2021 has been a hell of a ride, and by now I’ve turned green, puked, and am ready to get off. My resolution last year was to be healthier, and in some ways, I have succeeded. I have gone for bike rides around the neighborhood a couple of times a week and am eating fewer sugars and carbs, but I still love a cold beer at the end of the day so working on that one. I became a father to the smartest, feistiest, happiest baby ever and she has my whole being wrapped around her tiny fingers. We had her last February, which means we’ve been able to spend just about all four seasons with her now, and she'll be a year old next month. Last Christmas we were waiting on our peanut to get here. This Christmas we were able to open toys, snacks, and clothes with our little peanut! The only thing that could have made this Christmas better was the Cardinals coming up with a win, but I regress.
Christmas has come and gone, and we’re headlong into the new year. I am feeling optimistic about 2022, and I think part of that optimism comes from simply being a presence on the internet without being overly active on Facebook, or Twitter. Instead, I have this blog and it has been a huge part of my psychological well-being. This place is allowing me to express my opinions and share some of my interests with friends of mine that care to check in on what I’m doing, and that means so much to me. Today I am going to do a quick run-through of some films, shows, podcasts, music, and books that have made this grueling year that is 2021 that much more bearable. These may not be my very favorites of 2021 but these properties have all been worth my time, and I think they can be worth yours as well. I have included a couple of books from the previous year, so don’t @ me.
5 horror films released in 2021
The Green Knight
I’ve been known to be one of those unapologetic A24 studio supporters. I have some friends that find these films pretentious at the very least. When I first heard the deep baritone voice of the Green Knight, and the crackling of his body, I knew that this was the film to get me back in theaters. I went with some friends, and they seemed to come out a little underwhelmed by the movie. I did my research before watching this film by reading the poem that this film is based on, and knowing some lore when it comes to King Arthur and his round table. I was not disappointed, and now that I’m typing this I think it deserves a second watch. I’ll leave a link here to a short preview of the original text.
The Night House
This film caught me off guard. I came into it expecting your typical slow-moving haunt. What I didn’t know was that there were going to be loose ends that I feared being tied up due to having to spend more time in the terrifying night house. We are given an experience of loss and sorrow paired with mystery and hope. It is the equivalent of finding yourself in a maze and being given a map only partially filled in. I enjoyed this discomfort far more than I anticipated.
Halloween Kills picks up directly after 2018’s Halloween, and I have been waiting patiently for this film. I caught it weeks after it came out on Peacock and I was happy to witness the brutal retaliation of Michael's rogues gallery. This film plays by the books, but I had a great time. There is a scene with a fluorescent bulb that made everyone yell “ooooh!”. That’s great popcorn horror! Not to mention that the mask looks great and I think this film had one of the best trailers of the year.
I was sick as a dog when this Netflix trilogy dropped. It was exactly what I needed at the time. I remember nursing my sinus infection by having the humidifier blow straight into my face as I watched these teenagers be murdered in a classic style. This film follows the typical story notes that many newer slashers do, such as teen drama, guessing the murderer, and unreliable authority figures. What Fear Street does right and what saves this series is the gore of it all, it’s played up like a real slasher of the ‘80s and ’90s.
I will vouch for the first half of this film. This movie moves at a breakneck pace and It’ll keep you guessing and questioning till the end, but somewhere around the midpoint, this one is going to lose people. Most of the films I’ve discussed here have had some kind of spotlight on them at one point or another, save for Meander. I caught this one towards the end of the year, so I’m still mulling it over. The premise is simple: a girl gets abducted and wakes inside a series of tunnels only large enough to crawl through. She has a glowing bracelet with a timer ticking down. Craziness and questionable decisions ensue.
3 books released in 2021
This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno
Oh man, this one took an emotional toll on me. Gus writes about loss in a way that makes you question the fragility of sanity and reality. I was midway into covid when I picked this novel up and I couldn’t put it down until I knew what was going to happen to the protagonist. As soon as I began to feel frustrated with the self-loathing I would be reminded of the tragic events that I have been there with him for. This book helped me fight off the covid headache just to get to the next page.
Blue in Green by Ram V.
The art in this graphic novel blows my mind. Anand R.K. is the artist and he seems to use some watercolors along with some other types of media. The story along with the art follows the fall and rise of a jazz player who knows all too well what it means to trade your soul for something intangible.
Basketful of Heads by Joe Hill
Basketful of Heads is exactly how it sounds, except the heads talk, and they're all tied into a mystery that involves the head-choppers boyfriend. This book came out in 2020, but I haven't been able to talk about it much, and I think it turns a lot of expectations on their head… pun intended. Not only does Joe Hill deliver on the story and dialogue, but the panel layouts and art are fun as hell.
3 shows released in 2021
A plane full of soccer-playing teenagers called the Yellowjackets crashes in the Andes mountain range. We witness the girls as they’re in their adolescence and as grown women navigating life in their 40s. This show has such a charm, and the mystery has yet to be revealed so every Sunday we turn out the lights and are sure to catch the newest episode of Yellowjackets. Oh, did I mention that there is cannibalism?
Mike Flanagan and Kate Siegel have done it again! Mike is responsible for some of my absolute favorite Stephen King adaptations. He has directed two other Netflix series, The Haunting of Hill House, and The Haunting of Bly Manor. Midnight Mass is the title that he has put so much into. He claims to have been working on this one title for ten years. You can see fragments of this idea in his film Hush of 2016. I don’t want to speak too much about this series because I think everyone gets the most out of it going in blind. Just know, that you won't be able to expect the horrors that will happen on Crockett Island.
Do you like superheroes? Do you like witnessing someone’s head being punched into a pink mist? This is the show for you. I read comic books on a regular basis, but this one was a huge surprise to me. This show takes the typical super alien savior story and makes it as bleak as reality would allow. The animation is fantastically done as well making every fight scene dynamic and intense. Not quite horror, but great for those looking for some cartoonist gore.
Last but not least!
I also want to mention the latest Mortal Kombat film which was goofy, but oh so fun. Hawkeye on Disney+ wrapped up at the end of the year, and Hailee Steinfeld is amazing in the role of Kate Bishop. Mitchells vs The Machines was animated by the team behind Into The Spiderverse, and both films are brilliantly done.
Below I’m going to leave my top Spotify listens. I recommend every podcast on the list. Horror Movie Talk is done by some of the funniest dudes I’ve heard on the internet. Elseworlds Exchange is done by Sal from Comic Pop on youtube and he’ll keep you updated on all things comic books. Talking Mopars is about cars, like the one you’ll see on my homepage.
As for music, I recommend Mike and The Moonpies to anyone who digs themselves some twang and country. Bilmuri meets all of my inner emo’s needs. If you want to just bang your head then Beartooth will get the job done every time, ask Ellie, it’s her favorite.
Thanks for reading guys, and good luck on your resolutions! This year I’m working on posting once a week, but also taking more time for myself and my little family. Been spreading myself a little too thin this last year. Wish me luck!