I didn’t particularly like 2008’s The Strangers because it made the same mistake other slasher/home invasion thrillers make, namely imbuing it’s protagonists with almost superhuman/supernatural abilities.
What I recall was that the killers had this almost uncanny knack for getting into places soundlessly and without anyone ever knowing they were there, which was a tendency that got even more irritating when you’d have the killers constantly popping behind characters for maximum shock value, but little else.
Plus there’s the whole ‘Based On True Events’ malarkey, which means it’s going be so loosely so that it’s not worth even mentioning.
That being said, The Strangers: Prey at Night might be really brilliant in the same way the truly excretable Ouija was surpassed by its sequel, Oijua: Origin of Evil, directed by Mike Flanagan (in my humble opinion the best horror director working today)..
Bryan Bertino, who wrote and directed the original movie wrote the screenplay for the sequel, though luckily won’t be returning to direct.
That chair is being filled by Johannes Roberts (Storage 24) , who for my money gives Prey at Night at least a chance of not sucking.
Contrary to what some people say 2014’s Ouija–based on the Hasbro board ‘game‘; And before you say it, Yes. that spooky-ass thing is an actual game–wasn’t a bad movie more than it was a ‘Meh’ movie.
And that’s coming from someone who had the misfortune of paying to see it.
It took what should have been terrifying–Ouija, or spirit boards are that all on their lonesome–and turned it into bland, horror-by-the-numbers schlock.
Despite that being the case the movie cost $5 million to produce and earned over $100 million worldwide; which is another way of saying that there’s no way that there wasn’t going to be a sequel.
Though this time around I think that the producers have keyed into how poorly the first movie was received (despite how much it earned).
Because this time around they hired Mike Flanagan, who helmed the far superior Oculus, to direct.
They also increased its budget–from $5 to 6 million for the sequel–so this time around Oculus: Origina of Evil should at least make an impression.
Something the original can’t claim to do.
Jason Zada’s The Forest revolves around Aokigahara, a 14-mile forest that sits in the shadow of Mount Fuji. It’s also known as the Suicide Forest because hundreds of people have killed themselves there over a twenty-five year period.
As if that weren’t horrifying enough, according to Japanese mythology the forest is demon-plagued.
Heck, the movie almost writes itself, which is why I was dismayed to read a review from FilmBook, which pretty much says that the movie shat the bed, replacing any sort of tension and horror with jump scares.
It amazes me–if the review is accurate–how filmmakers can take events, places and things that are actually horrific, and somehow make them less so. The review reminds me of Ouija, a not-very-good movie that somehow managed to make a terrifying object–just looking at ouija boards gives me the willies–boring (luckily the sequel is being directed by Mike Flanagan, who knows a thing or two about horror, having directed Oculus).
And that’s not that an easy thing to do.
Let’s be honest. The Paranormal Activity movies are pretty bad. Sure, they vary where they sit on the suckometer, but what’s a given is the suckage. And i know that I maybe should be more grateful that horror movies are getting their due, but making really bad ones aren’t, in the long run, helping anyone because people are just going to stop paying to see them–or pirate them, which is worse in its way. I mean, I PAID to see Ouija, and felt a bit violated (though the sequel is being written by Mike Flanagan, who did the far better Oculus, so I might take a chance on it. The bastards) and for most people, unlike me apparently, it’s “trick me once, shame on me. Trick me twice, same on you.”
it’s taken filmmakers long enough to realize that ‘quality’ and ‘horror’ aren’t necessairly mutually exclusive terms, if movies like The Babadook and It Follows are any indication.
Though it goes without saying that we’ll continue to get drek like Ouija (good idea, remarkably uninspired movie) and Paranormal Activity, but that’s okay as long as the good stuff continues be green-lit as well.
And speaking of ‘good stuff,’ StudioADI has cut an international trailer for their upcoming love letter to H.P. Lovecraft and John Carpenter’s The Thing, Harbinger Down.
The significance being that if there’s an international trailer, it assumes that at the very least that the movie will be released in theaters overseas, though I get the feeling that it will be lucky to get a limited run in theaters on this side of the world (though It Follows was was originally going direct to video, before someone thought better of the idea and released it to theaters).Trailer
And who knows? One successful adaptation of a Lovecraft-like movie could conceivably get studios to approve others.
I don’t claim to be a particularly deep person, though I think I understand what it is that’s at the heart of my enjoyment of horror movies. I think that a good horror movie makes me feel. Generally speaking, I have in the past been relatively numb to much that went on around me.
Living in such a way not only isn’t true to the way humans are supposed to live; it’s not true to what we are, which tends toward the communal. it’s also not true to any attempt to being in touch with the Natural world around us, despite the glee which we tend to either to pave it over or otherwise beat it into submission.
A good horror movie–or a entertaining, well-done movie of any type, really–allows me for a little while to step out of the conventions and straitjackets that society impose, and to touch a purer, more primal self.
Which is probably why movies like Annabelle and Ouija are so mediocre: They both hint at fears and emotions linked to something old and primal, but don’t deliver, because they do so so hesitantly and tentatively that it seems barely worth the effort (unless you’re talking about box office, which means that we are going to see many more Annabelles, because it was hugely profitable).
And if filmmakers are so afraid of revealing the Id, what could they possibly tell me, or anyone else, about it?
Which is why I am enthusiastic about movies like It Follows, The Babadook and Late Phases. Not only are all three getting really good buzz, but apparently they touch upon the collective fears that keep us up at night, the things that turn a shadowy corner into something potentially dangerous.
It Follows International Trailer
The Babadook Trailer 2
Late Phases Trailer
I know that this is going to sound odd, but I have a pressing need for Adrián García Bogliano‘s Late Phases to be a entertaining, well-done horror film, of the werewolf sub-genre. For a start, I have seen Bogliano’s Here Comes The Devil, and it’s pretty mediocre. I haven’t yet seen Cold Sweat–it’s currently on #Netflix, though for whatever reason I have had a only passing interest.
Late Phases has been getting quite a bit of good buzz, so that’s at least reassuring–then again, so did Here Comes The Devil, so I guess that I shouldn’t get my hopes up too much.
More recently, I have seen Annabelle and Ouija, neither of which meets my strict definition of what a horror film could–or should–be (which is that the film doesn’t necessarily have to be overtly gory, or even violent–though it helps–but it does have to be suspenseful, create a sense of tangible unease and/or discomfort, and make the viewer uneasy and perhaps most importantly, get the blood racing, pardon the pun).
Late Phases stars Ethan Embry–an uber-talented and extremely under-rated actor if there ever was one–and Nick Dimici (Stakeland) which makes me want to see it even more.