Horror

Cube

I told IMDB that I liked this movie, and it started recommending movies to me like “Sphere” and “Triangle” as if the only qualification was that I liked movies titled for shapes. That said, Triangle looks dope. (And NGL, Circle is very similar and will probably be up here eventually).

Cube is like the expanded Saw franchise without the gore. Before Saw 2, there were lots of cool indie sci fi films that asked what would happen if strangers (to each other and the audience) were in an unfathomable predicament and had to reason their way out. Cube is one of the best of these.

Six strangers wake up trapped in a seemingly endless maze filled with twists, turns and traps.  Each stranger is attempting to reason why they have been selected for this deadly game and why they have been put near the others.  If you’re like me, math stresses you out, so prepare to be stressed.  The attempts to solve the cube are so frustrating for you and the characters, you’ll be scratching your head angry at every past high school math teacher for not making you care more.

Films like this are great because you never know who is telling the truth, it raises ethical questions of who’s lives matter most, and forces you to wonder how you would behave to stay alive.

A fun tidbit is that there is a sequal to this called “Cube 2: Hypercube” and a disappointingly named third called “Cube 0” as if no one noticed how good “Cube Cubed” would have been.

I recommend this for a rainy Sunday inside, which will hopefully happen at some point this sunny October, ammiright?

Great if you liked: Saw, Exam, Circle, Triangle, Identity, Coherence

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Hatchet Trilogy

Or Quadrilogy, I should say.

HAPPY FRIDAY THE 13TH, FRIENDS  A F13 in October?  What a gift we have been bestowed in this crazy year they call ‘2017.’

My usual F13 plans involve, well, watching a Jason Voorhees flick, because, of course.  But that’s not why you’re here.  You’re here because you’ve seen all the popular slashers and it’s the middle of October, and you want MORE. Don’t worry, I’m here.

So while I would usually be watching a Voorhees flick, I am actually currently attending the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.  Tonight is slasher night and while there is no Voorhees, we will get to see Kane Hodder  (who’s often adorned that iconic hockey mask as Jason) on the big screen as Victor Crowley in the fourth installment of the series.  Hatchet is often skimmed over by slasher fans, so I am here to share it with you, dear readers.

The entire trilogy reads like one long movie as each picks up exactly where the last left off.  After the mysterious and tragic death of a boy in a swamp in Louisiana, legends spring up about a father accidentally killing his son, a deformed cursed boy, and a fire set by mean spirited boys.  Victor Crowley, the cursed deformed boy, terrorizes anyone who comes to the swamp after dark.  After her family falls victim to Crowley, Mary Beth sets off on a mission to rescue her father and brothers and rid the swamp of the curse of Victor Crowley.

This series is great junk food when you’re looking for a new slasher, and, who isn’t.  I won’t lie to you, the third installment is by a landslide, my favourite, so I recommend committing to this trilogy.  It’s absolutely obscene and has no excuse for some of its missteps, but you will certainly be entertained.  Settle into this while I screen part 4 for you tonight at #tadff.  I’ll let you know how it is.

Great if you liked: A Nightmare on Elm Street, NOES, Friday the 13th, Jason Goes to Hell, Jason Lives, The Final Friday, Scream, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, I Know what you did Last Summer, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, My Bloody Valentine, Maniac

The Crazies (1973)

Yesterday was a rough day.  The world lost George A. Romero AND Martin Landau.

For those unfamiliar, Romero is the godfather of the modern day zombie.  Before his iterations, there was no head shot, no double tab, no infectious bites.  Romero’s career is riddled with “of the Dead” features that have inspired an entire genre and generation of film makers.  Further, his films were diverse in such a way that they were so before their time.

But almost any casual fan has watched a Romero zombie flick.  Here is my oft missed selection.

The Crazies tells the story of a small town wherein an infection has caused certain people to both laugh at and commit heinous violence.  The infection is born of a failed military operation, and the town is sealed off by personnel attempting to contain the situation and study the results of this accidental test.  A small group of survivors attempt to evade quarantine and save themselves from the military wrath.

