Something you may not know about me (Nicholas McConnaughay) is that I have been writing reviews for a while (a long while, as a matter of fact), far longer than Readers Digested has existed. They haven’t all aged well, to be fair. I have written reviews for over a decade and some of them may not reflect how I feel about a certain film. Something else you may not know about me is that I have a strong interest in analytical / organizational data and I like to apply it to how I consume entertainment (a word salad way of saying I have a compulsion disorder and like to succumb others to it as well).
I have recently started adding some of my older reviews to Readers Digested. As I am certain you can understand, I don’t necessarily want to spotlight them a whole whole lot nor do I want to bury some of my newer reviews and the reviews of other writers like John Clarke. Thus, the reviews will be assigned the publication date closest to when they were actually written (and won’t appear on the front-page per usual). One thing I thought would be a fun challenge for myself is to reflect back on the films and what I said about them, as well as establish a sort-of never ending quest for the greatest horror film.
I won’t post all of the reviews at once and, instead, will do ten old reviews at a time and ten recent reviews as well. Here’s how it will work:
- I will create categories for each of the reviews to fall into. (Slasher, Found-Footage, etc.)
- I will rank them each in-terms of quality in that category.
- When a category has twenty-five entries, the highest-rated film will be added into a separate list and the other list will be labeled complete and a new list will start. For example, if Joe Dirt is the best psychological thriller after 25 psychological thrillers have been reviewed, it will be added into a new list comprised of other films that have “won” their respective category. Meanwhile, the original 25 will be done away with and a new best psychological thriller hierarchy will begin.
- Once the new category is filled, they can combat, and, theoretically speaking, I will have the greatest horror film (personally, of course).
The first review I have added from the vault is a South Korean horror film called Missing, which I didn’t particularly enjoy back then. I could have categorized it a number of different ways, but, I decided to categorize it as a South Korean film. I did this, in part, because it encourages me to review more South Korean films, which I am a big fan of, but sometimes don’t have the fortitude to sift through streaming services to uncover new gems. This review I wrote in 2018 can be read here.
Second and third are Hollow Man and Hollow Man 2, respectively. The release of The Invisible Man has had me thinking a lot about the Kevin Bacon science-fiction film (science fiction is how we will be categorizing both of them). Although I have no interest in revisiting it for a review, I think I would recommend it in spite of its admitted fumbles. Generally speaking, the concept of the Invisible Man is one that has always intrigued me. I was very happy with the new Leigh Whannell film and I look forward to further exploring the concept with Hammer Horror and Universal Horror reviews later on. The less said about the sequel, however, the better. The reviews I wrote in 2014 can be read here and here.
Speaking of science fiction, I also reviewed Alien, Pitchblack, and Skyline, respectively. All from 2014, I most definitely enjoyed Alien most of all among them. That said, I actually won’t be categorizing Alien just yet! Instead, I will be setting it aside so I can revisit the series altogether at a later date. I was positive in my review, for the most part, but I don’t think I fully appreciated the film and I want to dig deeper into it. Pitchblack and Skyline, on the other-hand, I feel confident about. Something I have accepted is that I won’t ever have a definitive declaration about every film. My opinion will change and so will my taste for film. That said, I was lukewarm enough about Pitchblack (which I know several enjoyed) and disliked Skyline enough that I know they would never be contenders in the Quest for the Best.
The next film I added is a film called Peacock, which I think I would single-out as the most interesting film mentioned thus far. If you haven’t seen it, I don’t want to oversell it, but it offers an eccentric, off-kilter performance from actor Cillian Murphy in a modern Psycho like scenario. I may not have been glowing when I wrote the review for this film in 2014, but, really, it has stayed with me and that says something, I think. This will be the first entry into the psychological thriller section. The review can be read here.
The Veil was a supernatural horror that left a very small impression. Starring Jessica Alba, the film came and went, and unfortunately came at a time when I reviewed every horror I could get my hands on. (I actually reviewed this film a day after it was released, no less!) The review I wrote in 2016 can be read here.
The last of the older reviews are Insomnia and The Den, respectively. If you haven’t watched Insomnia, it is a film I would recommend. Directed by Christopher Nolan, the film is, perhaps, an under-looked gem in the talented director’s resume. It does not reach the dazzling heights of Memento or, more loudly, The Dark Knight Trilogy, but, it is a fun film, and it’s up my alley, so to speak. The Den, on the other-hand, does not have the exact pedigree as that film, but is a fun film, for certain. I don’t know about you, but I dig the high-concept computer-horror genre that came and went pretty fast. If you have seen Unfriended, this film scratches a similar itch. Insomnia is a psychological thriller and will land squarely above Peacock in that category, whereas The Den will be filed under found-footage. You can read my 2017 review of The Den here and my 2014 review of Insomnia here.
The reviews hereafter are all very recent.
Full Moon Features has been embarking on a new project called The Deadly Ten. Believe it or not, I actually had a small emotional attachment to this project. Although, obviously I was not part of The Deadly Ten and, in-fact, have given negative reviews for each film released, I was inspired by their ambition enough to embark on my own project. I wanted to release six novels the same day (October 31st of this year). Mind you, the day has not yet arrived, I can confirm that this will not happen. Instead, I released a novel in March and will release a second and third novel over the next couple months (in other words, three in a year, not six). Their release of Necropolis: Legion, Weedjies: Halloweed Night, and Blade: The Iron Cross may not have exactly met my expectation, but they were all a better effort than their film Corona Zombies, which felt exploitative and bad.
Although I could have categorized them under any number of categories, I went ahead and went in a different direction: Full Moon Feature. This will also be how I categorize Hammer Horror Features, as well. I went with Weedjies: Halloweed Night as my favorite among the ones’ listed, with Corona Zombies easily crowning itself the worst. None of the films are exactly high-art nor would I recommend them. I had a lot of affection for the Full Moon brand when I was younger, but a lot of that goodwill has been wasted. I did, however, enjoy Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, which was released independently from Full Moon Features. Although it was not a great film by any stretch, it might have been the most fun I have had with the Puppet Master series altogether. (Puppet Master was not what brought Full Moon Features to the dance for me, but we will certainly talk more about them again later) That film will be filed under Horror / Comedy.
The last five films added are some newer titles: Jordan Peele’s Us, Uncut Gems, Joker, Parasite, and Hereditary. This is actually the best possible way I can end this first blog post, because I love all five of these films a lot.
Joker surprised me with a Martin Scorsese style psychological thriller heralded by a terrific turn from Joaquin Phoenix. Meanwhile, Uncut Gems offered a wonderful career-best for Adam Sandler, capturing anxiety in a reel. Hereditary was an incredibly strange and incredibly unsettling straight-up horror that I had to watch again the day after to fully appreciate it. Us was a wonderful and well-crafted horror fare from an immensely talented director who has a great career ahead of him. And, maybe best of all, Parasite offered a crazy balls-to-the-wall South Korean black-comedy thriller that brought mainstream attention to South Korean cinema.
Joker takes early lead as the best psychological thriller, as does Parasite for best South Korean film. Uncut Gems and Us both create new sub-categories (thriller and crime, respectively) and Hereditary takes the reins as best supernatural horror film.
That’s it! That’s the first twenty reviews in my quest for the most “digestible” film! I will be certain to make a new update as soon as I can. I know the structure was a little allover this time around, but I will also do my best to try and create a little structure as we progress as well. If you’re curious, you can view the ongoing work-in-progress anytime here.