Stories For Ghosts

Horror for the Discerning Fan

Category: Film Review (page 1 of 2)

Hounds of Love: One of the Best Horror Films of 2017

*Mild Spoilers for Hounds of Love*

Despite being a seasoned horror fan, there are a few subjects really scare me. Serial killer movies, for instance, make me profoundly uncomfortable and anxious. Such stories lack the supernatural and fantastical elements of other horror movies, which I often use to create a degree of psychological distance between myself and fear. But serial killers are real. They target real people. The only psychological distance I can use to insulate myself from this fear is the fact that a serial killer has not come after me thus far.

Despite being a tough movie to get through, I thought Hounds of Love was amazing. I think it’s one of the best horror films of the year for both filmmaking technique as well as its exploration of female identity in a male-dominated context. Hounds of Love finds unexpected resonance not because of its male serial killer, but because of his female accomplice.

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It (2017) Review – A Good Effort, But Not a Home Run

*Mild Spoilers for It**

I’ve known about It for as long as I can remember. It was that massive brick of book that sat on the shelf at the public library, daring me to secretly check it out and sneak it home, where I could read it under the covers at night. It was also that early 90s TV movie starring Tim Curry that my parents wouldn’t let me see, and that I didn’t see until I watched it during a slumber party.  Growing up, It was the epitome of horror, not only because of the scary clown, but because children were the target of his evil, and It was not afraid to depict child murder.

It really went there, and many 90s kids won’t forget it. Many of us flocked to movie theaters last weekend and forked over cash to see the latest adaptation of It. I, for one, was almost giddy with excitement. I wanted to be scared sh*tless. I wanted to recapture some of the terror I felt reading the novel. I’ve grown up, but I still remember the exquisite and sickening pain of growing up, of realizing the evil in the world.

But this adaptation didn’t make me feel that.

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Alien: Covenant Review – The Michael Fassbender Show

I won’t lie, I was ready to be disappointed by Alien: Covenant.

When I finally walked into it, I did so with low expectations and gratitude that my ticket was free. An ardent fan of both Alien and Aliens, I’m still sore about how disappointing Prometheus turned out to be. I was hopeful that Alien: Covenant would be different, but I wasn’t going to hold my breath. I thought I’d learned my lesson about managing expectations.

So imagine my surprise and delight when Alien: Covenant turned out to be thrilling, scary, and downright thoughtful. Alien: Covenant, thankfully, broke new ground instead of rehashing Prometheus and took meaningful steps towards giving us the same kind of gruesome and disturbing space horror epics we all know and love.

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Raw Film Review: Julia Ducournau’s Voracious Triumph

*Beware: Here be mild spoilers for Raw*

During my time blogging about all things horror, I’ve found that most serious horror fans by and large stick to their favorite horror subgenres. They may only dapple in other subgenres, occasionally dipping a toe into art horror or zombie flicks, but not often. I do this. I love moody, tense psychological horror, ghost stories, and taut thrillers with elegant displays of horrific violence. Slashers? Not really my thing. The Saw movies? Ehhh, pass. And body horror? Definitely not my thing.

For some reason, body horror is particularly challenging for me. Thus, I avoid it. This isn’t to say that I think body horror is bad or uncouth or less capable of artistic potential. I accept the importance of body horror as a subgenre that is, at times, most-equipped to explore themes like mortality, physical weakness, aging and disease, over-population, and the disconnect between our mental power and our bodily strength. After all, body horror is the most universal kind of horror, since everyone is stuck in a decaying body and marches through a field of pain and pleasure towards death.

There are times when even I can’t look away from a well-done, brilliant body horror film, when even I have to admit that I really, really liked it.

This is how I felt about Raw, a 2016 French-Belgian cannibalism and coming of age horror film that made waves at Cannes last year and was finally released stateside a few weeks ago.

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Get Out: Entertaining, Challenging, and Required Viewing

*Very Mild Spoilers for Get Out*

Every once in a while, a horror movie comes along that checks off all my horror-movie boxes. Such a movie strikes a balance between horror and comedy, between jump scares and mounting dread, between imagination and classic genre fare, between a stand-alone story and an important social message.

Every once in a while, a horror movie comes along that knocks me back. Holds me in my seat. Grabs me by the throat.

