horror

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

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

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

The Midnight Meat Train

Guys, it’s October.  SamHain.  The month of Hallowe’en when I go from regular person to a witchy woman. (Oooh oooh, witchay woman).

Despite being a lover of all things Summer, I embrace the season of spiced scents, burgundy lipstick, ankle boots and blood spilling horror.

Now bear will me on this one.  It’s 2016 and, save for the ever popular SAW franchise, there has not been a focus on gore.  We are in the age of demon horror, jump scares, found footage and, of course, zombies.  But what I wanted to start my October postings was some unseen pure gore.

I don’t usually lean towards gore as I often find it more laugh inducing than terrifying.  But, what the hell, it’s mid October.

2008’s The Midnight Meat Train seems to have struck with this relatively star riddled cast before they were… huge stars? Bradley Cooper (when he was still the bit player coming off Wedding Crashers, and before The Hangover skyrocketed him into familiarity) stars as Leon, a photographer challenged (by a character played by Brooke Shields) to push harder on his images of the city to capture the real grit.  In doing so, Leon stumbles across a sinister ring which employs a butcher to capture and mutilate late night subway riders.

Look.  This film is ripe with continuity errors.  The characters behave in a frustrating way.  The acting? The drama? Oh boy.   There’s even a completely uncalled for rough sex scene awkwardly paired with a piano ballad.  BUT this is gore, ladies and gentlemen.  This is the post 2005 blood spilling you’re dreaming of. I mean, Vinnie Jones plays a human butcher named “Mahogany.” What else do you want from me?

So strap in for some nightmares about slipping in pools of blood and enjoy this seldom seen new gore.

Bonus round, this is adapted from a short story by legendary horror writer, Clive Barker, who brought us such nightmares as Hellraiser and Candyman.

Great if you liked Hellraiser, Candyman, Ichi the Killer, Audition, Night Train, Saw, Vacancy, The Collector, Hostel

The Guest

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I have been on quite a classic horror binge as of late, which is a great way to remind myself of all of the amazing tropes parodied by my favourite genre: modern camp horror.

Few have done camp horror quite as well as Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, the writer director duo behind The Guest.

Coming off the success of their sleeper hit, You’re Next, the duo took their new found big budget and turned it into the camp horror dreams were made of (and then sprinkled in a bunch of action).

Dan Stevens (of Downton Abbey fame) stars as “David,” a soldier returning from active duty and visiting the family of his fallen platoon member.  The Peterson family invites David to stay with them for a few days, where slowly his strange behaviour begins to show its face, mostly to the daughter, a teenage waitress forced to have David tag-a-long in her day to day life as a social high schooler.

This flick dives so far into awesome camp that it is mashing of two of my all time favourite films, Terminator 2 and Halloween, which is somehow also funny, and goes next level into some Jason Bourne, and German Sci Fi places.

Every detail makes this film fun, from the classic 80’s style euro synth music, to the long shots of solo characters.  You won’t know whether to love or hate David, but you’ll definitely want to recycle some of his lines to sound cool (re: ‘cash is easy to get’ and ‘awesome’).  It’s also a great spot for Maika Monroe who is quickly making her name as the Scream Queen of the Y generation.

Great if you liked: You’re Next, Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, It Follows, The Final Girls, V/H/S, Rec, The Strangers, Terminator, Terminator 2

What We Do in the Shadows

The brilliant mockumentary, What we Do in the Shadows, takes “dry humour” to the next level.

Vladislav, Viago, Deacon and Petyr are relic vampires living in a vampire nest… ehrrmmm… as modern day roommates.

The four deal with issues like, who’s responsibility is it to do the dishes? How will we pay rent? And where will we hide the bodies of these people we just sucked dry?

It’s an unreal dichotomy of “totally over the top” and “cracklingly dry” humour.

You’ll recognize Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Concords and MIB3.  He kills it as Vladislav, and over the top vamp stuck in his old horror ways.  Taika Waititi steals the show as Viago trying to mediate between roommates, and appease the ancient Petyr. (Jemaine and Taika also wrote and directed, in case you weren’t yet sold).

This flick is totally original and so much fun.

Loved it? Great news!! Recent rumour has it there is going to be a werewolf sequel.

Great if you liked: Flight of the Concords, This is Spinal Tap, The Office

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)

One of the most terrifying horror films of the 70’s (a right unreal time for horror) was the film inspired by true events that occurred in Texarkana, Arkansas, The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976). (Bonus round, another great film if you haven’t seen it).  The ’76 film focuses on a Texas ranger hunting down the hooded serial killer terrorizing a small town in 1946.

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014) is, wait for it, a meta-sequel.  It’s 65 years later, and we’re back in Texarkana, a town that has now had a film made about the hooded killer who once terrorized them, and now celebrates the film once a year, a practice often criticized by the townspeople.

People start getting murdered, in manners similar to those depicted in the film, and “Jami” takes to investigating the sinister truth behind what appears to be copy cat murders.

It’s directed by Alfonzo Gomez-Rejon, better known for directing your favourite episodes of American Horror Story (and Glee, but don’t judge him on only that alone). You’ll recognize a lot of the style, and it works so well in this setting.

Aside from being terrifying, with classic nods to 70’s style horror, this film manages to be cohesive in an expanded universe, and makes excellent references to the original film.  (If you’ve seen the original, or even if you haven’t, a trombone is your worst nightmare).

It’s scary, it’s cool, it has a fun story, and quirky characters and homages.  It manages to pay homage and be film-y enough to call itself a “meta-sequel” and also just be totally excellent to watch.

Great if you liked: Insidious, Scream, The Hills Have Eyes, Hostel, Halloween, Friday the 13th, The Hills Have Eyes, The Collector, House of Wax, The Strangers, You’re Next, American Horror Story (mostly that insane slasher episode from Season 1)

Shut In

Sci-Fi and Horror tend to be the genres with some of the best flicks that go unseen. Shut In (sometimes known as “Intruders”) is no exception.
This horror centers around Anna, a tormented girl lamenting the loss of her father and her struggles with agoraphobia. On the day of the funeral, Anna ends up being unable to overcome her agoraphobia and attend, and meets 3 intruders attempting to rob her house.
What starts as a scared damsel hiding from three big bad wolves, turns into a torture horror you won’t see coming (even after reading this).
It’s a great standard stuck in a house with some murders classic horror that really delivers.

Great one if you liked The Strangers, Funny Games, Last House on the Left, Vacancy, You’re Next (to be featured here soon).

**Alert** I’ve included the trailer below, somewhat against my better judgment.  It’s a bit spoiler-y, be forewarned…