Tag Archives: Horror

Raw


An extremely gruesome female directed feminist cannibal film is a unique sell. So perhaps it is unsurprising that Julia Ducournau’s Raw (2016) amassed a huge amount of festival hype over the past year. Even filtering out the usual bullshit about how many people fainted at each screening, this is a film that impressed and excited film fans, both horror fiends and otherwise. Festival hype can derail many a film and this seems particularly true of those in the horror genre. Thankfully though, Raw is as unique as it sounds on paper, meaning it is next to impossible for smug fans to dismiss it as something we’ve seen before. Whilst the film is notably gross and visceral, the overriding sense of the experience is deeply disquieting. The way a horse is manoeuvred whilst under sedation is as disturbing as anything far more gruesome that takes place.

Justine, a committed vegetarian, leaves home to attend vet school. There she undergoes a series of hazing rituals that culminate in her being forced (under pressure from her older sister who underwent the same rituals) to eat a rabbit’s kidney. Even before this moment the raucous college environment is confronting and unsettling. The sound design is oppressively loud and there is an inescapable intensity to the place that you desperately want to escape. Following the forced feeding, Justine develops a very gnarly rash which is the first step in a slide that will eventually lead to cannibalism. Ducournau builds this slide steadily as Justine makes small though increasingly disturbing decisions. But perhaps the two grossest, in your face pieces of body horror in the film actually precede the cannibalism. Firstly as the doctor peels away swathes of skin to assess Justine’s rash, and secondly as she brings back up huge amounts of her own hair she has been swallowing to satiate her forbidden desires.

Thankfully the thematic interest of the film goes a lot deeper than these forbidden desires being a cipher for pre-marital sex or some such trite rubbish. This is not to say consideration of taboos and the consequences of breaking them is not a very real interest that the film has. It is just that this is a really thematically dense film that does not settle for that. There is a heavy focus on sisterhood, both literal (her relationship with her sister who is attending the same vet school) and figurative (feminist empowerment). Justine does burst through the bonds that both herself and others have placed upon her through her life. And her actual sister plays a role in that. There is a sense of empowerment as she comes into her own. Much of that plays out in how she fights her sister, but also how together they fight a world that wants to dictate how they should act and what they should be. This is particularly stark as it all occurs in a vet school where the heavily ingrained misogynist culture is so well established at the beginning of the film.

One of the great achievements of Ducournau’s film is just how watchable it remains, despite the graphic flesh eating and faint-inducing hype. There is a character focus that helps with that. We never lose Justine as a young woman, finding her way in a frightening new environment that many of us have experienced, beneath the gore and chomping. The character is brought to life excellently by Garance Marillier, initially conveying the dual naïveté and drive of an ambitious uni student. Then later she is also great at conveying discomfort, embodying physical agitation in a way that is hard to watch. The film is shot beautifully, pulling your eyes into certain parts of the frame where the director wants to focus your attention. The characters move through this space at times like dancers. Early that’s ethereal, adding a strange dimension to that unsettling vibe, later it’s harsh and aggressive. The soundtrack, often coming in abrasive bursts, is noticeable from the start. It’s melodic, with the tiniest hint of malice always running underneath. The moment where Justine first tastes human flesh provides the best single piece of scoring in years, perfectly amplifying the exultant and triumphant feeling of that moment.

Verdict: Feminist, gross, dense, disquieting and still really watchable, Raw really does feel like something unique in a genre where it is so rare to say that. Even though I almost feel like I need a second viewing to properly process it all, I wholeheartedly recommend it on this first experience. Pint of Kilkenny

Related beermovie.net articles for you to check out: Wetlands and When Animals Dream.

Like what you read? Then please like Beermovie.net on facebook here and follow me on twitter @beer_movie

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Scream

scream-poster

Wes Craven and the slasher just go together and he is probably the most creative exponent of the subgenre we have ever seen. He combined the prototypical teen slasher with supernatural elements in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), went meta with the same series in New Nightmare (1994) and even his lesser efforts such as Shocker (1989) or My Soul to Take (2010) toy with the genre in some way. However of all his films, it is Scream (1996) that is his most radical reinterpretation of the formula.

