Horror Films to Look Out For in 2018: New Year Highlights

2018 is set up to be a great year for horror. Featuring below are some of my most greatly anticipated films, including very few reboots, remakes or series (as is my personal preference). Let me know which films you’re looking forward to!

Film: Insidious Chapter 4: The Last Key
Release Date: 5 January 2018
Reprising her role as psychic Elise Rainier, Lin Shaye returns to a prequel of the Insidious series, where she confronts her childhood demon with terrifying consequences.
Watch the trailer here

Film: Winchester
Release Date: 2 February 2018
Helen Mirren is an actor extraordinaire, and any film that she is in automatically gives that project a weightiness and validity that it might not otherwise get. Combining her star power with a real-life house whose history is so steeped in the paranormal and psychological is a stroke of genius.
Watch the trailer here

Film: Thoroughbreds
Release Date: 9 March 2018
Featuring a teenage psychopath and boasting that it is a mash up of American Psychopath and Heathers, this subversive teenage romp brings dark comedy and death together in a unique and interesting way.
Watch the trailer here

Film: The Strangers 2: Prey at Night
Release Date: 9 March 2018
After a painful 10 year wait, The Strangers 2: Prey at Night is finally on the horizon. Featuring the same masked assailants as the first film, this promises another tale of terror and stalking.
Watch the trailer here

Film: A Quiet Place
Release Date: 4 June 2018
This monster flick has a distinct hook: the monster is attracted to sound. Leading to an atmospheric and intense trailer with a vibe much like recent hits It Comes at Night and It Follows.
Watch the trailer here

Film: The Nun
Release Date: 13 July 2018

A spin off from The Conjuring series, this time focusing on the delightfully devilish character from the second film: the Nun. In one of the most well-shot and creative scenes of recent horror films, this terrifying creature will now be the source of its own movie, and deservedly so.
No trailer available as of yet

Film: The Little Shadow
Release Date: 31 August 2018
In the aftermath of the Second World War, a doctor is summoned to a crumbling estate which his mother serviced as a maid years before. Based on the hair-raising book by Sarah Walters.
No trailer available as of yet

Film: Slaughterhouse Rulez
Release Date: 7 September 2018
I might be biased, but any British horror film starring dream horredy duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost gets my vote.
No trailer available as of yet

Film: The House with a Clock in its Walls
Release Date: 21 September 2018
An orphaned boy goes to stay with his Uncle who turns out to be hiding something… Starring legendary Twin Peaks actor Kyle MacLachlan, Cate Blanchett and Jack Black and based on the 1973 horror novel, what could go wrong?
No trailer available as of yet

Film: Breed
Release Date: TBC
Based on Chuck Novak’s novel of the same name, a wealthy European couple voyage to a fertility clinic for their last attempt to have children. Directed by Karen Kusama (Girlfight and The Invitation), this is a psychological thriller with gory elements.
No trailer available as of yet

Film: Nosferatu
Release Date: TBC
Robert Eggers of The Witch fame will be spearheading the reboot of the classic German film Nosferatu. Rumoured to be hitting the big screen in either late 2018 or early 2019, so keep your eyes peeled!
No trailer available as of yet

Film: We’re Wolves
Release Date: TBC
A sequel to the break-out New Zealand vampire hit What We Do in the Shadows, this follows the band of werewolves that are the vampires’ competition.
No trailer available as of yet

Film: The Open House
Release Date: TBC (Netflix)
Following an open house, the occupants race against time to decide whether the strange noises they’re hearing are because of any intruders or just a product of their imagination… Watch the trailer here

Film: Psychopaths
Release Date: TBC
A number of serial killers collide in one night: Alice, an escaped mental patient; Blondie, a beautiful seductress; the Midnight Strangler and an enigmatic masked killer. Who will come out alive, and whose agenda will be fulfilled?
Watch the trailer here

Film: The House that Jack Built
Release Date: TBC
Lars Von Trier directs The House that Jack Built: a dark exploration of a serial killer and his murderous spree in the 70s and 80s across Washington, USA.
No trailer available as of yet

So sit back, relax, and prepared to be terrified this New Year.

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The 5 Best Horror Films of 2017

2017 was a great year for horror, with Hollywood making a comeback from their usual output of horror dirge. Sadly, the horror films that I saw this year were mostly European/American, so not a lot of variety in countries in the list below – I hope you can forgive me for that.

Otherwise, a short list of the best horror films that I watched in 2017 (better late than never!).

Film: Get Out
Director: Jordan Peele

Obviously, Get Out has to be included, as one of the nominations for Best Picture at the Oscars this year (among other awards). Arguably the first film about white privilege and microaggression in white, liberal USA, was incredibly powerful and moving. Exploring a biracial relationship, the film follows Chris, an African American who goes to meet his girlfriend Rose’s family, with increasingly uncomfortable experiences, this is the perfect antidote to the shock of the 2016 election. With great dialogue, a suffocating atmosphere and the intensity of racial relations in modern America translated perfectly onscreen, this could only have pushed home its message with a bleaker (and heavily anticipated) ending.

Film: IT
Director: Andrés Muschietti

The first instalment of the remake of Stephen King’s iconic 80s made for TV miniseries was highly anticipated, and it didn’t disappoint. Despite problems faced by the film such as the difficulty in finding an actor to play the titled monster, the film was incredibly suspenseful and cleverly updated, with some incredible performances from the young actors.
This first film focused on the children’s story in the 1980s and Chapter 2 will continue as the protagonists are adults, which gave the movie the opportunity to really explore their breathless fear and incredible monsters which plagued them, borne out of their childhood experiences. Horror fans and critics alike have agreed that this movie hit the nail on the head, and we look forward to IT: Chapter 2.

Film: The Babysitter
Director: Brian Duffield

Straight to Netflix, this is a horror film that takes itself less seriously on the list, and is no worse off because of it. Fun, flirty and fast-paced, The Babysitter is about a young, shy boy whose only friend is his babysitter. When his parents go away, he awakes one night to find out that she has invited some friends over… And things start to spiral very quickly. With a Home Alone-vibe (but obviously with better, more lethal weapons: a manufactured blowtorch and a vase spring to mind) and a playful tone, this is perfect for a night in. Complete the experience with pizza, beer and some popcorn.

Film: Berlin Syndrome
Director: Cate Shortland

After a romantic night together, an American tourist finds herself locked into her lover’s apartment. But that couldn’t be on purpose…Could it?
Escalating quickly and as tumultuous as an abusive relationship, this is a claustrophobic and feminist meditation on the entitlement of men. Creepy and unsettling, what would you do to survive?
Definitely worth a watch, this is suspense and psychological horror at its best.

It Comes at Night
Director:
Trey Edward Shults
Following the theme of previously genre-bending films such as The Babadook, It Comes at Night is based on another metaphor: fear itself. Even if you disagree with me, critics and audience members agree that the emphasis on the tense atmosphere, mysterious monster and terse relationships between the characters made for an impressive movie. The depressing ending only heightens the effect: this is one that will leave you feeling deflated and will stick in your mind for weeks afterwards.

Honourable mentions: Gerald’s Game (from director Mike Flanagan, who directed sleeper hit Hush, big budget Oculus and surprisingly not-shit Ouija: Origin of Evil), Mother! (starring Jennifer Lawrence and Antonio Banderas, this meditation on the environment and bible perplexed mainstream fans, but once you accept it as a metaphor is a brilliant and thought-provoking film) and Marrowbone (a Spanish horror that has a fairly strong Flowers in the Attic vibe).

Let me know what your favourite horrors of 2017 in the comments below!

The Neon Demon (2016)

neondemon

Jesse (Elle Fanning) at her opening photoshoot.

