I’ve only very recently started dabbling with the genre of horror, perhaps because I’ve been conditioned to be completely put off by the mere idea of watching one. Luckily, much like how people describe a calling or something along those lines, I saw the light. Or the super intriguing, gory darkness.

Here is a list of horror films I enjoyed (in no particular order) for anyone also dabbling in this genre:

  1. The Babadook (2014) Dir. Jennifer Kent  babadook

Kent’s directoral debut and, holy shit, it’s super awesome. This centers around a mother and her child, coming across this book– a wonderfully horrifying one at that– that sort of haunts them. The approach here is more psychological than what one typically expects and we get a wonderful performance by Essie Davis (who plays Amelia). Might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but definitely worth checking out to decide for yourself.

2. Creep (2015) Dir. Patrick Kack-Brice

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This is a found footage horror film– wait don’t get turned off immediately. The found footage format, after the success of The Blair Witch Project (1999) has somehow felt a lot less genuine and a lot more gimmicky. Of course this is not true with every single one, certainly not in the case of Creep.

A videographer answers an ad online, in which a man wants to document a film for his unborn son. The way that the story unfolds and the simplicity of this film is really what makes it work. It’s definitely one that had me on the edge with how chilling it is.

3. Evil Dead (1981) Dir. Sam Raimi

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Raimi’s Evil Dead has become one of the most successful cult hits– followed by sequels and remakes and TV series. The original is almost indescribable (but that would be counterintuitive with what this post is, so I will try to describe it).

It follows a somewhat cliche plot of lusty teenagers choosing to go to an isolated cabin, wherein they find the Book of the Dead and proceed to summon demonic shit. What’s really cool about this film is the use of practical effects– since at the time, there were a lot more limitations in what can be achieved post production wise they get pretty creative with the deaths by incorporating stop motion and very, very creative props. This is almost borderline absurd, but my god, this film is amazing. Something to watch with friends, if you’re looking for a sleepover film. Or just want something weird.

4. Let the Right One In (2008) Dir. Tomas Alfredson

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This is a Swedish horror film, though it feels almost odd to put it in the horror genre. Though, I get the reasoning behind it with the film being quite dark at times (y’know, unavoidable with vampire films) but to me this is more of a film about love. Obviously, we’re all familiar with a far more popular vampire romance flick– but, put your Twilight books down, because this film is super sweet in a sort of messed up way.

5. Goodnight Mommy (2014) Dir. Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala

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I found myself holding my breath a few times while watching this Austrian film. It contains certain elements that just give an innately creepy vibe: twins and a person with a bandaged face. The plot is of these twin brothers, Elias and Lukas with their mother after some sort of accident that required a facial surgery. She comes back with her face covered with bandages and seemingly not acting as herself which leads to the twins wondering who this person is. I think this film is very well done, I always have some skepticism with children in film but Lukas and Elias are very good and as is the overall film with the way it cleverly unfurls and at shocking the crap out of me.

Stage Fright (2014) Review

Stage Fright (2014) Review

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Stage Fright is a 2014 horror musical film directed by Jerome Sable. The story revolves around a musical theater summer camp doing a reproduction of the fictitious musical “The Haunting of the Opera” (I know, I chuckled too). However, 10 years prior during the opening night of the original production, the leading star was stabbed to death in her dressing room by a strange masked person. Cut to present time where her daugher who is graced with an equally angelic operatic voice decides she’d like to embody her mother’s character in the revival of the play. There’s also one other thing, there’s a theater-hating-killer amidst.

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There are a few things I want to discuss about this film. First, the opening act is so odd and intriguing that I wasn’t quite sure whether it is ridiculous or genius. Maybe a bit of both. If you’ve ever watched High School Musical or Glee and thought “this is great… but I hope there’d be more killing” this is the perfect film for you, you bizarre human being.

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There are musical sequences in the film and they are often amusing. It feels like it parodies those original Disney movies but the similarity of the tone is so familiar that, at times, it did feel like I was watching an original Disney movie (i.e Camp Rock, High School Musical etc). But then it would grab me by the foot and plunge me face first into the pool of bloody, gory horror that one doesn’t expect in any Disney film.  

Ironically, the underground ‘villain’ who creepily has pictures of everyone on his walls and shreds his electric guitar is the cringiest part of the film for me. I didn’t really feel any type of ‘creep’ factor in these moments, it put me off for a bit because it doesn’t feel quite right or appropriate. Having said that, ‘appropriate’ probably isn’t what this film was going for (and this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing).

