Wondering what to do with your upcoming free time? Good thing we have some suggestions for what you should be watching, playing, reading, listening to, etc.
Ben’s Movie Pick: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon – I’ve said many, many times that Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is the best meta-slasher since Scream, and I doubt that’ll change for me anytime soon. Even after four-plus rewatches, the mockumentary is a total blast from start to finish. In fact, it’s getting even closer to surpassing Scream in my eyes. Director Scott Glosserman could’ve just settled for his ingenious and hilarious exploration of the tropes and cliches from the horror sub-genre, but just like the titular villain, he doubles down by manipulating those tropes to his advantage in equally shocking and inventive ways. And speaking of the villain, lead actor Nathan Baesel’s outstanding performance as Leslie cements the character as someone truly worthy of the legends whose footsteps he aims to follow. To me, it’s borderline criminal that this shining horror gem didn’t get a sequel or spin-off of some kind.
Lauren’s TV Pick: Midnight Mass – Not that The Haunting of Hill House or The Haunting of Bly Manor are nothing but sunshine and rainbows, but Mike Flanagan somehow managed to hit a new level of emotional devastation with Midnight Mass. I seriously, capital letter STRUGGLED to get through this one, needing to take “screw you Mike Flanagan” week long breaks after what felt like personalized assaults employed in both episodes 2 and 3, leaving my much concerned dog at a loss for what she could do to stop my migraine-producing, ugly crying. Add the instrumental themes of religious zealotry and holy perversion on top of all that (themes I find hard to enjoy because of the insurmountable frustration and rage they often spark) and honestly I’m shocked I managed to get through this at all, no matter how much I was intrigued by the “when will this take a pronounced turn towards the more typical, less insidious horror?” mysterious slow burn. And yet, this performance-heavy string of emotional monologues was so entrancing that once I got past the Pike and Alzheimer’s of it all, I was completely engrossed in this story and overwhelmingly affected by these characters, to the extent that maybe I believe in God now? Probably not… But maybe? So again I say screw you, Mike Flanagan. Job well done.
Ben’s Video Game Pick: Aliens: Fireteam Elite – Aliens: Fireteam Elite isn’t the next great Alien game that all others will be judged by, but just like Terminator: Resistance Enhanced, the lack of polish is more than forgivable because it does such a great job of making you feel like you’re a part of this long-running franchise. You play as a colonial marine sent on a bug hunt/rescue mission, and the opposition is as intimidating as you’d expect, with huge numbers of Xenomorphs attacking you from all sides and elevations. Luckily, you aren’t alone: you can play in teams of three (or with AI buddies, though they leave a bit to be desired even on normal difficulty) and work together to “survive the hive.” The game builds tons of atmosphere through its score, sound design, and level layout, and it’s genuinely impressive how carefully it throws its hordes of Xenos at you, leading to multiple encounters where my team and I only made it through just barely (though it never felt unfair). My brother and a friend of ours ran through the story missions over the course of a couple of weekends, and all walked away satisfied and hopeful for even more missions down the road.
So what do you think about these picks? What content did we miss over the past two weeks while we were spending time with these? Be sure to leave a comment below letting us know about everything (both current and simply new to you) you’ve been consuming lately!
And while you’re here, be sure to check some of the site’s other recent content:
- Ben’s written reviews of the newly released Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Antlers
- A Middle of the Row: The Podcast episode on No Sudden Moves
AND if you’re looking for some horror films to celebrate the spooky season, take a gander at these lists:
- Ben’s list of hidden horror gems
- Lauren’s Halloween Prep lists from 2019 and 2020.