Hungry for horror? We grade Horns and 4 other flicks on Amazon Instant

Before Daniel Radcliffe's latest new movie, Horns, came out in theaters, it was already available to watch on Amazon Instant. And so were four other horror movies. So, I watched all of 'em.

Going to the movies sure is expensive. Thankfully, for those of us who are cheap shut-ins, there is an alternative in the form of Amazon Instant, which occasionally makes movies available even when they are still in theaters. It costs less than going out, especially if you split the cost with a friend, and you can get snacks for non-theater prices.

So, armed with Maple Bacon Popcorn, Sour Patch Kids and a bunch of booze, I took on the five horror movies listed under the "Catch it while it's in theaters" section of Amazon. Were any of them worth it?

Let's find out.

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    V/H/S: Viral $9.99

    For the uninitiated, the V/H/S movies are each an anthology of short horror stories with a shell story that loosely connects them all. The first two are pretty solid. This one? Ugh. Let's just go through each story, one by one. Titles are my own.

    Shell Story

    A guy wants to make a viral video and his girlfriend magically disappears while he is taping a police chasing an ice cream van. This plot was brought to you by when your teacher writes "See me after class" in red pen on your book report. Seriously, it makes no sense and does nothing to connect the other stories.

    Dante the Magician

    It's about a magic cape that is real magic, but needs to eat people in order to work. It feels more like an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark for grown-ups (and not very bright ones at that) than a part of a VHS anthology.  There's a good guy gone bad, a lovely magician's assistant with an abusive boyfriend, and a twist ending that literally anyone who has ever seen even five seconds of any horror movie ever will see coming. It's paint-by-numbers horror. Boring, trite, and only worth it for one scene where a magician fights off a SWAT team to gory effect.

    Mirror Mirror

    In which a man opens a door to a parallel world and discovers an exact duplicate of himself. Or does he? As the seeming duplicates swap worlds for fifteen minutes, the differences between their respective universes become increasingly apparent. If that sounds good, it is. Almost. There's one uh...thing about this story that um...I'm just saying it's an acquired taste. You'll know it the moment that you see it.

    Demon genitals. Sorry, it slipped out.

    Sk8r Bois

    Horrible skater teens go to Tijuana, run afoul of a satantic cult, and help them raise a demon. Most of the skaters die. The cult are the heroes of the picture.

    If you must see this to complete your V/H/S viewing, go for it. But I wouldn't recommend watching it sober.

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    The Houses October Built $6.99

    Found footage horror about a group of people in search of the best underground "haunted house attractions" for Halloween.

    So, here is the question - if you're feeling  too lazy to go to the theater, are you also too lazy to go to a Halloween-themed house? And can watching one rather than being there still be scary?

    And the honest answer is sorta kinda, but not really. The best scares in October actually come from the times our intrepid heroes aren't in a haunted house at all. There are several scenes in the movie where the characters from the haunted houses come to them, which serve up far more effective scares.

    There's a nice build-up here, but unfortunately October goes too far in its final act, bringing the violence beyond the point where it's scary into a place of tedium instead.

    If you live for found footage horror, it ain't bad, but if that particular sub-genre isn't your bag, October won't do anything to change your mind.

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    At the Devil's Door $6.99

    There's a demon who's trying to break into our world and it's trying to get a girl pregnant to do it. Rosemary's Baby redux? Oh, how I wish.

    You know the saying, "Show, don't tell"? There are, I think, limits to that. Devil's Door doesn't tell you much of anything. Characters are ill-defined, the rules of non-existent, and the world completely unestablished.

    The timeline waffles all over the place, which might work for you if that's something you like in your fiction. I found it more confusing that disconcerting, though. Ultimately, this is only worth it if you are really, really, really into demon possession/pregnancy stories. Which is perfectly valid and don't let your psychiatrist tell you otherwise. Now take your pills. Attaboy.

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    The Pact 2 $6.99

    Before you ask, no, you don't need to see the first Pact movie to get what's happening here. Like any good sequel, The Pact 2 tells you enough of the original to be fine.

    That being said, you might want to check out the first Pact, which is available on Netflix streaming, because both movies are actually pretty good. There's a serial killer, there's supernatural stuff afoot, it's well shot, decently acted, and creepy enough that I had to stop watching it because it was late, dark, and I got a little freaked out.

    Here's the pitch for the sequel - June Abbott, a woman who cleans up crime scenes, discovers that her biological mother was murdered by a serial murderer called the Judas killer. But is Judas really dead, and is June next?

    It's not phenomenal, but it's solid and, of all the movies I watched, was the most worthy, especially if you've got Netflix. The Pact and The Pact 2 would make for a quality Halloween double feature.

    All that, and it co-stars Caity Lotz, who you might know better Sara "Canary"Lance from Arrow. Which is nice bonus if you are as obsessed with Arrow as I am.

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    Horns $9.99

    Finally, we come to the movie that inspired this experiment. How well is Joe Hill's novel of the same adapted?

    Well, let's get this out of the way -- Horns is not scary. Actually, the biggest criticism I can offer Horns is that it can't decide whether it's a drama or a black comedy, and that dissonance can be jarring.

    But on the plus side, Radcliffe pulls in another solid performance. I don't know if he'll ever not be Harry Potter, but you can't accuse the guy of resting on his laurels or accepting the same kind of part over and over. In Horns, Radcliffe is Ig, a man accused of murdering his girlfriend who suddenly grows a pair of horns that cause everyone around him to act badly. 

    Horns is basically a supernatural whodunnit. And when it works, it's solid. If you're looking for something a little weird, then it's totally worthwhile, especially if you decide to pair it with Radcliffe's foray into actual horror, The Woman in Black so you get a few solid scares out of the holiday.

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