Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-03-03



Blumhouse's Diverse Box of Halloween Horrors
by Brian Kirst

This article shared 2033 times since Wed Oct 28, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Over the past several years, Blumhouse Productions has been the force behind a number of horror films with a sense of diversity rolling down the backbone of their creation.

In 2017, openly gay-writer director Christopher Landon provided the company with one of their biggest hits, the fun Happy Death Day, a Groundhog Day take-off with a healthy body count and one of the creepiest killer masks in a long while. This film spawned a 2019 sequel, Happy Death Day 2U, that happily saw the return of Tim Bauer, a minor yet very significant gay character in the universe of this swiftly blooming franchise. (A third movie in the series is now in the works.)

Blumhouse's Truth or Dare in 2018 again yielded huge box office receipts and helped reverse the course on a sexist terror film commonality. Since the '80s slasher boom, the genre has been notorious for featuring its actresses in various states of undress. Here though, the camera's eye found its most gaze worthy target in co-star Tyler Posey. Hot off his success in Teen Wolf, the handsome actor is the object of both female leads' affections and is the only one in the cast to shake his toned buttocks for the audience's favor—a seemingly innocuous feat, but actually a very significant one.

This past winter, Blumhouse's Fantasy Island, a horror-tinged reimagining of the classic '70s series, also acknowledged the importance of the LGBTQIA community by making Brax Weaver, one of the film's major characters, a well-adjusted and much-loved gay man. By the end of the film, Brax, played by popular comedian Jimmy O. Yang, was revealed to be the latest incarnation of one of the series' most iconic characters, a noteworthy occurrence for a dual minority personality in a major league release.

But now with two female filmmakers, a Black screenwriter-director and a twin Indian brother team helming their latest horror offerings, Blumhouse is filling our Halloween baskets with the tastes, textures and visual experiences of different cultures, often revolving around the participants' deepest fears and most haunted realities.

Black Box: With this, the most fully realized of the four films, Emmanuel Osei-Kuffor creates the tale of Nolan (a multi-leveled Mamoudou Athie), a photographer whose life has changed irreparably since a car accident robbed him of his wife and all of his memories. Cared for by Ava (the irreverently adorable Amanda Christine), his grade school daughter, Nolan finally agrees to a controversial treatment program when he realizes that he is continually putting their relationship in jeopardy with his mood swings and absent mindedness.

Run by Lillian (a chillingly observant Phylicia Rashad), a brilliant researcher, the unorthodox therapy activates the participants' brain waves via the attachment of the titular black box. Continually haunted by a dream-spread, scramble-boned figure and some emerging remembrances that don't seem to be his own, Nolan is soon fighting for his very existence.

Nicely referencing Mary Shelley, the original horror femme goddess, by bringing shades of Frankenstein-style experimental psychosis into the mix, Osei-Kuffor builds his world here with precision and a tight sense of pace. He also gladly introduces this genre to one of its previously unknown necessities. We need more of Rashad playing dynamically mysterious figures in dark gothic set-ups, pronto!

Evil Eye: From her home in Delhi, India, Usha (the subtly insistent Sarita Choudhury) learns of her daughter's new romance with a well-to-do bachelor (mysteriously confident Omar Muskati). After years of trying to set up Pallavi (sincerely defiant Sunita Mani) with a variety of men, everyone assumes that this occurrence will fill this meddling matriarch with happiness. Instead, Usha, who barely escaped from a violently obsessed suitor many years earlier, is filled with a sense of dread. Eventually, Usha begins to believe that her daughter's new love is the reincarnation of her obsessed ex, but is unable to convince anyone else of her suspicions. Naturally, like any protective parent, she eventually decides to take matters into her own hands.

Directors Elan and Rajeev Dassani imbue the film with a rich look at the celebrations and customs that highlight Usha's world and bring a calm and steady eye to the Lifetime television esthetics of the piece. (Not a diss, by the way.) More than anything though, the two allow Choudhury to quietly and ferociously command the screen, allowing for an all too rare phenomenon—a middle aged Indian actress at the heart and center of a familial horror piece.

Nocturne: In House of Psychotic Women, her study of the persona of the neurotic woman in genre film, author Kier-La Janisse paints insightful portraits of how women on the verge are treated in celluloid fantasies and how those perceptions often bleed into real life. Juliet (the nervy yet passionate Sydney Sweeney) in writer-director Zu Quirke's Nocturne could fit right in with the characters that Janisse wrote about in her acclaimed tome. Suffering from severe anxiety and exponentially diluted by the knowledge that her sister is the true talent at the arts school that they attend, Juliet withers in silence. The chance discovery of a fantastical book left behind by a deceased student changes her world, though. Suddenly, her talents swell and as a series of mysterious accidents cancel out her rivals, Juliet's world expands with possibilities.

After being tapped to play the showcase piece at the school's penultimate event, things begin to shift once again, and it looks, as with the others before her, the book may spell her downfall after all.

While this project ultimately lacks the singular edge and rich atmospherics of pictures such as Let's Scare Jessica to Death and Black Swan, Quirke does effectively use a patina of yellowed textures to color in Juliet's maddened state and sensitively highlights the frustrated ambitions that dog her central character. Indeed, with her roots stretching back to characters like Carrie White and Rosemary Woodhouse, Juliet is also a relatable figure for the LGBTQIA community—a group of individuals who must always be at the ready to fight for the things that many in the world want to consistently deny them.

