10 Cloverfield Lane

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.

Robert Eggers, Director of ‘The Witch,’ on the Horror Right in Front of Us | | Observer

“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

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

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 Night of the Hunter

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.

Tucker & Dale vs Evil

Tucker & Dale vs Evil. The best genre satire embraces as much as it mocks. You could work your way down a checklist of clichés acknowledged and subverted. The two leads are really great, and some of the best moments come from their script, chemistry, and delivery. Worthwhile for sure.

Let Me In

Let Me In. I’m torn on this remake. I like the good suspense with a steady, chilling, creeping weirdness about it, but not so intense that I didn’t mind stopping the film a couple times to take a break. It’s crippled by a bad/ill-timed score, which drove me nuts. The young actors are very, very good and pretty much carry the whole thing when it goes off-course. The shots and locations are chosen and photographed really well. Love the contrast of warm/cold, damp/dry, bright/dark. But there’s some sketchy CGI and it seems like the director should have made stronger decisions about showing the violence on-screen vs. off. It kind of waffles. Interesting themes of power, safety, and dependency. I also loved the one perfect moment when the two leads are hanging out: She picks up his Romeo & Juliet book, which he dismisses as a boring class assignment; then he talks to her about Morse code. The premise of the whole film is good enough that I’d like to see the original.

Rosemary’s Baby

Rosemary’s Baby. This is one creepy movie. It’s mostly a nice, slow tiptoeing towards a dreadful end rather than occasional surprise-attack horror nonsense. Ebert says:

This is why the movie is so good. The characters and the story transcend the plot. In most horror films, and indeed in most suspense films of the Alfred Hitchcock tradition, the characters are at the mercy of the plot. In this one, they emerge as human beings actually doing these things.