This film is so different from your average fright, and is a new take on a ‘zombie’ genre film as the ‘zombies’ are not the rotting bitey corpses you imagine, but psychopathic versions of living people. The opening scene is pure terror and the third act is absolutely devastating.  This oft missed film totally breaks the mould and is absolutely wroth the watch.

Great if you liked: Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead

Funny Games

Image result for funny games movie posterListen, you get it. This is a horror game, so as soon as I post something not horror (below), I need to sandwich it so it looks like my tastes are diverse.
So today, we are taking it back to scary with Funny Games.

Before Michael Pitt shook his creep persona from Murder by Numbers and started stealing hearts and liquor as Jimmy Dormody, and before The Strangers was serving us creepy home invasion realness, there was Funny Games. (In fact, even 10 years before that, there was the original).

If you ask me, horror is mostly fun because it is gratuitous and unbeleivable.  But the home invasion sub-gendre scares me top to bottom for it’s ability to seem absolutely plausible.  Funny Games takes it even further by pulling this sh** in the daylight. *Full body shudder.*

Sadistic Peter and Paul come across the vacation home of a family of three, and take them hostage, forcing them to participate in twisted games.  The simplicity of this take on the invasion, paired with the sadistic games, daylight, and helplessness of a family not expecting such an attack makes this film so scary.  There is a sense of dread associated with not being prepared for the very simple attack of two unarmed intruders.

Intentionally or not, this serves up the psychotic scare reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange, made more familiar in the psychos’ all white outfits and use of objects for beatings.

While not the penultimate home invasion movie, this certainly stirred up my own fear, and features great performances, including that of Naomi Watts and Tim Roth, masters of the creep, in protagonist positions.

Watch this whatever time of day you want, because it is not going to make daylight feel safe for you anyway.

Great if you liked: The Strangers, A Clockwork Orange, Copycat, Last House on the Left, Vacancy, The Collector, Panic Room, You’re Next, Cape Fear, Fatal Attraction

The Girl With All the Gifts

You’re kind of a film fan, right? So you’ve probably seen 28 Days Later?  And you remember that feeling you felt when you had stumbled across a lesser known foreign zombie flick and were like “hot dam.”  And on rainy days, scanning for something to do, you long for that feeling again, right?

I found that when I saw The Girl With All the Gifts.

This unsuspecting movie hit me totally by surprise.  It starts in some sort of military bunker where a a teacher is teaching to a group of young students who are strapped to their desks, glared at by seemingly disgusted soldiers.  It doesn’t rush to answer your questions, but it ultimately takes you on a ride through a post human universe where the children are the next mutation of a zombie virus which appears to have wiped out much of humanity.

Mike Carey, writer of both the inspiring novel and screenplay, brings his comic book sensibility to the big screen.  What is at its core a zombie film, reads more like the human panic of V for Vendetta, the confusion of mutation and technology of WE3 and the tests of humanity of The Walking Dead. (Comic book versions of all, to be clear).  It’s a story far deeper than your average “… of the Dead” flick, but doesn’t skimp on the snapping zombies.

I can’t say enough about this roller coaster through the not so distant future.  It’s acted so beautifully and is such a great take on the genre. You’ll also be pretty surprised by a lot of the cast.

A little birdie told me it is screening at The Royal in Toronto and I recommend you all check it out.

Great if you liked: The Walking Dead, V for Vendetta, Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Morgan, Cloverfield, The Mist, Monsters

Sadako v Kayako

So people have been all abuzz about the release of Rings, the follow up we didn’t ask for, but all kind of wanted since The Ring totally changed the game for a lot of horror fans.  I remember when The Ring was in theaters, and my entire high school told their viewing stories as if we had all survived a natural disaster.  “J Horror” (Japanese horror) had made a big splash for Western cinema fans, and sparked remakes of plenty Japanese horror giants like The Grudge, Dark Water, and One Missed Call.

