Category Archives: lists

Spooky Films to Watch with your Pals

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(original art by Matthew Florey Rowan)

So, it’s halloween (or halloween-ish) and your friends are all gathered around your second-hand 30″ Sanyo flatscreen. The smell of microwaved popcorn lingers in the air, quite pungent and maybe slightly burnt. Your friend David has already eaten half the bag and you hate him because you know the bottom half of that bag is just greasy, unpopped kernels (Dammit, David)

Anyways, you have your HDMI cord plugged to your laptop and a totally legal movie-streaming site pulled up. Picking the film should be easy right? Wrong. That was a rhetorical question, you fool. Of course it will take roughly 2 hours of bickering before you can agree on the perfect film and everyone will be too sleepy to watch more than one or two films even though you specifically stated in the Facebook event that it was a ‘marathon’.

Luckily I’ve prepared a handy list of film suggestions you can peruse on your hunt:

  1. Raw (2016) Dir. Julia Ducournau 

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Our young, vegetarian protagonist Justine moves to veterinary school where they introduce her to partying hard and eating raw meat.

This is Ducournau’s first feature and Raw is like one of those films you watch and at some point, maybe at the beginning, maybe near the end, you feel the muscles of your face involuntarily pulling into the form of a grimace or wince. And it’s awesome.

You might want to skip if:

-you’re not cool with reading subtitles- it’s a French film

-you’re watching with your parents/grandparents/smaller sibling- again, it is a French film

2. The Monster (2016) Dir. Bryan Bertino

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This film chronicles the story of a very young mother and her child, stuck in the woods, with a monster lurking. This low budget horror is extremely well-done, though can really inch towards the line of ‘melodrama’ at times, manages to remain feels-inducing.

Skip if:

-you don’t like feelings- this one is pretty sad

-you want lots of jump-scares and monsters and stuff

-you don’t want to cry in front of your friends, unless you really need to salt that popcorn

3. Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016) Dir. Mike Flanagan

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Wait! I know the first Ouija was reportedly bad, but I feel like I have to defend this sequel. First, the director Mike Flanagan (did not direct the first Ouija film) has brought some really solid and unique horror films (Oculus, 2013 and Hush, 2016). Set in the 60’s, this film follows a family of scam artists in LA who perform supernatural ‘seances’ and try to up their tricks by incorporating a ouija board… which doesn’t go very well.

Skip if:

-you don’t like 60’s in LA aesthetic

-you’re looking for a good ‘ol slasher (spoiler: it’s not a slasher film)

4. Oculus (2013) Dir. Mike Flanagan

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Oculus stars Karen Gillan (yes, Amy Pond from Doctor Who) and Brenton Thwaites as siblings who are determined to figure out how a mirror from their childhood home caused the death and destruction of their parents.

I already mentioned this film on my previous recommendation because, lo and behold, Ouija: Origin of Evil and Oculus are directed by my fave, Mike Flanagan. I really enjoyed the original concept of this film, which was expanded from Flanagan’s 2006 original short film of the same name (Oculus: Chapter 3- The Man with the Plan).

Skip if:

-you are impatient, it takes a bit of time to gain momentum

-you’re not into more psychological horror (this is a psychological horror)

-you get put off by obviously fake american accents

5. The Wailing (2016) Dir. Na Hong-jin

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Oh boy. This might be the most bizarre one on the list (yes, more bizarre than Raw). There’s something special about South Korean cinema, a lot of the ones I’ve seen are just so well done.

The Wailing follows a small, secluded town in Korea in which a mysterious disease starts to spread. The symptoms: a rash, violent, murderous bursts of rage which leads to death. Our protagonist is a police officer, Jong-goo, put in charge of the investigation that spirals into the most eerie and horrifying conclusion.

Skip if:

-you want to sleep tonight

 

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A List of Horror Films

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.