31 Frightful Films – #14 Crimson Peak

Crimson Peak posterThis Guillermo del Toro film just came out in theaters last week. Crimson Peak is classic gothic horror with an amazing cast including Loki, Jax, Alice, and Commander Lewis. The story is that of a bookish young woman named Edith (Wasikowska) with a wealthy father. A handsome titled Englishman (Hiddleston) comes looking for funding for his clay mine and sparks fly. No one approves of this budding love: not her father (Jim Beaver), his possessive sister (Chastain), or her childhood friend (Hunnam). Even so, the naive girl ends up at Allerdale Hall, an isolated decrepit mansion that is sinking slowly into the red clay mine it was built atop. Needless to say, it’s a creepy-ass house and Lord and Lady Whatsit may not be what they seem…

Crimson Peak still

Christa’s Review

I absolutely loved Crimson Peak. I’ve seen some folks on social media say they liked it but they wouldn’t call it “horror.” If your only definition of horror is slasher/torture stuff, then no, this wouldn’t fit the bill. This film is classic Gothic Horror and contains all the elements of the genre: naive young woman, handsome mysterious love interest, creepy-ass house, SECRETS. Think Rebecca and Jane Eyre, not Friday the 13th or SAW. This film commits itself fully to being Gothic horror.

Crimson-Peak-Tom-MiaThis house…Allerdale Hall is the creepiest place since The Outlook Hotel, Hill House, Manderley, that joint in Amityville…you name it. It snows in the living room. The walls bleed red clay. There are black moths everywhere. There is not one room in the whole place that is normal or safe, and as poor Edith spends more time there she starts to look like she fits in, going from prim and lady-like to a wild-haired thing in a freaky nightgown. I think Mia Wasikowska is the new Helena Bonham Carter. Chastain is so, so good. Hiddleston? Awesome as always, plus you get to see his ass. Charlie Hunnam’s role was much larger than the trailers led me to believe, and that was quite awesome.

This movie has startles, creeping dread, and twists. The actors are amazing and the visuals are unforgettable. Everything is weird, or broken, or decaying, or just…off. The special effects are terrible (in a good way!) and beautiful. Del Toro has created a complete and consistent world that is cloying and dreadful. Go see it. Because they just don’t make movies like this anymore.

Holy shit this is scary! I don't want to look, but I have to. But only through a tiny hole in the Afghan of Doom.

Holy shit this is scary! I don’t want to look, but I have to. But only through a tiny hole in the Afghan of Doom.

31 Frightful Films – #13 The Final Girls

Final Girls posterI’m falling woefully behind. But I will soldier on! This brand-new film is available to watch in theaters, but you can also rent and stream it right now! The Final Girls is a meta-horror film in the vein of Cabin in the Woods. The premise is this: Violet from the first season of American Horror Story’s mom (Laurie Jupiter from Watchmen) was in a classic 1980’s slasher flick called Camp Bloodbath. On an anniversary of the film’s release, she’s invited to a screening as the daughter of the now-dead actress. A fire starts during the film and Violet (shit, what was her name in the movie?!) and her friends Maebe, Viking guy, Adderall Bitch (who’s also in some vampire TV show), and Shaggy (Silicon Valley dude) escape the flames through the screen on which the movie is showing and find themselves INSIDE the film. The title refers to the genre trope that it is the last female character (who has remained chaste throughout the film) will be the one to kill the bad guy at the end of the film.

Maebe, Adderally, Violet, and Viking Guy.

Maebe, Adderally, Violet, and Viking Guy.

Christa’s Review

I love what this movie tried to do, and it IS entertaining. It’s got plenty of humor. Bumpers is hilarious and so is another camp counselor (The Slutty One, who was also Cleopatra in the Epic Rap Battle against Marilyn Monroe). Silk Spectre II plays it all completely straight and she along with Violet are the heart of the film. The Final Girls does some cool things with the idea of films existing as mini-worlds untouched by time. I would totally watch this again. However, it falls short of really turning the genre on its head. Let me explain. Cabin in the Woods (and Scream long ago) were able to both make fun of horror movies, explain the rules while breaking them, while still maintaining suspense and yes, horror. Even when you see the men in the control room manipulate the temperature and fog effects and pheromone levels in the Thor-and-whatserface-get-it-on-in-the-forest scene, it’s STILL scary. This is the missing element in The Final Girls. I enjoyed watching it, but I was never, ever, scared. I’m still giving it a bit of Afghan for being funny and interesting though.

