Sunday, October 5, 2014

Horror Movies for Halloween (Part I)

Halloween is less than a month away, but I've already watched a number of horror films and I'd like to share my thoughts on a few. Although a few titles were recommended by friends I found most of the films in articles with such titles as "20 Great Horror Films You've Never Heard Of." Having watched a large number of films from such lists, there are some worthy entries, while others I found incredibly boring or cliched.

I tried to keep my summaries spoiler free, making them a bit vague, but clearly defining which I think are worth watching. I've also written "supernatural" next to those with that element versus the horror of serial killers or wild animals (there's a few of these).

The Children (2008) - Two families get together for a winter holiday that becomes a day of horror when a bacterial disease turns their children homicidal. Recommend!

Black Water (2007) - A group of three people are touring the mangrove swamps of Australia when their boat is overturned by a large crocodile. Sounds exciting, but it's one of those films where the characters are stupid, do stupid things, and almost nothing happens. This is a big skip.

Grave Encounters (2011) (Supernatural) - The crew of a ghost hunting reality show lock themselves into an abandoned mental hospital. The problem with most found footage films is that half of the movie is spent looking around whatever scary location the characters find themselves in while the other half has the characters running, screaming, and shouting with so much shaky cam that there are only quick glimpses of the "horror" that stalks them. I find most of these films so underwhelming that I can't wait for everyone to die just so the movie ends. However, there are so many found footage horror films being made, it's hard not to catch them now and then. I didn't mind the first half hour, but by the end, I hated this film. Somehow, it has spawned sequels, but I would avoid the entire mess. It's dreadfully cliched and boring. Definitely skip.

The Tunnel (2011) - A film crew explores abandoned tunnels beneath Sydney, Australia. In other words, another found footage film, but with an interesting difference. The Tunnel opens with interviews of the survivors and it's made in the style of a documentary. I actually quite enjoyed the beginning, but once they enter the tunnels, it becomes like every other found footage horror film, virtually indistinguishable from Grave Encounters (which also had tunnels and hallways). The "horror" is goofy and lame and I couldn't wait for it to end. Skip.

Resolution (2012) (Supernatural, but very subtle) - This is an unusual seemingly simple little film that has some quirky comedy every once in a while, but it's definitely not trying to be funny. I definitely liked this film, but realize it's not for everyone. You may like it or hate it. The ending concept is definitely a bit abstract, but I found it really fascinating. Not sure how it would hold up on a second viewing, but watching it through the first time, Renee and I both thoroughly enjoyed the film (she also found it a lot creepier than I did, though I think some of the creepiness might be too subtle for hardened viewers such as yourselves. (Currently on Netflix.)

No One Lives (2012) - Almost more of an action film than horror, but it has some solid slasher / serial killer elements that park it firmly in the horror camp. The twist is revealed very early but it also launches the action. The ending felt a bit easy, but I still enjoyed it. Partial recommend.

(To be continued...)

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