, AMC+, TubiTV
The best recommendation will come straight from the horse’s mouth, and so we’ll turn back to Bloody Disgusting where the Australian writer-director name-drops Dario Argento and one of his most “out-there” films, “Phenomena.” Perhaps during your “Malignant” screening, you heard Joseph Bishara’s strings and synth-heavy score alongside the increasingly unsettling visuals, and you leaned forward in your seat. If those vibes hit you right, then you’ll want to check out Dario Argento’s mid-career 1985 effort.
“Phenomena” follows a young woman, played by Jennifer Connelly (“The Labyrinth,” “Requiem For A Dream”), at a boarding school who realizes that she has psychic powers, and uses them to track down a killer. Neither this nor the synopsis of “Malignant” — “Madison is paralyzed by shocking visions of grisly murders, and her torment worsens as she discovers that these waking dreams are in fact terrifying realities,” according to IMDb — adequately showcase the insanity of each film’s third act, but the two share striking macabre imagery, choice needle drops, and arresting compositions.
A note: a truncated cut of the film with the alternate title of “Creepers” is floating around. That’s generally not the one you want. You want the near-two-hour runtime of “Phenomena,” the one with a chimpanzee and bug minions and all of the weird goodies that make the normies flee from the theater.
For further viewing: Argento’s “Opera” (1987), and Lamberto Bava’s “A Blade in the Dark” (1983).
I can hear the comments now. “Men have trauma, too! Where are the horror movies that work through that?” You’re in luck because Adam Egypt Mortimer has done just that with his 2019 feature-length bloodletting exercise “Daniel Isn’t Real.”
Based on Brian DeLeeuw’s novel “In This Way I Was Saved,” the story is about college student Luke (Miles Robbins) and his imaginary friend. Daniel (the friend, played by Patrick Schwarzenegger) may not be real, but he was useful for young Luke in the aftermath of a traumatic event. His return during a troubled period of Luke’s adult life causes just as many problems as Gabriel does for Maddie, but this is a SpectreVision joint so they’re going to get weird with it. Daniel’s true form plays more in the cosmic horror sandbox, with incredible makeup FX and intense performances from a stellar cast.
Wan is not the only contemporary horror director who goes balls-to-the-wall for his traumatized characters. Turkish filmmaker Can Evrenol revels in putting his protagonists on the rack and treating its crank like a fidget spinner, as he does with poor, poor Holly (Clémentine Poidatz) in his 2017 sophomore effort “Housewife.”
Holly is hurting in a dead marriage and still wrestling with childhood trauma when she happens upon a mysterious group that offers answers. But there’s something vaguely sinister about the Umbrella of Love and Light, and as Holly engages with them further, her grip on reality loosens, culminating in a final festival of mayhem just as memorable as that of “Malignant.”
If the potent blend of gore and hysterics does something for you, go ahead and add Evrenol’s 2016 bonkers-in-Yonkers debut feature “Baskin” to your watchlist, along with Robert Altman’s ’72 art thriller “Images” and Francesco Barilli’s 1974 psych-horror (and giallo, depending on who you ask) “The Perfume of the Lady in Black.”
This content was originally published here.