The Lie: Rightfully revered for her work on The Killing, director-writer Veena Sud works magic with her cast in this moody, twisted crime drama. As the parents of a teenage girl who confesses to the murder of her best friend, Mireille Elos and Peter Sarsgaard do intricately anguished work under Sud's multileveled guidance. Sud also brings a strong sense of mysterious dread to the proceedings. The family's truths seem ready to change on a dime as events unfold, and Sud takes the audience along for the ride.

I wondered, though, if this film, based upon the popular German produced Wir Monster, might have worked better with a more observationally European touch. Sud dives so deeply into the interior lives of her characters that the twist ending comes off not only as situationally ludicrous, but possibly nonsensical considering what has come before. Keeping the characters at more of a distance may have helped pull off this magician's parlor trick with a bit more finesse. Still, even viewers who aren't familiar with her other work will recognize Sud's toned gifts here, despite this misstep.

Black Box, Evil Eye, Nocturne and The Lie are all exclusively streaming, as a part of the Halloween event Welcome to the Blumhouse, on Amazon Prime.

This article shared 2033 times since Wed Oct 28, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Music Box to run Pedro Almodovar films starting March 12 2021-03-04
- On Friday, March 12, Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., and Sony Pictures Classics will present Pedro Almodovar's critically acclaimed English-language debut, the short film The Human Voice, starring Tilda Swinton and freely based on ...

Gay News

Sisters in Cinema brings back Learn & Earn Program: Sisters in Cinema Newsroom 2021-03-02
--From a press release - CHICAGO, IL- Sisters in Cinema, a Chicago-based 501 (c)3 recently in the news for breaking ground on their new Media Arts Center, is proud to announce the return of their Sisters in Cinema Newsroom Program, and ...

Gay News

Awards season kicks off with 2021 Golden Globes 2021-03-01
- The 78th Annual Golden Globes Awards were distributed Feb. 28 in a quasi-virtual event hosted by performers Tina Fey at the Rainbow Room in New York City and Amy Poehler at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly ...

Gay News

MOVIES Director Ali LeRoi on his LGBT time-loop film 'The Obituary of Tunde Johnson' 2021-02-28
- The Obituary of Tunde Johnson is a movie with some familiar elements—but they're used to make a novel film. The movie uses the time-loop element that's probably most popular in the film Groundhog Day. However, director ...

Gay News

MOVIES Dutch journalist talks about making 'My Friend, the Mayor' 2021-02-17
- In the Amazon Prime Video documentary My Friend, the Mayor: Small-town Democracy in the Age of Trump, Dutch journalist Max Westerman profiles friend Sean Strub, an openly gay activist, activist, long-term AIDS survivor and POZ magazine ...

Gay News

New dance film features 46 dancers from 20 countries 2021-02-17
- Films.Dance—a global film series produced by and under the creative direction of LA-based Jacob Jonas The Company—continues with Match, the single most expansive collaboration in the 15-film series. Match features ...

Gay News

Showbiz: Jodie Foster, 'Aretha,' gospel singer, Cody Newman, gay actors 2021-02-14
- While promoting her new film The Mauritanian, Jodie Foster said she "was a little scared of" acting alongside Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, Yahoo! Entertainment noted. Of Silence (which has its 30th anniversary this ...

Gay News

LGBTQ+ film critics group unveils nominations 2021-02-11
- The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics (GALECA) revealed the nominations for the 2021 Dorian Film Awards on Feb. 11. Minari leads the way with six nominations, including best film and best foreign-language film; Nomadland scored five ...

Gay News

MOVIES 'Wonder Woman 1984' coming to PVOD, Digital, Blu-Ray 2021-02-10
- The movie Wonder Woman 1984—the sequel starring Gal Gadot, with Patty Jenkins as director—is arriving on Premium Video on Demand (PVOD), 4K, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital, according to a press release from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. ...

Gay News

Groundbreaking ceremony held for Sisters in Cinema Media Arts Center 2021-02-09
- Sisters in Cinema held a press conference Feb. 8 at the South Shore Cultural Center to commemorate the construction of its new state-of-the-art Media Arts Center that will be at 2310 E. 75th St. The event, ...

Gay News

Sisters in Cinema groundbreaking Ceremony promises access, training in South Shore 2021-02-05
--From a press release - CHICAGO, IL - South Shore will soon have access to a state-of-the art media facility now that a local organization has begun construction on its new brick-and-mortar home. Sisters in Cinema, a 501(c)3 dedicated to celebrating ...

Gay News

Wizard World Chicago moved from June to August 2021-02-05
- Wizard Brands, Inc. announced that its scheduled 2021 live event in Chicago has been postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions and in continued accordance with federal, state and local guidelines. Instead of the original dates of June ...

Gay News

SAG nominations announced; Boseman gets four nods 2021-02-04
- Nominations for the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards were announced Feb. 4. On the film side, Deadline noted that the late Chadwick Boseman made SAG Awards nomination history by receiving four nominations: for his lead role ...

Gay News

Donald Trump resigns from SAG-AFTRA; group tersely responds 2021-02-04
- Former U.S. President Donald Trump resigned from SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) after the organization's national board recently voted overwhelmingly to find probable cause of ...

Gay News

Golden Globe nods announced; LGBTQ shows, characters and actors included 2021-02-03
- Nominations for the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards—which honor the best in television and film—were announced Feb. 3. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will return as hosts of the event for a fourth time. The Golden ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.