Southbound

★★½☆ – (2015) – Anthology of intertwining stories that all have to do with the darkest sides of the ungodly. Has the same structure as Trick ‘r Treat, and though it’s not as tightly wound, this one has plenty of frights and shocks to call its own. There’s virtually no emotional connection to any single character, but what they’re put through is often grueling to watch. Not for the faint of heart.

The Nun

★★☆☆ – (2018) – A priest and a prospective nun investigate a suicide at a convent and slowly unravel a dark secret. Despite showcasing stark atmosphere and ghoulish imagery, there’s not much happening here storywise. This is by-the-numbers religious hodgepodge with an underused and unscary villain. Another Conjuring spinoff letdown.

Mandy

★★½☆ – (2018) – A mild mannered lumberjack goes after the cult that roasted his wife. The first half, while painfully slow, offers high levels of intrigue, while the second half provides all the Nicolas Cage bombast you could ever want or expect. Stylish one moment, basic the next, but always hard to look away from.

Borderland

★★★☆ – (2007) – A trio of friends looking for fun at a Mexican border town instead find themselves involved with a religious cult. Opens with a vicious bang, then builds on an involving mystery with plenty of surprises and violent shocks. Characters aren’t always the brightest, and some actions aren’t logical, but this is completely absorbing in the grittiest of ways.

The Transfiguration

★★☆☆ – (2016) – A young man who drinks the blood of his victims has a hard time maintaining a new friendship. Enjoyable for its quiet take on vampires, but feels a but too much like a film it mentions, Let the Right One In. This is also slow enough to add weight to your eyelids, but still serves as middle-tier entertainment.

Alleluia

★★★☆ – (2014) – A couple that manipulates themselves travel around to financially deceive others, yet their plans always end up in violence. Not easy to explain, which is great since it’s also difficult to know what will happen from one scene to the next. Pulls you along with a firm, psychotic grasp from startling start to disturbing finish.

The Devil’s Carnival: Alleluia!

★★☆☆ – (2016) – God, the devil, and their acquaintances sing through the plight of putting dark souls in Heaven. Not nearly as painful as the dull original, as this one shows signs of life. The plot tends to confuse, and the songs are repetitive, but there is progression and solid production values.

The Blackcoat’s Daughter

★½☆☆ – (2015) – A young woman with parental issues doles out her aggressions on the innocent. Has a calm tone throughout that works well at first, but ultimately leads to tedium. By the time the horror kicks in (rather confusingly), it’s hard to worry about any outcomes since no one becomes known during the slow processes.

The Alchemist Cookbook

★★☆☆ – (2016) – A paranoid young man who lives alone in the woods conducts experiments to ward off evil. The premise holds promise, and a secondary character provides laughs, but by the mid-point every highlight dissolves into nothingness. The main problem is we’re never told what’s going on, which might intrigue some but frustrate others.