From the very start, Scream is about the dual goals of expressing a love for slasher films as well as delivering a bloody good one. The film opens with Drew Barrymore’s character just about to watch a scary movie. A phone call leads to a deadly game of horror film trivia and one of cinema’s more memorable opening sequences. From there the film shifts into a teen slasher with Neve Campbell on one front, and an interested media helmed by Courtney Cox on the other. There are the general tropes of partying and cool kills (getting mashed by garage doors an obvious highlight of the latter). But the media interest and hype around the killings also adds another dimension to the film. However most notable is the constant allusions to, and invoking of other horror films, including Craven’s earlier work. The film sticks hard to the high concept premise that it sets up and explores ideas through this such as the notion that a life is like a movie. Plus unlike some other meta-horror films, this one is constantly respectful toward the genre. At times it plays as exceptional homage to the genre’s greatest hits, such as the close-ups of people in the throes of terror. The meta approach to the film also means it is laden with references, that I am sure would open up more to me on a second viewing. There is a sense though that the film slightly loses the narrative thread a little as it goes along. The finale is perhaps not as well set up or magnetic as it could have been. Having said that, the final twist is a gem, especially if you have somehow remained spoiler free for the past 20 years.

scream-ghostfaceThe greatest achievement of Scream is the script, which may be the best horror script of all time. It is damn hard to be both as meta and as effective in the genre as this. Not to mention the level of tension achieved while all this is going on is quite remarkable. The choices made in terms of doing what’s expected are a pretty masterful manipulation of the audience. At times it’s exactly what you are expecting, whilst at others the expectation is totally subverted. It is a great way to engage with horror clichés. The assured hand of Craven is all over the film, with numerous small choices enhancing the overall experience a lot. The casting is nailed, with a funky mix of Neve Campbell, Drew Barrymore, Courtney Cox, Rose McGowan, Henry Winkler and David Arquette combining for loads of fun, with the necessary acting chops to back it all up. The ensemble is important but Campbell is the clear star. It is a very good performance. She looks so tired and beaten down in a very real way by how her life has been progressing, and brings the audience along as she sinks even lower. The score (recently re-released on vinyl) is excellent, and fits into the overall approach of reverence to the genre’s past coupled with innovation. There is a real A Nightmare on Elm Street vibe to this element of the film, with a fair hint of Psycho (1960) too. The way that both score and sound design are used to punctuate everyday moments, with whooshes and emphasis creates great tension, without ever being cheap about it.

scream-neve

Verdict: If Scream is perhaps slightly below the standard of Craven’s very best work, that speaks more to the quality of his output than the film specifically. However it is one of his most interesting films, and as far as reflective and meta-horror goes, this is a classic. Pint of Kilkenny

Progress: 141/1001

Related beermovie.net articles for you to check out:  A Nightmare on Elm Street and Never Sleep Again.

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Bride of Frankenstein

bride of frank poster

Perhaps none of the original suite of Universal Monster films has such an enduring reputation as James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein (1935). It is frequently highlighted as the high point in this series of iconic films.

Narratively Bride of Frankenstein plays almost like an early example of fanfic. It is a story “suggested by” Mary Shelley’s novel, functioning as an extension of it. The film opens with Mary Shelly and Lord Byron inserted into the film. This leads into a pretty incredible early example of structurally recapping the first film, as Shelley goes over the events of Frankenstein (1931) with cut scenes from that film playing onscreen. Unfortunately though, after this quite inspired beginning, the narrative is pretty unsatisfying, mainly because of where attention is focused. Namely, the focus is more on the human characters and elements of the story rather than the monsters. Frankenstein’s monster is denied agency throughout, which is generally not how these characters are treated in the Universal canon. The very basis of the plot – a bride for the monster – does not come from the monster. Some scientists just decide to make one for him, denying the character the agency to determine their own path. The story being driven by the humans, makes the plot drag badly, rather than the more kinetic progression that would have made the film stronger. On a much more simplistic level, this film needs way more bride of Frankenstein. She shows up with maybe six minutes to go. We’re are talking Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) levels of not giving the people what they want. It’s a bummer too because she is such a great character, both in terms of appearance and what she brings to the story.

