“VOD” (Or “Video on Demand”) isn’t a dirty word; plenty of amazing, challenging horror films have gone directly to streaming without ever seeing a theatrical release. But the other side of VOD as an approachable distribution option for independent filmmakers is that a lot of fly-by-night horseshit ends up clogging your Netflix feed. 2016 was a terrible year for many reasons, and this selection of VOD horror movies is proof.
Little Dead Rotting Hood
Going by the title, you’d at least expect some fun schlock, but LITTLE DEAD ROTTING HOOD somehow takes itself so seriously that it ends up not succeeding at anything. Bianca Santos plays Little Red Riding Hood’s undead granddaughter, who comes back to life to defend a small town from a horde of ravenous wolves. But also she’s kind of a werewolf…and also kind of a vampire. Yeah. This is the type of movie you get if an Evanescence-obsessed teenager circa 2003 wrote an Underworld fanfic and blackmailed a production company into filming it. It’s boring, and that’s unforgivable for a movie with such a goofy-ass title. Not even my childhood love of Mirina Sirtis was enough to make me enjoy this.
INTRUDER wants you to be afraid of Moby, the least threatening man outside of Kelsey Grammer. The film follows a young cellist taking refuge from a huge storm while an unidentified hooded stalker creeps around her enormous house. No, really, that’s the plot. The first hour of this film is just Louise Linton wandering around a house while an unseen creeper breathes heavily on stuff, and once the plot actually starts developing, the movie (mercifully) ends. Linton’s accent is the most versatile member of the cast – one minute it’s Scottish, then English, then “Cary Grant talking nervously on the phone with his parents.” It would normally be fine that INTRUDER is a huge collection of boring horror movie clichés garnished with more gratuitous shower scenes than mid-80s anime, but it doesn’t even pair the tropes with crowd-pleasing death scenes. Travis Zariwny needs to apologize to me, personally, for wasting 88 minutes of my life. (Also Louise Linton once wrote a fake memoir about having visited Zambia that’s racist as FUCK, so take that for what it’s worth.)
Cabin Fever (2016 Remake)
Scratch that, Travis Zariwny owes me two apologies and a basket of fancy cheeses for the cinematic terrorism he committed in 2016. His remake of Eli Roth’s CABIN FEVER was not only pointless; it was the most deeply exhausting remake I’ve ever seen (aside from maybe Gus Van Zant’s PSYCHO). For those of you who haven’t seen the 2002 original, CABIN FEVER follows five confused J. Crew models as they vacation in a cabin and fall prey to all manner of body horror shenanigans after a gross stranger loiters on their porch. Here’s the thing: If you’re going to remake anarchic schlock from 2002, don’t do it beat-for-beat while trying to class the joint up with shiny 2016 effects. It says nothing, does nothing, and in turn, is nothing. And the biggest problem with CABIN FEVER, as with all other Travis Zariwny films, is that he wouldn’t recognize a joke if it bit him on the dick.
I would’ve loved to be present for the brainstorming session for CASSIDY WAY: “Fracking, right? Fracking is BAD. So bad that...it poisons the water and turns people into the Sawyers from Texas Chainsaw, basically?” So CASSIDY WAY is about three dopey filmmakers and their encounter with a local family that’s been poisoned to the point of insanity by fracking-contaminated water, and it’s a slog to get through from minute one. Director Harvey Lowry comes off like a 70s singer-songwriter: He doesn’t know what he’s trying to say about fracking as a social issue, but it’s important that he express SOMETHING, even if the only tools he has to use are pointless sex scenes and the most boring torture sequences ever seen by God or man.
How are you going to make me resent a movie featuring Heather Langenkamp and Samantha Mumba as wives? HOME follows a young fundamentalist’s struggle to adjust to her recently-un-closeted Mom and her new little sister, and things become substantially harder when her sister becomes possessed by a demon. I’ve loved Heather Langenkamp since I was knee-high to a duck’s ass, but let’s be real: Nobody would be watching HOME if her name didn’t pop up on Amazon’s cast list, and no amount of Langenkamp charm can save this soggy after-school special. It’s like a Lifetime original movie called I Have Two Moms (And I Hate Them Both) that got lost halfway through and added demon possession out of desperation. Also of note: Heather, Samantha, Kerry, Aaron, and Lew are all named after the actors who play them, which sort of tells you everything you need to know about how much Frank Lin himself cares about HOME.