I’m here to tell you that there’s a cinematic streaming goldmine available on Hulu that includes recent hits, older classics, domestic releases, and foreign imports. Sure it’s mostly TV shows, plenty of filler, and seemingly thousands of titles I’ve never heard of before, but I’m here to recommend some good movies (and maybe even some “good” movies) to watch this May on Hulu.
Typically I cross all manner of genres, but this month I’m focusing on horror to remind people that it’s never a bad time of year to watch something spooky, creepy, or visibly unsettling.
Pick of the Month: The Den (2014)
I know what you’re thinking. “Rob! Please shut up about this movie you’ve been praising at every opportunity since 2014.” I would if a could kind stranger, I would if I could. But I can’t because the damn movie is so ridiculously great in both its script and format. It’s not quite “found footage,” but it does take place almost entirely on a laptop computer screen, and while that sounds like it would be terrible it’s executed with such precision and skill as to create a horror thriller that’s as smartly crafted as it is terrifying. So here’s the deal… I’ll stop pushing it once everyone in the free world has seen it.
The films from Charles Band‘s Full Moon factory have dipped into parody over the years, but up through the ’90s at least they managed to frequently deliver plenty of horrifically good fun. Dolls remains one of my favorites, but this franchise-starter has more than its fair share of bloody and goofy thrills as a creative mix of malicious, stop-motion puppets wreak havoc on some unsuspecting humans. Now’s a good time to catch up with, and to dig into the mixed bag of sequels if so inclined, as a new film is currently in production with the always worth watching Barbara Crampton in a lead role.
Frank Henenlotter‘s best film (don’t @ me) is far more comedic than it is horrific, but it still counts for this list as it involves a mad scientist, body parts, and exploding prostitutes. It may not be scary, but damn is it funny. As you can probably surmise from the title it plays on the Frankenstein narrative but does so with wicked abandon and a wonderfully broad sense of humor. James Lorinz kills it as the man behind the monster, but Patty Mullen steals it from beneath him as the smack-talking “monster” with a crooked smile. It’s endlessly goofy, so if you’re not in the right state of mind feel free to skip it, but if you’re up for some absurdity definitely give it a spin.
Open Water (2003)
The premise here is terrifying in its simplicity, and it remains one of the few “animal attack” movies to actually deliver scares in addition to its thrills. Even people who don’t plan on swimming in the ocean should find the tension and terror here highly effective. The bitching and griping between the couple trapped floating in the middle of nowhere is occasionally tiresome, but the isolation and constant threat from below overpower that complaint.
The Last Winter (2007)
The “ecological horror” sub-genre typically features animals on a rampage, but while we wait for John Skipp & Craig Spector’s brilliant novel The Bridge to get the adaptation it deserves this moody gem sits as the best example of the planet striking back. It’s Larry Fessenden‘s best film too delivering atmospheric chills, memorable visuals, and themes that feel relevant even as they leave viewers unsettled. All that plus James Le Gros, Ron Perlman, and Kevin Corrigan!
The Burrowers (2008)
J.T. Petty‘s frontier-set “creature feature” melds westerns and horror to near perfection as it sends a rescue party out in search of some missing settlers. Clancy Brown and William Mapother headline, and the movie does a great job setting the scene, crafting its characters, and ratcheting up suspense before the monsters of the title make their presence known. It’s good stuff in an unusual environment for the genre, and I highly recommend it for those of you who wished Little House on the Prairie had more monsters beyond Nellie Oleson.
As timely a horror movie as you’re likely to find in the Trump era, this “found footage” thriller sees a group of illegal immigrants crossing the border into the United States only to find a brutal welcoming party awaiting them. It’s a tough watch at times, but it delivers some thrills and fills the time while we wait for director Chris Peckover‘s sophomore feature (the immensely thrilling and highly entertaining Safe Neighborhood, recently re-named Better Watch Out) to finally get released.
A home invasion thriller filmed in multiple long takes/tracking shots, this is a harrowing ride from beginning to end and a film that finds its terror in the mundane realm of your own home. I’m on record as *hating* the final minute despite loving everything that comes before, so proceed at your own risk.
William Lustig’s original slasher has its fans, but while I appreciate the sleazy, low-rent feel for what it is the effect is a movie that never feels in need of a re-watch. Franck Khalfoun‘s remake, by contrast, is an endlessly stylish and gruesome affair that succeeds on nearly every front. It’s shot and scored beautifully, the gore effects are extraordinary, and it’s presented almost completely in POV format. Elijah Wood gives the title character a terrific mix of pathos and mania, and while he’s still the “bad guy” here his performance adds layers missing from the original.
The Babadook (2014)
Easily the most critically-acclaimed of the films on this list, Jennifer Kent‘s terrifically creepy exploration of grief and loss creates its own mythology in pursuit of its themes. Sure the kid’s occasionally obnoxious, but it’s a worthy price to pay for some truly creepy sequences and a powerful ending. One of its many strengths is the recognition that even if you interpret the film as wholly without supernatural presence its power and terror remains.
They Look Like People (2016)
Like The Den at the top of the page, this is another small horror picture that I refuse to shut up about. It’s the far more indie of the two with a central cast of three characters and the feeling of a tiny character drama, but as the story unfolds the terror, suspense, and tension steadily increase. It’s a fantastic tale of friendship in the face of mental illness too, and while horror films often engage in serious themes and topics they rarely land as beautifully and effectively as they do here.