The Venice International Film Festival officially kicks off today, serving as one of the most important stops on the film festival circuit. Venice is one of the three most influential film festivals in the world, up there with Cannes and Berlin. As such, films showcased at Venice are regarded as being the crème de la crème, as prestigious films that aim to elevate the medium of film.
Of course, horror films are often overlooked. But not always.
As a horror fan, I live and die for visually striking, beautiful horror films. It doesn’t matter what subgenre of horror it is or how gory it is—I love beautiful horror. The more provocative, the better. I can’t look away from a film like Suspiria or The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. I wouldn’t even if I could because I love the delicious contrast between watching something scary when it’s in a bold, ornate, artistic cinematic language.
Many horror films don’t bother with a strong, unifying visual concepts, so I find it refreshing when a film achieves a distinct cinematic style and tone. It’s even better when that distinct cinematic style transforms the horrors on screen into something gorgeous and compelling.
A beautiful horror film is special. A keen grasp of color and form and composition add layers of understanding to the story. An inspired eye deepens my apprehension, heightens my terror, and distills my horrific realizations into an unforgettable viewing experience. A beautiful horror film makes me wish I’d taken more film classes in college.A beautiful horror film scratches its way into my brain where it makes a permanent home.
A little while ago, I shared a list of my favorite beautiful horror films. The list included classic horror films with almost universally praised aesthetics, like The Shining or Let the Right One In. Lately, I’ve decided the time has come to publish an additional list including more of those visually magnificent films I love so much.
For this list, I’ve put together an eclectic group of beautiful horror films ranging from a noir-inspired B-movie to a French horror classic to last year’s prettiest and most disappointing movie. Here they are, in chronological order, resplendent and unsettling.
Did you know It, the long-anticipated major studio adaptation of Stephen King’s most messed up novel, is being released this month? Of course you did, because those freaky trailers have been everywhere!
Did you know that Darren Aronofsky’s mother! is also being released and marks the director’s return to exquisite psychological horror? You sure do if you follow this blog, because I won’t shut up about it.
With those two films only, September 2017 is a good month for new horror movies. The same garden-variety, lamesauce horror films crop up (Temple, The Sound), but we’ve also got a few Netflix and indie horror movies that are worth a closer look (The Limehouse Golem, Flatliners, Don’t Sleep).
Film Festival season continues with the venerated and show-stopping Venice International Film Festival. The Venice International Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world, founded in 1932. Venice reigns alongside the Cannes Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival as the three most important film festivals in the world. Kings are made, stars are born, and buzz-worthy films live or die by the reaction they garner at Venice.
As one of the most important film festivals in the world, Venice has done its fair share to elevate horror films of artistic merit and critical acclaim. The very first film ever screened at Venice in 1932 was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, directed by Rouben Mamoulian. In more recent years, Venice showcased Survival of the Dead (2009), Black Swan (2010), Under the Skin (2013), and The Bad Batch (2016).
And this year, Venice has two of the most highly anticipated horror movies on its slate – Darren Aronofsky’s mother! and Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. It doesn’t get much more art-house horror than these two, and I am dying of anticipation.
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.
UPDATED TO INCLUDE THE 2018 WINS!
*Interested in what other awards shows have honored horror films? Check out my Golden Globes post here.*
The Academy Awards just announced their list of 2018 nominations, and it is so nice to see The Shape of Water and Get Out get some love!
I’m a huge film buff (I love movies in general, not just horror movies) and I enjoy watching the Academy Awards every year. I strive to see all the Best pictures, even if I don’t agree with the choices. Despite my love and respect for the Academy Awards, I am disappointed that many excellent films are completely overlooked by the Academy. Especially horror films.
I shouldn’t be surprised. The Academy has a lot of issues. The Academy is a notoriously conservative body, reluctant to reward risks or give credit to inventive and brave filmmaking. Lately, it seems like the more popular a film is, the worst its chances are for receiving any kind of recognition from the Academy, though there are notable exceptions. Why does the Academy pick certain films over others? I have no idea.
And while horror is criminally underrated and underappreciated as a genre, while turning out well-made and culturally resonate films, there have been several films that the Academy has lauded for achievements in directing, acting, cinematography, and other facets of filmmaking.
Perhaps the recognition of The Shape of Water and Get Out marks the turning of the tide. Let’s hope that the more and more high-quality, compelling horror movies are made, the more recognition is paid to this underrated genre.
*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.
February has arrived! And it brought along a pretty full slate of horror movies. This month we’ve got some impressive and hyped films, like A Cure for Wellness, Get Out, and XX. We’ve got Rings, which Paramount Pictures really wants to be a hit but actually looks convoluted and unintentionally hilarious. There’s also The Girl with All the Gifts, an adaptation of the 2014 bestselling zombie novel, and the normal amount of indie horror films that may or may not be worth your time.
Check them out!
A new year, a new list! It’s time for my list of most anticipated horror films of 2017!
Let’s be honest, 2016 sucked in a lot of ways, not least of wish was that the horror movie release calendar was disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, there were some great 2016 horror movies with real terror, solid scares, and provocative storytelling. But there were some real duds, the kind that made me roll my eyes and sigh at the state of the horror industry.
Yet here comes 2017, still full of hope and potential, sharing bright and shiny horror trailers for all. Among 2017’s most anticipated horror are dark and twisted social commentaries, high-profile reboots of horror movie classics, gorgeous grotesqueries, and a few black pearls of brave indie filmmaking.
Check them out!