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Unless you go in knowing what it’s about, it’s hard to watch The Wolf House and understand it completely. Outside of a brief synopsis that offers a little bit of insight, nothing in the film will actually say what’s happening as it sends you on a psychedelic acid trip made out of creepy paper-mache. It’s “Three Little Pigs” meets “Red Riding Hood” set in a house in Hell. Only 75 minutes long, it feels like two hours. A Chilean stop-motion animated horror film, its natural title is La Casa Lobo, and it’s a propaganda film spoken entirely in hushed whispers.

It’s not literally a propaganda film. Kind of like a mockumentary but without the documentary part. The film is presented by a small, reclusive community in Chile that’s never named, but referred to only as “The Colony” or “The Society.” A quick dive into the film’s history, however, will reveal that the community in question is Colonia Dignidad, a real colony founded south of Santiago in 1961 by a group of Germans that fled after WWII. The leader of the colony, eventually turned cult, was Paul Schafer, a convicted pedophile and Nazi.

The film opens with an introduction that feels like those absurdly cheerful videos about “hugs not drugs” in grade school, where it’s explained to be a presentation put on by the Colony for the outside public in an attempt to “dispel the horrible rumors” about them. The brief introduction is filmed like a welcome video tour of the Colony, full of images made to look like happy Amish country, and then the actual film begins.

The Wolf House is very much a dark fairytale, and like any fairytale, it tells a lesson of obedience. It focuses on a young girl named Maria who one day was disobedient and punished for it. Rather than take her cruel punishment like a good girl, she flees the Colony into the surrounding wilderness for a life of independence. Not long after, a large wolf finds her and chases her deeper into the woods where she’s forced to take refuge in an abandoned house.

Inside the house, she finds two baby pigs and becomes their mother. The three end up staying there for years (maybe months, it’s never clear), as the wolf patiently waits outside. His voice, like a dark hymn, calls her name all throughout the night. “Maria. Maria. Maria,” he chants, playing nice. “I was very harsh on Maria, but it will be good for her.” He is not really a wolf but Schafer hunting her down.

From there the film gets super surreal. It is a stop-motion animation made from paper-mache so a dreamlike creep factor was pretty much a given. The house is connected to Maria directly and changes to match her moods, fears, and thoughts. Essentially the third little pig in their strange family of three, Maria’s power to shape the world around her eventually bleeds into her two piggy adoptees as she turns them into human children. Pedro and Ana.

She’s given them life but is ill-equipped to manage it, and soon this freedom turns against her.

Themes of innocence, naivety, fear, and hunger, in more ways than one, are all on display in The Wolf House, but given the Colony’s purpose of the film, it’s all used against poor Maria. We watch Maria go from child to mother then back to a child again, from liberated survivor to frightened victim, her spirit is beaten down until she’s meant to believe that life on The Colony is actually better. As time goes on, the house and the two children become more nightmarish. They’ve grown beyond Maria’s influence and the wolf’s quiet, unseen, presence begins to suffocate her.

Verdict

This review’s title is actually misleading because this isn’t the creepiest animated film since Coraline, it’s much creepier than Coraline. I honestly never got what everyone liked about Coraline and never really thought it was all that frightening, even though everyone else did, but The Wolf House is definitely an eerie little film, disturbing and beautiful in its pastel-colored grotesqueness. The animation is a horror show all its own.

Watching the animation shift from form to form, accompanied by a crackling sound like a thousand cockroaches crawling up and down the walls, is just unnerving. You’ll be completely transfixed, unable to look away, and if you watch it in the dark it’ll sound like those creeping cockroaches are all around you. The icing on the cake is the film’s chosen silence. The characters whisper their dialogue as if they’re whispering for the purpose of not waking the dead.

