Tuesday, October 27, 2015

More Great New Halloween Staples

Last year, I put out a list of 13 new horror films that can be added to the canon of flicks you turn on every year for Halloween. Now I have a few more. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see a few of the movies I had planned to - namely The Boy and Goodnight Mommy. But maybe I'll get to add those for next year's installment of this, who knows. The picks here are sometimes obvious and sometimes not - maybe you can find some new favorites.

Here they are:

I've known this movie, about a family that gets lost on a long country road at night, for years. It's probably a bit patchy, as the dialogue is often silly and the acting is over the top. It isn't perfect. But what made me put it on this list is the real horror and absurdity of what happens to these people. There are some legitimate scary scenes here and some cool horror tropes - things creeping in the shadows, people acting abnormally. It's a fun, sometimes silly, creepy flick. I still think about this movie whenever I'm driving at night, so that says something.
A lot of people know this by its American remake Quarantine, but this Spanish film from 2007 is a raw, bloody good fucking time. This is a found footage thing that really makes you feel like you're in the middle of this terrifying disease outbreak. That's how the found footage style should be used - to immerse the viewer further into the world. [REC] does that, and it never lets up the frenzied, fast paced chaos. It's a killer movie and I think any fan of fast paced survival horror will enjoy it.

An insane movie that, for some shady reason, was never actually given a legit release. This is a serial killer film to end all serial killer films, so over the top it starts to seem satirical and hysterical - but it pulls you back and doesn't quite go all the way either, remaining a pretty grisly, gruesome tale. This is a pretty one note movie and isn't particularly clever from a storytelling point of view, but it's put together well, and the whole thing is a sick, gleefully evil good time if you're in the mood for something completely tasteless. It's very low budget, and the potential is oozing from every pore. I'd love to see what these guys could have done with a bigger budget.

Guillermo del Toro's latest foray into horror, and I think this is a better film in that genre than he's had in some time. A period piece set in the late 1800s or early 1900s, this story is about a young girl who marries into a family that perhaps isn't what it seems. The characters and acting are really good in this, and the settings and scenery start out beautiful and slowly slide into horrifying. There are a lot of great gory ghost effects in this, too - killer stuff. The story has been done before, but there's always a place for good re-tellings of a classic styled tale, which Crimson Peak certainly falls under. Bombastic, fun and mournful somehow all at once. A powerful, energized film.

Really brooding, eerie supernatural horror in the "wait, what's REALLY going on?" genre, rife with plot twists and supernatural eerieness you're never sure is actually really there. I loved the setting and visual style of this; there was lots of real seedy, bizarre stuff to look at, and the way the story unfolded just built tension like Lego blocks on top of one another. This is an extremely tense, dark film. The last plot twist wasn't that great, but everything that leads up to it is so good that it doesn't matter. This is just a creepy, weird trip into a dark, fucked up place, and I thought it was pretty awesome.

An artsy, quiet film about a vampire terrorizing a small Iranian town. It's spooky, weird and kind of touching in a way. The story centers on this vampire who attacks men who disrespect women. It's really well shot and the atmosphere is through the roof. It never really goes for full on blood and guts or even psychological horror - it's more of a subtle, artistic tale. But the black and white color is used effectively and the desolate, run down setting is suitably eerie. Go see this.

Starry Eyes (2014)

I've talked about this before, but Starry Eyes is a first rate new horror movie. It's about an aspiring actress in California working at a shitty job when she gets the offer of a lifetime: a job with a weird director who's actually part of a cult. Part Lynch and part gore-flick like Contracted, this is a bone-chilling, atmospheric and brutal story. The film talks about the ambition of a young wannabe artist and also about disillusionment with being surrounded by a bunch of hipsters who don't do anything - her friends in the movie are all really pretentious douches who talk about making movies but then do nothing but get high. It's a lot of fun. Go watch it.

Lake Mungo (2008)

A dark, sad movie about a family who loses their daughter, and how they deal with it. This is a very slow and quiet tale told in faux-documentary format. There are hints of the supernatural, as the ghost of the dead girl is believed to be there, but the movie subverts the usual tropes and tells a gripping and left-of-center story about grief and moving on. There's a lot more to it, but I feel like telling you too much would be ruining the film. I found this a moving story but also a haunting and chilling one. Equal parts scary and sad, Lake Mungo is a very good film.

The Houses October Built (2014)

Real low budget found-footage stuff about a bunch of friends who go on a road trip in search of the most extreme haunts and haunted houses. The characters in this are actually likable and fun to watch, and the haunted house scenery is a gold mine for the Halloween season, dripping with October atmosphere. The haunted house scenes are fun, the dialogue is witty and the plot descends into real seedy, dark, scary waters later on as the characters search for the most extreme haunted houses they can find in backwoods America. I love this movie, and so will anyone else who's as into haunted houses as I am.

What We Do in the Shadows (2015)

I didn't know if this really belonged on a list of great horror movies, but it's too good for me to leave off. And it's got vampires in it, so fuck it, right? This is really more of a comedy than a horror film, about a bunch of quirky vampires rooming together in a New Zealand flat. The acting is good, the characters are a lot of fun and the story playfully subverts vampire cliche and makes everything fun and quick-witted. The film is clever, too, and has more dimensions than just wacky comedy. It delves into some surprisingly touching moments and ends up a more nuanced film than some other ones of its type. Really entertaining, I highly recommend it.

The Babadook (2014)

Horror should always be about something. When you're making a real serious horror film, it has to have some point, some real life tie-in or metaphor to what's happening. If you want to scare people, you make a horror movie that's actually about real things, because the best horror reflects things in real life that we're worried about or scared of, and builds off that. Because otherwise, you're just making a dumb movie at the end of the day. You can make it as supernatural and absurd as you want, but unless you make it real, it isn't fucking scary.

The Babadook, about a single mother struggling to raise her young son, does that in an exemplary way. This is a chilling, mean movie that keeps you on edge at all times. Everything feels uncomfortable and harsh and cruel. It's an assault on your senses, and the way it slides inconspicuously into madness is excellently done. A well made, blood-curdling terrifyingly good time.

It Follows (2015)

This and The Babadook are the most talked about horror films of the last year, and for good reason. It Follows is a fresh, fun film with one foot in classic 80s horror and the other in a more modern, arthouse-style direction. This movie is about relationships. It's about the journey every young person takes to finding one, and about the confusion and absurdity of it all. Very little in this movie has rules or makes sense, and that's how life feels when you're navigating that time of life. The characters do dumb things when trying to fight the evil thing chasing them, because in real life, most people do dumb things, and most of us wouldn't be able to MacGuyver our ways out of a scary situation. So that was refreshing.

With likable characters, a cool, creepy soundtrack and a bunch of super eerie scenes of things creeping up from far away, this is a great film. This is a scary movie, but it also has a sentimental side to it, and several scenes come off more wistful and even kind of romantic than a lot of genre films would try. With an extremely unique style, an interesting story and a palpable, tangible atmosphere and mood, this is a great horror film, and surely one of the best post-2000 ones.

Who says horror is dead? There are more I didn't even get to this year. Until next year, then!

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