50 Films for Halloween – Part 5 of 5

We did it! We did it! I gleefully exclaimed to the wife, who it seems has now become a shadow of her former self – she wants more. When will we stop watching horror films? I dare not say. She hasn’t spoke for hours now. Sitting in front of the TV for this long can’t be good. I have actually started fearing for my life without films of other genres now. And what of our children? No more Pixar? Disney? Star Wars? My wife must stop. I have the heavy-duty chains ready. I’ve cleared out the dungeon, I mean, cellar. There is no TV or laptop or phones down there. I had to prepare it while she was sleeping – with her eyes open of course. The cracks have started to appear it seems. In the ceiling too. And what are those voices? I think I need to lie down. Please, check back in a while. Soon. Make sure I am okay. Please. Thank you all in the mean time for sticking with us through this – hopefully we have not damaged you too.

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The Woman (2011)

The lawyer father here is a horrid, horrid man, you know this independently from the fact he captures a woman living in the wild and chains her in a barn to apparently tame her. His family live in fear of him. Aside from the obvious comparison, making the torrid human behaviour lose the battle against the wild savagery and survival in your own mind, you find yourself internally cheering on the woman as she exacts her brutal, violent revenge, but more so fulfilling her natural animal instincts in a cruel, harsh world. Horror feeds the paradox of our impressionable souls.

After.Life (2009)

Inch-perfect casting here, with Liam Neeson as the by-the-book, is he good, is he bad, funeral director, and Christina Ricci playing dead – no offense, she looks great. After.Life rocks the boat of audience anticipation near-perfectly, making you play the game in your head – is she really dead or not? It also scares you subconsiously as you actually start to wonder if someone so depraved and calculating can actually pull off burying the living so calmly.

Triangle (2009)

Triangle has such a clever, head-swirling premise, though it’s film-making style and execution almost trip-over itself during the course of the picture, it still manages to find its way through the menace and mystery with dignity intact. It’s most messy moments narratively come in the final act, answering our questions far too simply, yet this chunk of the film carries the most promise.

Severance (2006)

A corporate work trip into the woods is bound to be less team-building and more team-dwindling. Set-up as a British black comedy, with plenty of the English banter humor to distract you from the horrors that await. As the team members are picked off, hacked up, burned, one by one, the remaining must do what they need to survive this surprise attack.

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Next Door (2005)

The spiral of personal, mental torment and anguish that John goes through when Ingrid leaves him for another man sets the stage for some paranoid and disturbingly inescapable events. Lured to the maze-like apartment next door where two young women magnetize John into a realm of seductive brutality and indelible mystery – re-discovering more about his own morality than he bargained for.

The Cellar Door (2007)

Capturing women from the outside world and keeping them in a cage in his dark cellar, we can assume that our sick protagonist has already crossed the line of right and wrong. Seedy Herman is a scary fella because he looks and dresses like a regular guy; his new captive femme Rudy is tough to sympathize with however in spite of her plight due to her being played by a bad actress. Horror movies play with our minds whatever the ingredients.

Communion (1976)

After watching the camp, corny trailer for Communion first (“She was too old to play with boys, too young to play with men, so she played with death”) I was a little misled (not the first time with trailers right?). Ticking many of the boxes required to set the tone for 1970s horror cinema, this has menacing children, bloody deaths, hectic screams, and turn out to be rather enjoyable.

The Reflecting Skin (1990)

Encapsulating, in a small time 1950s rural setting, the dangers of a child’s imagination – and not directly, but rather through interpreting the stories and rumors of others. The slow-burn pacing suits the discourse of this kind of subtle horror. Always intriguing. See this film with The White Ribbon and The Witch, and have an eerie folk tale mini-marathon why don’t you.

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Don’t Breathe (2016)

A tense motion picture this one, and smart too. There is an innocence to the villain here, a blind, mentally damaged war veteran, but his core is deprived of humanity as we discover what lies beneath and beyond his walls and floors. The three young crooks breaking into his home have a huge surprise waiting for them, Don’t Breathe allows the upper hand of frights to come from the blind man, lurking about in the dark, capable of terrible things – and the odds are in his favor.

Under the Shadow (2016)

I was delighted as an Englishman in love with Persian cinema to discover that Babak Anvari and his rather special movie Under the Shadow will be the UK’s Oscar Foreign Language Film submission. A very fitting end to a wonderful journey of 50 Films for Halloween. The immaculate Narges Rashidi plays a mother whose daughter is being lured by what could well be a djnn, and all this amidst the conflict in Tehran in the 1980s. Anvari captures the social and political cross-roads, without being heavy-handed. But also, as others flee Tehran, brings an air of inevitable supernatural dread – dragging us into the unknown with the occasion jumpy moment, rather than ramming all out big, brash scares down our throats. A film that dabs in horror and haunting at just the right temperature, making this a much more down-to-Earth, authentic film experience.

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Check back on the full 50 write-ups: Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart Four.

Follow the marathon on Twitter: #50filmshalloween

See the full list on Letterboxd: Halloween Marathon 2016

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2 responses to “50 Films for Halloween – Part 5 of 5

  1. Pingback: 50 Films for Christmas – Part 1 of 10 | Write out of L.A.·

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