I pretty much only watch horror movies once a year because they really aren’t my thing and that’s in the lead-up to Halloween. So here we go… my 4 horror movies for the year.
Deaf mute writer, Maddie (Katie Siegel) lives on her own in a remote house in the woods where she is working on her latest novel and struggling with the ending. As she works into the night a masked man (John Gallagher Jr.) stalks her but he’s going to get a lot more than what he bargained for.
The idea of a victim who cannot scream or hear her attacker breathes some fresh air into the tired home invasion genre. Director, Mike Flanagan, does a good job of getting across Maddie’s particular challenges, which just about saves what is ultimately a bit of a thin story. Maddie is a kick ass character but her ability to survive some of her injuries is a little bit far-fetched, which damages Hush‘s credibility and the multiple endings gimmick is just a step too far. Not bad but not great. 3/5
On the night of The Purge a group of strangers is thrown together outside fighting for survival. Eva (Carmen Ejogo) and her daughter, Cali (Zoë Soul) have escaped would-be kidnappers but they’re not going to give up that easily. Shane (Zach Gilford) and Liz’s (Kiele Sanchez) car has broken down. And Sergeant (Frank Grillo) has a score to settle and some very particular skills. As they try to make their way to safety they encounter an array of sinister foes, the most frightening of which is the upper class elite who see The Purge as a way of acting out their sick fantasies using people they see as sub-human. If the first Purge film was possibly a little simplistic the second one is potentially a little complex. Using the film to drive home a powerful and very relevant political message about inequality is a great strategy that really works but writer/director, James DeMarco somewhat over complicates things by having both a faceless organisation employed by the government elite and some freedom fighters and a war between them and the individual stories of the characters out on the night and it’s all just a bit much leading to a bit of bloat. Overall this is still a gripping thriller that builds well on the original concept. 3.5/5
A collection of interchangeable college kids including Paris Hilton go on a road trip to watch a football match. En route they stop to camp and their car’s fan belt is mysteriously snapped. Two of them head into a nearby town to look for help and discover a weird abandoned house of wax and some even weirder locals. The obvious thing to do is trespass all over the place with zero regard for private property, ignoring any sense of self-preservation or logic. As you can imagine this does not end well for anybody. Apparently House of Wax is an update of a fifties classic. I have not seen the original but it is literally impossible for it to be anything less than one thousand times better than this utterly uninspired remake. Every single horror movie cliche is dragged out in a completely unironic manner, which makes this 108 minute long film feel like it’s been going on for about four days. The only blessing is that is seems to have killed Paris Hilton’s movie “career” as her performance can best be described as somnambulist prostitute. Watch pretty much anything else. 0/5
In an attempt to focus on his work, aspiring writer Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) takes a job as the caretaker of a remote Overlook Hotel taking his wife, Wendy (Shelly Duvall) and young son, Danny (Danny Lloyd) with him. The hotel is almost inaccessible in the winter and therefore closes for the season meaning that the family will be completely alone for five months. As the months draw on and the snow gets deeper and deeper strange things start to happen. Danny sees visions of things have happened in the past… or is it the future and Jack’s behaviour becomes every more erratic as the family becomes more isolated with terrifying consequences. So there’s a reason The Shining is considered one of the greatest horror movies ever made. Firstly the cinematography is outstanding. While The Outlook Hotel is spectacular, every frame makes you feel like there’s something just a bit off and the incredible establishing shots really hammer home just how remote it is. Then there are the performances. Nicholson is at his absolute manic best as Torrance, Duvall is outstanding as the fragile Wendy and Lloyd more than holds his own despite his young age. Stanley Kubrick gives a masterclass in pacing and rachets up the tension to eleven before releasing it in a rush almost as torrid as the ironic corridors of blood in the film. Unlike many modern horror films there aren’t masses of gore but the unsettling nature of many of the scenes leaves a shiver up the spine and there’s no surprise that they’ve become popular culture staples. Outstanding. 5/5