When Dudebro gets out the scythe...

Not scared, but interested.

31 Frightful Films – #12 Lake Mungo

lake_mungo_ver2_xlgLake Mungo is a 2008 Australian film. I rented it on Amazon Instant Video. It’s about the accidental drowning death of a 16 year old girl and the experiences of her parents and brother afterward. After Alice’s tragic death, strange things start happening in the family home. Sounds in the night, a sense that someone is standing at the end of the bed. Alice’s brother Matthew is an amateur photographer and on close examination of his photos it appears that Alice may not really be dead. Or she’s come back. It’s done in a documentary style with interviews with family, friends, local law enforcement, and a psychic the mother hires. Little by little theories of what is going on are discussed. Evidence examined. And Alice’s secrets revealed.

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Christa’s Review

Okay, maybe it doesn’t sound scary. My daughter watched with me and when she discovered the documentary format she asked “How is this going to be scary?” But it WAS. It’s not jump-out-and-startle scary, it’s a creeping dread scary. Because you don’t feel like you’re in a supernatural world where crazy shit is just…normal. It’s got video footage from the police, and local news reports and everything is presented like..a 60 Minutes segment or something. So the creepy shit is extra creepy. I was super freaked out and whimpered “I hate this movie.” They showed more creepy shit during the credits and I made my daughter turn it off. “REALLY, Mom?!”  Really. I couldn’t stop thinking about this film. I definitely recommend Lake Mungo.

Holy shit this is scary! I don't want to look, but I have to. But only through a tiny hole in the Afghan of Doom.

Holy shit this is scary! I don’t want to look, but I have to. But only through a tiny hole in the Afghan of Doom.

31 Frightful Films – #11 All Cheerleaders Die

ALL-CHEERLEADERS-DIE-40BF15EWe chose this film because it looked like something goofy we could watch during dinner. I mean, All Cheerleaders Die–who can take that seriously? The premise of this 2013 film is this: One cheerleader dies during practice (nothing insidious…she falls on her head and it’s game over). Her best friend takes her place on the squad a year later with a hidden motive. To lay this out would sort of spoil the reveal, but what follows is a bunch of hot girls in tight outfits, jerky football players, death, undeath, humor, mistaken identity, witchcraft, and lesbian romance.

cheerleaders die glowing stones

Christa’s Review

All Cheerleaders Die was better than I expected. It had a bunch of stuff that is weird and gory and seems at first like just not-very-serious filmmaking, but then plot lines sort of come together and things make more sense. It’s some good, gory, fun. It didn’t scare me, but it’s worth a watch. Apparently there is a sequel that takes up immediately where the first film ends.

When Dudebro gets out the scythe...

Not scary, but gory.

31 Frightful Films – #10 Unfriended

I paid six bucks on Amazon Video to rent Unfriended. It’s a film that takes place 100% on a computer. The premise is this: one year ago, high school girl Laura Barns committed suicide at school; a direct result of the cyberbullying she experienced after someone posted a humiliating video of her. Now, on the anniversary of her death, a group of friends are group-chatting via Skype when a stranger joins them. At the same time, someone claiming to be the dead girl starts messaging them on Facebook. It seems that Laura–or someone who’s hacked her accounts–is back, and she’s ready to get revenge. She takes control of all the kids’ computers and phones and forces them to play a game designed to turn them against one another and reveal their part in what happened to her a year ago. One by one, people die.

Unfriended poster

Christa’s Review

This worked for me. It really did. I didn’t get super scared, but it was compelling. The closed system of the computer screen (and we see the entire film through what Blaire sees on her screen) creates a claustrophobic environment that is unique but works like an isolated cabin in the words or a haunted house, abandoned mental hospital, creepy basement…whatever.

Unfriended stillYou can’t escape, and you have limited vision and knowledge. In a classic horror film, you can only see as far as the flashlight beam, or the next turn in the corridor. In Unfriended, you’re limited to the messages Blaire receives and the web cam feeds from her friends’ computers. This incomplete information is…scary. From the camera’s limited range to glitchy video that cuts in and out, you’re never really sure what exactly is happening to Blaire’s friends…but you know it’s bad.

