I am not generally a fan of horror movies, which is something that probably became very clear in my answer to The Oracle of Film’s Question of the Month. However it feels like Halloween is a time of year to put prejudices aside and take one for the team so I have watched and reviewed four horror movies purely for your titillation (yes, Eric… I said tit). I have tried to mix it up by going for one comedy horror, one found footage, one modern classic and one what the actual fuck was that. I hope you all enjoy it because I am probably not going to watch anymore horror movies for a whole year!
Ethan Hawke plays, Ellison Oswalt, a true crime writer who had one major hit ten years ago. Since then he’s been looking for the next big thing and when a family is hanged in their backyard apart from one child who is abducted, he thinks he might have found it. Ellison uproots his wife (Juliet Rylance) and two children, Ashley (Clare Foley) and Trevor (Michael Hall D’Addario) and moves them into the house where the murder happened… without telling them the history of their new home. While exploring the house, Ellison finds a box full of old 8mm home movies, which depict a series of murders which seem to be related to the hanging. As he investigates further, throwing himself into his work, strange things start to happen in the house – including increasingly strange behaviour from Ashley and Trevor. Is there a killer on the loose or is there something much more sinister underway? What I liked about Sinister was that time was taken to build characters you could care about and to develop a story line that was mostly coherent and cohesive. It was also really quite unsettling, not resorting to endless jump scares. You spend more time freaking out about what might be about to happen than what is actually happening. Hawke plays Ellison as a man so desperate to recapture his former glory that you can imagine he would keep watching the terrible videos without alerting the police. Ultimately the ending was a bit meh though and the “monster” was less scary than the idea of him. Not bad. 3.5/5
Anton (Devon Sawa) lives to smoke weed, hang out with his friends and watch as much TV as possible. Unfortunately his right hand has become possessed by the devil and is trying to kill everyone. That’s about the extent of this completely unfunny, unscary snoozefest. I am trying to think of a good thing to say about this but the best I can manage is that Sawa’s hand movements really do make his hand look like it’s possessed. Pity his face acting doesn’t live up to it. Idle Hands also features a young Jessica Alba sporting a hideous mushroom-like haircut that I also happened to sport in 1999. The shame. Her character’s sole purpose appears to be to parade around half naked while lusting after Anton for unfathomable reasons. There is one scene where she seems simply incapable of resisting her desire to shag him despite the fact that he is filthy, covered in blood, stinks of weed and he can’t stop waving his hand around. She doesn’t even react negatively when he tries to strangle her while they’re making out. I also couldn’t understand why Anton’s friends, Mick (Seth Green) and Pnub (Elden Henson) come back from the dead after he kills them. He kills his parents and they don’t come back. I can only imagine this was made by a fourteen year old boy with a similar audience in mind. Avoid. 0/5
While on a road trip, two couples come across a gas station with an attached amateur theme park. The creepy clown-painted attendant (Sid Haig) shows them around and tells them the legend of Doctor Satan, who supposedly performed loads of dodgy experiments on people and was hanged from a tree out in the woods. Of course the blokes want to go and check it out but the car breaks down in the middle of nowhere and they’re forced take up the offer of a sexy hitchhiker (Sheri Moon Zombie) to seek shelter at her house. What they don’t realise is that she and her family are all complete hillbilly psychos and it’ll be a miracle if any of them make it out alive. I have to admit that this film was probably wasted on me. I didn’t get the point of all the weird visual effects and I found the endless ranting of the family patriarch (Chad Bannon) annoying… but not as annoying as Sheri Moon Zombie’s laugh. Maybe I’m missing something but it was all a bit too weird and off the wall for me. 1/5
A masked killer is stalks the sleepy town of Woodsborough on the eve of the anniversary of Sidney Prescott’s (Neve Campbell) mother’s murder. There’s nothing particularly complex about the plot of this modern slasher classic but what makes it stand out is the way it self-consciously plays on all the typical horror movie tropes following, and occasionally breaking, the rules that seventies and eighties slashers all seem to be based on. It’s like a fan love letter to the genre. I have probably seen it about fifty times and I bet most of you have as well but I am still not going to spoil by telling you the twist. What I will say is what also helps Scream stand out is its great characters. Sidney is a tough yet vulnerable heroine that you can root for and she’s backed up by a brilliant turn from Courtney Cox as a bitchy, cut throat reporter called Gale Weathers. Even Skeet Urich (what happened to him?) is suitably charming/creepy as Sid’s boyfriend and David Arquette makes a great rookie deputy. An absolute must watch for any movie fan, whether you love horror or not. 4/5