2 Movies Like Hell Fest (2018)

Staff & contributors

An old friend shows up on the doorstep of a happy family home and brings a whirlwind of trouble with him. Charles Burnett’s startling parable is tinged with magic and creeping danger. It digs into the tensions between African American folklore of the rural South and the assimilated middle-class lifestyle out West. 

This rift takes the form of Harry, whose disquieting presence throws his old friend Gideon’s Los Angeles home into disarray. Danny Glover is captivating as the devilish visitor, delivering each line with playful ease and simmering menace. Burnett’s sly narrative doesn’t boil down to good and evil but instead offers a layered and enigmatic exploration of identity.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Carl Lumbly, Danny Glover, Davis Roberts, DeForest Covan, DeVaughn Nixon, Ethel Ayler, Jimmy Witherspoon, Julius Harris, Mary Alice, Paul Butler, Paula Bellamy, Reina King, Richard Brooks, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Sy Richardson, Vonetta McGee, Wonderful Smith

Director: Charles Burnett

As a growing number of horror movies are, Influencer is inspired by the fact that we’re increasingly spending our lives in the digital, rather than physical, world. Kurtis David Harder’s film makes some effort to highlight the tension between those two realms: its plot hinges on the idea that vapidly sunny influencer-speak often masks gloomier realities, and suggests that, if your existence is mainly validated through a screen, would anyone really know if something truly dark happened to you?

It’s an interesting premise, to be sure, but Influencer’s critique settles there. Instead of striving for social thriller status by exploring the paradox of social media with any real rigor, the rather broad writing here means it lands as a run-of-the-mill scary movie, one that verges on being a forgettable experience once the credits have rolled. One element saves it from that fate, though: Cassandra Naud, who gives an unnerving performance that brings intriguing psychological depths to the role of CW, the film’s villain. She can only do so much to elevate a script that is shallowly interested in her character, though, meaning Influencer can’t quite transcend its status as a middling social media horror.

Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Cassandra Naud, Emily Tennant, Justin Sams, Paul Spurrier, Rory J. Saper, Sara Canning

Director: Kurtis David Harder