thirty one days of horror part 4

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October 10: Train to Busan. 

SHOULD I? Status: Please, Definitely, Do Watch

Listen up, people. This movie is so good it deserved its own post.

This Korean-language film provides a fresh take on zombies, I mean a fresh take like no other. I hadn’t necessarily considered zombie films played out before, but I certainly didn’t see their appeal. My sister’s the zombie girl; I’m more of a haunted house sort of person. Zombie movies just never really introduced anything new to me; they seemed rather limited in their scope of the supernatural problem.

Train to Busan revolutionized zombies for me. Here, for once, we have a zombie film with equal parts gore and heart; in this film it feels like there’s something truly at stake, and the outcome isn’t clear from the start. In fact, the outcome still isn’t clear 10 minutes from the film’s ending. I loved it. My sister and I have been recommending it to friends heavily.

Please, please watch Train to Busan – you might even thank me for it.

– 2016; Netflix

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thirty one days of horror

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October 1st, yesterday: *Gerald’s Game.* Quite good for a movie with about three actors, and a Netflix original. I heartily recommend. Having read the book years ago, I was intrigued to see how Netflix dealt with a plot which spent about 75% of its time on one woman trapped in one room with just her thoughts. I’m happy to report that the movie manages this brilliantly. The story is remarkably fast-paced and engaging when you consider this limitation; ignoring it, the movie exists as an impressive, cohesive, and yes, lingeringly terrifying tale of horror. – 2017; Netflix


October 2: 1) *The Reapening.* Biblical plagues and overly religious Southern towns. Pretty good, but the twist isn’t that surprising. Do recommend. – 2007; Hilary Swank; Netflix

2) *The Bar* – Spanish language horror comedy. Pacing is good, plot is twistingly interesting, and I enjoy the classic capsule episode feel. Sci-fi-esque and gov-conspiracy-lite, too. – 2017; Netflix

 

THE SILENCED

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SHOULD I? STATUS: Would Watch

Available from Netflix

THE QUICK AND DIRTY DEETS

  • Girly Groove Rating: 8/10
  • Scares: 7/10
  • Subgenre: Psychological horror; sci-fi
  • High on Asian Schoolgirls; Low on Unnecessary Sexualization; Low CGI; Low Jump Scares

THOTS

I’d never have expected the horror movie about Korean schoolgirls to pass the Bechdel test, but then, there you have it. This surprising psychological thriller holds up to the genuine fear other Asian horror films, like The Ring, The Grudge, Audition, and Shutter, have so famously offered audiences in the past – while avoiding overt supernatural elements almost completely. The end is both surprising and extremely satisfying. And The Silenced is about as admirably cohesive in its plot as you could hope to get, a trait which is becoming a personal pre-requisite to term any movie a “success.”

Another element of the movie which, it proves, I like best, is actually a surprise to me. That’s the fact that, if you wanted, you could quite accurately term the movie science-fiction, a genre which is frequently lumped together with “horror” in movie stories and streaming services. It’s my long-standing opinion that this lumped categorization is a failure to the horror genre made by the MPAA and movie distributors, dilettantes seeking to simplify such categories, not elucidate. The ugly combination of “science fiction” and “horror” into one so-called genre results in movies such as “The Martian” (with Matt Damon) and “Independence Day” (yes, the one with Will Smith and Bill Pullman) appearing on the same list as titles like “Dark Floors” and “The Last Will and Testament of Rosamund Leigh.” It’s simply unfriendly to the viewer.

In this case, horror and science fiction wed beautifully. I’d argue the transition between the two is seamless.

There’s not much else I can say about The Silenced without beginning to feel as if I’ll spoil things, so I won’t. But what I will do, once more, this Halloween season, is recommend that you should watch it.

