Posts Tagged ‘scary’

Many would put the first Hostel right at the beginning of the ‘toture porn’ genre (even though there were many foreign films before featuring similar themes). This is probably because it was one of the first big mainstream US films to openely advertise itself as such. It was a pretty good little horror film and made enough money to get a sequel green lit.

Hostel 2 (directed by the same director as the first, Eli Roth) doesnt aim to do much differently from the first on the outset as we yet again have a group of backpackers (this time all females) who get caught in the sights of the ‘hunting club’. But upon watching the film its clear Eli Roth has a much clearer sense of world building and characterisation. It would have been so easy for him to have done a quick easy rehash of the first but i’m happy to say this feels fresh and tense.

The three female leads have an interesting dynamic between them that feels realistic thanks to a well written script that clearly has had a lot of thought put into it. It wont win any screenwriting awards but it is nice to see some well written characters in a genre that seems to thrive on the opposite. As there backpacking holiday quickly unravels each handle things very differently, which creates some very tense and quite thought provoking consequences.

This time round we also get an almost equal time following the people who are planning on commiting sadistic acts on these girls which also highlights how the club wirks and is organised. This for me is one of the highlights as its well thought out and gives everything another dimension.

While the film does feature strong violence and gore, it doesnt focus on it as much as one might expect. It also never feels out of place as it all benefits and guides the story along its path.

The final act features some truly great twists and turns all of which work well and help elevate this film from the usual genre tropes.

I never expected to like this film as much as i did. Its easily the best in the series and is well worth your time if you like tense horror thrillers.

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Nowadays horror films seem to be the gateway into film making. I’m guessing it’s because it can be a cheaper genre to make a film within, as playing on a person’s fears often doesn’t need that much help.

Lights Out, based on the directors earlier film short is a perfect example of how clever use of atmosphere, a clever script and some good acting can for a smallish budget, create a film that stands out amongst the overcrowded genre.

The basic premise is a family are being ‘haunted’ by a malevolent force and the only way to stay safe is to stay in the light. There’s much more to the story though and watching it unfold is another one of the films strong points.

Unlike many horror films, Lights Out shows you the ‘monster’ very early on and also introduces the main plot device of ‘stay in the light’ at the same time. By doing so it gives the film much more time to focus on the characters and the ‘why’. It’s a clever use of pacing and one that really pays off. It’s not the first film to use light as a safety measure, but it is one of the best.

At times I was very much reminded of the 2003 film Darkness Falls (previously reviewed) as that has a very similar idea of ‘stay in the light and your safe’. The big difference here is that Lights Out is a good film. Whereas that film relied on jump scares, this film builds a great atmosphere in which you never feel safe. Every shadow, every bit of shade becomes a danger.

There are some very clever moments that play on preconceptions. This is especially true of some of the characters as they all feel like natural people and not the over the top caricatures we often see in films like this. The film also heads in some interesting directions which I didn’t expect which I was really happy with.

It’s rare for a film to work on pretty much all levels but Lights Out achieves it. I’m not sure if it’s because I went in with no expectations or not (although I don’t think it is) but this may be one of the most enjoyable and good horror films in recent years.

Highly recommended

12 years went by since The Ring 2 and some studio exec decided what we need is another film in the series. Did we really need another film? The original Ringu series did have 3 films (4 if you include the original 2nd film that was renamed Spiral) and a couple of spin offs but all of those kind of worked and built on the haunted videotape mythos. This film both attempts to continue the story of the American series while also giving a reboot feeling.

If the opening of a film is meant to grab the viewers attention and semi dictate the quality you are to expect, Rings fails laughably. We have what can only be described as a terrible combination of final destination and a horror spoof. It’s actually an interesting idea setting the beginning on a plane, it’s just that it’s so badly handled it’s silly.

On the plus with such a terrible opening it can only get better, which it does do but not by much. We have a series of dull moments meant to shock but most fall flat. There are some interesting ideas going on but they don’t quite work. The ending was actually pretty good though. It’s pretty stupid but it’s done interestingly and I guess sets up another film if they decided to do one.

They do change a fair chunk of the ring myths and introduce new things such as another video. It all feels unnecessary, but I guess they had to try something new. Even the old video seems different from the one in the other films. This helps gives the feeling that this film is a reboot, yet it still expects you to know some of the backstory.

One of the things that raises the quality of the film is the inclusion of actor Johnny Galecki who many would know from Big Bang Theory. It’s nice seeing him in something completely different, as the last horror film I remember seeing him in was I Know What You Did Last Summer. He’s great in the film and makes it watchable, it’s just a shame he doesn’t have a better script to work from.

The special effects are passable with even the classic image of Samara climbing out of a television coming across as cheap. The scares are near non existent and there is very little tension and atmosphere. I think the only teen moment I remember is towards the start where Johnny Galecki is sitting in his apartment, illuminated by sree lights as it pours down with rain outside. A pivotal scene later on that is meant to be full of tense drama just feels very meh.

For a sequel that never needed making, I applaud them for trying to introduce some interesting new ideas. It’s just a shame that most fall flat. I wouldn’t call it a terrible film, it’s just not very good. You’re better off sticking with the original Ringu series or just pretending like this one never happened.

With so many horror films being pumped out in recent years, it’s easy to see the genre as stale and unoriginal, but in amongst all of the remakes, sequels and zombie films there are some truly great gems. Get Out is one of them.

Going into the film I had no expectations and knew nothing about it apart from what the poster showed me (A screaming man in a chair), which really wasn’t much. What I Got was an intense horror thriller that constantly kept me on the edge of my seat.