bride of frank couple

The film is at its best when being unique and quirky, rather than the more stock horror elements. There is a wildly fantastical touch when some miniature people show up. Similarly fantastical are the scenes of the monster walking through the woods as a mythic feeling soundtrack plays. It appears James Whale was experimenting with the content and form of these films, and his boldest expressions work the best. The main joy that I took from the film came from these little touches. Boris Karloff is now billed simply as ‘Karloff’ whilst the iconic ‘?’ credit now goes to the monster’s mate. Also, like all these Universal films, it looks great. Such a creativity to the set design and the film always feels so atmospheric even when the story fails to deliver.

Boris Karloff is such a cerebral actor and this may be one of his best performances, even though the film is weaker. He has such a physical presence. And it is not just that he looks hulking, but also in the way that he acts with his whole body. The performance is even more impressive given the character is much more ill-defined than in the first film. At times he is tender, at others viciously murderous, and there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why he acts a certain way at each point. Perhaps the major misstep is having the monster talk. It is totally unnecessary as the character was already iconic without that ability. This choice amplifies a broader clumsiness in the film, that is the characters speak the themes, rather than the story embodying them in any coherent manner. In addition to Karloff, the other standout performance comes from Colin Clive as Dr Frankenstein. He is able to convincingly convey the experience of a beaten, battered man going through torment. A man torn apart that provides a solid emotional core to the film.

Verdict: I had high hopes going in, but I have to say Bride of Frankenstein is unfortunately one of the lesser Universal Monster flicks. The choice to deny the original monster of any real agency, and the bride of any real screentime, means we are stuck with less interesting human characters to accompany through the story. Schooner of Carlton Draught

Progress: 135/1001

Related beermovie.net articles for you to check out: Frankenstein and  The Mummy.

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Deathgasm

dgasm poster

Over the past few years, New Zealand has been churning out some really original genre films that have gained a major following on the festival and genre scenes. Think Turbo Kid (2015) and Housebound (2014) among others. One of the most recent and beloved examples is Deathgasm (2015), yet another film that comes from super-producer Ant Timpson, who had a hand in the two aforementioned films as well as producing both ABCs of Death anthology films.

dgasm dudes

Put simply Deathgasm is a heavy metal infused demon horror romp filtered through Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead films. Though following the release of said demon, the action more or less follows a zombie film template.  It’s a fast paced film, with the story racing along. Though story is not where the film’s focus is. Most of the attention is on the schlocky, intentionally cheap looking violence and the effects. Trust me, this is a super violent and super gross horror flick. Interestingly the best comedy bits, and indeed the best moments of the film in general, accompany this violence. There are silly moments of humour laced within the violence to help mediate its impact. It would all be a little full on really if the weapons themselves and the reactions of the characters involved were not so damn funny. In addition to the violence, the practical effects also focus heavily on foaming mouths and projectile vomits. These start off cute and funny before escalating to epically gross torrent levels.

dgasm female lead

The film does have its issues. There feels like there is a lot of imagery and fan service for metalheads in the film. Which is rad. But it doesn’t do a whole lot for me because it was never my scene. Also, despite being quite pithy and funny, the script is not quite strong enough to pull off the straight comedy bits.  This is not helped by the actors not feeling like natural comedy performers in these scenes. Having said that though, the acting is really good overall. Lead Milo Cawthorne is immediately engaging and makes you care deeply about his character. Kimberly Crossman shifts from the most desirable girl in school to an axe-wielding wise-cracking badass as easy as you like. And James Blake broods well as the very funny bad boy. Here’s hoping all three of them continue to pop up in films like this. Even a sequel would be fine and dandy with me.

