New Horror Movies Review – Derek Barton – 2023

Back in 2019, before Covid derailed everything, I did a review of some of my favorite horror films to that point. Here’s that posting if you are interested. It was a lot of fun and a popular blog. So, I decided to do it again as some real gems have come out. (I do know that I am missing some of YOUR favorites on this list. I haven’t seen everything and some I am still planning on watching.)

This list is just that a list, no ranking and it’s completely subjective. Also some of your favorites, I might have already discussed in the last post (like Saw or Evil Dead). I will say that almost everyone of these today were awesome, unexpected surprises—either because I hadn’t heard much about them, the trailer didn’t grab me, or I didn’t predict the direction the movie took.

A Quiet Place II — Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path.

While I loved the first one, I didn’t know where they were going to go with the story. Sequels usually don’t live up to the hype, but this one was fantastic! Just as the first one, be ready for some intense scenes of suspense and thrilling fight scenes. I’m really hoping they can do at least one more!


The Collector — Desperate to repay his debt to his ex-wife, an ex-con plots a heist at his new employer’s country home, unaware that a second criminal has also targeted the property, and rigged it with a series of deadly traps.

This movie came out of nowhere and was brilliantly done! Think Saw but more on an intimate personal level. The lead actor, Josh Stewart at the time am unknown truly shined with his breakout performance and made this a great horror movie. It’s sequel, The Collection, is also very good! I have heard rumors of a third, but nothing yet has been released.


Smile — After witnessing a bizarre, traumatic incident involving a patient, a psychiatrist becomes increasingly convinced she is being threatened by an uncanny entity.

Many people loved the horror film, It Follows. I wasn’t one of them as I felt the movie was over hyped and other than the beginning and end, it was boring. Smile takes the idea of a relentless chasing horror and keeps the action and intensity throughout! I’m not a jump-scare fan as I feel they’re used too often, but this has appropriately placed, amazing jump scares and fantastic gore effects! The “neck breaking” scene alone is mind-blowing!


Prey — Naru, a skilled warrior of the Comanche Nation, fights to protect her tribe against one of the first highly-evolved Predators to land on Earth.

One of the best films out this last year in my opinion. Certainly a nod to the great Predator franchise and a stand out horror-action film. Great effects, a well developed story and in depth characters. How many horror films can you say that about?


The Wretched — A defiant teenage boy, struggling with his parents’ imminent divorce, faces off with a thousand year-old witch, who is living beneath the skin of and posing as the woman next door.

A well done, but obscure film that’s been underrated and over looked. A sleeper that warrants watching. Really creepy and chilling scenes.


The Black Phone — After being abducted by a child killer and locked in a soundproof basement, a 13-year-old boy starts receiving calls on a disconnected phone from the killer’s previous victims.

You know by now how big a Stephen King fan I am. This story’s writer, Joe Hill, is one of his sons. I have been disappointed by Hill’s books so I wasn’t too hopeful for this movie. I’m very happy to say he surprised me here. Ethan Hawke stars (gives a brilliant performance) and directs this terrifying, supernatural thriller!


The Visit — Two siblings become increasingly frightened by their grandparents’ disturbing behavior while visiting them on vacation.

Another shocking, twist-filled film by M. Night Shyamalan. And like a lot of his other films like Devil, it’s underrated. Great scares and a fun horror film mixed with some truly horrific horror—the ending especially lived up to expectations!


Ready Or Not — A bride’s wedding night takes a sinister turn when her eccentric new in-laws force her to take part in a terrifying game.

The trailer seems a little predictable but overall the film has a lot of fun horror scenarios as well as a real, strong female protagonist who you easily root for. A sure entertaining movie!!


Happy Death Day — A college student must relive the day of her murder over and over again, in a loop that will end only when she discovers her killer’s identity.

This is another film using the Groundhog’s Day Trope, but they do a great job and really hook you in. Another dynamic lead female actress, Samara Weaving and is a well written mystery “slash” (pun intended) horror film. Side note, Happy Death Day 2U, the sequel is not as good, use your own judgment there.


Hush — A deaf and mute writer who retreated into the woods to live a solitary life must fight for her life in silence when a masked killer appears at her window.