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (Only God Forgives, Drive) and starring Elle Fanning and Keanu Reeves, this 2016 psychological horror draws attention to society’s obsession with beauty, female sexuality and power and the intermingling of all three. With average ratings on both IMDb (6.3/10) and Rotten Tomatoes (57%), The Neon Demon sparked a lot of debate between critical responses and spectators, who felt that the film lacked substance and brushed over its flaws with overdramatic effects and camera techniques like a bad combover.

This film, in my opinion, is one of the most intriguing horror films ever made. It is complex, dark and compelling, and although long-winded and artsy in a way that makes it difficult to watch, once you see the film as a whole, its messages become clear and concise, echoed by the breath-taking cinematography and precise camera effects.

Jesse (Fanning), a beautiful young woman, takes part in a photoshoot with photographer Dean (Karl Glusman) where she is covered in blood. Cleaning herself up afterward, she meets make-up artist Ruby (Jena Malone), who takes her to a party and introduces her to her model friends: Gigi (Bella Heathcote) and Sarah (Abby Lee Kershaw). They probe Jesse about her sex life in the toilets, which Jesse is mysterious about.

Jesse meets with agent Jan (Christina Hendricks), who wants to sign her. After concurring that she’s underage, Jan gives Jesse a consent form to be signed by her parents and tells Jesse to tell anyone who asks that she is 19: ’18 is too on-the-nose’. Jesse later signs this alone in her motel room.

After going on a date with Dean, Jesse returns to her motel room to find a big cat inside. Shocked, she asks the motel management for help, and they find a cougar-looking cat prowling around her ransacked room. The creepy manager (Keanu Reeves) demands that she pays for the damages.

***START OF SPOILERS***

Jesse is booked onto a test shoot with renowned photographer Jack McCarthur (Desmond Harrington), who orders a closed set and covers her naked body with gold paint. The shoot is a success, and Gigi and Sarah start to envy her whereas Ruby becomes more and more entranced. Later, Sarah and Jesse both go to a casting call for a fashion designer Robert Sarno, in which he ignores Sarah and is enthralled by Jesse, taking her measurements. Sarah, humiliated and hurt, breaks a mirror in the bathroom. Jesse hears her and goes inside. Sarah asks her what it’s like to ‘be the sun’ in winter, and Jesse whispers ‘it’s everything’. Angry, Sarah pushes Jesse back into glass, and her hand is punctured. Sarah sucks the blood from her hand, and Jesse flees.

Back at the motel, Jesse is faint and answers the door to Dean, holding flowers, and promptly faints, having bizarre hallucinations. Dean confronts the motel manager and pays the damages. The manager says that he should be ‘getting something in return’ from Jesse, and suggests that if she’s unwilling, there’s a 13-year-old runaway in the room next door. Disgusted, Dean walks away.

At Sarno’s fashion show, Gigi spots Jesse, surprised that she’s there as Sarno doesn’t let just anyone in his show. She then details how much plastic surgery that she’s had, saying with pride that her surgeon calls her ‘the bionic woman’. Jesse is called in for a meeting with Sarno, in which he tells her she is going to close the show. On the runway, Jesse hallucinates a mirror prism in which she kisses her own face and triangular shapes. After the show, Jesse goes with Dean to a bar where they bump into Sarno, Gigi and another model. Sarno springs into a chauvinistic monologue where he explains that you can always tell if beauty is engineered, and humiliates Gigi for her plastic surgery choices. Dean leaves when Jesse agrees with Sarno.

Back at the motel, Jesse has a nightmare that the manager breaks in and forces a knife down her throat in a sexual attack. She wakes up in time to hear someone jiggling the doorknob from outside, and leaps to lock the door. After a series of frustrated bangs, the perpetrator moves on to next door where the runaway was said to be, and Jesse listens to the horrifying sounds coming from inside. She calls Ruby who invites her over, but when she gets there, Ruby attempts to have sex with her. Revealing that she’s a virgin, she rejects Ruby and the next day at her day job as a make-up artist at a morgue, Ruby straddles a female blonde corpse, kissing the body and pleasuring herself.

Returning home, Ruby finds Jesse dressed in a formal gown on the diving board above the empty swimming pool. Revealing herself to be completely assimilated to her new narcissistic way of life, Jesse gives a speech about how she knows that women would kill to be a half-rate version of herself and walks away. She is ambushed inside by Gigi and Sarah, who chase her with knives outside, where she is then pushed into the empty pool by the group of women. Gigi and Sarah wash her blood off in the shower, whilst Ruby looks on from a bath full of blood.

The next day, Ruby washes the blood from the swimming pool topless, covered in occult tattoos, and lays in a shallow grave. That evening, she lies on the floor in front of the full moon as blood gushes from her genitals.

Sarah and Gigi drive to a fashion shoot. Sarah is not involved in the shoot, but talks with the other model as their make-up is applied, telling her that she ate a girl who got a job over her whilst Gigi looks on in repulsion and fear. Jack McCarther is fascinated with Sarah and asks her to join Gigi in the fashion shoot, firing the other girl. As the women take their place on the set in front of a pool, Gigi starts to retch and runs inside. After a few minutes, Sarah follows her, finding her in the bathroom where she throws up an eye and opens her stomach with scissors, crying that she has to get ‘her’ out of her. Unmoved, Sarah eats the eye, and returns outside to the shoot.

***END OF SPOILERS***

Okay, so this was a difficult film to watch. Not because there was a lot of gore or sinister scenes (although there was a fair amount of that), but because a lot of the messages of the film were shrouded in metaphors and you had to really give the film all your attention to catch what it was the filmmakers were saying. I believe that this is a film about the modelling industry on the surface, but underneath it is about feminine sexuality linked to innocence and the perverted male and female obsession with beauty. Narcissism, jealousy and power trips are all outcomes of these loosened moral boundaries, and the result ended in chaos and violence.

This was a film with a lot to say, and I think that because these things are all closely linked in the real world, a book would be a better medium used to explore these intermingling and complex ideas. As it is, the film does convey a lot of that message, but sacrifices a lot of its potential audience in the process.

Scores on the doors:

Gore 7/10
There isn’t a lot of gore in this film – a lot of the damage is done off screen, and the audience is forced to imagine the carnage being done. However, blood is never far from the screen, from the first scene at the photoshoot to one of the final shots with a pool of blood on the floor. This leant itself to the dreamy atmosphere of the film, but lacked a bit of bite.

Disturbance/Creepiness 8/10
This was a film founded on the erotic creepiness, the darkness permeating through and infecting the beauty industry, and this is produced mostly by the incredible cinematography, although all men but one are creepy as fuck, and handle the models as if they were their own puppets, playing at tea with their plastic dolls and pitting them against each other (similar to real life, amirite, ladies?).

Originality 9/10
Although this film has been slated for borrowing bits from other surrealist filmmakers (Dali, Buñuel, Lynch), this film does only exactly that: it borrows. Inspired by these directors, the film is leant the dreamlike quality that only the surrealists could achieve with the dramatic urgency of a horror film. It is also an insightful and necessary film, reflective of today’s problematic morals and priorities.

Scariness (behind-the-sofa factor) 4/10
So this film was not scary. Not at all. Not in a ‘I’m holding my hands over my eyes, I can’t watch this’ sort of way, anyway. However, the fact that we place so much pressure on beauty, especially female beauty, that this sort of thing may come to pass preyed on my mind long after the credits stopped rolling.

Music score 9/10
With my penchant for orchestral scores, I was pleasantly surprised by this movie’s electro soundtrack. The other-worldly atmosphere of the score gave a slightly futuristic and insistent beat to the story unfolding, which made you unsure if whether you were watching was a fashionable party, or the quickening heartbeat of a victim.

