3 Movies Like Monster High 2 (2023)

Staff & contributors

A portrait of an Alabama high school wrestling team springboards from a sports documentary into an encompassing exploration of the American working class and institutional racism. The film operates on both levels as it zooms in on the lives of four students and their friendly yet overbearing coach. From the opening moments, Coach Sribner makes it clear that the State Championship is about much more than sport. A failing and underfunded school system all but ensures that a sports scholarship is one of the few chances for these youth to have access to higher education and a path out of poverty. 

This is further exacerbated by the racial dynamics at play, as we watch these mostly Black youth experience casual racism as well as institutional harassment from the police. Even their well-meaning coach is not exempt, he at once can acknowledge his white privilege but is not above baselessly accusing one of the boys of stealing his sunglasses. Herbert’s up close and personal style is immersive and passionate and builds to an exciting sports film climax while maintaining a piercing awareness of the severe economic realities that hollow out any victory on the mat.

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Director: Suzannah Herbert

, 2023

For a film with virtually no plot, there’s a lot of fuss going on in Oregon. The characters are constantly yelling and complaining, but the noise—like the plot, the set, and everything else about the film—is empty. The beauty of a Turkish summer is reduced to indoor sets, where much of the film takes place, and there here’s barely any movement, leaving us stuck with dialogue and half-baked backstories that don’t seem to serve any real purpose other than to fill in the film’s overlong runtime. The problems are superficial and solved almost immediately, purely by talking it seems, and there’s no attempt to connect the many disparate stories it shows. A farce like this could’ve worked if it got sillier and more ridiculous by the minute, but Oregon just goes in repetitive, unfunny circles. 

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Ali İpin, Alper Saldıran, Aslı İnandık, Burcu Biricik, Ferit Aktuğ, Nazlı Bulum, Nejat İşler, Nevra Serezli, Özgür Emre Yıldırım, Serkan Çayoğlu, Zihni Göktay

Director: Kerem Ayan

After his brother's gruesome death at the infamous drug den, Trap House, Detective Grant Pierce is removed from the case to find its creator. He goes rogue and recruits a teenage drug dealer working for the Trap House with a plan to infiltrate. Whatever the film lacks in intrigue is not compensated by good writing or interesting traps/scares/twists that would befit its horror categorization. Even expectations to match its counterparts in the escape room genre are quickly lowered thanks to uninventive traps and shallow characters whose deaths weigh nothing in the grand scheme of the plot. The potential of a trap house horror/thriller to comment on addiction, race, poverty, or anything substantial outside of "crackheads are crazy" is ultimately wasted. Instead, there's stilted dialogue, caricatures of drug addicts, and a narrative that is hard to sit through, much less enjoy. 

 

Genre: Crime, Horror, Thriller, TV Movie

Actor: Anthony Timpano, Benjamin Wilkinson, Bruce Crawford, Fletcher Donovan, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Jaime M. Callica, Jason Tremblay, Peter Bundic, Ryan Mah

Director: Nicholas Humphries