Have You Ever Seen...
This is the first time I'll recommend that you don't watch the trailer I post at the end. It's generally better to go into this blind, but I will say J.K. Simmons is a treasure and he is in a bathroom stall for the entirety of this movie.
The first 10 minutes or so didn't quite hook me as the main character immediately bugged me, but once the movie got into the bathroom.....boy howdy. It went places.
I thought it was pretty tightly directed and looked sharp. Some of the CGI wasn't the greatest but it was used sparingly. A lot of the strength in the film came from the tone and desperate atmosphere combined with Simmons just being fantastic.
Definitely recommend if you're looking for a different kind of cosmic horror.
Cold Skin (2017)
Think 'less metaphorical Lighthouse' with a bit more creature feature. I mean, it's still trying to cram in plenty of themes about colonialism and how shitty Western civilization can be, it's just fairly straight forward about it and wants you to check out it's sweet makeup effects.
The story follows a young Englishman as he takes a new post on a small island as a weather observer. The only other person on the island is a haggard Ray Stevenson in his fortified lighthouse, plus the hundred or maybe thousands of Lovecraftian fish/frog people. Hijinks ensue.
The storytelling is pretty straight forward and hits the familiar beats for this type of genre piece, but it's nicely shot , well acted, and features some top notch design work and effects. It's interesting as it's more Lovecraft adjacent (mostly in design aspects only) than Lovecraftian, as the creatures are quickly cast as the victims and the story places Ray Stevenson's character Gunner into the role of a conqueror abusing a local indigenous people.
I won't say it's a movie that blew me away, but it's definitely worth checking out as it's a solid production and tiks a few boxes on what I like to see in horror movies.
Dead & Buried (1981)
This was a movie that I recall seeing at Blockbuster when I was young but never picked up. For whatever reason it popped back up on my radar, and I was consistently impressed and surprised with the film. On that note, you may want to skip the trailer as it kinda spoils a bit too much.
The quickie pitch is that there are a series of brutal murders that occur in the sleepy coastal town of Potters Bluff, all committed by a mysterious mob. The sheriff is slowly trying to piece together the mystery and finds that the entire town is full of odd secrets and behavior. I don't want to go too much more into it, other than it is Lovecraftian but not in the usual cosmic horror way. I was hesitant to really categorize it that way at first until a point in the film where they find out a key character is from Providence, Rhode Island and then it's like, ah yeah, no definitely going for a certain vibe there.
I will say the first 5-10 minutes felt like a slog, and then it hits you with a big WTF and continually throws some interesting weird stuff at you. Acting was pretty great all around, especially from Jack Albertson who plays the local mortician. Lots of great practical effects from Stan Winston as well, and while some do look a bit dated here and there they're still fun. There were some odd ADR sequences, but they were mostly more amusing than terrible.
A surprisingly fun small town horror piece that I would say is worth taking a quick look at if you're in the mood for a good atmospheric mystery.