Weapons 5/10
Other than some knives and a pair of scissors, the metaphorical weapon was the veil of beauty, which not only covers the wearer with an impenetrable shield, but infects passers by with enough jealousy and obsession to either stamp out or obtain the owner.

Cinematography/direction 10/10
Neon-coloured palettes and geometric shapes were a motif in Refn’s interpretation, as well as symmetric shots and pops of colours in otherwise bleak surroundings. This is truly a film to be experienced rather than watched, and the cinematography plays a larger role in the unsettling tone of the movie than the plot itself.

Setting 7/10
Set in L.A, we assume in modern times, the bright lights and sunny streets never play a part in this film, which is almost entirely made up of shots of interiors. This hints at an isolated and artificial living space for the characters, informing their behaviour and encouraging the worst in humankind.

Script 8/10
Observant and well-written, the script grounded the film, which otherwise would have floated off into obscurity with the giant, unreachable balloon of its cinematography. The scenes where the women converse are the most interesting, mimicking the forced sincerity and sceptical attention of competitors meeting the next big thing.

Entertainment 8/10
Although I massively enjoyed this and would have awarded the experience a higher score, I recognise that this is in no way the film for everybody, and in fact isolates some of the more casual viewers with a film style that might feel overstated for some and incredibly underwhelming for others.

Overall: 75/100

Throughout this film, I got very strong Black Swan vibes (circa 2011): potentially from the plot, also following competing women, but mostly from the style. Both enigmatic in their approach to horror, their delight comes in the unexpected: and as horror fans know that more often than not there are certain rules of the genre, this is a welcome and refreshing change. Had this been filmed in a more ‘traditional’ horror style, it would have passed, unremarked, in the theatres and taken its place as a B list slasher film, with no originality. As it is, the creepiness supplied by the cinematography, the superb acting from the female leads as well as the incredibly original music score came together to create a surrealist horror film, which no doubt will not please everyone, but which highlighted topics that the genre has not given enough screen time or attention.

neondemon1

Sarah and Gigi at the final photoshoot.

Upcoming Horror Films -2017

UK Release Dates

So it’s that time of year again – time to prepare for the new year, which, hopefully, will be a damn sight better than 2016 (**cough cough** Brexit **cough cough** Trump).

To get us looking forward, this is a list compiling the new horror films of 2017: including original films, remakes and prequels/sequels. Although there are a lot of remakes and sequels, following what seems to be a 21st Century trend, there are some VERY interesting newcomers that look absolutely terrifying. I’ll be putting together a separate list of which films I’m anticipating the most, but for now, here is a broader compilation.

Originals

The Bye Bye Man (13 January)
The first original horror film of 2017, this story follows a group of teens in University accommodation as they encounter the supernatural entity of the Bye Bye Man. Trailer looks shite, cast looks uninspired.
Anticipation rating: *

Split (20 January)
From the ever-surprising M. Night Shyamalan, the trailer went viral online, mostly thanks to the incredible charisma and skill of James McAvoy. Three friends are abducted by a strange man, who has a dangerous and unstable personality disorder. Always interested in the director, and the story looks quite intriguing, although their depiction of mental health is set up to be problematic.
Anticipation rating: ****

XX (17 February)
An anthology film featuring all-female directors and leads! FINALLY! With a fair amount of mystery behind it, the directors include Jennifer Lynch (Chained, Surveillance, Boxing Helena), Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, The Invitation) and Annie Clark (a.k.a musician St Vincent). This looks intriguing, and I’m excited to see what these women have in their horror vaults.
Anticipation rating: ****

Raw (10 March)
This French-Belgium flick shocked audiences earlier this year in screenings that resulted in calls to paramedics, fainting and walk-outs. The provocative film centres around a woman becoming a cannibal after an initiation ceremony at her Veterinarian College. The artwork looks beautiful, and I’m always up for a little carnivore action.
Anticipation rating: *****

Get Out (17 March)
With all the racial tensions in the world at the moment, this is probably the perfect moment for this film to be released for maximum impact. A black man goes with his white girlfriend to meet and stay with her parents. However, when everyone starts to act a little off, things escalate and get out of control very quickly. With a visceral trailer, a wonderful lead actor (Daniel Kaluuya) and a topical concept which poses a constant and real threat in everyday life, this is one horror film that I will not miss.
Anticipation rating: ****

A Cure for Wellness (24 March)
Basically a feature-length episode of Black Mirror, this slick, unsettling meditation on science, technology and the fragile human mind is evident in the trailer. Starring Dane Dehaan and directed by Gore Verbinski (The Ring), this film follows a young man as he goes to retrieve his boss from a wellness centre, but gets sucked in to the mystery in its walls.
Anticipation rating: ***

Keep Watching (5 May)
This film is a little bit of an enigma – starring The Walking Dead’s Chandler Riggs, I couldn’t even find a trailer for this film. The poster looks amazing though, and I can’t really resist a good home invasion film – we’ll have to wait and see!
Anticipation rating: **

Abruptio (31 May)
Another trailer that I couldn’t find, this May-release is about a man who must avoid being blown up via an explosive implant in his neck by completing more and more extreme tasks. Reminds me of a Saw film. And not in a good way.
Anticipation rating: *

Dark Tower (28 July)
An adaptation of the series by Stephen King, Matthew McConoughey and Idris Elba to star. A young adventurer delves into another dimension, where he meets a knight (Elba), monsters and an evil sorcerer (McConoughey). Much more of a fantasy/adventure film than a horror.
Anticipation rating: *

Sequels/Prequels

Rings (3 February)
13 years after the events of the first film, and instead of VHS, Samara is back – online! An updated version is more truthful to modern media but slightly laughable, and its ridiculousness is only topped by its non-existent storyline. Maybe it will prove to be a dark horse, but from where I’m sitting it looks like nothing more than a nostalgic throwback to the first 2 American films of the trilogy.
Anticipation rating: **

Annabelle 2 (26 May)
As the second instalment of the spinoff series featuring the sinister doll, this follows a dollmaker and his wife as they open their home to a nun and some orphans, but one of his dolls has darker motives…
Anticipation rating: **

Friday the 13th (13 October)
The 13th film of this large franchise will hopefully send the seemingly immortal Jason Vorhees to sleep with the fishes for good. With a typical, unimaginative trailer and a predictable plot synopsis, this is one sequel that you could afford to miss.
Anticipation rating: *

God Particle (27 October)
Rumoured to be a prequel of Cloverfield but otherwise mysterious, this film follows astronauts in their terrifying discovery of something in deep space. With the franchise still celebrating its commercial and critical success of the 2nd film, this would be the perfect time to jump on the band wagon, and create another film for the series.

Insidious: Chapter 4 (3 November)
The fourth instalment of the Insidious series, there is little knowledge about the film, although we do know that the project has changed hands. No longer directed but produced by James Wan, lets hope that Adam Robital can frighten horror fans with the continuation of the franchise.

Remakes

In my opinion, remakes are rarely successful in the critical sense, and even more rarely bring anything new to the original tale apart from terrible CGI and maybe a celebrity or two. But, for those of you who know and love them, these are the remakes coming out in 2017.

Amityville: The Awakening (6 January)

It (8 September)

Flatliners (29 September)

Suspiria (13 October)

Let me know what films your excited for in 2017 – and do you have any that you’d like me to review? Leave a comment, and don’t forget to like and subscribe!

Jessabelle (2016)

Uhhhh….