Much of J Horror focuses on these black haired crawling demons, like the ones we fell in love with in The Ring.  (A lot of them live in toilets… it’s weird).  I don’t mean to brag, but for the premiere, the city of Toronto was covered with locks of black hair and the demons were creepin’ all over.

For those of you who don’t follow along with the Japanese counterparts, the demon from The Ring (or Ringu, the J original), is known as Sadako, and the demon from The Grudge (or Ju-On) is known as Kayako.  So before you go flooding the seats to see the American follow up, check out this unreal death match of your two favourite J Horror demons, Sadako v Kayako.

After two girls accidentally stumble across the legendary Sadako tape, and another upon the Kayako house, they contact a demon expert to try and rid themselves of said demons.  After some failed attempts, they conclude the best method would be to have the demons face off against each other.  That’s pretty much all you need to know.

It’s actually pretty scary and doesn’t skip any J Horror tropes, but has a full heap of that dry horror humour that J Horror does so well.  It manages to be hilarious without being too campy, and is an absolutely unreal follow up for any casual J Horror fan, even if you’ve only seen the remakes.

The promo was for a new horror streaming service called Shudder.  This isn’t an ad for it, but it’s dope and maybe if they see this, they’ll give a girl a few months free, n’am sayin?

Great if you liked: The Ring, The Grudge, Ringu, Ju-On, Freddie vs. Jason, Sinister, Insidious, Death Note, Shaun of the Dead

Dead Set

So I have had Black Mirror teed up for a great TV edition for a while now, and, suddenly, to my delight, Netflix revived the British series and suddenly everyone is talking about and has seen the amazing sci-fi anthology series of which I can’t get enough.

Charlie Brooker is nothing short of brilliant in his anthology of short films about the dangers of technology.  So, what do I do now that it’s no longer the obscure?  Suggest to you an earlier Brooker work: Dead Set.

This 5 part series answers the hypothetical of what would happen in the Big Brother house if a zompocalypse happened.  (I know you’ve been wondering).

Dead Set has the grittiness and… Britishness… of 28 Days Later with the unpredictable story of the Big Brother house, which, honestly, seems like a pretty solid place to hole up. *Changes Zombie Apocalypse Contingency Plan*

It’s a really great addition to the zombie drama.  It’s also low key brilliant since the Big Brother house is likely populated by specifically selected characters to create big drama, kind of like the characters of movie would be, particularly in a zombie or cabin in the woods trope film.  So seeing the fictional cast of a would be reality show interact in an apocalypse is welcome and a lot of fun.

It’s also 5 episodes and one season which makes for a nice light binge without having to commit to 40 seasons of new zombie drama (I’m looking at you, The Walking Dead).

Great if you liked: 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, The Walking Dead, Zombieland, Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, Black Mirror, Big Brother

Trick ‘r Treat

First of all, Happy highest of the holidays, Halloween.
If you’re anything like me, you have been crushing horror all month long and are looking for an exciting finale.
I spent my weekend re-watching the Freddy franchise, and hitting up some new (pretty dope) horror with Oculus.
But tonight is the night for a lesser known hallo-flick, that is a certifiable cult classic, Trick ‘r Treat.

This bizarre anthology tells five interwoven stories of Halloween mayhem.  A couple face some fright after one disrespects the hallow-rules, a boring white collar moonlights as something more sinister, a group of gals hit the town looking for dates, some bullies get what’s coming and a living infamous man is tormented by the fan favourite “interwoven” demon.

It’s a bit gory, kinda scary, VERY Halloween-y, and full of laughs… if you’re morbid.  The fun part is that it is a laugh full of surprises, that are actually kind of scary.  To the point you can’t tell if you feel right having nightmares or not. You can also feel the cast having fun as their ‘psycho’ alter egoes.

It’s super weird and can sit right up there with other Halloween cult faves you’ve watched to death.  I’ve certainly added it to my October ritual. It WILL remind you to respect Halloween customs and it also contains one of the all time best werewolf transformations.

Excellent if you liked: Four Rooms, Krampus, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Hocus Pocus, Gremlins, Vampire’s Suck, What We Do in the Shadows, Grindhouse, From Dusk ‘Til Dawn.