Someone in camp gets murdered but the producer manipulates the kids via one musical number and everyone is fine with it. Honestly I’ve tried this many times and I can attest it does not work. But this is probably me being picky, I could spend a few more hundred words ripping plot holes open but this seems redundant.

It did take a good majority of the film for me to decide whether or not I actually liked it. See, this process doesn’t often take more than an hour but the switch between such unlikely genres has caused my brain to short circuit.

But I was definitely won over by the end because the final act is very entertaining. Even if there is some confusion with the mixed genres.
Though the film does have flaws– it is by no means perfect, there’s a certain level of self awareness and undeniable creativity and originality that I admire. There are a few cliches and predictable turns of events, however the ultimate climax it all builds up to is worth it. I’m excited to see more of this mix from Jerome Sable and will definitely be watching out for more of his work in the future.

If you’re looking for something bizarre/entertaining with a few ‘holy shit’ moments, this is worth a watch.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. II (2015) Review

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. II (2015) Review

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is the fourth and final installment in the Hunger Games trilogy directed by Francis Lawrence (though does it still count as a trilogy with four films?). And what a ride it has been with this film franchise. I remember watching ‘The Hunger Games’ on the cinema, with its solemnly eerie shaky cam shots and general exciting buzz of the storyline unfolding. Since then, it has changed and evolved along with its story and characters. And it is such a satisfying conclusion.

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A definite and what feels like one of the most obvious things I need to mention in this review is Jennifer Lawrence. She’s probably one of the most popular actresses known today and it’s not just because of the many tumblr gifsets of her seeming like a nice and relatable person. She is also a great actress. What is most impressive is the way she can express emotion past the dialogue and really give dimension to her character in such a way that lets the audience forget that this is just a person acting and there isn’t really a brutal yet epic rebellion in a dystopian world.

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I’d also just like to mention one of my favourite additions from the last film, which is Natalie Dormer as Cressida (a film director from the Capitol who joins the rebel crew). She has a bit more of a prominent role in this film, and she’s so badass in every scene. I might be slightly biased because I love Natalie Dormer.

At times it might seem like the pace is a little slow, which is probably due to the fact that they decided to stretch the adaptation of the final book into two films for some reason ($). It didn’t bother me as much as it might people who sit down expecting a full 2 hour experience of explosions and people shooting at each other. Having said that, there are some pretty badass action sequences in this film and they are well executed and was quite thrilling to watch.

I also really like that they manage to be subtle with the storytelling. The film relies more on being visual and dynamic to convey aspects of the story through implication as opposed to relying on character dialogue, i.e “Wow, I’m sure glad you woke up from that explosion Person X. Let me fill you in on what happened while you were asleep for 12 hours.” (I don’t know why I was never hired to be a writer, I’m fantastic.)

Overall, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (that title is such a mouthful) is an enjoyable watch with nice emotional depth, exciting action sequences and a satisfying end to wrap up the story. The only issue I can see is that the pacing took some brunt from having to stretch the story into two films.

 

Kristy (2014) Review

Kristy (2014) Review

Kristy is a 2014 horror film directed by Olly Blackburn, and is about a college girl (Justine) who makes a terrible decision of staying in campus during the Thanksgiving break because… of a reason that I’m sure makes perfect sense.

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She ends up having a Home Alone-esque adventure in the abandoned campus which makes for a perfect family film.

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I am absolutely lying, she undergoes the most horrifically messed up game of marco-polo of all time.

During a particularly sad trip to the local corner shop, she stumbles upon Ashley Greene (Violet) who doesn’t look super great if I’m perfectly honest with you.

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Ashley Greene and her gang of aluminium foil masked stooges are sadistic and obsessed with torturing girls, dubbing them as “Kristy” while filming it. Unfortunately for our protagonist Justine, she is their target.

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To be honest, if you guys are making the effort to elaborately set up this situation, I would invest in a better quality camera and have a more menacing grammar when I text my victim (but then again their costume consists of aluminium foil so I’m not sure what their budget is).

Though the film does fall into the unfortunate horror/thriller tropes that include a semi-predictable storyline and the rampant overuse of jumpscares it is still entertaining to watch. I was particularly impressed with the very picturesque cinematography by Crille Forsberg.

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Overall, in relation to most of the contemporary horror films that are being released, this is not a bad film. It’s the kind of film that’s probably fun to watch with friends when you feel especially sadistic and want to feel something for the first time.

Rating: not a bad film.