Obscure movie and certainly not given enough praise film! A powerful, survival movie with a main character doing everything and anything to live. Well done and very polished horror-thriller.


Plenty of time to stream these awesome gems! Go get your scare on! Enjoy!!

My Endless Debate Over Editing — Derek Barton-2023

There isn’t a writer out there that hasn’t been beaten over the head about why professional editing is essential. And for the most part I agree, good editing can be pivotal to the success of your story and the impact your book will have in sales.

Where my biggest dilemma stems from is cost vs results. In other words, for beginning writers or small press, indie writers like me face the daunting bill of $.02 to $.05 a WORD charged by professional editors. My first novel was over a 100,000 word count. Can you see the picture I’m painting here?

For another example: In 2019, I produced my horror-suspense series called ELUDE. To date, it’s sold close to 500 copies (sad, but true!). With Amazon/Audible royalties roughly $1.50 per sale, I garnered close to $750. At 80,000 words x .02 (the cheapest rate) = $1,600 investment! Difference -$850. How many businesses would stay open if they made no money and lost over half their investment? Yes, there is a great argument that a poorly written book will not sell, but a masterpiece never seen is just as unlikely to do well.

You have to ask yourself, are you honestly going to sell enough books to make that up? Did having that editing help you generate more sales?

Now factor in marketing and advertising costs to increase sales. The marketing campaign budgets are money pits. Also consider the other costs like what you pay for a book cover artist. Thus, the deeper in the debt rabbit hole you go.

With today’s technology, the unlimited amount of knowledge, and writing craft available online or on YouTube, this is easily the best time to be a writer. Yet, the immense competition and the investment required… makes it overwhelming for beginners. All I’m saying is don’t expect Stephen King royalty checks. It can happen and a few have that lightning strike, but for the thousands of us who have new books every day on Amazon, I have to wonder is it worth it.


Top reasons for an editor:

**Professional editors may have the experience and expertise to help you perfect your manuscript. 

**Their main purpose is to assist you with ways the story content can be revised or improved, such as structure, clarity, and flow. 

**Editors will help prevent grammatical errors. 

**They can ensure that the tone of your writing is consistent and and the narrative is appropriate and on point. 

**They can highlight or point out potential plot holes or provide creative solutions to keep readers invested in your story. 

**Some editors may be tuned into changing trends in literature, and can help you adapt to those trends.


Top reasons for not going with an editor:

**The cost of hiring professional editing services can extend or exhaust any budget.

**The process can delay and cost a great deal of extra time to the publication process.

**Hiring an editor requires good judgement in order to make sure the person you choose is the right fit for the job — so it’s important to know your reader and to know who will have similar ideas on how to relate to those readers.

**Some editors may challenge your work and push you to think differently or come up with ideas you don’t agree with. They may also not take into consideration the nuances of a particular industry or domain.

**Some services might not be available for projects that are considered ‘niche’ or ‘difficult’. This may time and money to research and acquire a specialized editor.

**Professional editors may not be willing to “think outside the box” and be open to creative liberties with your work.

**They may also require you to enter into a contractual agreement, which could lead to disputes or costly litigation.

**Some editors will not have a “bedside manner” and can demoralize or even defeat your motivation. Be ready for that and try to have a thick skin, just like when you read reviews. Truth can be brutal…

Technology has also handed us widely used alternatives. A great way to see how easy your content is to read is the It also gives you tips to avoid over using words or watering down your work with adverbs.

Or to knock out simple errors with punctuation, grammar or typos, I use the free editor.

To be sure you have understood or provided the exact facts, ChatGPT has become a new tool to fact-check in your arsenal.

Overall, I believe it is a case of your individual judgment and your level of expertise. And it may be a case where you need feedback or want the extra eyes upon your work before it heads out the door.

It is a sad fact that sales are a numbers game. You may have excellent, edited prose that shines on the paper like Mark Twain wrote it himself, but if no one sees it buried in the new book landslides that hit Amazon every day…

What we need are editors for small time writers like me! I want editing but it’s hard to warrant the investment. Editors that accept lower rates can be found on, but of course buyer beware and use common sense — read their reviews and see if they’ll be the one worth your dime.

Thus, it’s my endless debate. What do you think? Do you have points out arguments that I’ve not considered leaving you one way or another? Love to hear any comments or ideas!