Whether you are planning a weekend night out or you're working a babysitting gig, there's enough to choose from at the box office.

In Popdust's column, Box Office Breakdown, we aim to inform you of the top flicks to check out every weekend depending on what you're in the mood to enjoy. Looking to laugh? What about having your pants scared off? Maybe you just need a little love? Whatever the case may be, we have you covered. Take a peek at our top picks for this week…

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Film Features

This Haunts Me: "Friday the 13th" but in Space?

Remember when Jason Vorhees was a cyborg? I can't scrub it from my mind.

Liquid nitrogen death scene - Jason X

It's Friday the 13th, which seems like a particularly good time to ask the burning question that's been on my mind for quite a while now: Remember that time they made Friday the 13th, but in space?

There are a lot of really bad horror movie sequels that seem to totally miss every possible aspect of whatever it was that made the original great, like Jaws II, which features an inane premise about a different shark seeking revenge over the death of the first shark from Jaws.

There are also some surprisingly great horror sequels, like Wes Craven's New Nightmare, which sees a "real" Freddy Kreuger terrorizing the actors from the original Nightmare on Elm Street in what ultimately functions as a meta-commentary on the genre.

But then there's Jason X, and I honestly have no idea what to make of it.

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Film Features

All the Plot Holes We Want Fixed in "A Quiet Place Part II"

The original A Quiet Place had a lot of plot holes.

Paramount Pictures

A Quiet Place Part II, the sequel to John Krasinki's 2017 hit horror/thriller A Quiet Place, is coming out later this month.

But while the original put audiences on edge with its pervasive use of silence, the movie ultimately fell victim to a number of plot holes that made it hard to stay fully immersed. Since the concept of A Quiet Place (monsters that hunt through sound, resulting in the protagonists' need to stay quiet at all times) has so much potential, here are the biggest issues we hope get fixed in the sequel.

The Monsters' Sense of Hearing

One of the biggest plot holes in the film revolves around the strength of the monsters' hearing. We catch a glimpse of a newspaper clipping explaining that the monsters' blindness enhances their super-hearing, but how powerful is their hearing, really? If the monsters are able to hear a branch being broken from miles away, shouldn't they also be able to hear the heartbeats of all of the human characters? Wouldn't it be especially hard for them not to hear the heartbeat of the mother, Evelyn, as she literally gives birth? Maybe they're able to selectively control their hearing. That would be interesting to explore in A Quiet Place Part II.

The Baby

Speaking of the newborn, the extreme irresponsibility of having a child in the middle of an apocalyptic event almost goes beyond any notion of sense. Sure, it's reasonable to want to relieve some stress during a time of crisis, but they had to know that there might be consequences. Also, there's no way the baby would survive until the sequel, considering how much they cry. Crying is a baby's defense mechanism, so babies are basically natural prey for sound-hunting monsters. Including the baby might be a nice way to amp up the emotional weight of the film, but it weighs the family down beyond any point of realism.

Beating the Beast

In the climax of the film, Emily uses her deaf daughter, Regan's cochlear implant to stun the monster, giving her the opportunity to kill it. But if disarming the monster is as simple as making high-frequency noises, this begs the question: Why was no one able to figure out that loud noises harmed the monsters before? Shouldn't this be common knowledge? It's safe to assume that there were scientists in their world at one point, so were they all just killed before they could come to the correct conclusion? Hopefully in the sequel, they'll have perfected the use of high frequency weapons in creative capacities.

The Waterfall

If the family knew the location of a waterfall that drowned out sound so well that it made human screams inaudible, why didn't they just live near it in the first place? Even if the monsters used it as their watering hole, which we have no reason to believe they did, the humans could still just stay out of their way or maybe even sneak up and kill them if given the chance. That makes a lot more practical sense than living in an open field where any sound would almost definitely echo. No reason was ever given as to why that area might be uninhabitable, so it's insane to think that they could've been totally safe and hydrated but for some reason decided against it.

A Quiet Place became a success due to its ability to build suspense based on the silence, but hopefully the sequel can include what worked in the original while ironing out some of the more glaring issues..

A Quiet Place Part II will be released March 20, 2020.


Photo by Andres Gomez - Unsplash

In Andy Muschietti's new film, IT: Chapter Two, audiences are reintroduced to the band of nerdy, endearing children they met two years ago in the 2017 installment of IT.

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Why "Crawl" Is a Better Summer Horror Movie than "Midsommar"

How is a horror movie about alligators better than Ari Aster's latest hit?

Paramount Pictures

Summer 2019's movie line-up has been seriously lacking, to put it nicely.

While endless sequels and prequels and reboots may be fine for getting butts in seats, it feels like we've been watching the same few movies again and again and again. This can be said for almost every genre currently hitting the big screen—except for horror. Yes, there's a lot of horror franchise shlock, too (Annabelle Gets a Boyfriend, or whatever it's called, stands in testament to that). But horror is also the only genre that's currently propping up fresh voices with visions of filmmaking that go beyond "and then we do a sequel."

This summer, two horror features in particular have stood out. The first is Midsommar, director Ari Aster's new movie, which came out hot on the heels of his terrifying 2018 debut, Hereditary. Midsommar is a folklore-steeped horror story centering on the interplay between personal trauma and cult rituals. The second is Alexandre Aja's Crawl, which is about a girl trying to escape a basement inhabited by two alligators. That's basically the whole plot.


It might seem strange to compare Midsommar to Crawl. At face-value, the two movies don't seem to have much in common besides their genres. One is a cerebral, imagery-laden, thematically dense, arthouse-oriented horror film. The other is just a movie about trying to get away from a gator. But both Aster and Aji direct their movies to a T, using everything in their wheelhouses to fulfill their visions and evoke the most tension possible in their audiences. And through this fundamental element of tension, by which horror movies live or die, Aji succeeds where Aster fails.