It is an acquired taste. Not exactly fun to watch, or even that exciting. It will demand your full attention so if you aren’t willing to give it, maybe skip it. The Wolf House is directed by Cristobal León & Joaquín Cociña in their first fiction feature film co-written with Alejandra Moffat and featuring a cast of just two voices, Amalia Kassai as Maria and Rainer Krause as the Wolf.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Photos are the property of Diluvio and Globo Rojo Films

Rachel Roth is a writer who lives in South Florida. She has a degree in Writing Studies and a Certificate in Creative Writing, her work has appeared in several literary journals and anthologies. @WinterGreenRoth

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The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine Special Live Watch Party February 10th!

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The sweet putrid stench of love lingers through the air which can only mean one thing…Valentine’s Day and its annoying little winged cherub mascot, Cupid, is fast approaching. Soon, partners will be spoiling one another with extravagant bouquets of roses, heartfelt Hallmark cards, obnoxiously large teddy bears, glistening diamond jewelry, and heart-shaped candies or boxes filled with assorted mediocre chocolates. You know? Normal things couples do. I tend to prefer my chocolate boxes filled with bleeding hearts, à la ‘My Bloody Valentine’ but, beggars can’t be choosers, right? All jokes aside, Valentine’s Day is special for many couples, however, there are also many others who find themselves celebrating this day without a significant other. Luckily, Shudder, along with drive-in king Joe Bob Briggs and co-host Darcy the Mail Girl (Diana Prince) will graciously be keeping us lonely mutants’, and yes, all you horror fanatic couples’ company on Friday, February 10th as they return with The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine, premiering live at 9pm EST.

Love Spells Abound…

Back in 2021, Joe Bob and Darcy invited us to a gruesomely passionate night of spell-binding love witches and animatronic dinosaurs infused with teenage human brains during The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob Put a Spell on You. Many, including myself, were introduced to the tantalizing 70’s inspired retro throwback ‘The Love Witch’ and the graphically goofy cult classic ‘Tammy and the T-Rex’, providing the perfect viewing pleasure to mend any broken heart. While the two films for this year’s morbid love-induced special have yet to be announced, as a special treat, Briggs has announced for the first time on The Last Drive-In, he will be marrying one lucky couple during the live showing. We here at HauntedMTL are eagerly awaiting the return of the ghoulish duo so, as is tradition, we will be proudly hosting a watch party on Twitter during the broadcasting of The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and tag us  @hauntedMTL as well as @shudder@therealjoebob, and @kinky_horror to partake in this night of unholy love.

Drawn image of Joe Bob Briggs pouring  a drop of pink liquid into a clear glass potion bottled filled with a glowing red substance. To his left lies a book a magic spells with a golden pentagram necklace resting on top. Also on the books rests a human skull with heart shaped pupils for eyes hiding behind a pair of clear glasses. In bold white letters a text reads "Join us on February 10th as we live tweet The Last Drive-In Valentine's Day Special".
Follow @hauntedMTL for live tweets and replies!

What started off as a one-time special premiering on Shudder July 13, 2018, ‘The Last Drive- In’ was originally meant to be Brigg’s swan song; one last special before hanging up the bolo tie in retirement. However, due to so many mutants, excuse me…viewers tuning in and breaking the Shudder servers, it was only natural to announce an official full season of ‘The Last Drive-In‘, which would make its explosive debut March 19, 2019. Since then, Darcy and Briggs have spawned many exclusive holiday specials, have graciously donated to many charities within the community, and have accumulated 4 seasons of ‘The Last Drive-In’, with a fifth currently in production premiering on Shudder’s 2023 schedule sometime this year, let’s hope sooner rather than later.

Picture of Joe Bob Briggs, Darcy the Mail Girl, John Patrick Brennan and Yuki Nakamura standing together dressed in medieval costumes. A cardboard cutout of Tom Atkins stands between Darcy and Yuki. Darcy is seen drapped in a beautfiul elegant princess dress, satin white with gold trim. Yuki is seen holding a small wreath of purple, white, and yellow flowers that match his loud medieval king costume. Resting atop both their heads are golden crowns. Joe Bob Briggs is seen standing to the left of Darcy, as he smiles whilst wearing a half-put together jester costumer. Lastly, we see Brennan with two wooden recorders in his hand as he mimics playing them both dress clad in a bright yellow dress.
An unexpected ceremony during The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob Put a Spell on You (2021) special.

