Last week saw the release of the 13 Most Disturbing Horror Movies of the Last 13 Years (to thunderous applause) but I still had some fuel left in the tank to charge through a few more horror movies in preparation for Hallow’s Eve. In fact, the season has had a particularly strong sway with me this year, as I’ve now sought out a haunted house (Fright Fest in Federal Way), a haunted Seattle tour (Pioneer Square) and am soon to embark on an 18+ horror extravaganza (Real Fear) that will require me to sign and fingerprint a “don’t sue us” waver. Bring it on.
At home, I popped on one of my favorite Halloween flicks, Drag Me To Hell, but since I was mostly cooking eggs and washing dishes while I watched, I didn’t think it got the attention it deserved to be included for closer dissection amongst this week’s batch. I will however admit to loving that film wholeheartedly. In theaters, I caught St. Vincent, White Bird in a Blizzard, Dear White People and the utterly astounding , the last of which I would urge you to see as soon as it comes to a theater near you. But enough about me, let’s get to these Weekly Reviews.
A French experimental drama by way of the horror genre dedicated to its own experimentalism, Amer is an slip’n’slide of colors and askew camera angles. Part acid trip, part student film, there isn’t much to say about Amer‘s standstill plot, but in a movie such as this, plot isn’t really even a consideration. Admirably filmed and often gorgeously photographed, Amer is a film I can see some people some finding worth in but was not won over by the over-the-top existentialism of co-directors and writers Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani‘s wandering tendencies. The music is admittedly awesome, it just so happens that everything else is inidellyic. (C-)
THE STRANGERS (2007)
Liv Tyler stars in this taut little home invasion horror, a film that knows how to use sounds and shadows to its each and every advantage. There isn’t too much motion within The Strangers – it mostly unfolds within an isolated wooden cabin in the middle of, you guessed it, nowhere – but sets itself up with some emotional stakes that are never made light of nor ever truly fleshed out. For that fact alone, I had a lot of respect for the restraint and nuance of Bryan Bertino‘s storytelling. His is a movie happy to leave us hanging, waiting for an auditory bang or the appearance of a nefarious invader but not depending upon it. Atmospheric and deliberate spooky, The Strangers is a strong example of frugal horror done right. (B)
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978)
A remake of Don Siegel‘s 1956 sci-fi, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a smartly told story of alien invasion. Being a child of the 90’s, my fourth grade year involved learning the cold hard facts about aliens through “Animorphs.” That’s right, I suckled on the nourishing, junky teat of K.A. Applegate. So yeah, I am well versed in the fine art of yerking. Because that’s basically what’s going on here. Except with slugs. Body Snatchers is one of the films that I’ve put off for a long time, expecting something amazing and earth-shattering. And though I rather enjoyed the film, it wasn’t quite the astonishing masterwork I had hoped for. Nonetheless, it’s a pulpy, politically charged (the sheer amount of Red panic is almost excruciating) tale of the terrors of conformity. (B)
BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO (2012)
A lonely foley worker (Tobey Jones) out of his element gets mixed up with an auteur’s quest to make a truly horrifying film. Along the way, slicing up cabbages, yanking on turnips and drowning melons to stimulate stabbings, scalpings and suffocations begins to wear on his uneasy English psyche. The intriguing premise sees Jones wrestle with some heavy and heady material and leaves us an audience as an indirect observer to the horror and violence that is affecting him so deeply. As the lines between reality and film begin to blur, Berberian Sound Studio takes a b-line to a trippy dimension that it never seems to ever make sense of nor get out of. The cold ending leaves us without much closure and unsure of exactly everything that had transpired in the first place. Compelling and worthy of a chance, though I’m not entirely convinced that everything really adds up in the end, Berberian Sound Studio certainly makes its mark by standing out from the rest of the crowd. (C+)
CHILD’S PLAY (1988)
Perhaps imaginative for its time, Child’s Play is a classic example of 80’s horror movies that just don’t really hold up all that well today. The plot is thin, as are the characters and Chucky is creepier asking for a hug than he is wielding a butcher’s knife. The humor beats also come across as a little saggy and dated, the scribe obviously not yet well versed in the fine art of horror-comedy. More seasonal background noise than anything worthy of actually watching, Child’s Play is, as its name implies, play. Had it a little more depth, a little less kid acting and a lot more imagination, it would have fared better in today’s extreme horror climate. (C)
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