Between movies, books, music, comics, podcasts, and the ever-growing glut of TV, there’s a ton of pop culture out there.
It can be a lot to keep up with. So we here at Vox Culture — where our current obsessions include one of the year’s best horror films, summer-ready pop tunes, a buzzy new novel, and more — have a few suggestions for how to make the best use of your pop culture–consuming time.
Here are some items you should really consider adding to your pop culture diet.
It Comes at Night is a beautifully tense horror film that does so much more with so much less
If you go into It Comes at Night, the new horror film from director Trey Edward Shults, expecting something with lots of jump scares or sudden, surprising murders, you might leave disappointed. But if you’re looking for something creepy and atmospheric, this might be the horror film of the year for you.
Dripping with dread and suffused with an uneasy sense of terror, It Comes at Night follows two families in the immediate post-apocalypse. A virus has decimated the world’s population, and now a family headed up by a hardcore survivalist type (Joel Edgerton) has to decide how much it wants to integrate a different family who stumbled upon their home by accident (or was it an accident?!) into this new, nascent society. It Comes at Night is scary, yes, but it’s also about how hard it can be to forge new connections and to stop suspecting outsiders, both timely themes that give the film an added resonance. — Todd VanDerWerff
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is completely fun
If you want to start a book club, you could do worse than just picking up whatever books Reese Witherspoon has decided to produce: Witherspoon has consistently solid taste, and she tends to pick up books whose heroines are a little weirder and more interesting than normal. Her past picks have included Wild and Gone Girl. So when Witherspoon optioned Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, a new import from the UK, the bookish people of the world sat up and took notice.
Every week, Eleanor Oliphant goes to work as an accounting clerk at an office. During lunch she does the crossword. On weekends she blacks out on vodka by herself. She is, she will hasten to tell you, completely fine. She is a prickly, defensive, immensely charming narrator, and the story of both her past trauma and her slow recovery in the present is deeply compelling. — Constance Grady
The raw vocal of Britney Spears’s “Toxic” has leaked, and it’s just as iconic as the version you know
Britney Spears’s 2003 hit “Toxic” may be famously Auto-tuned, but it’s also one of the greatest pop songs ever written — which is why this surprise leak of Spears’s raw vocals on the song is so compelling. The then-22-year-old Spears, whose singing ability has been perpetually ridiculed, makes this notoriously difficult karaoke staple sound effortless, and she goes for it with all the confidence and vocal chops you’d expect from a much older performer. Get ready to loop it. — Aja Romano
Iceman has his own comic book now (and he’s gay)
Back in 2015, Bobby Drake, a.k.a. Iceman, one of the original members of the X-Men, came out as a gay man. Iceman, the character’s new solo comic book, explores what that means. Written by Sina Grace and drawn by Alessandro Vitti, the comic explores Bobby Drake’s identity and what defines him. Is it his heroism? Is it his mutant powers? Is it his sexuality? Grace and Vitti give us a glimpse into Drake’s life that we haven’t seen before, and they also tell a story that’s true to the spirit of the X-Men. — Alex Abed-Santos
The story of that time Greg Allman did an impromptu high school show (and more importantly, brought Cher)
The death of Greg Allman, frontman for the Allman Brothers Band, inspired a wave of tributes and remembrances from his musical peers and fans alike. But one of the best and perhaps most unexpected came from an all-boys high school in Buffalo, New York, where Allman apparently gave a surprise concert in October 1976 after getting a heartfelt letter from some students. The former students’ recollections are touching; the pictures featuring Allman’s then-wife Cher are fantastic. You can read the full story at The Buffalo News. — Caroline Framke
The new Bleachers album makes for a perfect summer soundtrack
Jack Antonoff has produced music for pop stars like Lorde and Taylor Swift, but he’s also the man behind Bleachers, with some incredibly catchy jams all his own. His newest Bleachers album, Gone Now, is packed with sweeping pop songs that, as the New York Times puts it, “sound like New Jersey, which is to say like highways and late-night diners and, of course, Bruce Springsteen.” Really, what more can you ask for from a summer album? — CF
Read an excerpt from Arundhati Roy’s new book
It’s been 20 years since Arundhati Roy’s bestselling novel The God of Small Things. Since then, the Indian writer has become an outspoken political activist, campaigning for an independent Kashmir, regional autonomy from harmful globalization effects, and much more. Her new novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, is steeped in both the regional politics of India and the turbulent politics of the modern world. The first half of the story is framed through a transgender protagonist, a woman born intersex who finds a home among India’s hijras. But Roy’s story ultimately broadens, delving into caste tensions, the horrors of war, and the still-ongoing repercussions of colonial politics upon modern individuals. Read excerpts, along with a thorough discussion, at the New Yorker. - AR
Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan is not your average dance documentary
When Wendy Whelan left New York City Ballet in 2014, it was a watershed moment: She was one of classical ballet’s oldest and most revered principal dancers, with more than 30 years at NYCB and a repertoire of more than 50 ballets under her belt. Restless Creature (which opened a few weeks ago in New York and is expanding slowly across the country) is a documentary of the months in which she grapples with her next steps, especially as she struggles with injury. As a film, it’s also a cut above most dance documentaries — a frank, close, and sometimes uncomfortable look at the difficult psychological toll a career on the stage takes on its performers, even those who have successful and healthy careers. Whelan’s misgivings and fears about the future make for a riveting film, of interest to audiences far beyond dance nerds. — Alissa Wilkinson