Okay, I’m going to be honest – I didn’t actually keep my eye on this film the entire time. It was meant to be something fun to keep me happy on the sofa on a dreary morning in England, and my God, even the English weather sparkled in comparison. Its critical reception ranged from mixed to negative, with only 26% on Rotten Tomatoes, and an average 5.4 on IMDb.

The plot (or lack thereof), follows Jessabelle, aka Jessie, in the deep south of America as she recovers from a serious car accident that killed her unborn child and resulted in her being confined to a wheelchair. She moves in with her creepy father, and ‘spooky’ shit starts to go down. And when I say ‘spooky’, I mean jumpscares.

The film starts off quite quickly, with an appearance from the entity within the first 10 minutes. Jessie finds three videotapes of her deceased mother while she explores her new room, and her Mother directly addresses her on them, calling her by her first name and reading her fortune from a set of Tarot cards that her friend Moses from Church had taught her how to use. Although her mother predicts a female presence in the house that wants Jessie out, the fortune has little to nothing to do with Jessie’s life otherwise. Her father interrupts her watching this tape and stamps on it, telling her that ‘that monster’ in the tape wasn’t her mother. Jessie watches, devastated and powerless.

***SPOILERS***

When a nurse visits Jessabelle to monitor her progress, Jessie is attacked in the bathroom whilst in the bath by a dark, female figure, which is covered from head to toe in tar or a dark, sticky liquid. When Jessie is pinned against a wall by the figure, the nurse and her father run in, and the presence disappears, leaving an emotionally vulnerable Jessie to figure it out on her own.

Although Jessie told her father that the tape of her Mother was the only one she had found, she watches another and is caught by her father. In a vicious huff, he storms out to the shed and sets the videotape alight, but is caught himself in the fire, and cannot exit the shed. Jessie is forced to watch him burn alive, trapped herself within the large house, unable to act.

Her father’s body is taken away, and at the funeral she reconnects with a high school friend, Preston. After he stays the night with her, asleep on a chair by her bed, she begs him to stay and talk to her about her experiences. After hearing her story, he reasons that her Mother made wrong predictions with her Tarot cards, and that the only reason that Jessie felt at all in danger was because one thing came partly true. Jessie is relieved, and he leaves her.

Later that night, Jessie watches a tape in which her Mother and Father announce that they are pregnant during a happy, family Christmas party. Another shows her Mother talking directly to her, and shouting that she is dead. She hits the camera as if in grief and it falls from its prop. Scared and shaken, Jessie phones Preston, only for another woman to pick up the phone and hang up when told who is calling. She finds another tape concealed behind a thin wall.

The next day, she meets Preston and they explore the Bayou. In the water, he finds a doll, and they discover a small grave, with ‘Jessabelle’ written on it, and Jessie’s same birthday. Preston theorises that she could have a dead twin, which she dismisses. Preston digs up a small coffin, with the bones of an infant inside. They call the police, who say they will get in contact if the bones share DNA with her Father and Jessie.

That night, Jessie goes to sleep at Preston’s, feeling unsafe in her own home, and meets his horrible wife. The next day, they head off to meet her Mother’s old cook, who she had mentioned in a tape. The woman chants in Haitian, which her son translates as an old song to summon a spirit to possess the body of a living. After the woman pulls her hair, Preston wheels her away and they try to find the church where Moses taught her mother tarot cards, but stumble on a shrine, at the base of which lies a dead goat. There they find a photo of Moses, which state he died the day that Jessie was born. A group of men threaten them with guns to vacate the shrine, which they do very bloody quickly.

They return to Jessie’s, and Preston tells her to collect her things, as she’s not going to be staying there. They go inside to pack her things, and Preston takes her out to the car wrapped in a blanket. As he gets in beside her, he discovers it isn’t Jessie, but the shadowy presence. They struggle, and his head is slammed into the ground. The ambulance comes to take him away, and the police officer reveals that after examination, the baby skeleton’s spine had been snapped: she had been murdered. Jessie realises that the ghostly figure doesn’t mean harm – she needs help.

After waving away the sheriff, she lights some candles and attempts to make contact. The TV switches on and another tape plays: her Mother talks to the baby Jessie, putting a pillow over her for a few moments, before relenting and shooting herself offscreen. The ghost of her mother appears beside her and shows Jessie a series of flashbacks to reveal that her baby did not belong to Jessie’s father: Moses and she had had a baby girl, and flying into a rage, her father had murdered the baby before setting Moses’ house alight. Jessie asks what she can do. The ghost of Moses comes out of the shadow, and together they tie Jessie to her chair. Outside, they wheel her off a dock, into the bayou. Underwater, the presence, now revealing herself to be the trueborn Jessabelle, takes her mother’s bracelet which she wore always, and resurfaces in Jessie’s body. Preston finds her and pulls her out of the water, and the sheriff asks if she is okay. The creature in Jessie’s body smiles, and says ‘it’s Jessabelle’.

***END OF SPOILERS***

Okay so wow. There were a few great features: for example, some of the acting was average-pretty good, there was a lovely contrast in filming night and day, and there were some very strong symbols which were quite poignant, such as the bracelet and the recurrence of water.

However, on balance, this was not a good film. The pacing was everywhere, the music was far too intense and mixed incredibly loudly to the point where it dominated any visual jumpscares and the plot had more holes than a beginner’s knitting. What’s more, the use of voodoo and witchcraft in this film was linked only with black people, to the point where it started to look like a ‘Make America Great Again’ campaign message. The responses of the characters to it in the writing were pretty sketchy and borderline racist, and the entire thing left a sour taste in my mouth. Almost every other poor aspect of this film I could forgive, but this was way too far.

So, lets get down to it.

Gore 5/10
Virtually no gore, and the continual presence of the shadow from very early in the film made the whole film seem like there was no real danger, and therefore lost a lot of immediacy and tension for me. ‘Oh, the ghost is there 24/7 but doesn’t hurt anyone? How considerate.’ You see what I mean.

Disturbance/Creepiness 3/10
Really, this was weak. The storyline was weak, the buildup weak. Really, overall not great.

Originality 5/10
I will give some credit in the realm of creativity, as there are few voodoo movies out there. However, it was handled so tactlessly that it undoes any merit that this might have.

Scariness (behind-the-sofa factor) 4/10
To be fair, I was scared a little of this film. But that was primarily because all the scares were jumpscares, and therefore as soon as they were over the feeling of dread subsided and there was no ongoing tension throughout the film.

Music score 4/10
Waaaaaaay too loud. At least it was orchestral and if it was mixed properly it would have been fine. Sadly, it was not.

Weapons 2/10
Unless you count videotapes, there were none. And I’m pretty sure someone had that idea before – Hi, Samara!

Cinematography/direction 7/10
Okay, this is by far and away the best thing about the film. The exterior shots are beautiful, helped by the shooting location I presume, and the interior shots were gritty, atmospheric and dilapidated.

Setting 6/10
Beautiful Louisiana landscape which inspired a lot of this film’s plot. The setting changed a lot, showing us quite a lot of the sleepy town and beautiful bayou, and this was really nice to see.

Script 4/10
Oh dear oh dear. The script was not good. That is all.

Entertainment 5/10
As I said before, I couldn’t even get through this with two eyes on it.

Overall: 45/100

So overall, I’d say that the direction and cinematography really stole the show on this one – although there is definitely a strong case for style over substance. The actors who played Jessie and her Mother were very good, there was a romance that I actually sort of rooted for and the setting was lovely. But this film was dwarfed by a concept that the script failed to get off the ground, as well as an insensitive depiction of black culture and white purity. This is something that would be better to watch in a group of friends, mostly to laugh and make fun of the idiotic and empty script and scare fails. If you don’t like modern horror films – I would suggest to avoid this film altogether, although I am interested to see what the director and the two actors do next.

