Jeremy Saulnier, who made waves in independent film with 2013’s Blue Ruin, is back again with Green Room, a perfectly paced horror-thriller. The monsters and scenarios in Green Room are so chilling because they’re familiar and realistic. Saulnier achieved this by ramping up some of the fear-inspiring experiences he had as a young punk scene kid.

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Krampus seems to give a nod to almost every Christmas movie ever, even name-dropping A Charlie Brown Christmas (a few other delightful references are to Calvin and Hobbes’ “noodle-incident” and Rick and Morty.) Directed by Trick r Treat’s Michael Dougherty, the film’s depiction of a dysfunctional family is spot-on, and reminiscent of Gremlins, American Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and Home Alone. The casting in this film was amazing because by the time things have gone horribly wrong, the audience has really started to care about a group of people who started out rather unlikable.

The trailers for Crimson Peak are much scarier than the film itself, which is a plus for some, a minus for others. Regardless of how thrilling you find Crimson Peak, the visuals are stellar, and Mia Waikowski’s costumes are beyond compare. However, the story is a bit thin, like the oily bloodlike clay that only exists in this Victorian nightmare.

SPOILERS WARNING!

Our planet, for all it’s troubles and harsh realities, is pretty kind to us. As long as our lungs are working okay, taking a breath seems like a sure thing. Space stories like The Martian put our reliance on our perfectly balanced air in perspective, and help us feel grateful that, for most of us, the stresses of our lives don’t involve second-to-second survival decisions. We’re also lucky we don’t have to nearly blow ourselves in an attempt to grow calories for sustenance.

The Visit, a solid, winking return for M. Night Shymalan, wrestles with fears about aging, uses the documentary-footage horror device in a fresh way, and plays with fairytale and supernatural tropes. As the film progresses it becomes apparent that 15-year-old Rebecca, a prococious aspiring filmmaker, is hoping to fix things in her family and offer her mother the “elixir” of forgiveness via her footage. Rebecca’s family-uniting ambitions get derailed as their grandparents behavior turns from odd to frightening, but even when they start to fear for their lives she refuses to give up her emotionally-charged mission.