Thorns movie poster

Thorns

In theaters February 23, 2024

Rated

, ,

91 minutes

Directed by:

Starring: , , ,

Thorns brings cosmic terror with a Michigan Touch.

There are all sorts of ways the Biblical apocalypse could begin. This one comes via a deep space probe, via Thorns (2023) and I am here for it.

Gabriel (Jon Bennett) is a NASA auditor sent to investigate the Iron Mountain Observatory which went silent after receiving a signal from a deep space probe. When he arrives, the Observatory gates stand wide open, the front doors have numbers spray-painted on them, and the campus is apparently empty. Not even the hallways papered in biblical verses seem to be able to hold back the evil on its way to Earth. Gabe encounters Sister Agnes (Cassandra Schomer) who is struck mute by forces to keep her from spreading the alarm, and together they race to uncover the location of the probe and perhaps stop it before it brings its terrible message to Earth.

Director Doug Schulze gives Thorns the nostalgic feel of vintage New Line Cinema, with gnarly practical effects and steady pacing. The intimate setting gives the worldwide threat from space a very claustrophobic immediacy. At only 91 minutes, the body horror and celestial dread aren’t given a moment to wind down. Bennett and Schomer pay off each other’s intensity for what is easily 30% of the film. While the backstories of Gabe and Sr Agnes are given cursory nods, Bennet and Schomer embody the intensity of those experiences, creating a riveting and heartfelt thriller that can be experienced by the audience.

Horror icon Doug Bradley lends his intimidating presence to Bishop Jenkins, a former mentor to Gabe. Why the Church has a vested interest in outer space, even Gabe wonders aloud for the benefit of the audience. The answer is because Bishop Jenkins said so, and somehow you nod along because it seems perfectly proper.

The practical and visual effects make Thorns the seat-squirming horror film we all came to see. From worms in eyes and ears to bloody demons in skull-crushing crowns of thorns, I’m pulling faces just writing this. Admittedly, Thorns hits all of my buttons – religious apocalypse, demonic possession, and nuns, so for me there was very little to not love. Even the running time of 91 minutes fits perfectly into a quick hit of death, destruction, and lingering mayhem.

Thorns is for the old school horror fan in all of us. It doesn’t need expansive mythology or teenaged-looking ingenues to sell the story. This is horror for the adults who love the flashy genre of our youth but understand the are other terrors beyond running and screaming. Thorns is satisfying on a nearly spiritual level, and if you can catch it during its limited theatrical run, I strongly suggest it.  Your soul needs to see 50-foot eye worms. You’ll thank me later.

Thorns (2023) is Rated R for swears, eye trauma, ear trauma, head trauma, lots of blood, a fair amount of running, screaming, and the end of the world.

Thorns is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: MontiLee Stormer
MontiLee Stormer is a writer of horror, dark and urban fantasy. She’s also is a troublemaker, concocting acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. An avid movie watcher, she prefers horror but will see just about anything if you're buying. Poltergeist (1982) is her favorite movie and she actively hates The Shining (1980) due to its racism, misogyny, the butchering of the source material. She could host a TEDtalk on this single subject. Writing about herself in the third person is just a bonus.

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