Verdict: This is a must see for any horror fan who doesn’t always want to take themselves too seriously. I suspect that for real metal fans it will huge amounts of fun. As it stands, it’s a very worthy addition to Timpson’s rather impressive run of getting excellent, unique horror stories out there. Stubby of Reschs

Related beermovie.net articles for you to check out: SUFF 2014: Housebound and Quick Review: Wyrmwood.

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Dawn of the Dead (1978)

dawn poster

George A. Romero’s ‘Dead’ series of zombie films with a side of social commentary are about as beloved as classic horror gets. Perhaps none more so than the second in the series Dawn of the Dead (1978) which arrived a round decade after the decidedly more lo-fi Night of the Living Dead (1968).

Unfortunately for me, a little something got lost in that decade. There is much to admire in the ideas and devices of the film, but not all that much to truly enjoy. The environment is chaotic from the start. Initially that chaos is restricted to a TV studio and then, for the majority of the film, a mall. In theory there should be a nice flow of the chaos being restricted, then spiralling out, then being restricted again. But in reality, it’s a little boring, which a zombie apocalypse in the mall outing has no excuse for. The plot is high concept in that it really is just a small band of folk trying to turn back the zombie hordes in a confined space. In execution though, Dawn of the Dead lacks storytelling clarity. In addition to the lack of a clear destination for the characters to be working toward, the aims and stakes of individual sequences are never well articulated. There is a big long set piece involving a bunch of trucks at one point. But it is never explained exactly what the characters are trying to achieve with this daring operation and why they are making the decisions they do. These elements are all the more frustrating because the best moments of the film are the characters carrying out well articulated pieces of minutiae such as body disposals or building walls to barricade themselves.  Neither is the film able to give a sense of the scale of the outbreak in a worldwide or even USA-wide way. It is very much operating on the micro level with no attention paid to the status of the macro struggle. This leads to the trajectory of the plot being ultimately far too flat.

dawn horde

So sure aspects of it look cool, but to what end. Early on there are some nice moments toying with the idea of how since the events of the first film, the zombie horde has very much become a part of daily human life. Blokes hang around drinking and taking pot-shots at their undead brethren. Romero really does not seem to have an eye for shooting or constructing action. The film is nothing particularly creative to look at in these sequences and just lumbers along. Perhaps in part that can be blamed on the fact that the lack of speed in the zombies is really apparent, muting the fear they should inspire. The main positive of the gnarly gore is in the end not enough to overcome the unshakeable sense that this is an aimless and plotless venture. Italian Giallo maestro Dario Argento had some level of involvement with the film. Goblin provide the soundtrack and initially there is a definite influence of Giallo in the stylistic approach of the film. That had me very excited for something left of centre, but the arthouse chops faded quite quickly. The soundtrack endures a little better though, and I am a big fan of it. This is kinda understated Goblin, vibey but not overly intrusive. The effects of the film are a mixed bag. The bloodiness and gore elicit most of the reaction that the film brings. But the dull greyness of the makeup is not much chop at all to look at.  There is a continuation of a number of themes from the first film, with social commentary on racial tolerance and classism popping up. The setting also influences the themes, with commentary on capitalism, on greed and the inability to share a bounty. The destruction of a department store standing in for the breakdown of capitalism, zombie consumers being mindlessly drawn back to this shopping palace. But whilst these work ok in isolation, they do not feed into the main plotline of the film or vice versa.

Verdict:
There is a reasonable amount to like in the sheer violence and social commentary of Dawn of the Dead. But it underwhelms on most storytelling fronts, remaining aimless to the very end, to such an extent that this horror classic is a major disappointment.  Schooner of Carlton Draught

Progress: 132/1001

Related beermovie.net articles for you to check out: Night of the Living Dead and  Quick Review: Wyrmwood.

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The Thing

thing poster

John Carpenter is one of the great genre filmmakers of all time with The Thing (1982) sitting alongside Halloween (1978), Big Trouble in Little China (1986), Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), Escape from New York (1981) and a bunch of others in his filmography. It is such a shame that he is not really working and as someone called for on Twitter we need a studio to give him a fat wad of money so he can pull a George Miller for us.

