Saturday, 17 October 2009

October Horror 2009 #5

After 22 horror films this month, the above screencap is kind of how I'm feeling at any given moment. Needless to say, things are going great...B-)

The Fog (1980 - John Carpenter) - I may have jumped the gun on naming Christine Carpenter's best overall film. The Fog isn't perfect (the actual fog sometimes looks too thick and obviously from a smoke machine, the end doesn't quite work for me and Adrienne Barbeau didn't actually interact with anyone in the entire film except for one scene with her son), but its slow pace and low body count works in its favour to build up the creep factor. It may also be his best looking film too with well thought out usage of light and shadows. And you can't go wrong having John Houseman kick things off telling ghost stories by the campfire.

Severance (2006 - Christopher Smith) - Have you ever wondered what it would be like if the staff of "The Office" (the British version) went on a team building exercise in the deep woods of Hungary and were pursued by crazy ex-military killers? Me too. So now we get our chance with Christopher Smith's Severance. After a few misfires in the comedy-horror sub-genre this month, I think I finally found a film that walks that fine line without tripping over it. Granted, it stumbles a bit out of the gate with character introductions that don't offer too much new, but the story kicks in after the team (who all work for a weapons manufacturer) get thrown off their bus on the way to their resort. As they wander through the deep woods, we get more sharp changes in tone than you can shake a stick at. Not all the jokes and character based humour works, but enough of it does to keep you smiling - at least until the various team members get cut down in various nasty ways.

Horror Express (1974 - Eugenio Martin) - Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Telly Savalas ride the rails through Siberia with a monstrous creature aboard. This previously frozen-for-thousands-of-years beast has been discovered by Lee and is being transported back for research, but now it's thawed out and doesn't appreciate being locked in a box. It may also have come from an alien source and it has a tendency to blind and kill people just by looking at them. How can you fail with a formula like that? It's totally ridiculous of course, but it's played straight and that allows you to go along for the ride and enjoy every bloody-eyed moment.

Silent Hill (2006 - Christophe Gans) - The look of just about everything in this film is beautifully designed (if not always rendered quite perfectly via CGI) and its many creatures creatively bring the proper amount of queasiness. However, as Radha Mitchell searches for her little girl throughout the ghost town called Silent Hill, none of that design is enough to sustain the 2+ hour running time or to fix a really inconsistent performance from Mitchell and needlessly confusing approaches to revealing the story. Not to mention the terrible cliche of "Mother is God in the eyes of a child" and the idea that a mother's love is stronger than a father's. Apparently, only a mother would risk everything for their child. The Orphanage bugged me in a similar manner. It's not the fact that only the mother went looking for the child, but the impression that the mother was the only one that could have gone.

Yes, I take this personally...

The Killing Kind (1974 - Curtis Harrington) - A slow burn psychological study of a young man who returns home after having been in jail for two years on a rape charge. "Home" is actually a boarding house run by his mother (Ann Sothern) and their relationship is an odd one - they flirt, play games together like a couple, harangue each other and don't so much act like parent and child. Terry is having troubles finding a direction to follow, so instead he hangs around doing odd jobs at the house and pretends to write songs. Meanwhile a new girl at the boarding house catches his eye, while he in turn catches the eye of a middle aged resident who lives with her elderly father. He can't quite let go of the incident that put him jail a few years earlier though - since he was present at the gang rape but not a willing participant - so he feels that he was wronged and searches out both the victim and his own lawyer. The acting is not always up to par, but it really pulls you along and builds towards some nervy moments. A solid surprise for me.

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