Tag Archives: Tyler MacIntyre

You’re Beginning to Look a Lot Like Victims

It’s a Wonderful Knife

by Hope Madden

For some people, it’s not even Thanksgiving, let’s not get into Christmas movies quite yet, OK? Meanwhile, countless people have been binging Hallmark Christmas tales since July. And the rest of us are still stinging that Halloween is over.

By that math, 2/3 of all viewers will be pleased with It’s a Wonderful Knife, the Christmas story with all the feel-good cheer of the classics and all the bloody knifework of a solid slasher.

The title gives away the film’s core conceit, but honestly, it bore more of a resemblance to Dolly Parton’s 2020 holiday debacle – I mean, charmer – Christmas on the Square. One small town real estate tycoon (Justin Long) intends to turn a historic strip into a shopping and dining oasis, even if it means bullying kindly old Mr. Evans (William B. Davis) into selling his family home.

But wait! No time to think about that when a white clad, knife wielding maniac is on a tear! And all this in the first ten minutes of the movie. Fast forward one year and everyone’s pretty much over those murders, except Winnie (Jane Widdop). No one cares, no one notices, it wouldn’t even matter if she’d never been born (…never been born…never been born…).

Director Tyler MacIntyre (Tragedy Girls) and writer Michael Kennedy (Freaky) have some fun piling on the holiday film cliches. And there are plenty of reasons to enjoy their movie.

First of all, Justin Long. There are few people more reliably fun to see in a horror flick, and in this one he rocks a spray tan and fake teeth. So many bonus points.

Also fun, Joel McHale (Becky), who is somehow now the go-to for horror movie supportive dad with daughter issues. Add the always welcome Katharine Isabelle, and though she’s tragically underutilized, it’s great to see Cassandra Naud (who was phenomenal in Influencer).

The story itself, with its plot twists and turns, is not as clever as it pretends to be. It is wryly funny, though, and often quite sweet. It’s not as raucous as Kennedy’s Freaky nor as badass as MacIntyre’s Tragedy Girls, but it is a bloody slice of Christmas fun.

Tonight We’re Gonna Party


by Hope Madden

It’s been a full decade since the first short compilation V/H/S hit movie screens with its conceit of a single videotape full of horror snippets. Several of these original bits were great, and the directing talent showcased some serious cinematic promise: David Bruckner (Hellraiser), Ti West (Pearl), Adam Wingard (Godzilla vs. Kong), Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (Scream).

There have been a number of sequels, hitting and missing through the last ten years, but 2021’s V/H/S/94 – with its clear timestamp and shorts from Jennifer Reeder (Knives and Skin), Chloe Okuno (Watcher), Timo Tjahjanto, Simon Barrett and others – generated renewed interest in the series.

Wisely, the next installment also embraces exactly what homemade VHS tapes captured: a specific moment in history. For this installment, it’s 1999. Nickelodeon spewed goop at guests and cameras. The hip and entitled believed they and the music they listened to were punk. The internet made Jackass-style, testosterone-fueled idiocy acceptable. The incredibly popular film American Pie depicted the essentially criminal activity of young men as something to find charming. Those rascals!

1999 also saw the birth of found footage, so setting the new V/H/S film the same year as The Blair Witch Project makes good sense.

A new crop of filmmakers seems to channel their own childhoods for five short films capturing the era. Among the highlights are Maggie Levin’s Shredding, which follows narcissistic teens and the unearned cred they flaunt (to their peril) into the site of a punk concert tragedy.

Writers/directors Joseph and Vanessa Winter (Deadstream) employ the same sense of fun with their short To Hell and Back. The charmer of the bunch, it depicts a couple of best friends hired to record a conjuring on Y2K, to bumblingly catastrophic results.

Johannes (47 Meters Down) Roberts’s Suicide Bid offers fairly predictable sorority hazing horror, while Tyler MacIntyre (Tragedy Girls) turns the most repugnant part of American Pie into the horror it should have been. Neither short is wildly imaginative, but McIntyre does find a unique comeuppance.

The Flying Lotus piece Ozzy’s Dungeon is imaginative enough for everyone. It’s not scary or especially funny, but it’s weird, and sometimes that’s enough.

As with every V/H/S installment – and most short film anthologies, generally – the film hits and misses. None of the segments will stay with you the way Okuno’s Storm Drain from ’94 did. Hail Ratma! Still, it’s a quick, fun Halloween diversion.

Save Your Tears

Tragedy Girls

by Hope Madden

Heathers meets Scream in the savvy horror comedy that mines social media culture to truly entertaining effect, Tragedy Girls.

Sadie (Brianna Hildebrand) and McKayla (Alexandra Shipp) are looking for more followers to improve their brand, and they have been doing a lot of research to make their content more compelling. The Tragedy Girls plumb their small Ohio town’s surprising death toll with more insight than the local police seem to have. Where do they get their knowledge?


Tyler MacIntyre directs a screenplay he co-wrote with Chris Lee Hill and Justin Olson. The trio wade into the horror of a social media generation with more success than anything we’ve seen to date. A great deal of their success has to do with casting.

Hildebrand and Shipp (both X-Men; Hildebrand was the moody Negasonic in Deadpool while Shipp plays young Storm in the franchise proper) nail their characters’ natural narcissism. Is it just the expectedly shallow, self-centeredness of the teenage years, or are they sociopaths?

Mrs. Kent (Nicky Whelan) would like to know. The spot-on teacher character offers the film’s most pointed piece of social (media) commentary when she points out the traits encouraged in a snapchat world, where shallowness and parasitic, even psychotic behavior is a plus.

The film is careful not to go overboard with its commentary, though, and the final product is the better for it. MacIntyre’s affectionate, perhaps even obsessive, horror movie nods receive at least as much of his time and attention.

The result is both mean and funny. Josh Hutcherson’s small, image-lampooning part is an absolute scream proving that MacIntyre and company have pop cultural insights to spare, and proper comedic timing to boot.

McIntrye loses his snidely meta tone briefly with a lengthy sidetrack focusing on Craig Robinson, which becomes more zany and broad than anything before it. The director can’t entirely find his footing again, as the resolution of the film gets mired a bit too much in the genre tropes.

Still, the details are priceless (she lends him a copy of Martyrs! Dig that ringtone!), the performances impress and the whole thing is a hoot.