CHRISTMAS HORROR FILMS

Today is ONE MONTH FROM THE DAY ITSELF! We are officially celebrating!

The weather outside is frightful, so grab a blanket, make yourself a hot chocolate and settle down in front of an open fire to watch these Christmas-themed horror flicks.

I have included some films that I haven’t seen in hopes to broaden this list as much as possible: if you’d like full-blown reviews on any of these films, let me know, and I’ll get to writing!

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Black Christmas
(original 1974 or remake 2006)

Set in a college sorority house during the holidays, a deranged killer stalks the sisterhood from the inside of the house… The remake gives a lot more detail of the killer’s backstory, whereas the original is a good old fashioned slasher film, and even served as an inspiration for Halloween. Christmas-themed deaths ensue!

 

 

 

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Calvaire (2004)
A struggling musician attempts to make it home for the holidays, but breaks down and is forced to take shelter in a nearby inn, only to discover that the innkeepers have more macabre motives. Set in Belgium and in French, this film is set during the festive period rather than drawing horror from the holiday – although it does find horror in the (seeming) good will of men. This is a smaller budget horror-thriller that deserves a lot more attention than it is given.

 

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The Children (2008)
Two families come together in the interim between Christmas and New Years to celebrate in an isolated, impressive English estate. When the children fall ill from a mysterious sickness, their behaviour and actions become increasingly erratic to the point of murder. Must have been the missing pony under the Christmas tree…

 

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Christmas Evil (1980)
Christmas Eve, 1980: a man, scarred by his experiences with Santa, makes it his mission to become the ‘true’ Father Christmas. Obsessed with this idea and shunned by co-workers, he suffers a mental breakdown, and dons a Santa suit to serve up some justice to naughty boys and girls.

 

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Dead End
(2003)

A family man begrudgingly drives his family to his Mother-in-law’s for Christmas, as he has done for many years. This year, he takes a shortcut and throws his family into turmoil: ghostly happenings plague them, and it is up to the Father to save his family – or what is left of it. Starting out as a paranormal film, this neat little French film twists and morphs into a psychological horror that doesn’t have the suspected explanation…

 

 

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Don’t Open Till Christmas (1984)

A mysterious, masked vigilante gruesomely murders people wearing Santa suits. When the police get involved, setting up a sting where several don the iconic red and white suit, the killer spirals into a delusional rampage that threatens everything that Christmas should be.

 

 

 

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Elves (1989)
At the centre of a neo-nazi plot to create an Aryian race, is a singular elf. Summoned by a girl who cuts her hand during an anti-Christmas, Pagan ritual, this elf poses a threat to all the values of Christmas, as well as democracy and tolerance. It’s up to a group of teenagers to stop the elf and the Nazi conspiracy once and for all.

 

 

 

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Gremlins (1984)

This beloved Christmas classic is 3-part comedy and 1-part horror, and perfect for family viewing! A father is looking for a last-minute Christmas present for his son, and walks away from a shop with a live, cute nugget of joy. He is warned not to feed it after midnight or get it wet, but of course, these are rules impossible to live by, and when they are broken, the titular gremlins turn into terrifying creatures, causing havoc.

 

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Holidays (2016)
An anthology film about all the Holidays in the year, one portion focuses on Christmas, starring Seth Green. A man goes to extreme lengths to make sure his son gets a virtual reality for Christmas, but is consumed by the guilt. Perfect to watch on any commercial ‘holiday’, Christmas is no exception, and exploits the perceived need to please at the gift-giving season.

 

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Jack Frost (1997)

Serial killer Jack Frost is being transported in order to be executed, but when the transport vehicle collides with a truck carrying harmful acid, and Jack Frost is covered in it, reducing his flesh and skeleton to a melted puddle on the snowy ground. When a homicidal snowman starts terrorizing the town, the police must work quickly to unravel the mystery. A murderous snowman is just a winning recipe for a festive horror movie, in my book. Definitely not to be watched seriously!

 

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Krampus (2015)

This comedy horror derives its plot from the Germanic and Nordic legend of Krampus, the part-man, part-goat that comes to punish naughty children during Christmastime. A few days before Christmas, a large, extended family reunites to celebrate together. However, the cousins ridicule a little boy for his belief in Christmas, and as a result he tears up his letter to Father Christmas, thereby leaving the family bereft of any Christmas cheer. This provokes the monstrous Krampus to appear, and the family is tormented by a host of demonic toys.

 

 

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A Nightmare Before Christmas
(1993)

Tim Burton’s stop-animation film has become essential watching for the Halloween-Christmas period. Jack Skellington, the leader of Halloween town, finds a door in the middle of the woods to Christmas town, and falls in love with the season. He vows to take it over, and Christmas is injected with the Halloween spirit. One of my most beloved films, regardless of the time of year, this is perfect to watch with a family or with some mulled wine. Jack and Sally 5ever.

 

 

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Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
In Lapland, some mysterious things have been found on top of a mountain, and an American team excavate a whole burial group on which Lapland is sitting. A struggling reindeer slaughterer sets up traps around his farm to ward off wolves, and in the morning he finds he has caught something more than he bargained for… This little Finnish flick is unexpected, fun and fast.

 

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Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)
On Christmas Eve, 1970, a lawyer and his assistant drive into town for a meeting. They are brutally murdered in an old mansion, up for sale. The killer, ‘Marianne’, then invites multiple people to the mansion to fulfil a disturbing mission of vengeance. This is a typical slasher film, although there are a couple of neat twists towards the end, and explores the killer’s justification. Worth a watch on a lazy evening with nothing else to do.

 

 

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Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
After witnessing his parents’ brutal slaughter by a deranged man in a Santa suit and a tumultuous upbringing in a strict Catholic orphanage, Billy Chapman is released into society, but finds it hard to reconcile his years of abuse and underlying trauma with acceptable behaviour. After witnessing sexual violence, he has a mental breakdown and embarks on a killing spree. This is a fun slasher film, synonymous with the festive season, and has a few imaginative killing scenes – enjoy!

 

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Treevenge (2008)
This short film (16 mins) features sentient Christmas trees that set off an uprising against humans in response to the cruel and humiliating way that they’re treated. This is a short, innovative taste of Christmas horror that doesn’t require a lot of thought, and that is straightforward and often funny. Make sure you don’t treat your trees like this this year!

 

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Whiteout (2009)
Kate Beckinsale stars as a Deputy U.S Marshall preparing to leave her base in Antartica to return home. However, the appearance of a dead body, which is proven by an autopsy to be the result of murder, prompts her to stay to solve the mystery. More of a survival-thriller than a horror film, this is a film that capitalises on the horror of the harsh elements during winter, and is definitely worth the watch to see the captivating Ms Beckinsale.

 

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Wind Chill
(2007)

A University student (Emily Blunt) hitches a ride with a fellow student on 23 December. She becomes suspicious of his behaviour, never having seen him in any of her classes and overhearing him ask for directions for a route that he’s claimed to have driven many times. When he takes a short cut, however, things take a completely different turn. If you like films that take a surprise turn after their initial set up, this is the film for you!

 

That concludes the list for Christmas-themed horror films: pour yourself some mulled wine, snuggle up to your partner and to all a goodnight!

I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016)

A cheeky little film that came out of nowhere, I saw the trailer for I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House only a few days before it came out on Netflix, and the stunning cinematography and intriguing vagueness of the storyline made me say a decisive ‘yep’.

Some of the reviews are very indignant that there are absolutely no jumpscares in this film, nor gore, a horror reflected in the scores awarded on IMDb (4.8/10) and Rotten Tomatoes (67%). However, this is a film completely built on creepy atmosphere, an isolated setting and a growing sense of paranoia. Old-school. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in my book, but in this world of remakes and preference for jumpscares galore, that isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. So if it isn’t, please don’t watch this film. You’ll feel you’ve wasted your time, and other people will think you’re being a dick for not appreciating the slow-burning horror.

