Instant Picks of the Week 12/25/2015
Gone are the days of scrolling mindlessly through your queue! No longer will you have to sift through the vastness of what’s coming to the instant viewing wastelands this month! Whether you’re looking for a stellar film or an exciting new show to binge, Instant Picks of the Week brings you the hottest releases in film and television on instant viewing platforms that we know you’ll love, or at the very least not despise.
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (HBO GO, HBO NOW)
Based on conceit alone, a mockumentary about a ragtag group of vampires in the middle of New Zealand is a hard sell for anyone not immediately interested in the rather worn-out subject matter. But as WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS promptly proves, it’s not only impeccably performed, but genuinely heartwarming and cough-inducingly hilarious to boot. The immediate argument against the film is that the mockumentary format isn’t innovative anymore, with everything from BORAT to PARKS AND RECREATION having capitalized on the genre trappings, but the success of this comedy-horror hybrid lies in the fact that its form only elevates the already incredible comedy, and would still be a fantastic film without its jump cuts and talking head interviews. Thanks to fleshing out its protagonists and thoroughly exploring the world of vampires, werewolves, and vampire hunters, WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS lays the foundation for a rich backstory that hasn’t really been seen in the mockumentary format since Sacha Baron Cohen’s heyday as everyone’s favorite Kazakhstani. Not only is WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS one of the funniest films in recent memory, it’s arguably the most wholly original examination of horror lore in cinematic history. [Sergio Zaciu]
LAST SHIFT (Netflix)
Modern horror seems to be solely focused on the supposed subversion of audience expectations. Although the occasional outing manages to stand out due to a certain uniqueness in form or content, oftentimes many “innovations” merely come across as woefully trite gimmicks. That’s why an economical film like LAST SHIFT, which knows exactly what it wants to achieve and wastes no time achieving it, can be so refreshing. Sending the paranormal activity off to the races within the first seven minutes, there is nary a dull moment over the course of its sparse 87. Although it can’t be said that a general premise involving the vengeful spirits of a cult-like commune will catch everyone entirely unawares, Director Anthony DiBlasi only sparingly indulges in the jump scare, instead building up a constant atmosphere of dread and terror that showcases much more maturity than many of its peers. With at least one masterfully employed “oh shit” moment and a third act that manages to overstep the pitfalls of awful horror endings, LAST SHIFT is among the best streaming options available in terms of horror content. [Thomas Seraydarian]