The set-up for The Thing is close to classic sci-fi 101, but in no bad way. Kurt Russel with one of cinema’s all time great beards and some other dudes are working in the harsh brutal isolation of the Arctic. Some ancient aliens get dug out of the ice and before you know it people are turning into slathering sorta alien things. But in the Animorphs/Body Snatcher style way where, at least initially, they look totally human. The plot is the classic sci-fi ‘aliens walk among us’ filtered through a proto-slasher structure. It trades nicely in that classical paranoia of who is human, and who is compromised. The lack of trust just totally eats away at people, all the while the audience is straining to guess who will be the next to die or to turn into some slathering bloody semi-human contraption. The opening shots, panning across the ice, establish the dual isolation and claustrophobia of the Arctic setting. As does a humourous early interaction between Russel’s R.J. Macready and a chess computer he derides as a “cheating bitch”. It’s a light and funny moment but it also captures the mental strain of where these men are working. The film does have some issues story-wise. The big bad is never established as well as it should have been and at one point the story seems to devolve into blokes just blowing shit up. However despite not possessing anything approaching the best horror narrative or even delivering the best horror ‘experience’, the film is still deserving of classic status, because the bits that are good are just so damn good.

thing autops

Two technical aspects of the film elevate The Thing from assured genre film into the realm of classic – the practical effects by and Ennio Morricone’s work on the soundtrack. My notes for the film summed up this shift, with this extract capturing it: “oh yeah, once those effects started flying about, this got kinda awesome”. It did and it pretty much continues for the rest of the film. Indeed prior to the effects work raising up the film, it had been struggling to totally enrapture me. I was being kept at arm’s length by the assured, cool scientific feel to the story and script. The effects here are probably the best practical effects ever onscreen. But if not, then they are certainly the grossest, and yep I’m including The Fly (1986) in that discussion. My mouth literally dropped on a number of occasions, with moments like the autopsy scene or the dog metamorphosis being totally repulsive artistry. The effects are legitimately terrifying, even to this day. This is both on a visceral, gross level but also on an existential, body snatchin’, being absorbed level. As for the soundtrack, as great as Morricone is, I was a little bummed initially when I saw that he, and not Carpenter, was on scoring duties. I needn’t have worried though, because just as with the effects, Morricone’s work is quite simply about as good as it gets. From the very get-go the iconic composer brings gnarly atmospherics, plunging you into the isolated arctic freeze. The result of his score is that everything onscreen is amplified, the isolation or the visual beastly horror for example, without unnecessarily diverting the attention from the imagery at hand.

So beardy

So beardy

Verdict: At times The Thing plays like an effects highlight reel scored by Ennio Morricone. Even just by itself that is no bad thing whatsoever, but throw in a little of Carpenter’s expert genre chops and Kurt Russel action leading man presence and beard, and you can easily see why this film is one of the 80s most beloved. A really fun genre experience.  Pint of Kilkenny

Progress: 128/1001

Related beermovie.net articles for you to check out: Halloween Special: Halloween and A Fortnight of Terror Guest Post: The Evil Dead vs. The Thing.

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SFF 2015: Goodnight Mommy

mommy poster

All the hallmarks are there for Goodnight Mommy to deliver as a classically infused horror film. A mother returns home with a nightmarishly bandaged face, leaving her two children to question if this woman is really who she says.

Goodnight Mommy is very much a film of two halves. It opens rather moody and slow, remaining that way for a good portion of its running time. The focus here is on the mother’s erratic behaviour and the suspicion of her children, though for the most part in a low key manner. As the tension eventually mounts, the film shifts into an at times hard to watch, torture porn influenced last act. Especially in the first half, the film relies heavily on creating an ominous atmosphere. Unfortunately though the writing and narrative, aside from the wonderfully universal premise, are unable to build the atmosphere required to really chill. It’s unfortunate too, because when the film focuses more on visceral imagery, it creates some confronting stuff. There are a couple of sequences involving cockroaches that had the crowd squirming as well as an extended, brutal confrontation that it is perhaps difficult to see coming. These sequences got a great reaction, from a pretty big crowd with a few walkouts and a lot of people avoiding eye contact with the screen.

