More Horror Tricks and Treats
By Kristin Battestella
I watch a lot of good horror movies-and I also see my share of drivel. I can’t help myself! Although I try to write in-depth analysis of every film I see, during spooky movie marathon season it’s impossible to keep up! Honestly, some pictures aren’t worth more than a few sentences anyway-so here’s another quick list of what to see and what to axe this Halloween season.
The Omen- Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, satanic chants, and the freakiest nanny and kid pair you’ll ever see. Maybe not slash and gore horror as we know it today, but plenty of creeps and demonic shuddering still to be had here.
In A Dark Place- I’m not sure what the title has to do with this 2006 updated on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, but Leelee Sobieski is just freaky as the familiar nanny trying to protect her charges from two malignant ghosts. It’s ambiguous and ends a little iffy, but that’s kind of the point. Fans of Sobieski or viewers not interested in older, period piece film versions should enjoy this.
Joyride- Another Leelee Sobieski yarn, yes, but a creepy truck driver pursuing teens after a practical joke gone awry makes up for the young cast. Kinky CB radio innuendo and scary chases ala Duel keep this dark ode to the open road in the plus column. Do however avoid the video sequel Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead.
White Noise 2- I’m not normally a fan of the unrelated direct to video sequel, but this tale of near death experiences, EVP, and the White Light versus Lucifer was surprisingly well done. The original White Noise wasn’t too bad, though it was played more for the scares than this one. Not super scary; but solid emotion and ghostly, freaky montages add enough for some food for thought.
Red Eye- Wes Craven and Rachel McAdams fans will enjoy this in-flight psychological thriller. It’s not horror as we know it from Craven; but the talent, emotion, and realistic scares keep you on the edge of your seat. I think the She-Ra kick ass ending amid the under-construction house does fall back on a few slasher clichés, but overall, a fine departure for Craven.
The Omen: 666- Who releases their film at 6 a.m. on June 6, 2006 and expects it to be successful? Despite its fine cast, this update is almost too much like its predecessor. Why should we care if a few of the deaths are different when nearly everything else is exactly the same? Known for playing louses and baddies, it’s tough to root for Liev Schreiber and David Thewlis as the good guys. And, no offense, but neither is Gregory Peck!
The Abandoned- A very intriguing premise about deathly doppelgangers chasing twins in the Russian wilds is lost in double story talk and a completely stupid connection to the title. The pacing here was also so slow- I think I fell asleep.
The Covenant- A woeful, unremarkable cast and silly reliance on special effects fights ruin what could have been a superior story about modern boys struggling with their ancient
Pulse- Kristen Bell is a-okay, but this scare about ghosts killing college kids via computers and cell phones is like every other film with static, strobing ghosts, and an unending, never escaping cycle. It’s The Ring without the videotape. Another intriguing premise wasted on plot holes, redundant effects, and teen angst. Wah!
Fall Hits and Misses
By Kristin Battestella
It’s that time of year again! Leaves are falling, days are getting shorter-what better time to curl up with a good scary movie? Here are a few must-see masterful horror shows, some passable fun for a Halloween marathon, and several dreadful flicks to avoid. Take this list of semi-recent fearful films for some macabre viewing this autumn. So what if it’s only mid September!
Gabriel- Not horror per se, but this low budget Australian satanic supernatural thriller is surprisingly entertaining. A familiar premise, yes, but the effects are good. The hopeful outcome keeps you interested, and in some ways, Gabriel reminds me a lot of The Crow.
Scream- Spoofed, played, oft-parodied, and perhaps dated-this twist on the slasher genre from master Wes Craven still has it’s share of intelligence, scares, and creative deaths from a fine ensemble cast.
A Haunting In
The Addams Family (1991)- Based on the witty television series of old; this ooky blockbuster has charm; creeps; and an all-star cast including Angelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, and the late Raul Julia. Even if you’ve seen this one several times on network TV, pop in the DVD again and catch all the jokes, double entrées, and comedy horror. Continue the fun with the lesser, but still decadent Addams Family Values.
Only Half Bad
Dead Silence- Yes, the biggest name here is Marky Mark’s big brother Donnie Wahlberg, but there’s just something creepy and freaky about all those little dolls and puppets in their little suits with their bugging eyes. My mom has all kinds of dolls and bunnies sitting up in little chairs, and this picture has me looking over my shoulder at them!
The Unborn- The Nazi back-story and Jewish mysticism seem like a plug for Madonna and all things Kabbalah, but the premise is unique enough to see to the end. Along the way, you might find a few pieces of The Eye, Mirrors, and every other horror movie with a young girl and a creepy kid; but total originality is tough to come by in recent years.
Mirrors- Another film taken from an Asian horror flick, but director Alexandre Aja adds more investigative mystery and suspense then outright horror. It’s a bit much that it all stems from a creepy hospital like every other horror flick, and that it’s not just mirrors, but even water that causes problems. Though not my favorite, Kiefer Sutherland’s clout keeps this watchable through all the mirror images and reflective surfaces.
Return to House on Haunted Hill – Taking it for what it is-a video direct sequel to a crappy remake- this hunt for an evil statue in said house on haunted hill isn’t that bad. Though not super scary, this quick film has some neat deaths and cool performances from Jeffrey Combs and Steven Pacey.
Urban Legends- Despite the names in the cast, there’s plenty of bad acting in this slasher mystery ode. Thankfully, It’s fun guessing who the killer is and what legend is next. Very entertaining-the first time you see it. Do, however, skip the crappy sequels.
Friday The 13th (2009) - The deaths are numerous, creative, and scary; and there’s plenty of college drugs, booze, and boobs. Unfortunately, there are twenty people in this movie and none of them is a name. Well, the guy from The Sentinel is here, but why should we care? I’m a little tired of all these identical remakes from the same folks. Do something original already! Please, please don’t make a sequel. Let’s just leave one franchise be, okay?
Dark Water- This well acted family drama offers a fine adult cast, but the ghost story and titular water are barely there-and especially not scary. The ending is obvious, too. Another remake of an Asian film about a woman and creepy kids-Connelly’s maturity and John C. Reilly’s wit can’t save this one from itself.
Asylum- Troubled teens being picked off by a mad doctor in a former mental hospital. Too redundant and unoriginal to care.