Recommendations from the Shudder Hotline (Oct 2022) – Week 1

October is back which can mean only one thing: we’re calling Shudder curator Sam Zimmerman and asking for some personalized recommendations!  It’s a truly unique service unlike anything offered by every other streaming service, and we’re incredibly grateful to Shudder, and to Sam for providing it.

Every Friday in October (and April), you can call the Shudder hotline during a one hour window and get personalized recommendations.

Since this past Friday was my wife Jess’ birthday, I let her pick the challenge.  She asked for Sam to recommend something paranormal, something mysterious, something funny, and of course something birthday-related, all from Shudder’s platform:

Something Paranormal – They Live In the Grey (2022)
Following a social worker as she tries to help a family, she soon discovers that her own inner demons are somehow connected to the potentially real demons she’s facing at this family’s house.

This movie takes a much more drama-heavy approach and touches upon themes of grief and loss, while delivering on the suspense and supernatural terror.  It uses its jump scares sparingly, and very effectively.  The result is a dramatic and disturbing supernatural thriller reminiscent of something like Insidious.

Something Mysterious – Watcher (2022)
2. Watcher
A young actress moves with her husband to Bucharest, Romania, and in addition to the culture shock and lack of speaking the local language, she begins to fear that she’s being stalked.  Watcher is very much a callback to Hitchcockian thrillers of decades past.

Even from the very beginning, the filmmakers made the deliberate choice to not subtitle the Romanian we hear people speak, thus putting the audience just as in the dark as the main character about what people are saying.

What really makes it work though is that we the audience are never really sure if she’s just being paranoid, if everyone around her is gaslighting her, or even if she might be the one causing the trouble that she sees everywhere she goes…

Something Funny – Deadstream (2022)
3. Deadstream
Deadstream is the perfect representation of modern influencer/social media culture.  It follows a disgraced content creator who’s trying to redeem himself and earn more subscribers by spending the night in a haunted house.  It’s a rare movie where the main character begins as very unlikeable, but gets more likeable as the night goes on.

It captures the highs and lows of internet culture, all while breaking down its protagonist, making him more and more honest with his audience as the scares continue.  The horror itself starts off like Grave Encounters, but goes full Evil Dead in a hilarious and twisted manner by the end!

Something Birthday Themed – Alison’s Birthday (1981)
4. Alisons Birthday
Released in the early 80’s, Alison’s Birthday remains a prime example of the “ozploitation” subgenre.  It’s cheaply made, filled with awkwardly and unintentionally hilarious camp, but it’s a decent mystery/horror film that deals with a young woman’s birthday and all the horror that seems to come with it.

With elements of Rosemary’s Baby and The Wicker Man, Alison’s Birthday deals with cults, and the lengths they’re willing to go to to achieve their supernatural goals.  Its low production quality is something of a badge of honor, and in many ways it feels like a much lower budget version of Ari Aster’s recent hit, Hereditary.

We’ll be back next week with one more set of awesome recommendations from Shudder Curator Sam Zimmerman!  Until then, enjoy your October and watch tons of horror movies!

5. Hotline
Be sure to call in for recommendations!

They Live in the Grey, Watcher, Deadstream and Alison’s Birthday are all streaming on Shudder

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