Happy Death Day (2017): Kind of like a mash-up of a teen slasher film and Ground Hog day, pretty enjoyable even though I could predict at least 50% of the plot, including the romantic subplot. The final plot twist sort of took me by surprise since, once revealed the killer’s motivation seemed…weirdly banal? Particularly given the fact that they went to the lengths that they did.
Watched a couple of films set in the woods this week. I like stuff set in the woods - woods be actual real-life scary yo…
Into The Forest - this was actually somewhat lighter than I was expecting (one extremely upsetting scene aside). Following a never fully explained lasting total power outage for The US, Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood play sisters who must learn to survive in their secluded woodland home. The two leads are both great (incidentally, I seem to have taken my eye off Evan Rachel Wood’s career for a few years and suddenly she is no longer a child actress) and the cinematography is lush. It’s a fairly slow burn and there isn’t tons of payoff at the end, but it’s definitely a pleasant watch (and currently on iPlayer). 7/10
The Ritual - Netflix’s latest horror release. Had deliberately avoided any info about this as was looking forward to it - didn’t disappoint. The mostly British male case are all very believable, and the lads’ holiday chat and characters well written. The use of dread in the woods is excellent, much more effective than the recent Blair Witch for example. How much you enjoy the film overall will depend on what you think of the third act, which can’t really be gone into without serious potential for spoilers. Personally, I thought it was great - an excellent addition to the folk horror genre. Rafe Spall is particularly good in the lead role - he’s put together a decent CV to date on the quiet. 8/10
Might have to check out The Ritual - had been hearing good things and the words ‘folk horror’ in your review have me even more interested. Have you checked out this site:
By Various Authors Price: £15.00 (excl. VAT) Paperback, 498 Pages Featuring essays and interviews by many great cinematic, musical, artistic and literary talents …
The Ritual… is on Netflix? I can only find this: which I don’t think it is…
After it’s cinematic release in the UK last October, the British horror movie “The Ritual” is now set to hit Netflix everywhere else in the world – only the UK and Latin America will miss out.
That looks right up my street. Sold out on that website but available on evil Amazon
Loved The Ritual. I’d read enjoyed the book a few years ago, so I was primed to like it anyway, but it was done really well. And it had the best monster I’ve seen in ages.
Watched last night, Happy Death Day…
Knew the premise of this obviously, and virtually every single review has described it some degree as Scream meets Groundhog Day with added Mean Girls, but nonetheless thought that this stood up well in its own right. A lot of this is down to Jessica Rothe in the lead, who is great - don’t think I’ve seen her in anything else, but she plays bitchy, comic and serious all really well in this. Her character’s arc from sorority queen to effective final girl is the making of the film. The comic parts are entertaining and the slasher parts tick all the boxes, including nice killer design. Also, who doesn’t love a campus set horror? The twist at the end is not bad but not great, but overall found this very entertaining. 8/10
Watched last night, It Comes At Night…
This had a brilliantly minimalist trailer, which managed to capture the sense of dread and claustrophobia of this film perfectly. ICAN makes maximum use of it’s tiny budget, compact cast, 90 minute runtime and minimal locations to produce something genuinely unsettling. Much is left to the imagination and a large part of the film’s background is left to your own speculation. Is it a zombie apocalypse? How much is actually just down to the character’s own isolation and paranoia? Nonetheless, the whole thing is played completely straight and is frighteningly believable. The cinematography is great - setting wise, this would make a perfect companion for In The Forest just up ^there. Some interesting symbolism, as captured in the trailer, going on too. Joel Edgerton shoulders the majority of the film and he is pretty great in everything I’ve seen him in - also excited to see his next writer/director project after enjoying The Gift. 9/10
Glad to hear you enjoyed this; I missed this when it came to my local cinema but will probably get to it later this year. I heard that a lot of people didn’t like it because it didn’t become the film they were hoping
it would, but I’m all for keeping it subtle which it sounds like this does…
Changing the subject completely: don’t know if you’ve been listening to it, but Tanis season 4 has started. Did you ever check out Black Tapes season 3?