This was good. I’d recommend it. It might be disorienting for people who don’t spend much time online, but do you know anyone like that? I give this a three-quarter Afghan of Doom. It didn’t terrify me, but it was well worth the six bucks.

up to nose

31 Frightful Films – #9 Dark Skies

We stumbled across this one flipping through Netflix. So many, many, horror films, and so few with scores above one or two stars. Dark Skies not only had a decent rating, but it had actors I recognize, including JK Simmons who is a favorite in our house since Whiplash.

DARK-SKIESHere’s the premise. Suburban couple has two sons, money woes, (Dad’s out of work), and mysterious nighttime visitors. What begins as prankish becomes steadily more sinister and the family finds themselves more and more isolated as the events are more unbelievable.

Christa’s Review

Okay, I hadn’t heard a peep about this 2013 film, but this is the first one this year that really scared me. I cowered under the Afghan of Doom, I whimpered “I hate this movie!” and yes, I even had nightmares.

darl skies drawing

I appreciate that it seems set in a real believable world, not crazy horror world, where if you run next door fleeing evil spirits the neighbors are quickly convinced that evil is afoot. In Dark Skies, the neighbors, friends, and local cops are just like your real life community. If they see strange marks on a child their mind does not immediately assume it’s a demon or alien. Their train of thought goes exactly where yours or mind would go…which of course makes the parents situation even more desperate. I recommend Dark Skies and give it Full Afghan!

Holy shit this is scary! I don't want to look, but I have to. But only through a tiny hole in the Afghan of Doom.

Holy shit this is scary! I don’t want to look, but I have to. But only through a tiny hole in the Afghan of Doom.

31 Frightful Films – #8 Poltergeist (2015)

Let’s remake all the movies, said someone out of ideas. For this remake of Poltergeist, the premise remains the same: family moves into new home, but it’s already occupied by restless spirits who are especially drawn to the youngest member of the family. You’ve seen the original, yes? So this is just like that only with different people and more clowns. Really.

Christa’s Review

Harmless, but unnecessary. The only reason I could see for remaking this film would be if the original effects were so out of date that they have lost the ability to scare an audience. A) that isn’t the  case, and B) the new effects add nothing to the story or the film’s scare factor. I found the tree bits to be LESS frightening than the OG, and I really missed the little old lady medium. It turns out, not everyone in Hollywood is replaceable.

I was scared of the clown doll, though. And it’s not a bad film, taken as a stand-alone and not a remake.

up to nose

31 Frightful Films – #7 Housebound

Scrolling through Netflix’s horror genre, it is a sea of one and two star shit-shows. We spotted one with four stars and jumped on it. Housebound is a 2014 film from New Zealand. What this means to American audiences is that the characters speak with accents and drive on the wrong side of the road. The premise: A young woman named Kylie commits a crime and is sentenced to 8 months of house arrest…with her mother and step-father in the house she grew up in. She’s surly and rude, but things get interesting when she overhears her mother confess that she thinks the house is haunted. With the help of the security guy that monitors her ankle bracelet compliance, she discovers that her home was once a halfway house for fucked up kids and that a 16 year old girl was murdered there. There are weird sounds and a super-fucked-up Teddy Ruxpin-ish bear. Meanwhile a creepy neighbor looms and Kylie’s mom babbles non-stop. Is it a ghost? A demon? Or is something of flesh and blood hiding in the house?
HB POSTER FINAL_BLEED_3

 

Christa’s Review

Though the film is not meant to be a spoof (I don’t think…who can tell with kiwis?), Housebound manages to be both funny and quite scary. I think this would have scared me much more if I’d watched in the dark instead of at noon while eating a turkey sandwich. I have no complaints about this, nor saw any errors. I agree with Dana that the actress playing Kylie seemed too old for the part, but she was very good. Brave though frightened, she was a real heroine. Don’t be misled by my Afghan rating. It’s very good. Just not butt-puckeringly scary.

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Dana’s Review

We found this movie by just flicking through Netflix to see what we could find, and this just happened to be the movie we decided on. I thought it was a stretch to place the lead actor on house arrest for the crime she committed , especially given the age of the character. Well, the supposed age of the character, because we never really know, but it seemed that the actress was stretching to play the age of the character. But once through that, it was a fairly enjoyable movie to watch. Not a lot of horror or gore, with just a little bit of suspense, but with some mystery thrown in that has you constantly guessing what is really going on. Overall, a good movie to watch for those wanting a good movie, without being a typical, all out horror movie.

