Three Shudder Exclusives You Should Be Watching Right Now
Shudder is the best streaming service available. Headed by curators Sam Zimmerman (formerly of Fangoria/Shock Till You Drop) and Colin Geddes (the legendary TIFF Midnight Madness programmer), they’re carving out a niche platform that caters to hardcore horror hounds. On top of beaming the recent 4K remaster of Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm (’79), the full 109-minute unrated cut of Ken Russell’s The Devils (’71), and multiple Lucio Fulci titles straight into your living room, the AMC offshoot is also branching out into creating original content and distributing titles you can’t see anywhere else.
Earlier this year, Shudder showcased J-Horror showdown Sadako vs. Kayako, and Alice Lowe’s British pregnancy nightmare, Prevenge. While there are barely any video stores left for cinephiles to peruse, and Netflix isn’t doing much to help you discover the multiple movies they’re putting out each month, it’s comforting to have an online home that genuinely feels like it’s put together by folks punch drunk in love with the genre. They’re like digital clerks at your local Mom & Pop tape shop, happy to lend suggestions whenever you’re stuck on what to watch tonight.
Over the past few weeks, Shudder’s released three flat out brilliant titles that you should be checking out right now...
Among the Living  (d. & w. Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo)
Ever since their home invasion freak out, Inside, shattered psyches in ’07, Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo have struggled to get any of their subsequent exercises in New French Extremity released stateside. Livide – the duo’s ’11 follow-up – was bought by the Weinsteins, and then permanently shelved in the US, ostensibly so no one else could remake it. Maury & Bustillo’s American debut – the soon to be seen Texas Chain Saw mystery prequel Leatherface – has been completed for two years, and we will finally witness (unfortunately in a reportedly re-jiggered cut from the filmmakers’ original vision) how they attempt to breathe new life into that old, dead mask. Thankfully, Shudder’s released Among the Living, the ’14 surrealist slasher they shot in France, that resembles a dry run for their upcoming Sawyer family reunion. Following a group of troublemaking boys as they cut class on the last day of school, we step onto an old movie set that hides a murderous father/son unit. Together, they stalk the lads back to their homes, allowing Maury & Bustillo an opportunity to flex their moody set piece muscles. Fans of Inside will be pleased by the level of cartoonish brutality injected into the writer/directors’ smoke-shrouded slaughter-fest, as there’s at least one kill that’s guaranteed to cause even the hardest members of the audience to squirm in their seats. Hopefully, Maury & Bustillo finally catch an American break, as Among the Living is proof they’re two of our most gifted gore visionaries.
Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl  (d. & w. A.D. Calvo)
A throwback in the vein of Ti West’s House of the Devil, A.D. Calvo’s Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl is a modern companion piece to moody VHS relics like Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (’71). Beginning with a flipped Vestron logo, Calvo’s hauntingly atmospheric reverie eschews propulsive narrative in favor of dronecore commitment to late fall chilliness. Stuffed with yacht pop, whilst meticulously shot and edited to draw us deeper and deeper into a realm of retro madness, Calvo knows just what type of film Lonely Girl is, and strives to keep the Northeastern period piece details popping in order to create a unique sense of time and place. Some will no doubt be put off by the borderline “faux grindhouse” aesthetics, but Calvo’s tale of repressed female sexuality and lurking spirits has more on its mind than mere affectation. If anything, it’s a rather slavish love letter to a type of picture that’s slowly coming back in style with supercilious creepers like Oz Perkins’ The Blackcoat’s Daughter. These are movies best saved for a brisk October day, when you want to feel the lick of incoming winter bite at your fingertips without leaving the couch.
Lake Bodom  (d. Taneli Mustonen, w. Aleksi Hyvärinen & Taneli Mustonen)
The camp slasher is a tried and true tradition within the horror genre, only it hasn’t really been revisited for quite a while. Sure, there’s been metatextual comedic takes on the subsection (The Final Girls’ mock murder fest Camp Bloodbath comes to mind), but the days of Sleepaway Camp (’83), The Burning (’81)and Friday the 13th (’80) are well behind us – lost to a genre boom that died out long ago. Thankfully, Finnish writer/director Taneli Mustonen is milking real life tragedy for a slick slasher that’s more Mandy Lane than Jason Voorhees. What the movie lacks in inventive kills or set pieces, it makes up for in nerve-shredding tension and atmosphere; the wintry landscape barren and unforgiving to the gaggle of teenagers who take a trip into the woods for the usual drugs and sex. When combined with the aforementioned Maury & Bustillo stalk and slash, Shudder is becoming a premiere destination for fans of global horror. It’s the benefit of having talented curators who scour film festivals for these types of sinister offerings, knowing full well that the international scene is besting America in terms of providing slick revisions on old hat formulas.