It’s time to continue my horror post from yesterday with more on-screen brilliance. I’m pleasantly surprised that people are talking about their favorites here and on Twitter! One of the reasons I adore horror is because of how personal it is. For example, my friend Steph said Fear scared her because it was so very plausible – its realness was what triggered her discomfort. That’s at odds with my own tastes, which lean more toward “supernatural with a hint of realism.” Everyone’s wired a little differently, so it’s only natural that what’s scary to one person is not to another. That’s why within the genre of horror, you find so many different varieties of creeps and scares – we’ve all got our personal monsters.
Anyway, less waxing, more flicks on the list. And yes, there will be another post after this one. Onward!
The Woman in Black surprised the crap out of me mainly because it had no business being as good as it was. First off, Harry Potter is the main character. Second, Harry Potter is the main character. Third? HARRY POTTER IS THE MAIN CHARACTER. The boy wizard was one of the reasons I didn’t go racing to my local movie theater to check this out – I was afraid I’d have Harry on the brain whenever Mr. Radcliffe was on screen. Well, time to admit it – I’m a tool. This movie was fantastic. It’s along the lines of yesterday’s pick The Orphanage in that it’s moody with sweeping shots and gorgeous cinematography. The differences end there, though. The Woman in Black is a period piece, set in 1800’s England. It’s a fairly traditional English ghost story with fairly traditional visual elements. Its major strength? Creepy teasers. The camerawork manipulates backdrop and shadows masterfully. You’ll see things move that ought not move from that dark corner of your screen. There will be faces where there ought not be faces, and hands where there ought not be hands
Goddamned faces. Goddamned hands.
Let’s wrap this one up with, “I had to rewind the movie a few times to see if I really saw what I thought I saw, and yep – that was terrifying.” It’s one of THOSE and it’s wonderful for it.
No horror list is complete without some zombie offering or another. This is my FIRST zombie offering (another later – GASP). I know zombie purists will say 28 Days doesn’t count as pure zombie awesome because it’s a bunch of ragers who want to eat your face off in lieu of corpses who want to eat your face off, but close enough, people. This is zombies on roids. Zombies who are fast. Zombies who are organized. Zombies who are REALLY, REALLY PISSED OFF.
The thing I like best about this movie, though, beyond the obvious angry zombie scares, is the set-up. The scene I linked above is wonderful because the filmmakers take the time to capture the horror of an empty London. Seriously, put yourself in that dude’s shoes. Imagine going to sleep and waking up and the world is empty. There are very few clues as to what happened, but it must have been something bad, because everyone’s gone. You’re the only one left. I LOVE that they don’t just jump straight into zombies mauling faces and take the time to let the gravity of the main character’s plight weigh on you. So much tension and heartache in this movie. It’s damned near perfect in my book.
Moviegoers today are spoiled. We’ve seen everything – the splendor of Cameron’s Avatar (and for all that the plot was Dances with Smurfs, at least it was pretty), limitless budgets for limitless explosions, and enormous CGI armies. There’s choreographed fight scenes and star studded casts and grandeur everywhere.
It’s amazing, then, that some movies from fifty, sixty, seventy years ago still stand tall. The Haunting is one of those movies. It’s a story that makes the viewer ask “is this all in the character’s head, or is this real?” You hear the pounding on the door, and you’re forced to wonder if it’s a ghost or if it’s someone’s psychosis manifesting. This movie captures paranoia in such a brilliant, wonderful, and tense way. I don’t care that it’s black and white and fifty years old – if you can sit down and watch this with the lights off, you’ll get hooked and you’ll get jumpy.
(Word to the wise? Avoid the 1990’s remake. It’s HORRIBLE. Like, “stick your head in the garbage disposal” bad.)
So you’ll note The Ring on my first list but not Ringu. There’s a reason for this. Ringu, to me, was /less scary/. It was equally as good but scare for scare, I think it was the softer horror flick. I know some people will call me crazy, and that’s okay, but I’d even go so far as to debate that Ringu’s prequel is an even better movie than Ringu, so there. (And then the fanboys came and killed me and I never got to finish my horror movie posts.)
But, but wait! That’s not the case for Ju-on versus the Americanized Grudge. PLEASE STOP HURTING ME.
Now, the Sarah Michelle Gellar version is good, but the problem is it’s a direct lift of the original movie. They don’t deviate much at all. So, if they’re not going to improve on the original or spin it as their own, why bother remaking it? Cause Ju-on itself is FUCKING SCARY. Not only does it fit into the “creepy kids are the worst things ever” category, but it has a new, horrible category of “a noise that will never leave you.” The mother ghost makes this awful groaning screech that . . . ugh. UGH. It’s terrible. Someone makes the noise around you, you’ll whirl around and beat them with your shoe. Why? ‘Cause you’re sensible. That shit is evil, no joke.
Tucker and Dale is a different type of horror than everything else I’ve listed in that it’s a comedy horror. It’s supposed to be as funny as it is dark/scary. There’s a lot of these movies going around these days, and even a couple more on my future list, but we’ll address them later.
I won’t say that there’s much in the way of scares in Tucker and Dale, though there are some truly cringe-worthy moments (see the wood chipper scene and the collapsing beam with the nails – use your imaginations.) It’s clear that the writers adore slasher flicks and wanted to make an “ode” to their favorites. And they succeeded beautifully! Not only is this hysterical, but you’ll find yourself on the edge of your seat waiting for the next thing to go brilliantly wrong. And it will go wrong, cause . . . well. Cause if it didn’t, there wouldn’t be much of a movie, now would there? Tucker and Dale is one of those movies I wouldn’t hesitate to break out at a party, because even if you’re not a horror fan, you can appreciate the ridiculousness of the story and how fuck-amazing Alan Tudyk is as a comedic actor.
(TO BE CONTINUED . . . )