The Final Girls

Look, if you’re really looking towards full Hallowe’en horror, I don’t need to be the one to tell you to fire up “Halloween,” “Friday the 13th,” or “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”  (And if I do, please stop what you’re doing and marathon those real quick and then come on back.)

Since I expect you’ve already watched (and loved) those franchises in their entirety, I bring you the camp horror comedy that plays to my all time favourite trope, The Final Girls.

Carpenter’s original “Halloween,” is a horror ‘mother movie’ ™ that sparked an onslaught of horror franchises and the meta/camp ones that followed. (re: Scream).  On purpose or not, it created the trope of the final girl; the, often ‘virginal,’ girl who outlasts everyone and comes up against the slashing killer in one climactic stand off.

The Final Girls uses this trope, among others, to give us a comedic camp horror film filled to the brim with heart.

Max loses her mom, Amanda, at a young age.  Amanda is famous for playing a cult classic scream queen named Nancy. (Nancy.  Guys.).  Every year, the local theater screens the cult classic, and Max struggles with it and the memory of her mother.

While in attendance at the screening, Max and her friends somehow end up in the move (read: Last Action Hero), surrounded by your horror movie tropes, and the final girl, Nancy.  Max and her friends have to team up with the characters to defeat the weapon wielding slasher and end the film.

While it spreads across much of the genre, this film feels the most like Friday the 13th complete with a Jason style killer.  It let’s the characters take back their tropes as a means of surviving to the end of the film.  The slutty chick who gets killed whilst being slutty? Taken back by Angela Trimbur, who, upon learning of her part, gives an amazing performance in the way of a sacrificial sexy strip tease to lure the killer to the campers.  (Her dance is unbelievable, and arguably feminist in her taking back her sexuality as a means of tackling the killer, over a character being reduced to an over-sexualized victim).

The Final Girls is a fun romp for all horror fans, is heartbreaking, is moving, is cute, is hilarious, and is kinda scary.  No doubt the medicine for the genre fan who’s seen it all.

Great if you liked: Friday the 13th, Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Guest, Green Room, Grindhouse, Last Action Hero

Monsters

I was lucky enough to catch this one on TV so long ago.  It always stuck with me, yet I never remembered enough about it to find it again.  It wasn’t until Batman v Superman when I recognized Scott McNairy as Wallace Keefe that I was just an imdb rabbit hole away from finding this gem.  (At least something good came out of that movie, ammiright, people?)

Monsters is one of the few sci-fi/ horror films to take place AFTER the planet changing event and show life on earth in the aftermath. (Think District 9 or 28 Weeks Later).  It has the creepy vibe of movies like The Mist and Signs, only it’s actually good. (Ammiright, people?)

After a probe sent to collect samples of extraterrestrial life crash lands between the US and Mexico, an outbreak of “creatures” spreads through a land mass between the two countries.  The area is surrounded and labeled the “infected zone” where few would dare set foot.  The zone is surrounded by military and filled with citizens refusing to leave their homes behind.  Andrew, a photographer looking to document the infection, is tasked with bringing his publication owner’s daughter home from Mexico.  After some unfortunate events, Andrew and Sam are unable to pass safely to the US and must cross through the infected zone to get home.

What is really cool about this movie is the realistic view of humanity in a universe where an alien creature has taken over part of their land.  The citizens living in a war zone are all too reminiscent of… real citizens living in real war zones.  Andrew, as a member of the media, acts for the viewer in questioning why these people would behave as they do and brave what they have. It paints a seemingly realistic picture of a war torn or “infected zone” in reality. Andrew and Sam act as the sheltered Americans who see the real fear on TV and prepare to return to their lives in their suburban homes and real life relationships after braving a real life conflict.

I’ll note, this isn’t the aliens vs humans war movie the trailer makes it appear.  It is much more about the human condition.  But also we see a lot of aliens which is dope.

Great if you liked: District 9, War of the Worlds, The Mist, Signs, 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later