That being said, there are gigantic holes in the plot. Like, massive. As someone who is very good at seeing the best in horror films, especially good-looking ones (I know, I know, I’m super shallow, get over it), it took me a while after the film was over for me to think… Hang on! Something’s amiss here…

But otherwise, with a beautiful setting, ambiance pouring out of its ears and playing on the lack of scares to build up and build up a tension that is never released until the final 10 minutes, this is a creepy little chiller that opposes Hollywood horror.

Let’s get into the story, shall we?

Set in the 1970s/80s, we follow a young, jittery nurse, Lily, who is hired to be live-in help to Ms Iris Blum – a retired writer who is bedridden and receives no visitors apart from her estate manager, Mr Waxcap.

The whole film is interspersed with voice-overs from Lily, explaining that the living only ever borrow houses from the dead, and other cryptic yet creepy musings on life and death.

Ms Blum always sleeps with the radio playing, and her first evening Lily goes into her room to turn it off. Ms Blum wakes and asks for her forgiveness, calling her Polly. Lily carefully explains who she is, and is visibly shaken as she leaves the room.

She rings her friend to calm her down, and afterwards she seems a little more relaxed, although the camera roams around the barren downstairs space as if there is something watching and waiting in the many shadows.

Later, in a meeting with Mr Waxcap, Lily is told that Ms Blum was a horror writer, and that her best-known novel by far is The Woman in the Wall. Finding a hundred printings of that very book in the house, Lily entertains the thought of reading it, but is spooked out by the first page, which details that it is a true story, told directly to Ms Blum by the ghost of Polly, an early-19th century bride that came to a grisly end on her wedding night, and puts the book down.

***SPOILER ALERT***

A year later, she is settled in the house, and she brushes Ms Blum’s hair for her. Ms Blum decides to be a little creepy and explains that Polly didn’t tell her the end of her story, although it was generally accepted that it was particularly grim, and so she refused to write an ending to her book, out of respect to the ghost.

Lily finds a storage box in the cupboard which says ‘Polly’ on it, takes it down and peeks inside. She finds a number of letters addressed to Polly from Ms Blum, suggesting that either the ghost really does exist, or is not just some figment of Ms Blum’s imagination, borne out of the obsession with her best-selling novel. The letters disturb Lily, and she puts the box back.

Downstairs, she remarks that the black mould on a part of the wall is getting bigger, and rings up a professional to come to the house in the next few days to check it out as she is worried about Ms Blum’s health.

Later, she tries to turn on the TV which has been playing up since the beginning of the film. While she is trying to adjust the bunny ears, the TV shuts off, and the ghost of Polly is reflected in the blackness of the screen. Lily jumps and turns around, and there is nothing there. She cautiously explores the whole downstairs and eventually, when she looks at the part of the wall covered in mould, she finally sees Polly and is so scared that she dies of fright.

A few days later, the mould inspectors come and no-one answers the door. They notify Mr Waxcap, and he uncovers Lily, dead on the inside of the door, and Ms Blum, without proper care, is dead in her bed.

Lily states again that the living merely borrow their homes from the dead in a voiceover played over scenes of a new family moving into the house, seemingly unaware of the film’s events.

***SPOILERS END HERE***

Okay, so it’s a little bit odd, right? Like, these events could easily be avoided – right? Mr Maxcap details early in the film that Ms Blum’s estate is worth a little money, so she could have moved. However, being bedridden, and obsessed with the ghost that she thinks is her friend, it wouldn’t be feasible to move the old woman. Lily, however, can simply be reassigned if she chooses – so why doesn’t she? Especially considering how skittish she is, and how uncomfortable she feels in the presence of Ms Blum. Maybe pride, but maybe also she is drawn to the house, sensing a tortured soul inside, and as she is a nurse and heals people for a living, thinks that she can help.

Classic mistake.

So, let’s get down to business (to defeat the huns).

There is absolutely no gore in this film – in fact, there is absolutely nothing that would push it over a PG rating. A little gore, I think, would have made this film. As it stands, the ending wasn’t satisfying and there seemed little to no consequence for the characters and therefore nothing to really grip the audience and make this a memorable horror film.

That being said, this is possibly the creepiest film I have ever seen. A horror veteran, I was hiding behind a cushion for around 40% of this film thanks to the cinematography. However, the plot itself wasn’t disturbing – sure a ghost ooh spooky, but the plot behind the ghost was, disappointingly, nothing.

This is an old-fashioned haunted house film, but with new cinematic techniques. The 3 female protagonists are incredibly and deftly played by the cast, but at the end, this film was pretty basic.

The music was orchestral and low-key, and never interrupted the cinematic beauty of the film, which I appreciate after being subjected to high-volume scores which add to the startling jumpscares which, to me, just seems like cheating. The music itself was soft, sad and almost romantic, and was pitch-perfect for its film counterpart.

Okay, okay, I know I’ve said this a lot, but the cinematography was BEAUTIFUL. From interesting camera angles that were held for waaaay too long and instilled a sense of dread, from the stunning colour contrast of the white nurse uniform that Lily wore and blackberries in one wonderful scene, and the empty black void of doorways that the camera concentrated on, symbolising the divide between life and death. The oftentimes asymmetrical camera angles gave the impression that something was a little off, adding to the paranoia that I felt watching it.

The film is confined only to one setting – the house. This white, Amityville-esque house is perfectly symmetrical when we are shown the outside (which is only once or twice), but inside it extends into a large, empty labyrinth of rooms, with minimal clutter and nothing for the audience to examine but the characters themselves. This emptiness is sometimes compromised by some disgusting wallpaper, but there is emptiness nonetheless, forcing you to concentrate solely on the story and wait for the ghost.

The script is a meditation on the meaning of life and death, the examination of a young woman and her deep-seated fear of death and therefore the unknown and therefore: ghosts. It’s also a melancholic exploration of growing old and sick, our bodies rotting away from under us, and our minds deteriorating with self-doubt and, worse, with unwavering, stubborn belief that will never be rewarded or recognised. Some of it is too vague for me, but I appreciated the voice-overs of especially Polly, although Lily was interesting to explore as well.

Overall, this film had me by the throat from the beginning. Although nothing really happens, the atmosphere, flawless cinematography and intriguing script enchanted me, and made me think that rather than label this a horror, I would hazard it is much more a gothic philosophical ode to death and life. Some people, however, may not appreciate this – if you usually like Hollywood horror fare, don’t watch this!

Gore    4/10

Disturbance/Creepiness         8/10

Originality       6/10

Scariness (behind-the-sofa factor)     6/10

Music score     9/10

Weapons         N/A

Cinematography/direction     10/10

Setting             9/10

Script               8/10

Entertainment             9/10

Overall            69/90

I would highly recommend this little cracker – especially if you like slow-burning, psychological horror and are less keen on gore. Enjoy!

Severance (2006)

This movie was first introduced to me in 2010 by a friend. I remember enjoying it, but getting a bit lost in the middle. Now, watching it four years later, I can safely say that it wasn’t my fault – it is a confusing movie, which is not necessarily a bad thing. This movie is a lot of films all rolled into one: a horror, a comedy, a British independent production, a home invasion, an action and a slasher flick all thrown into one.

Released in 2006 and directed by Christopher Smith (known also for Triangle and Creep), it has pretty consistent scores across the board from IMDb, Metascore and Rotten Tomatoes (6.6, 62/100 and 64%). This neat little 91 minute flick follows 7 members of a company on a team-building weekend in Eastern Europe after a tour promoting their company and its product: warfare.

