This month’s picks will creep you out with supernatural sounds, toilet terrors and a jaw-dropping twist.
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By Erik Piepenburg
‘Sound of Silence’
Rent or buy on most major platforms.
When Emma (Penelope Sangiorgi) learns that her father has been seriously injured at her childhood home in Italy, she rushes overseas from New York to be with her parents. But there’s something off about her old turf. The hospital looks empty. The only resident seems to be a woman who runs a food truck in a desolate parking lot. And who typed “HELP” on a piece of paper still in the typewriter? It’s uncannily creepy, but nothing compared to what Emma sees and hears when she turns on an old radio she finds among her family’s belongings.
Alessandro Antonaci, Stefano Mandalà and Daniel Lascar — an Italian trio who go by T3 — wrote and directed this deeply unnerving film that seamlessly and tenderly blends issues of mental illness and domestic violence into a surreal ghost story with shades of “A Quiet Place” and “The Conjuring.” (The film is in English with occasional Italian subtitles.)
Antonaci’s tenebrous cinematography forces you to keep an eye on what lurks in the shadows that darken almost every scene, and it’s a thrill. But it’s Federico Malandrino’s sound design that really hit me in the face. Watch with the volume cranked.
Stream it on BET+.
I was not prepared. For how the writer-director Courtney Glaude grabbed me by the neck and slowly tightened his grip. For flashes of Shudder-level brutal violence. For the macabre sense of humor. And, most surprisingly, for Mo’Nique, who gives my favorite horror movie performances of 2023 so far.
The film opens as Emma (Mo’Nique) survives a home invasion by assailants who slaughter her husband and daughters. Cut to a year later and Emma, eager to promote her new book about the ordeal, sits down for an on-camera spiritual reading with Sky (Chasity Sereal), a young medium whose powers are only half-phony: Sky actually does see spirits. As Sky channels Emma’s dead family members, Emma suddenly gets up, locks the doors and turns the reading, and “The Reading,” upside down.
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