Keep the Lights Out. And the Projector Off.

I don’t know what I was thinking.  This type of movie just isn’t for me.  I find it mind-bogglingly boring.  I suppose if you’ve never seen a scary movie before it could work.

Lights Out makes The Visit look like a horror classic.  2/10

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On a related note: Why is it that zombies or ghosts are always at least 10 times stronger in zombie / ghost form than they ever were while living?  Can anyone answer me that?

I think there’s a good movie out there — maybe I’ll have to write it — with ghosts behaving like ghosts.  Passing through walls, haunting people’s dreams, that kind of thing.  Something that could be truly frightening.

Comparison Notes (all much better): See posts “We Are Spirits… in the Material World” and “Movies that’ll get ya”; The Uninvited

Film Brief: The Witch

The Witch - poster

Not much to see here, folks.  Not nearly as much as you would think.  I was so very much looking forward to The Witch, and so even the more disappointed.  An exceptionally strong pot of potential, but nothing exceptional about the movie.  The Witch is not without its assets, but this one’s a pass — another miss by A24.  5/10

Comparison Notes (Recommended): Antichrist, The Visit, Breaking the Waves

Genre Essentials: Halloween

Halloween poster

Halloween (1978) is a genre essential, which is to say it’s not generally essential, i.e. a must-see for all who love movies, but if you’re into horror flicks or creepfests you really should get around to seeing it.  Better genre essentials in the ring include Paranormal Activity, Saw, The Blair Witch Project, The Shining, and The Ring.

Not that Halloween is bad.  The film features a terrific flow and a lush cinematic look, the earlier parts of the film rich in daylight sidewalk scenes — this is the part of the movie I loved.  But the plot has too many holes and continuity problems, and by comparison to more recent horror films, the payoff disappoints.  Sure people are being hacked and slashed frequently enough once the lights go down, but it’s just not that scary.

But it’s not boring   In its own modest way, it is creepy, compelling and dramatic.  But I wouldn’t classify it as a “Riveting Rental,” nor does it hit the fright factor like The Shining or The Ring — but then so few films do.  Besides being a good movie, it stands as the influential leader of the slasher sub-genre, and a horror classic — good reasons to give it a go.  Other items of note: the iconic soundtrack, and Jamie Lee Curtis’ first appearance in film.  For more, look at the extensive Wikipedia entry.  6/10

Availability: iTunes / Apple TV rental.

The Witch not of Halloween

This is the kind of Halloween movie I can get into.  I saw the trailer a couple months back, so was expecting it by the fall, but it’s not to be — we’ll have to wait until the end of February.  Perhaps because of the crowded field of horror films this fall.

It’s from A24, which is a good sign.

OH — and speaking of Halloween — the original Halloween (1978) is finally available via iTunes rental.  I’ve never seen it, so expect a report forth-with.  I saw a chunk on TV and became quite fascinated.

A Visit Worth Making

The Visit - poster

The Visit is shot with the played-out found footage / first-person camera technique.  So at first, I was thinking can we JUST show the movie?  Unless something new is brought to bear, what’s the point?  But it worked well here, with just enough of a slight original spin on the method to add some value.

Until, that is, the inevitable point in all these found footage films where the characters find themselves in frenetic life-or-death situations, but somehow manage to always keep filming.  Now I’ve seen actual found footage — it usually makes a number of appearances on every local newscast — and the moment of impact is almost always lost.  And lost by people who aren’t even in danger.  So I can’t buy that a young teenage girl who has death grasping at her feet will always manage to perfectly shoot the scene.  Naturally, the heavier and bulkier the camera the better.

So no, I’m not a big fan of found footage.  It worked with The Blair Witch Project, the originator of the technique.  And it worked fairly well with Paranormal Activity — the original one, anyway.  And here or there it’s effective.  But my god, give it a rest.  If they resisted the temptation in Saw, they can resist it in The Visit.

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The Visit - text blockAside from the found footage approach, The Visit was very mixed, but ultimately fun, scary, a little campy, and more than a little creepy.  The deep darkies may just get ‘ya.  6/10

Cinematic Greats: The Mist

The Mist - poster large

The Mist - text blockTHOSE FIRST PULSATIONS through the corrugated tin door, which a moment later are found to come from tentacles — the giant, flesh-tearing tentacles of an enormous monster whose body is never revealed: this is the sense of mystery and wonder — and dread — that evokes those early marvels of Steven Spielberg.  James Berardinelli of Reel Views sums it up better than anyone:

The Mist is what a horror film should be – dark, tense, and punctuated by just enough gore to keep the viewer’s flinch reflex intact. … [Director Frank] Darabont has fashioned a tense motion picture that’s ultimately more about paranoia, religious fanaticism, and the price of hopelessness than it is about monsters.

The Mist is an intense macro-epic for when the world is being torn away.  You can read my previous comments here.  And the ending is brilliant — decidedly un-Hollywood.  A terrifically thrilling film.  9/10

Availability: iTunes, rental or purchase