Get Out is the most recent example of such excellent filmmaking. By now you’ve surely heard that the film has a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 167 total reviews and an 83% “Universal Acclaim” rating on Metacritic. You might also have read that Get Out is a certified box office smash, grossing $111 million dollars worldwide against a budget of $4.5 million, which is 24x over its budget.

Get Out deserves every good review and every penny it earns. Movies like this make me proud to be a horror fan because they prove how the genre is positioned as uniquely challenging and entertaining art. From its technical execution, to its writing, to its casting, to its deeply relevant social criticism, Get Out will probably be one of the best movies of the year and will undoubtedly be one of the best horror movies of the decade.

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A Cure for Wellness – Beautiful and Creepy, But Underdeveloped

*Mild spoilers for A Cure for Wellness*

Some horror movies are simply transcendent. Such films function on multiple planes and deliver on every level of filmmaking—acting, writing, editing, cinematography, and direction. They are frightening and entertaining stories that craft pointed arguments about the human condition and, well, scary shit. Those films add to our understanding of the dark places where we dare not tread.

Other films aspire to those same heights, and while this group of films strives to execute on every filmmaking aspect, they fall short. It might be that the acting or editing was merely “good” instead of great.” It might be that the cinematography was astonishing, but something else was poorly done and the film couldn’t recover. I think it’s kind of tragic when a promising movie fails to coalesce into a truly great film.

I’m sorry to say that a Cure for wellness falls into that latter category. Although it was an entertaining movie with a lot to offer, I cannot call this movie a success. An original effort with stunning visuals and a great cast, A Cure for Wellness lacked firm story foundations. Had it the script been better, A Cure for Wellness could have been a real stunner of a movie.

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Here’s to The Neon Demon, The Greatest Disappointment of 2016

***Spoilers for The Neon Demon Follow***

Unfortunately, 2016 hasn’t been the best year for horror movies, though it hasn’t been the worst either. In fact, 2016 seems to have been a moderate year, with some of the best films exhibiting hard-to-ignore flaws and the worst films showing flashes of promise. All the good films seemingly came out of left field while all we got from the hyped horror movies were splashy marketing campaigns and disappointment. For me, no other 2016 Horror Movie exemplifies this better than The Neon Demon.

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That Time I Almost Fainted During Goodnight Mommy

Mild Spoilers for Goodnight Mommy

I’d like to preface this review by assuring you that I am no lightweight when it comes to watching horror films. On-screen violence and gore usually elicits the expected level of shock and disgust, while body horror reliably grosses me out.

Part of my love for scary movies is remembering that a movie is only a movie, and art is only art. The onscreen images are powerful, but they aren’t real. I’ve never forgotten that fact. I have never had to run for a bucket, nor have I fainted in a movie theater.

So when I almost fainted during Goodnight Mommy, it was because Goodnight Mommy is so precisely calibrated to create a deeply disturbing experience that I forgot to breathe.

As I lay on the carpet in my living room, waiting for the walls to stop swaying, I realized that Goodnight Mommy is one of the most harrowing horror movies I’ve ever seen. My friend spoke softly to me, coaching me through breathing exercises and assuring me we didn’t have to finish the movie if I didn’t want to. Which was so embarrassing, to say the least.

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8 Actually Disturbing Classic Horror Movies

One of my favorite things about horror movies  is how long they’ve been around.

People started making scary films as soon as they could. Audiences have always loved going to horror movies. Films like Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were widely popular. A lot of these movies became genre classics. You’ll find them on many best-of-horror lists, where they are widely praised for employ innovative techniques and practical effects to terrify audiences.

There’s just one problem—the majority of those films are no longer scary by today’s standards.

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Green Room – A Taut, Gory, and Smart Horror Film

One of my biggest horror movie pet peeves is when characters die from making incredibly irrational, stupid decisions. Not when a character is stressed and freaks out, but when a character is a genuine idiot. I hate when that happens in movies because 1) most people aren’t that stupid, 2) convenient stupidity for the sake of moving the plot forward is the height of lazy, contrived writing, and 3) that shit isn’t scary.

I’d rather watch a movie where the characters are smart but woefully unprepared for the nasty situations they find themselves in. Helplessness is always scarier than stupidity.

And that’s why, despite my natural avoidance of super-gory horror, I really enjoyed Green Room.

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