 

 

31 Frightful Films – #6 Insidious: Chapter 2

Hey, I finally got to watch a scary movie with Gunny! Between his work schedule, the early bedtime he needs to maintain it, and our six-year-old daughter it’s difficult to find a time we can watch something together that is unsuitable for children. So, hooray for our first joint review! We chose Insidious Chapter 2 because we’d seen the first one and it was good and scary. The premise is that, immediately after the events of the first film, the family runs to Grandma’s house followed by the spirit that has been giving them shit and that they thought they were rid of. It’s Poltergeisty, and I mean that in a good way.

Insidious_Chapter_2_1
Christa’s Review

Here’s the first thing: You really should watch the first film before doing the sequel. There isn’t a “last time on Insidious” catch-up, so you have to try to remember what the deal is. Overall this is a good film. Shit holds together well, it’s creepy and pretty scary, and kept me guessing. Two things bugged me: 1) The wife and the mother look way too similar. They have exactly the same hairdo, so from down the hall or across the room you may not know who you’re watching. 2) I’m weary of the horror movie cliche of an abandoned hospital/mental institution/prison that still has all the furniture, fixtures, and patient records. Lame. Oh, which leads me to 3) the fake cobwebs were not convincing. Despite those small things that irked me, I will absolutely recommend this scary movie, with the caveat that you should watch Chapter 1 first.

I think last year I would have given this a higher scare score. Perhaps I'm getting jaded?

I think last year I would have given this a higher scare score. Perhaps I’m getting jaded?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dana’s Review

After watching this film, I am unsure if I ever saw the original in the first place. Lucky for me, between the first 10 minutes of the movie and Christa, I was able to get a fairly good idea of what happened in the movie, at least enough to enjoy this movie. Note to casting agents. Please don’t cast actors with similar features in a film with involves different time periods in the film. Both Christa and I got a little confused with the Mother in the first scene looking too similar to the Mother in the present day scenes, and took us more time than it should have to figure out what was going on. With some good suspenseful moments that kept you guessing about where the movie was going, and how it was going to wrap up, it was very enjoyable. I loved that way they “Back to the Futured” the original movie as well, which I felt was a fresh take of the usual sequel of retelling the original story with just more gore and fright. And guess what? There is a Chapter 3 out there to watch as well. Just enough scare for me to not make me have to change my shorts, and with a story that kept my interest through the entire film, this is a good watch for the Halloween season.

 

 

31 Frightful Films – #5 Hellraiser

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No, I had never ever seen Hellraiser before.   The trailers–back in 1987–scared the hell out of me, and I am more drawn to suspense than slashers. So this was my first date with Pincushion, or whatever his name is. The premise of this Clive Barker classic is that a dude (name of Frank) comes into possession of a weird puzzle box that is basically a demonic Rubik’s Cube. He fucks with it and gets dragged into some weird sub-basement of torture and pain. It’s a place where Pinhead reigns. Then, the dude’s brother and sis-in-law move into the family home. And he’d been banging his brother’s wife and so when some accidentally spilled blood begins to regenerate Frank he convinces her to bring him fresh meat to feed on and complete the process.

  
Christa’s Review

Wow, has there ever been a film more tailor-made for sex and violence angsty teenage boys? It’s visually repulsive and full of sex scenes. It’s as if Clive and his buddies learned how to do fantastically disgusting makeup effects so they filmed the bloodiest, fleshiest, most goo-tastic shit they could dream up and then linked the scenes together with a daisy chain of sex. Julia, married to Larry but boinking his bad boy brother Frank, is so cock-addled that when a puddle of goo in the attic snaps its nascent fingers she seduces strange men, brings them back to her lair, kills them and gives them to Puddle Boy. So they can, y’know, “be together.” She has a lot of fuck flashbacks so that we can grok her motivation.

  
So that’s all stupid and repellent. But then the real fun starts when Larry’s (he’s the cuckolded husband) teenage daughter somehow gets hold of Pinhead’s Cube and super gross shit chases her and P summons his posse of nasties: Wire Face, Fat Slug, and Clickety-Clack Teeth. 

I hated this film and gave no shits about any character or what happened to them. I think this movie sucks eighties dong, but I did cover my eyes because I’d reached maximum gore. Ergo, I am forced to give it a three-quarter Afghan of Doom.

up to nose