mommy pic

The film looks lush and expansive, helped along by the fact it was shot in 35mm (a fact raptourously cheered in the credits). There is a classical style to the visual approach, and even the very modern house where much of the action takes place in is shot in a way that makes it feel like a gothic haunted mansion. The sound design similarly takes what feels like a classic Hollywood approach, amplifying everyday sounds and tones so that they take on new, ominous meanings. Thematically the film touches on notions of motherhood and identity. Though not as much as you may expect and these are forsaken later in the film by a twist that feels rather familiar and which undercuts much of the interest. It is one of those twists that forces you to reevaluate everything that had come before it, which is not an entirely positive exercise and makes this a less interesting film.

Verdict: Goodnight Mommy looks incredible with classical stylings abounding. At times these stylings transfer over into the storytelling, but too often the requisite creepy atmosphere is not well drawn enough, resulting in a relatively limp experience. Schooner of Carlton Draught

Related beermovie.net articles for you to check out: SFF 2015: 54 Director’s Cut and SFF 2015: Corn Island.

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It Follows

follows poster

In these days of VOD release dominance for genre films, it’s great to see an indie horror film like It Follows (2014) getting such a solid release around the world. Here in Australia it’s playing in a fair few cities and I know it has performed very well in the States too.

The film follows Jay, a young woman infected with a malady following sex with her new boyfriend. A lot has been made of the fact ‘it’ is transmitted through intercourse, resulting in an expected focus on the theme of STDs and claims that the film is anti-teen sex. The latter is not really supported by the film, but there is no doubt there is a cautionary aspect to the film in relation to STDs, though it never feels like uber-obvious preaching. On one level this thematic concern is an extension and amplification of the sexual politics of classic 80s slashers, where intercourse was usually quickly followed by a brutal death. But It Follows also reinterprets this notion and updates it for today. The film accepts that teen sex happens and that it can be really fun and grand. That can be true and ‘it’ can still be transferred through the act. On this front, and a range of others, the film feels perfectly attuned to teen life. We barely see any parents in the film, which emphasises the teen focus, not being distracted by the potential passing of judgement from the disapproving olds. And just as teenagers often do, it’s a really nice touch that most of her band of friends believe Jay’s plight pretty much straight away with very few questions asked, when there is not that much evidence to support her. Stripping away the subtext, on a surface level the threat at hand is awesomely creepy, an enemy that is slowly walking toward its prey at all times. It might not be there today or tomorrow, but it will arrive eventually. Unfortunately though, the ‘rules’ of the threat are never fully established. Occasionally ‘it’ sort of just stops, and at others it seems to slightly cheat on the walking only policy. They are minor quibbles, but once that distract from the tightness of the film and its concept.

In terms of pacing, this is surprisingly slow, and a little patchy. It actually feels a little plotless to me, not functioning as a smooth long sweep of a story, but rather hopping from one incident to the next. Wait for ‘it’ to show up, scare the bejeesus out of you, move to a new location, ‘it’ shows up again. This is totally terrifying, but it also just feels aching for a richer incidence to the narrative. However director David Robert Mitchell is totally in control of his audience, deftly placing them where he wants them. I noticed one sequence where the dialogue felt especially stilted and the atmosphere had been sucked right out of the film. Then ‘it’ all of a sudden shows up and all of the atmosphere rushes back into the film with a greater force given that Mitchell had made you complacent with the preceding scene. The camerawork is a little over-done at times, especially a repeated fondness for the camera wheeling around in a wild circle. It’s a gimmicky, too funky touch that does nothing to dial up the tension.