Midsommar is almost definitely the better film from a technical standpoint. The plot follows a group of American friends (mostly anthropology grad students) as they participate in a midsummer festival held by a cult-like Swedish commune. While he never outright explains their beliefs, Aster fills his sets with art and folklore and visual flourishes, all of which bring the commune to life. It feels like a real place where real Swedish cult-members live and operate according to established rules which, while unclear to us, are very clear to them.

At the same time, the world building in Midsommar overshadows a lot of the tension. For viewers, hints of the cult's more depraved rituals stand out amongst their artworks, so we understand early on that the cult is going to perform gruesome acts. Watching these acts, while certainly visually disturbing, loses a good deal of impact without the element of surprise. The situations on display are definitely tense for the characters involved, but the tension for the audience never feels strong enough.

This lack of tension, coupled with the protagonist's lackluster arc, results in a visually fascinating, incredibly well-acted movie that ultimate fails to resonate beyond its imagery.

crawl movieCrawlParamount Pictures

Like Midsommar, Crawl lays almost all of its cards on the table upfront. There's a huge hurricane in Florida. A college girl on swim team scholarship (her swimming ability is important) is trapped in a basement with her injured father. Two decent-sized gators block their way out, and the basement is slowly flooding. The premise is simple. The pieces are obvious. And yet, unlike Midsommar, we never really know what's going to happen.

It's hard to call Crawl a "good movie." The acting is serviceable, but the script's emotional beats are almost laughable. We don't even necessarily care about the characters. Still, Crawl feels relentless. Aji uses close-up shots of his characters to limit the scope of visibility. It may not sound like much, but knowing an alligator is in the room and capable of striking at any time creates a genuine, pervasive sense of dread. The gators don't need to be giant and smart or supernatural. They just need to be there.

As Crawl goes on, the tension only heightens. One bad situation leads to another, and as the water levels rise, it becomes clear that escaping the basement isn't enough. It's an incredible example of a simple horror premise that never deviates further than is necessary, but is executed with the exact level of precision necessary to make it tick.

Even though some of Crawl's thematic elements fall flat, it doesn't need them to succeed in the same way Midsommar does. Crawl's simplicity is scary enough on its own. Midsommar is certainly more ambitious, but that doesn't make it scarier and, arguably, it doesn't succeed at what it sets out to do nearly as well as Crawl. So unless a horror movie can skate by on horrific imagery alone, Crawl reigns supreme as the best horror movie of summer 2019.

Annabelle got her own movie after debuting as the monster of The Conjuring.

Annabelle Comes Home may as well be The Conjuring 2.5 for how deeply it ties in with the story of the Warrens, but that's not to take anything away from Annabelle or the women who face her. Annabelle Comes Home is Annabelle's triumphant homecoming and a guaranteed summer scare.

Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) recover the Annabelle doll from the Perrons (from The Conjuring), and they lock Annabelle up in their artifact room. One year later, Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman) babysits Judy Warren (McKenna Grace) while Ed and Lorraine are out overnight. Mary Ellen's friend Daniela (Katie Sarife) snoops around the artifact room and messes with Annabelle, initiating a night of terror for the three young women.

Gary Dauberman unleashes a lot of new tricks to scare you and the on-screen heroines in his directorial debut. His toolbox of scares includes new tricks with light and shadows, antics with old typewriters (I guess they were modern typewriters, since this is set in the '70s), and even freaky board games. Dauberman also uses the familiar "monster pops up in the dark" and "dragging the heroine across the floor" tropes. If it ain't broke, right?

The Conjuring movies work because they are more than just scary, but some of the spinoffs haven't measured up, because they're just scare machines without any heart. Annabelle Comes Home has an advantage since it's dealing with the Warrens, the center of The Conjuring movies. There's a lot of history already established in two Conjuring films, but Judy Warren, the youngest of the family, is a clean slate. Exploring what it's like to be a kid growing up with famous parents (or infamous depending on how the neighbors see them) would be compelling even outside a horror movie.

The new characters are compelling, too. Daniela may seem like a troublemaker, but when she's alone, the movie reveals she has a sincere reason for breaking and entering. Mary Ellen exudes the kindness and compassion of a caretaker, the sort of pure nurturing you'd need in your corner when facing malevolent spirits. It's really empowering to see three women under 20 stand up to monsters. Sure, "the final girl" has always been a staple of horror movies, but it felt special to relate to a trio and not just wait for two of them to die.

The very nature of the plot, that the Warrens hire a babysitter for the night, makes it apparent that Ed and Lorraine will only be at the beginning and end of the movie. Otherwise, it really would just be The Conjuring 3. The Warrens' presence makes really strong bookends to Annabelle Comes Home. They're great parents, which empowers Judy to be independent. When they drive by a cemetery in the beginning and all the spirits talk to Lorraine, you get the sense that she probably deals with this all the time. After all, with great power comes great responsibility, and there are a lot of spirits who need her help and others who aren't interested in cooperation with humans.

Dauberman definitely took what he knows about the Warrens and used it to amplify this latest Annabelle story. Die-hard fans of the real-life Warrens may catch some Easter eggs, while people who only know the Warrens through The Conjuring films will learn more about their history. That depth makes Annabelle Comes Home the most haunting Annabelle yet. Perhaps, Annabelle Comes Home will encourage research into the real Ed and Lorraine Warren, but even if it doesn't make you do homework, Annabelle Comes Home is the scariest toy story of the year.