DARK FLOORS

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SHOULD I? STATUS: Meeehhhhh-commend

Available on HBO On Demand

THE QUICK AND DIRTY DEETS

HONEST SUBTITLE: Metal Band Makes a Movie

  • High on CGI, Mystery, Suspense/Tension
  • Low on Plot, Originality, Explanation
  • Scares: 6/10
  • Low-to-moderate jump scares, gore, follow through

THOTS

So, Dark Floors didn’t wow me in the slightest through the first 15 minutes. It seemed both moderately predictable, in the “Dad trying to protect daughter” sort of plot schema (think Liam Neeson; think Silent Hill), and poorly researched. For instance, in one scene, Sarah (the daughter) has to undergo an MRI. Anyone who’s watched any sort of medical TV, let alone been in a hospital, knows what an MRI machine is and looks like, not to mention how it works and what it does. Whelp, in Dark Floors, everyone refers to this machine as some kind of new-fangled, unnamed technology which spontaneously bursts into flames.

When I found out in my research that Dark Floors had been put on by a Finnish metal band, of course this all made more sense. Some parts of the plot exposition suck because, well, the people who made this movie aren’t in the business of regularly making movies.

However, I was intrigued enough by the action which began around 15 minutes in that I decided I did want to review the film, which is why you find me here this morning.

First, the movie is beautifully shot. The metal band clearly had enough in the budget to hire a great director. You can feel tension rise in certain scenes solely as a result of the camera movement and focus, and I really admired that in Dark Floors. I also really enjoyed how the creative director or set co-ordinator, whoever, chose to illustrate the hospital setting’s degeneration into a creepy, haunted alternate universe through efficient, but not heavy-handed, alterations to the existing set.

The movie is essentially a bottle episode, too, which I found interesting. A bottle episode – that’d be an episode of a TV show where everything is shot on one set. Although technically the group of 6 move from floor to floor in the hospital, honestly, I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t the same set every time. I mean, the point of hospital floors is they’re all the same, right?

In these ways, Dark Floors succeeds, even rather surprisingly. However, it falls short when it comes to plot explanation; there’s simply little to no reasoning why Sarah is being pursued by these Viking ghosts. Also, why are the ghosts Vikings? Well, because they’re really the band members in their band costumes, duh! Dark Floors leaves us with an ending that threatens to be ripped straight from Silent Hill but then, in the last instant, isn’t – however, it makes absolutely no sense, either way.

I’ve really got to be honest here, guys. If you want to watch a good movie about a group of people stuck in an alternate reality trying to save a little girl, skip this and watch Silent Hill (it’s one of my favorite horror movies of all time). However, if, like me, you need something to vaguely entertain you while you gorge on a Hawaiian pizza and Monster-and-vodkas on a Sunday afternoon – well, this’ll do it.

WITCHING AND BITCHING

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Available on Netflix

THE QUICK & DIRTY DEETS

HONEST FILM SUBTITLE: “From Dusk Til Dawn but tighter, foreign, with witches.”

  • Status: 10/10
  • Horror Category: Dark Humor, Witches
  • Foreign Film w/English Subtitles; High CGI
  • High on Original Plot and Entertainment Value

THOTS

Witching and Bitching was great. Really, really, great. We are talking A+ material here.

At first I was a little unsure about the title because it sounded kind of trite, but then I decided “To hell with it!” It’d been a while since I checked the Netflix horror category (thanks, Shudder) and I hadn’t seen this title around before. Besides, witches? I like witches almost as much as I like haunted house movies. And almost right from the start, I was hooked.

How’s it like From Dusk Til Dawn? Well, for starters, the first half of the movie is an adventure/crime plot, and the supernatural stuff really gets going midway. That’s not a criticism; this plot choice works really well for both movies. Our criminals in both cases are trying to hop the border to avoid the law and run into trouble of a more unusual sort at border towns. Unexpected allies are made. And, of course, there’s an air of campy humor overlying some deadly serious foes.

But Witching and Bitching does some stuff better, I’d dare say, than Dusk Til Dawn (and for me, that’s saying something). One outstanding difference is the heft and strength of the enemy force: these witches are completely capable of giving our protagonists a run for their money, and the way the movie concludes is ultra-satisfying. Every victory feels true and earned. There’s also such a great wry, almost-campy but really morbid sense of humor running through the whole thing, whereas Dusk Til Dawn‘s taste veers a little more.

Witching and Bitching is a fantastic movie. I found it completely enthralling, and well worth the watch.