Recent Video-on-Demand Offerings in Horror and Horror-Related Cinema
The cream of contemporary feature-length cinema isn’t always found in theaters. These days, smaller and more niche films often implement a same-day launch, simultaneously premiering in a select-city theatrical run and on video-on-demand (VOD) services. Moreover, streaming services are now offering original films of their own. Given the dire and disposable state of the horror genre at the multiplex, these release strategies are particularly suited to reaching a wider, more appreciative audience for cinematic chills. For horror fans in a mid- to small-sized movie market such as St. Louis, online streaming and digital rental/purchase are increasingly vital means of accessing noteworthy features. What follows is a brief assessment of the major new horror (and horror-adjacent) films that have premiered on VOD within the past month.
Night of the Virgin
2016 / Spain / 116 min. / Dir. by Roberto San Sebastián / Premiered online on June 12, 2018
Whatever its flaws, Roberto San Sebastián’s occult fever-dream Night of the Virgin has a rather distinctive and strange aesthetic. The rotting Gothicism of Spanish-language horror cinema and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s apocalyptic flourishes are muddled with the gross-out excess of Peter Jackson’s early splatterfests (Bad Taste; Braindead). Unlike those latter films, however, Virgin isn’t particularly funny. Its laughs are too invested in the sweaty horniness of callow, buck-toothed protagonist Nico (Javier Bódalo, playing things Bollywood-comedy-broad), who follows middle-aged temptress Medea (Miriam Martín) back to her apartment on New Year’s Eve. What follows is a grueling ordeal of Tantric rituals, Tibetan demonology, and seemingly limitless quantities of blood, vomit, feces, and other substances. Sebastián gets impressive, squirm-inducing mileage out of a claustrophobic set, a miniscule budget, and some jaw-dropping gore effects, but Night of the Virgin is overly reliant on charm-free vulgarity and protracted histrionics. Still, although it runs about 20 minutes too long, the film is sufficiently novel and demented to potentially endure as a cult curio. Rating: C+ [Now available to rent or purchase on Amazon, Google Play, and other platforms.]