October Horrorshow: Ghost Stories

Adapting their own successful stage play, writers and directors Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson have crafted a ghost flick that is, at times, among the most frightening that has been made this decade, and at other times is a cataclysmic rush to an uneven finale.

From 2017, Ghost Stories is somewhat of an anthology film, but the three separate tales that make up the film are bound together by a wrapper story in such a way that it can be considered a single narrative, as well. Nyman plays Professor Phillip Goodman, the presenter of a British reality show that debunks psychics. In an early scene, viewers see Goodman expose a spirit medium as a fraud. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Ghost Stories”

October Horrorshow: A Dark Song

Horror films work quite well when they embrace spectacle. Over-the-top gore and special effects are a hallmark of the genre. But splattering blood all over isn’t the only way to make a horror flick. Sometimes a filmmaker goes for the soul underneath the flesh, and makes something disturbing.

A Dark Song is the feature film debut from writer/director Liam Gavin. From 2016, the film tells the story of two people carrying out occult rites in an isolated house in Wales in order to contact a guardian angel. This is no lightweight ritual, either. As occult expert Joseph Solomon (Steve Oram) explains to the woman who hired him to carry out the ritual, Sophia (Catherine Walker), it will be months before they know if it’s working. During that time, the two will not be able to leave the house, nor will they have any contact with the outside world. Nor could they, as there isn’t any power in the house. Or heat. Did I mention this house is in Wales? Because one would not want to live in an unheated house in Wales. All of this makes the stakes quite a bit higher than something one would see in an old Hammer flick. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: A Dark Song”

October Horrorshow: A Quiet Place

It’s the near future — just a couple of years past the present day. The human race has been devastated by an invasion of ferocious creatures. Where the creatures come from is never made clear, although space is as good a culprit as any. The creatures are sightless, but have extraordinary hearing. Among the cacophony of sounds that a planet and all its inhabitants make, the creatures are able to pick out even the slightest of sounds made by a human, and hunt them down quickly. All remaining people are forced to live a life of silence that would try even the most devoted of monks. Such is the setup to A Quiet Place, the film from director/star John Krasinski, and writers Krasinski, Bryan Woods, and Scott Beck. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: A Quiet Place”

October Horrorshow: The Shining

Every single scene in The Shining, the classic horror film from Stanley Kubrick, is unsettling, sometimes deeply. From the opening montage, a series of beautiful helicopter shots of the Rockies, rendered menacing by the music of Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind, to the final slow zoom before the end credits, there’s not a single moment’s respite from the tension of this film. That makes The Shining somewhat unique in comparison to other horror films. There is no lighter side of the Torrance family’s lives that is upended by the goings on at the Overlook Hotel. They were doomed regardless. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Shining”

October Horrorshow: The Hallow

The woods can be a scary place for some people. The strange noises, the closeness, the environment being the antithesis of cities or suburbia — being in the woods can be weird. Maybe that’s what makes the woods a great setting for horror films. That, or the woods is just a convenient setting when budget dictates plot and cast have to be small. Either way, the forest primeval is an oft-used setting in the horror genre, in both good and bad films. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Hallow”

October Horrorshow: It Follows, or, The Venereal Demon

Umm...is this film mumblegore? No, it’s not. It Follows is the second feature film from David Robert Mitchell. He’s not one of the crew of filmmakers (Ti West, Adam Wingard, etc.) that have steered much of horror back to a 1970s sense of place, setting, and look and feel, but Mitchell’s film does feel like kin in many ways. I think this has a lot to do with the wider aesthetic that has come to dominate still photography in recent years. Every one of us with a smartphone has participated in it at some point. We’ve had Instagram accounts or the Hipstamatic app or any number of other apps that apply retro filters to our pics. And since everyone in this country seems to have a smartphone, the typical smartphone pics are everywhere, not just on our phones. The aesthetic is so popular that it has invaded advertising — the final indicator of cultural pervasiveness. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: It Follows, or, The Venereal Demon”

October Horrorshow: Annabelle

The Conjuring was a horror movie that exceeded expectations. With a budget of around 20 million bucks, a combination of good script, good direction, good acting, and good scares pushed what could have been a boilerplate horror experience into something memorable that brought in over a quarter of a billion dollars at the box office. With such a return on investment, it was a certainty that there would a follow-up. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Annabelle”

October Horrorshow: The Babadook

There was a thread on r/horror back in December of last year. In it, OP was lamenting the fact that having seen so many horror films in their lifetime, they were having a hard time being frightened by horror films anymore. They, and other commenters, wished they could go back in time to younger days when the horror genre still held surprises, when they could still be scared by an apparition suddenly appearing in a bathroom mirror, or a slasher coming back from the dead to chase down and slaughter teenagers. Everyone seemed a little jaded. Here were people whose favorite genre of film is horror, and they felt that they had become desensitized to what drew them to the genre in the first place. What a shame. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Babadook”