The opening scene is a titillating promise of things to come: melodic, light-hearted waltz music plays as a background to intermittent bursts of the camera following two women being chased through a forest. From here on out, the action is a bit more subdued, and doesn’t really get going until about 20 minutes later.

We are next introduced to our team: Rich, the wet-blanket; Billy, the secretary; Steve, the pervert; Maggie, the good girl; Gordon, the annoying optimist; Jill, the feminist and Harris, the bully. They were so stereotypical that I gave them their personality counterparts before even learning their real names. Anyway, they are making their way to a company lodge for a weekend of team-building, when the coach stops suddenly: there is a tree in the middle of the road, blocking their route. The suck-up argues with the driver who only speaks a foreign language. When he mentions the alternative route to their destination on the map, the driver reacts forcibly, refusing point blank to take them that way. As a result, the group descends and is forced to search for the lodge on foot.

*SPOILERS*

At the lodge, a delightful residence decorated with broken windows, torn wallpaper and an overgrown garden, the bully finds loads of files in a dilapidated shed outside. Back inside, the group eats a pie and discusses conspiracies from around the area: a mental asylum, a detention centre and even a ‘sex lodge’. The discussion is interrupted as Steve discovers a tooth in the pie. Later that night a man appears at Jill’s window, spooking them all. Wooden planks are discovered in the trees when the men go outside to investigate.

The next morning, Jill and Harris go to look for signal to call the coach to come and collect them. They find the coach abandoned and the driver dead nearby. Meanwhile, the rest of the team play paintball. Gordon backs onto a bear trap, and after several attempts to remove his leg only to have the contraption snap back onto it, his leg falls off completely. Jill and Harris return with the coach and they all bundle on, speeding away. The coach is ambushed and breaks down. Harris is beheaded and Jill is set alight by a flame-thrower.

When the rest of the group regains consciousness, they stumble back to the lodge. A delusional Gordon declares his love to Maggie until given some of Steve’s ecstasy to take the edge off of his pain. Maggie and Steve have a conversation, agreeing that their best chance of survival is to leave Gordon at the Lodge while they run for help. Unbeknownst to them, a shadowy figure moves behind them, dragging Gordon with him.

Maggie, Steve, Billy and Rich discover that Gordon has gone missing and find a hidden staircase to a cellar below the building. They find cells reminiscent of the asylum stories that they had told around the table, and Gordon is found with a symbol carved out of his stomach flesh. The group flees and is chased by a madman with a shotgun. Billy is fatally wounded, and Maggie almost cries out as they find the wound together, in the most touching death of the whole film. He collapses into her arms, and she puts his jacket over his face, honouring him in death.

*DEFINITE SPOILERS*

This is where Maggie really comes into her own as a character. She marches back into the room with a dead, massacred Gordon lying on a table, and pulls a machete out of a long plank of wood.

Upstairs, Steve sees Rich escaping alone outside, having abandoned the other two and ironically revealing his weakness of being part of a team – the very reason they all came to the lodge in the first place. He hides in a cupboard while the mysterious killer creaks around on the rickety floorboards. Maggie comes up the stairs and confronts him. They struggle, and he ends up plummeting through the floorboards. He is killed by a shotgun shell to the head, as Maggie explains ‘I’d hate to be accused of not killing him when I had the chance’. Smart girl.

Steve and Maggie stumble outside, coming face to face with several more killers. They come across Rich, who has stepped on a land mine (ironically, one of their company’s). He instructs Maggie and Steve how to avoid the mines and then, when the killers find him, taunt him and attempt to cross the land mine, he activates the mine, taking out himself and a killer or two.

Steve and Maggie find the lodge where they were supposed to be heading to the whole time. Their boss and two escorts great them, and when told about the situation, pulls out a bazooka to ward off the assailants. Unfortunately, the bazooka misses them, and instead fires into the air, hitting a plane. Everyone is forced to run.

Maggie is captured in the forest, and the two escorts fall into a pit. Steve battles 3 assailants as Maggie fights her captor who attempts to rape her. They all finally free themselves and escape across the lake to safety, Steve being comforted by Maggie.

*SPOILER-FREE ZONE*

Gore 6/10
Weirdly, some gorey bits are implied rather than shown directly on-screen. That would be fine, although lots of the extreme gore in this movie is shown onscreen whilst the straightforward kills aren’t shown.

Creepy 7/10
The multi-setting is very creepy, the scary stories that the group shares over the meal and the fact that the killer is not shown on-camera until towards the end of the film lends the movie a creepy atmosphere

Originality 7/10
This film has a bit of everything; its dark humour helps provide some sort of comic relief for the scenes which are laced with gore, and the storyline is more a matter of opinion rather than a linear progression of events.

Scariness 5/10
Smith relies on some jumpscares, which, annoyingly, are made even ‘scarier’ by ridiculously amplified sound. However, the reality of the situation is not lost on these characters: instead of playing heroes like most horror movies, they run and abandon their team members, which makes for a good discussion on morality and ethics.

Music score 7/10
Loved it. Often completely mis-matched with what the shots were depicting, the music was a neat little way to introduce comedy.

Weapons 7/10
Ironically, our team works for a weapons manufacturer, and some of their own products crop up in the movie. Some of the most bad-ass weapons include: a flame-thrower, machete and land mine.

Cinematography 7/10
Despite lots of ‘watching from the shadows’ shots which get a bit annoying, Smith uses episodic shots and seems to me reminiscent of Edgar Wright.

Setting 8/10
There is a huge map in this film which includes loads of nooks and crannies in a forest, cellar and creepy lodge. This wide variety in setting does not limit the action to one place which typically begs the question as to why the characters are staying there and not fleeing for their lives.

Script 7/10
The script is witty and fast-paced. The actors are not tied down by a bad script and are able to shine. However, my main complaint would be the glaringly obvious stereotypes.

Entertainment value 7/10
As well as being guffaw-out-loud funny, Danny Dyer is doing what Danny Dyer does best: being loud and cockney. Who doesn’t enjoy that? The short run time of 91 minutes also never allows the action to drag, despite the slow start.

OVERALL SCORE: 69/100

Overall, I really liked this movie. Sure, the plot can be confusing and seem contrived at some points, however that’s only looking back on it. Whilst watching it, I never once thought that it followed an illogical angle, and the multitude of storylines that it provides leaves you thinking about it long after the credits have run. I would say that the acting was solid, with stand-out performances from Tim McInnery (Rich) and David Gilliam (George/boss). If not shit-your-pants scary, this film was at least entertaining, and had an interesting social commentary that not many films of this genre even attempt.

Innocence (2004)

I entered the universe of Innocence with some misconceptions – and that is undoubtedly the worst way to go about it. My mind had been manipulated by reviews and rumours about possible paedophilia nuances which ruined my initial impressions of the film.

Although I wouldn’t class it as a horror film, rather more like a surreal romp in and out of both our fantasies and nightmares, it picks up on the human fear and curiosity of the outside world from within a dreamlike girl’s boarding school. Seemingly a bizarre experiment of how long young girls, relatively untouched by adult influence, can maintain the pinnacle of innocence, it is interspersed with beautiful imagery of a fairytale forest punctuated with hanging bulbs as well as decidedly less idealistic still shots of an underground tunnel system found underneath the school’s ‘safe’ walls.