Actor Daniel Kaluuya plays Chris, a young African-American who visits his white girlfriend’s parents on a secluded estate in the middle of the woods. What starts as a happy romantic trip quickly spirals into something much different.

In a way the film is reminiscent of the original Wicker-man film in the whole ‘outsider trying to figure out what’s happening’ sense. And it works. Throughout the film there is always something that feels ‘off’ with everyone, something not quite right. This feeling builds at a nice rate as the story evolves and begins explaing itself. Some moments are quute predictable when you see the ditection the film is heading but that doesnt detract from the quality. The acting is great from everyone and every character plays their part in the story. The writing really does help fully flesh out each character and make them feel unique.

Direction and writing are great with both allowing the film to flow at a brisk pace and taking the viewer through a refreshingly fresh tale. It’s rare that a film works from opening image through to credits but this film does and the ending is perfect.

It’s hard to not instantly see the messages about racism both in an historical sense, but also in the now. The film makes some powerful points which many could learn from as racism, as we all know is something that is always around no matter how much people pretend it isn’t. Right at the start of the film Chris asks his girlfriend ‘do your parents know I’m black?’ Her response is to shrug it off like it doesn’t matter. It’s scary that we live in a world where even today the colour of one’s skin effects how people treat you. Even scarier is that the people in charge of some of the most powerful countries in the world allow this and sometimes openly encourage it.

These messages run rife through the film and help give a good base to everyone’s mindsets. What is good is that this provides a level of gritty realism to proceedings. The horror is never forced and never relies on silly jump scares. It’s all about creating tension and intensity through the characters and the script.

I recommend this film whole-heartedly and feel it is one of those horror films that will stay long after it has finished.

blair

I’ll begin by saying that the first Blair Witch Project film is easily one of my favourite horror films of all time even if many cast it off as a basic found footage film of people running around the woods. It was pivotal at the time and say what you will, but it did change horror cinema and pretty much spawned the found footage horror genre.  One of the big things that made it work so much is that there was very little script and the directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez let the actors improvise in a very loose filming style. It was fascinating to watch and stunningly made when you consider the size of the crew and budget.

The first film also has the benefit of being very ‘new’ and with social media very much on the rise, managed to latch on and create this feeling that the film was actually a real documentary. For me it worked and was nigh on perfect for what it tried to do.

In 2000 a sequel was made that was interesting as it had some interesting uses of the original films ‘footage’ but ultimately it was pretty terrible and the less said the better.

This leads us to the 2016 sequel to the original film. it completely ignores the events of ‘The Blair Witch project 2: Book of Shadows’ and tells a tale following the brother of one of the original characters who is still trying to find out what really happened to her.

17 years have passed since the making of the first film and technology has advanced greatly with tiny attachable cameras and flying drones. Wingrad has decided that he will utilise all of these and that is one of the biggest faults of the film. It never feels like a found footage film, it all looks to pristine and the shots are all so obviously framed and staged it is almost embarrassing.  Gone is any of the realism of the original, now we have what looks like a glossy low budget horror film and that is a real shame.

The script is beyond terrible and never feels natural. It would have been nice to actually delve into the history of the tale of the Blair witch a little more as from what I’ve seen through the other media based on the film (such as games, books, comics and even Book of Shadows)there is a deep lore to everything which is only hinted on in the original film. here we just have a series of loose jump scares linked with some really ropey dialogue.

the film had none of the dread that one would expect, there is no tension and it relies on getting any form of scare across by using either average jump scares like people literally bursting out of bushes, or using rally loud transitions into new scenes.  Neither work on any form of level other then being annoying.

Wingrad in my view had a lot of luck when he made the film ‘You’re Next’ which I find is actually an enjoyable horror film. Everything else he has made is pretty terrible and he really hasn’t proven that he is a particularly competent filmmaker. It’s sad as you can see in him that there is the hint of something special but with Blair Witch he just destroys all credibility he may have had.

I’d say it isn’t worth any amount of your time and to be fair you’d be better off watching ‘The Blair Witch Project: Book of Shadows’ as at least that film had a few interesting ideas albeit badly executed. This is a poor imitation of the fantastic original and really is so incredibly disappointing. 2/10

 

It’s rare for a film to come along that transcends genres and actually works. One such film is ‘Martyrs’. Many have simply dubbed the film with the horrible expression ‘torture porn’ but I don’t agree with that. I think you’ll find a lot of the people who simply explain the film with that expression haven’t actually seen the film and they are simply going on what they’ve heard. It’s a shame; it really is, because many would have missed out of this amazing film.

Lets get a few things out of the way:

Yes there is violence.

Yes there is gore.

And yes there is nudity.

But the thing is, none of it feels out of place. Never did I feel that anything was handled in an exploitive way as many say it is. It’s not. And when it comes to the actual ‘torture’ that does occur in the film, it is handled very carefully and very well. It takes an hour before any of what could be considered ‘torture porn’ occurs but even then it isn’t in the same vein as something like ‘hostel’ or even the likes of other extreme French horror films like ‘inside’.

One of the things that is so clever in the film is the fact that, as mentioned earlier, it transcends genres. We go through straight horror to revenge flick to supernatural horror to human drama and back to horror before going back to human drama. It’s a magnificent achievement.

I’d say that the theme that runs through the whole piece is the human condition and how the mind can be broken and manipulated. But even then that doesn’t explain it all.

Nothing I can say can do this film the justice it deserves. It is a film that is a must see for and fans of cinema or anyone interested in studies of the human condition. For me personally, it’s a film that I can endlessly watch and I always get something new from it… 8/10