Blimey. I’m stuck having finished season 2 of both Tanis and Black Tapes - need to crack on
I think that what happened with this film is that it got a really wide release when it was probably better suited to more specialist or art house venues. It’s a good movie, but really quiet and minimalist (rather like A Ghost Story). It was simply mis-sold to an audience that thought it was getting something else.
Watched last night, M.F.A.…
Bit disappointed with this. The subject matter was always going to be heavy (campus date rape) but the revenge angle causes this to veer squarely into exploitation territory. It starts out being played fairly straight and uncomfortable, but then descends rapidly into shlock serial killer and tortured artist tropes. Francesca Eastwood (daughter of Clint and Frances Fisher) is decent enough in the lead, but otherwise I found that this fell fairly flat. Clifton Collins is also in this a the police guy and I usually enjoy his work, but he literally barely gets to do anything. 3/10
Pity. I’d read promising things about this in Rue Morgue.
I’d also recommend avoiding Better Watch Out. I’d really been looking forward to this as horror+Christmas typically = fun! But I really couldn’t find much here to love. Which is weird, because as with MFA, this got a
lot of love from online sources that I’d usually trust. If you do decide to check it out, it’s best to know as little about the plot as possible before watching, as it all hinges on a major twist about 1/3 of the way through. If you’re a fan of Home Alone,
I can imagine you might get some kicks out of this. Personally, I couldn’t wait for it to end. I think the main problem for me was that its tone was all over the place; at times it seemed to want to be a festive dark comedy a la Gremlins and at others it was
just genuinely dark. It was weird, I kept wanting it to become more malevolent than it was and when it finally did, I just didn’t care any more. Not a complete write-off as the final few minutes are pretty entertaining but I really can’t recommend everything
that comes before that…
Watched some Netflix exclusives over the weekend.
Creepy 2 - my critical faculties, limited as they are anyway, tend to go out the window with found footage movies, which I just seem to really dig (I’ve watched every Paranormal Activity film ffs). Even considering that, I thought the first Creep was a decent little film; Mark Duplass isn’t someone you’d immediately think could pull off a horror movie lead but he’s really took to the role, and it was edited down to the bone. Was a bit concerned this would be a retread of the first, but it wasn’t really. It’s familiar, but builds on the first. Desiree Akhavan is really good as well, manages to nail someone who’s in her over her head and sorta knows it but is also enjoying it.
Ravenous / Les Affames - French Canadian zombie film. Its quite slow and beautifully shot and the zombies are portrayed in a really creepy way. Everyone seems to be having an existential crisis, which I guess is appropriate as the world has ended and their family members are either dead or flesh eating monsters. Imagine this would look really good in an actual cinema.
Have you seen The Bay? I’m a sucker for found-footage too, and I loved this… Like Jaws on land. With parasites.
Directed by Barry Levinson. With Will Rogers, Kristen Connolly, Kether Donohue, Frank Deal. Chaos breaks out in a small Maryland town after an ecological disaster occurs.
I actually got halfway through that a couple of months ago before falling asleep. I was not impressed enough with the 50% I saw to bother picking it up again…
Wise choice. It really doesn’t get any better. I wish I had fallen asleep…
Watched The Ritual at the weekend. Thought it was really great - the sense of claustrophobic dread was maintained brilliantly throughout.
Went to see Annihilation last night. Very cool film. One of those films that really hits you after you’ve left the screening. It’s not strictly horror but there are plenty of horror elements to keep us lot happy. The ending’s pretty extraordinary, too. Have been reading lots of comparisons to 2001 and while it’s not quite that trippy, it gets close. Soundtrack is incredible too. Can’t imagine anyone here not liking it. I know I’ll regret typing that last sentence.