The director, Lucile Hadzilhalilovic, contrasts the dreamy atmosphere with very specific symbolism – the girls wear all white except for the ribbons they tie in their hair to identify them by age, the movie bookended with running water which is also used throughout, and shots of clocks as well as the sound of ticking providing the background for many of the scenes. These motifs suggest innocence, calmness or rebirth and time running out. I found that this gave something for the film to work towards, and although the mystery of the water eludes me somewhat I found that these motifs linked the otherwise vague dialogue and shots of nature very neatly.

The innocence is explored through jealousy, Bianca’s coming of age and Alice’s curiosity. Although the girls were young, they were exceedingly talented – I found Bianca and Alice especially interesting to watch. This innocence is reflected in the script: it is wonderfully vague, and every rule broken is through action (eg: Alice’s running away, Bianca’s examination of herself naked and Iris being thrashed by a jealous peer with a stick).

The setting is also very interesting. The complex of houses and the forest which surrounds them are labyrinths. Despite the beautiful imagery of lamps in a forest lighting the way in darkness, this entire world is penned in by a menacing wall, designed (seemingly) to keep the girls in rather than anything out.

The cinematography is very admirable and often there are purely beautiful sequences. However, the landscape shots are often too lingering, which makes the whole film seem to drag through its 112 minutes.

There is not a lot of music throughout the film, excluding the piano music which provides the backing for most scenes, apart from the nature of the forest and the continual ticking of the clock.

Although I could not say that this film is a horror film, there is a very creepy atmosphere which counters (or perhaps is emphasised by) the surreal aspects of the movie. For example, Iris is beaten with a stick while she cries, the girls put on shows for anonymous customers, when Alice escapes the teachers instruct the girls that she has been bad and that they must never speak of her again in addition to the girls arriving to the school in big oak coffins with symbols carved into it.

The decidedly positive ending suggests that a happy ending awaits every ‘well-behaved’ little girl, and that innocence is a transitional period which is what everyone must endure in order to be enlightened.

 

Finally, the results.

Gore – 7/10 (there is not a lot of it, but what is shown is good and fitting)

Disturbing/creepy – 8/10

Originality – 9/10

Scariness (behind-the-sofa factor) – 5/10

Music score – 5/10

Weapons – N/A apart from a whipping stick, which was not used to commit any murders, so I discount it completely

Cinematography – 9/10

Setting – 9/10

Script – 8/10

Entertainment – 7/10

 

Overall: 75/90

American Psycho (2000)

Tiré du roman du même nom qui fait la satire du consumérisme américain dans les années 80, ce film traite de l’avidité et du narcissisme créés par cette culture. American Psycho a gagné 67% sur Rotten Tomatoes, 7,6/10 sur IMDb et 3,5/5 sur allociné, et de plus il a été listé comme l’un des films d’horreur de la décennie sur Bloody Disgusting. Réalisé par Mary Harron et qui dure 101 minutes, ce film monte une interprétation forte de Christian Bale comme un agent de change psychopathique, qui aime bien la musique des années 80 et les costumes Valentino. D’autres stars lui joignent, par exemple Reese Witherspoon et Willem Dafoe.

On suit Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) lorsqu’il fait sa routine du matin (il prend une douche, il fait de l’exercice et il utilise un masque de beauté), et puis ce qu’il fait pendant la journée. La réalisatrice utilise aussi une voix hors champ de Patrick, et il nous confie ses pensées privées. Ses collègues et sa fiancée sont introduits, et c’est évident que Patrick ne les aime pas du tout, et il pense aux eux sans aucun respect.

***DES SPOILERS***

En colère après Paul Allen, un collègue de Patrick, démontre sa carte de visite imperceptiblement meilleure que celle de Patrick, il poignarde un sans-abri et il tue son chien dans la rue. Puis, à une fête de travail, Patrick a été confondu avec l’un de ses collègues (qui s’appelle Marcus Halberstram) par Paul Allen, et ils organisent un dîner. Patrick essaye de faire se saouler Paul. Ils se retrouvent dans l’appartement de Patrick, où il tue Paul avec un axe après un commentaire de ‘Hip to be Square’, une chanson préférée de Patrick. Patrick dispose son corps, et puis il arrive à l’appartement de Paul pour le ranger comme si Paul avait fui à Londres.

Donald Kimball (Willem Dafoe), un détective privé, vient au lieu de travail de Patrick et il l’interroge de la disparition de Paul. Ce soir-là, Patrick engage deux travailleurs du sexe, qu’il se nomme Christie et Sabrina. Il fait du sexe avec elles, et puis il ouvre un tiroir plein des appareils de torture. Les femmes partent avec des blessures et du sang sur leurs corps.

Le lendemain, un collègue accaparant qui s’appelle Luis Carruthers, monte une nouvelle carte de visite ce qui est supérieure. En colère, Patrick essaye de lui étrangler dans une salle de bain d’un restaurant, mais Luis pense que Patrick essayait d’initier une expérience sexuelle, et il révèle qu’il aime Patrick depuis longtemps. Dégouté, Patrick part.

Il invite Jean, sa secrétaire amoureuse, à son appartement. Il est proche de lui tuer, mais son plan est interrompu quand il reçoit un message téléphonique de sa fiancée, qui essaye de lui persuader qu’il n’est pas un suspect dans la disparition de Paul, et elle ignore son comportement troublant.

Plus tard il invite Christie et son amie Elizabeth à l’appartement de Paul où ils s’engagent dans un ménage à trois, pendant lequel il tue Elizabeth. Terrifiée, Christie traverse l’appartement en courant, trouvant quelques corps des femmes et des hommes, tandis que Patrick la poursuit. Finalement, il la tue avec une tronçonneuse.

Avec la rupture de son engagement, il essaye de nourrir un MTA avec un chaton, mais il est vu par une vieille femme, et il la tire. Le son de son pistolet avertit la police, et Patrick tire les réservoirs de carburant de leur voiture, causant une explosion. Il se trouve dans un immeuble, où il tire la garde de sécurité et puis il se cache dans un bureau et il appelle son avocat, confiant ses infractions dépravées.

Le lendemain il fait une visite à l’appartement de Paul, mais il est nettoyé et à vendre. Après une rencontre étrange avec l’agent immobilier, il part. Il trouve son avocat dans un restaurant et il essaye de lui parler des événements de la nuit avant, mais l’avocat l’assure qu’il avait vu Paul il y a quelques jours. Eventuellement, Patrick confie à lui-même qu’il continuera à éviter son châtiment et que sa confession ne compte pour rien.

***FIN DES SPOILERS***

Ainsi que le script intéressant et le dénouement ambigu, Harron réalise habilement American Psycho, utilisant des plans de caméra réfléchis dans des miroirs pour souligner l’importance d’apparence et que le monde de Patrick est faux.

Ce film agit comme une étude de la psyché humaine, qui explore des thèmes comme la vanité, la cruauté, et la volonté des classes supérieures de mettre les trucs troublants sous le tapis pour éviter un scandale, ou, potentiellement, l’instabilité mentale qui accompagne l’avidité et l’obsession du consumérisme.

Le carnage est bien fait avec l’aide de maquillage, c’est souvent discret et fait hors champ, ce qui fait les scènes plus choquantes qui montre le carnage. La mentalité inoccupée des classes supérieures est très perturbante, et Christian Bale joue très bien le rôle de Patrick Bateman. Le cadre et le script sont assez originaux : le genre d’horreur n’utilise pas souvent des lieux si exposés comme New York. Pour finir, ce film pose un commentaire intéressant des personnes élites à Manhattan, avec des thèmes importants, et il a une esthétique agréable.

Le carnage    8/10

Est-il troublant ?     9/10

L’unicité       8/10

L’horreur     6/10

La musique      7/10

Les armes       8/10

Le mise-en-scène     9/10

Le cadre    7/10

Le script     8/10

Est-il divertissant ?    9/10

79/100