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Movies n TV

Horror Noire, a Film Review

Horror Noire is a horror collection that includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.”

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Horror Noire is a horror collection brought by the combined efforts of AMC+ and Shudder. The collection includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.” Horror Noire boasts Black directors and screenwriters, providing six unique stories.

As this collection explores six stories, I will skip the usual synopsis to assess the genres and ideas explored, albeit limited as needed. Expect to find supernatural horror, creature features, and psychological thrillers. Many short films deal with these genres while exploring Black issues, but this isn’t universal for the collection.

The directors and writers include Zandashé Brown, Robin Givens, Rob Greenlea, Kimani Ray Smith, Steven Barnes, Ezra Clayton Daniels, Tananarive Due, Shernold Edwards, Victor LaValle, and Al Letson.

Woman and man wearing a vote for candidate shirt, scared of something off screne
Image from “Sundown” Directed by Kimani Ray Smith

What I Like

Each story remains unique, holding different strengths and weaknesses that highlight drastically different perspectives. Collections like VHS hold a similar premise to create their collection, but Horror Noire gives more creative freedom to its talent to be independent.

My personal favorite short film is Zandashé Brown’s “Bride Before You.” This period piece unravels a fable set in the Reconstruction Era. The entry feels Fabulistic in approach, which happens to be my preferred niche.

However, the best example of horror goes to Robin Givens’ “Daddy,” providing an existential horror tied directly to the characters involved.

Woman listening to a preacher amidst a crowd
Image from “Fugue State” directed by Rob Greenlea

What I Dislike

As mentioned, all have a particular style and idea. The downside of this approach always remains to keep the viewer interested long enough to find their favorite. If you find several underwhelming choices, this becomes a chore. But I imagine that is rare as the variety makes the options refreshing.

Personally, “Brand of Evil” had an interesting premise, but the execution fell short. On paper, it might have sounded like my favorite, which makes the lackluster execution a bigger letdown.

Zeth M. Martinez

Final Thoughts

Horror Noire gives power and control to Black creators, providing a formula for a unique collection against others in the space. While the various subjects and approaches mean you aren’t likely to love them all, there should be a short film for everyone.
3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Dahmer, Silenced

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Episode six of Netflix’s Dahmer was not, honestly about our title character. Instead, it was about one of his victims, a man named Tony. We’ve actually seen Tony a few times during this series. We just didn’t know it was him.

Rodney Burford in Dahmer

And, well, he wasn’t exactly alive the first time we saw him.

Tony was born into a supportive, loving family. This is good because soon after he was born a viral infection took his hearing. He is black, deaf, and gay in the early 90’s.

Tony has a dream of becoming a model. And he certainly has the looks for it. He is beautiful, body and soul. He has lots of opportunities for romance, but it’s not what he’s looking for. He wants a real relationship. 

Eventually Tony moves to Madison, trying to pursue his dream. He gets a job and starts getting modeling work.

Then, he meets Jeff Dahmer at a bar. 

At first, we can almost believe that it’s going to be alright. Jeff seems happy. He’s taking care of himself. He’s not drinking as much. He even has his dad and stepmom over for dinner. It seems like his life is getting on track. Even better, he’s treating Tony right.

Then, of course, things go bad. 

One thing that has always bothered me as a true crime fan is that we know so much about the killers, but not as much about the victims. Not so much if we don’t know who the killer is, of course. But the names that are part of our pop culture are those of the killers. Dahmer, Manson, Jones, Bundy, Holms. The names we don’t know are Roberta Parks, Beth LaBiancas, Leno LaBiancas, and Tony Hughes. And clearly, we should know them.

If Tony Hughes was half the shining, positive person that the show Dahmer made him out to be, I’m so sad that he isn’t with us anymore. We need so many more people like him. And many of Dahmer’s victims were likely just like him. After all, he was attracted to them for a reason.

This was a significant episode, and I understand why it’s the highest-rated episode of the series. I finished it with a heavy heart, saddened by the loss of a man who should still be with us today. 

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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