It Comes at Night. It’s great! Movies like this remind you of what a simple, almost primal pleasure it is just to watch how light fills and moves through a dark place. I also like that it doesn’t bother with answers about the general state of the world, and doesn’t waste time with half-hearted attempts. People seek and accept what’s practical, and move on. Backstory is irrelevant to a degree. The red door in the house – like a church, perhaps? I’ve really come to love this survival-cabin subgenre. Other recent ones that are worth a look: 10 Cloverfield Lane, Into the Forest, Z for Zachariah. What else?
The Neon Demon. This is Nicolas Winding Refn‘s best movie, haters. I think it was More Than One Lesson, their episode on this movie, where Tyler Smith talked about this being a perfect pairing: Refn loves image and surface and sheen, and here he finds characters to match. Mirrors everywhere, all-consumptive. Don’t forget it’s a horror movie.
My Refn power rankings:
- The Neon Demon
- Only God Forgives
- Valhalla Rising
The Invitation. Really good! Draws you in and lingers. I like how it lets the suspicion sizzle without confirming it until late in the game. Love the use of and absence of sound throughout.
The Thing. I feel like this one has been in the air a good bit recently. I… don’t understand all the hubbub. It’s fine. Just wasn’t for me.
Frankenstein. The last time I saw this I was in late elementary or early middle school, I think. Probably about a decade too early to appreciate the moral aspect of the horror. Heartbreaking, disturbing, must-watch. Makes me curious about the book…
10 Cloverfield Lane. One of those movies that takes a few different shapes. Start with a stalker suspense, then abduction horror, then bunker survival, then… well, ya gotta watch it. Love how a few new details surfacing makes you change what you’re rooting for. Good ride.
You’re Next. This one got on my list right after I finished The Guest for the first time. Solid home invasion horror. The story details for this sort of thing are almost never satisfying, but the trip is fun.
“Because modern horror is usually this masochistic titillation bullshit, a lot of people in interviews will tell me [The Witch] is not a horror film, it’s a psychological suspense thriller with supernatural elements,” he said, putting on a tone of faux-snobbery. “And I’m like, ‘O.K., that’s cool.’ But then fucking Edgar Allan Poe isn’t horror, either. “What’s important to me about horror stories,” he continued, “is to look at what’s actually horrifying about humanity, instead of shining a flashlight on it and running away giggling.”
Robert Eggers, Director of ‘The Witch,’ on the Horror Right in Front of Us | | Observer
Bone Tomahawk. It’s a western and a horror film. I shouldn’t have to sell it more than that, but I’ll add that it has a script that just blew my mind. So funny, so sharp. There’s some thematic richness, too, in how these characters (all pretty well-drawn) manage what they face together (some, uh, seriously horrific stuff – fair warning). So pleasantly surprised with this movie. I need a rewatch!
Hush. There’s a pretty bullshit moment near the climax but it’s mostly pretty fun. I had a few shouting-at-the-TV moments, which is mostly what I’m looking for in this kind of movie.
The Babadook. I, uh, wasn’t too anxious to go to bed after watching this. If I were a child actor, I wouldn’t have survive it psychologically intact. Awesome movie, though, and like many horror flicks, has a lot of material ripe for interpretation. Some lovely foreshadowing – a children’s author, “Mom is very lucky to have you, isn’t she?”, hands on throats, etc. I like the editing, particularly the transitions from night to day, how they often use timelapse or a just a shift in lighting. It keeps the momentum up. Love the sound design (insectoid sound effects were an inspired choice) and those cool blue-grey palettes. Interesting to see TV and the movies as both comfort/entertainment (for the elderly neighbor) and a nudge over the edge. We could see the babadook as repressed memories/guilt/sadness/anger over the husband that fester and spoil as they – and she – are increasingly isolated from work, hobbies, family, community. The refuge where you flee becomes a trap. Eventually, we have to make some sort of peace with our inner torment. Acknowledge it just enough, with proper fear, no more, and move on as best we can, knowing we’ll need to tend to it again later. Another good movie about the fallout after a father’s death: A Letter to Momo.
The Cabin in the Woods. A delight through and through. The framing plot that keeps things a little sluggish early also pushes it towards some glorious, satisfying excess before the ending. Great script. I’m no connoisseur of the genre, but Tucker & Dale vs Evil is another really great horror-satire I’d recommend.
A Nightmare on Elm Street. They don’t end them like this anymore. Johnny Depp’s debut!
The Night of the Hunter. So strange and so cool. This is the most German Expressionist film made by an American I’ve ever seen. I love the shifting between naturalistic location shoots and the strange, surreal sets in dramatically lit interiors and highly staged outdoors scenes later. Strange biblical dialogue and a few main characters you never quite become easy with. Some things aren’t right in this neighborhood. Perfect horror.