The beginning of September signals a major turning point in the movie calendar. While it’s technically not fall until the equinox late in the month, September means the end of summer blockbuster season and the beginning of awards season. Over the course of the month, studios will shift away from the major popcorn fare meant to bring in a metric fuck ton of money and towards the more prestige offerings meant to bring in a metric fuck ton of critical praise and hardware consideration.
In the midst of that shuffle, there will be some great movies that remain in voters’ heads for the rest of the year, along with some pretty good movies that will be forgotten almost immediately after the credits roll. But most importantly for our purposes, there will be some unmitigated crap dumped off in hopes of making a quick buck as an alternative to the stuff that’s actually meant to be seen. In addition, as we creep closer to Halloween, this is also when horror movies get released en masse, rather than the slow trickle we have over the course of the rest of the year. Just like with the main attractions, the selection of gore will run the gamut from good to god awful.
So with this change in expected quality coming to a theatre near you, so to do we hold the upcoming fare to a higher standard. For this month’s set, we have five films (term used loosely), some of which might actually turn out to be okay depending on the target audience. But if you’re going up against competition with aspirations of Oscar gold, you best come correct. This is not a warm-up match before the World Cup. You’re sharing the stage with critical and festival darlings. It’s about more than just showing up. If you’re mediocre, it’ll show. And if you’re crap, it’ll stink of shit all the more. So with that, let’s jump into the pile of manure!
This is the September 2019 edition of “This Film is Not Yet Watchable!”
Satanic Panic – September 6
The main event next Friday is the much-anticipated conclusion to the 2017 horror hit, It Chapter Two. As such, the studios are holding off on offering any competition, save for Fangoria and their own horror entry, Satanic Panic. With a name like that, I was hoping for a tongue-in-cheek satire about Satanism, maybe an ironic slasher where everyone focuses on a Satanic church while it’s a Christian serial killer, or something like that.
Instead, it’s your standard issue devil worship cult movie about sacrificing virgins. Oh, and they dragged Rebecca Romijn, Arden Myrin, and Jerry O’Connell into this. I mean, it looks like there’s some comic self-awareness, like the reverse porn premise of a pizza delivery girl being the virgin sacrifice instead of the lucky recipient of an orgy, but really, this is just insulting. The movie will mostly be on VOD platforms instead of a major studio release, but that doesn’t excuse such laziness. I had thought that maybe, just maybe, we had as a collective society made some sort of progress with the Hail Satan? documentary earlier this year, eliminating the false pretense of actual devil worship, but this dialogue sounds like it’s straight out of the Arkansas talking points, with Baphomet himself being “summoned as a demon from Hell.” Fangoria, you’re better than this.
Hustlers – September 13
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, no. I mean, in a small way it’s almost a validation of all the pop music hating I’ve been doing for the last 20 years. Between Jennifer Lopez and Cardi B (among MANY others), I’ve definitely asked the void, “Why are these strippers suddenly calling themselves musicians? And why is the general public buying it?” Now it seems the universe has heard my consternation and made it manifest.
But honestly, are we expected to buy this premise for even one second? How many times are they going to make this kind of movie? I’m all for feminism, but I’m sorry. If these women were half as smart as they’re advertised, they wouldn’t be fucking STRIPPERS! In no reality are strippers that smart and organized as to grift insane amounts of money off the rich and powerful. And Constance Wu? Really? The star of Fresh Off the Boat and Crazy Rich Asians? YOU’RE BETTER THAN THIS! “I want to help my grandma.” Yeah, and Chastity’s just paying her way through med school. NEXT!
Rambo: Last Blood – September 20
There are only 13 movies coming out in September, and as always there’s at least one unnecessary sequel that no one asked for and even fewer want. This month, that dubious honor goes to Sylvester Stallone, and what we can only pray is the final entry in the John Rambo series. First Blood wasn’t the best 80s action movie, but it was certainly a film of its time, and it is enjoyable on a basic level. Also, Stallone, who is much better than this, has proven with the Creed films that there is a place for his beloved characters in an aged format.
But this just looks stupid, and even worse, boring. We’re talking about John fucking Rambo, muscle-bound mega killer of the Vietnam War, being reduced to retirement age Kevin McAllister playing Home Alone on a farm while “Old Town Road” plays in the background. I can’t think of a worse exit for the character short of campaigning for Trump.
Bloodline – September 20
This could have been an interesting premise – a Dexter-style avenger who has recently had a child and works with at-risk children kills abusive parents. Plus, we get Seann William Scott in the lead role, a man who is much better than his pigeon hole as Stiffler, and who deserves a shot to get back into the spotlight.
Instead, this looks like low-grade torture porn using the emotional manipulation of the mere concept of children to justify what may be some really grotesque kills. It’s hard to tell from the trailer, really, just how gory the film is going to be. But even not knowing that, this seems like a project that Eli Roth would have passed on multiple times before farming it out to an ambitious Hong Kong director looking to make a splash in the States.
Running with the Devil – September 20
This is the third movie coming out on September 20th to make this list (the two major releases for 9/27 – Abominable and Judy have made the cut and will not appear here), and that’s largely due to the fact that Ad Astra is almost certainly going to dominate the box office, so the rest of the weekend will be a dumping ground. That’s still no excuse for this movie, which just looks awful.
Nicolas Cage is firmly ensconced in the “self-parody” portion of his career, which is a shame, because he’s so much better than– well, no, I can’t say that with confidence anymore. But Laurence Fishburne is definitely better than this, so what gives? When I saw the title, I was half hoping for a fun, if tone-deaf Richard Linklater-style jock comedy named after a classic rock song, a la Dazed and Confused or Everybody Wants Some!! Instead we get what looks like Nic Cage’s half-assed take on Sicario. Hard pass.
Join the conversation in the comments below! Do you agree with the potential shittiness on display? Do you still want to see any of these movies despite the trailers? Is there a film I spared that you’re sure will be crap? Let me know!