follows house

Whilst overall it is a little difficult to see why the film particularly necessitates the hype it has garnered (though as a fan of the genre I’m not complaining), there is no doubting there is a level of detail and artistry that sets It Follows apart. The look of the suburbia is just slightly off, adding to the whole vibe of the film. Little touches such as the furnishings all seemingly being a combination of retro and futuristic looking pieces for example. Whilst I would characterise the film is a very good one, I feel that the soundtrack is flat out great. The approach taken is a risky one and could have so easily distracted from the film or ‘signposted’ events a little too much. Instead the soundtrack by Disasterpeace lends a totally jarring and disconcerting backdrop to the imagery. In that way it is both a little similar and totally different, to Hans Zimmer’s score for Interstellar (2014). The score seems to assault you, not through sheer volume, but because there seems to be a raw physicality to it. It’s one of those soundtracks I rush straight home and look into if I buy a vinyl copy (turns out you can, though it’s a pretty limited run). The soundtrack feeds into what I would label the film’s denseness. Also fitting this mould is the incorporation of pieces of literature throughout, chiefly Dostoyevsky’s “The Idiot” and a parade of old sci-fi films on black and white telly. On a first viewing, it is hard to take in and incorporate exactly what is being said by these elements. But they function as nice window-dressing that I would like to unpack on a re-watch.

Verdict: It Follows is a really quite good and creepy as balls horror flick, albeit an overly hyped and definitely flawed one. However, if you have even the slightest interest in the use of soundtrack in film, it instantly rises to a must see experience. It may well end up being a modern classic in terms of horror soundtracks. Plus, get out there and support indie horror in cinemas. Stubby of Reschs

Related beermovie.net articles for you to check out: The Babadook and Patrick.

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Pondering: The Cabin in the Woods

woods poster 2
One of the things I have found whilst writing this blog, is that it occasionally stops me from re-watching films. I only write about films once on the site, so am more likely to not pop something I loved back in or take another look at something I thought was rubbish the first time around.

This might be a remedy for that. Who knows, it might be the first and only of these. But I grabbed The Cabin in the Woods (2012) on blu-ray the other week, and as I was watching it I started tweeting a few thoughts about it. Don’t worry, this is no live tweet. But just reflections on what viewing the film was like a second time. So I thought that I would share them now and perhaps flesh out my thoughts a little further. There may be spoilers below, so consider yourself warned. Also you’re a fool if you haven’t seen this film yet.

The whole Whitford and Jenkins section of the film is what really sets it apart. I noticed this time around, that’s not just true of the ending, but also of the setup. The way they are controlling everything, the betting pool at the office. That aspect is what keeps the first two acts of the film from simply being the knock-off slasher fare the film is skewering.

This was really stark to me watching this time. I think partially because I had seen Listen up Philip (2014) at CIFF earlier the same night I watched this and that film also is very sharp in its structure. Thankfully this film doesn’t have a stupid chapter structure, like all those films that have been grinding my gears later. But it does have a very extended (longer than I recall) set-up, the ‘typical’ slasher middle section and the final act payoff.

You can only see the third act of The Cabin in the Woods once, which I thought would really impact on my enjoyment second time around. But I was surprised to find that I got almost as much, though something quite different out of it this time.

As someone pointed out to me on twitter at the time, the audience is really a character in the film, which is not how I had thought about it before. Our insatiable hunger for the same horror tropes to be continually fed to us year after year, just like the Ancient Ones.

The last act is searing even on repeat viewing. Just look at some of these screen grabs.

cabin boxescabin fairycabin mermancabin snake

What do you guys think of Cabin in the Woods, and especially any of the pondering I have done above? How did it hold up on a second viewing for you?

Related beermovie.net articles for you to check out: Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and The Cabin in the Woods.

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Trailer for your Weekend: Cub

cub poster

Shout-out to Ryan from Rhino’s Horror for this one. Have just been reading a few articles he has put up about Cub (2014), an indie horror I had not really heard about, but am now pretty keen for it. The film looks to be riffing on slasher conventions by having those in peril in the woods being young scouts rather than promiscuous teens. Having it be young kids in trouble always makes the stakes jump up a fair bit, so hopefully this delivers something gnarly. There is a whole lot of energy in the trailer that is hopefully also present in the final film. What do you guys think of this one?

Related beermovie.net articles for you to check out: Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood and Trailer for your Weekend: Dracula Untold.

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