RINGS

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{cross-posted to Three Imaginary Girls

It’s been 12 years since The Ring 2 (TWELVE?!?! YEARS?!?!) so I suppose it was about time for Samara and her f’ed up psychic video feed to resurface, because we need something other than reality to terrify us in 2017 – amirite?

Terrify isn’t exactly the word I would use here, but Rings does have its moments — I just wish its moments had been closer together in say, a tighter 60 minute package instead of a looooooooong and slowly drawn out 1 hour and 45 minute one.

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The Conjuring

The Conjuring Vera

{Cross-posted to Three Imaginary Girls}

Well, it seems like James Wan has found his official ghost movie shooting style, because other than the presence of paranormal/demonology experts Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren, I feel like this film is almost indistinguishable from Insidious.

Along with hundreds of other supernatural mysteries, The Warrens are the famous real-life husband and wife team who investigated The Amityville Horror, and The Conjuring is based on one of their most disturbing cases, The Harrisville Haunting: about a family named The Perrons who move into a creepy old farmhouse and discover some not-so-nice spirits there.

The film starts with the story of one of Ed and Lorraine’s other cases, a possessed doll called Annabelle, which the Warrens now keep locked up in their household museum of psychic curiosities (WHICH I AM DYING TO VISIT!).

Herein lies my first problem: Wan’s manipulation of the doll in his adaptation is comically over-the-top. The real Annabelle doll is a giant Raggedy Ann which is actually CREEPY AS SHIT, but the doll in this movie is constructed to look so creepy, there’s no way you’d ever believe anyone would bring it into their house. Too much, Wan! Too much. (more…)

The Pact

{Cross-posted to Three Imaginary Girls

While I think overall The Pact is a solid thriller, it’s also one of those movies that’s way better if you don’t know too much about it.

Sisters Nichole and Annie don’t exactly agree on how to handle their mother’s death—but when Nichole goes missing, Annie (Caity Lotz – who had a memorable role in Mad Men as Anna Draper’s niece, Stephanie) returns to their childhood home to find out what happened. After a few spooky encounters, a local detective (holycrap. that. is. Casper Van Dien.) starts looking for the truth. And that’s when shit gets all kinds of crazy. (more…)

House of Voices

After the trauma Martyrs caused me, I wasn’t sure I wanted to explore another film by Pascal Laugier – but the appeal of a spooky ghost story starring Virginie Ledoyen was too damn strong to ignore.

Luckily, House of Voices is nowhere near as brutal. But there are a few scenes (one in particular, at the very end) that might be a little much for the faint of heart.

Anna (Ledoyen) arrives at the creepiest orphanage ever to help clean it for the new occupants. In the midst of trying to conceal her pregnancy – and mysterious scars on her back from her past life – she starts hearing and seeing strange things. And naturally these strange things take the shape of children.

St. Ange appears to have more than a few secrets as well, and some of them are locked in the mind of an eccentric, damaged young lady named Judith – an orphan who’s been at the orphanage for many years.

The real trouble starts when the inmates take over the asylum, as it were. Anna and Judith team up to find out what happened to the ghosty kids they keep seeing, instead of just leaving it alone like they should.

There’s not a whole lot of blood and gore in this one, but the phantoms are pretty impressive, and I dug the whole backstory that eventually emerged. It’s appropriately bleak (like a horror movie should be), and atmospherically, it’s one of the better ghost stories I’ve seen.

Recommended if you’re in the mood for low-key terror – with a bit more mystery than usual.

El Orfanato

One more film review and then I’m on a hiatus for a few days while I head to LA for Halloween Horror Nights!! So psyched about Eli Roth’s Hostel maze. I mean, seriously.

Anyway – last night I re-watched El Orfanto (The Orphanage), which was produced by Guillermo del Toro, and is the feature directorial debut of Juan Antonio Bayona.

The movie is about Laura, who foolishly decides to move her husband and young son back to the seaside orphanage she grew up in. Her plan is to make a home for 5 or 6 other children, and share her abundance of love. or something.

Unfortunately, Simon (Laura’s son) immediately starts “making friends” with some invisible kids from his imagination…or maybe not. This causes Simon to act out and be a brat, ruining Laura’s grand opening party, and injuring her in the process. Simon then promptly disappears, and Laura spends the next 9 months searching for him with obsessive drive. And then she gets a brilliant idea! Hey! Let’s contact the ghosts and ask them where he is! AWESOME.

Oh. Wait.

The atmosphere if this film is simply AMAZING. Even though there’s very little blood, Bayona effectively employs sneaky spirit tricks and ghosty drive-bys with an expert hand. And let’s talk about that kid for a moment, shall we? Is that not the most frightening mask ever created? LOOK AT THAT THING. Every time I even think about it, I get the wigs. And, the ending is freaking terrifying — in a very depressing, very “ohmyfuckingodwhat” kind of way.

Definitely recommended if you’re into ghost stories. Definitely NOT recommended if you have kids…as I imagine this would be a very, very, very devastating film for moms.

The Ward

I was surfing through the streaming options today and got very excited when I saw that John Carpenter’s The Ward was available…but sadly, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

Everything about the sets and the atmosphere was just right. There’s really nothing creepier than a mental institution, let alone one out in the middle of nowhere, and also, in the 60s. Scary metal tools, long, dark hallways, and the worst: electroshock therapy — it’s enough to cause shivers many times over even without a deranged ghost running around murdering patients.

But I digress. Kristen (Amber Heard) ends up on “the ward” because she’s burnt down a house and has no memory of what happened before, or why she did it. Also a problem – the other 4 girls in the ward start acting sketchy from the moment Kristen arrives, and on one’s coughing up any answers. One by one, the girls start to get picked off, eventually (of course) revealing a terrible secret. The thing is, the secret really isn’t that terrible. Or even that good.

There’s not a whole lot of gore in this, mostly some subtle scares and very J-horror-esque ghost. But there is quite a bit of suspense, which is what you want in a ghost story, right? I just wish the ending had been better.

I can only recommend this to faithful Carpenter fans who have to see everything he does. Otherwise, skip it.

SIFF 2011 Horror

The Seattle Intl Film Festival ended earlier this month, and I’ve been meaning to make an update to ye ole’ splatter blog, but just haven’t had time until now. Anyway! Here’s a quick list of some great bloody & disturbing films I was lucky enough to see that will hopefully be released to theaters near your or on DVD soon’ish.

The Intruder: (pictured above) Think “Snakes in a Thai Apartment”, like thousands and thousands of them. Seems the residents of a certain low-rent apartment building – which happens to have been built upon an ancient mystical swap, oops – have been sinning WAY too much, and the snake gods, they are angry. So they send a legion of King cobras in to clean things up. There is an amazing amount of splatter in this, some ridiculously entertaining special F/X, and a very wince-worthy scene involving a pane of glass and a man’s leg. *shiver*  (more…)

Best prank ever.

No translation needed – this Spanish television show set up the ultimate prank: placing a creeptastic ghost-like little girl in a hotel hallway that scared EVERYONE who came around the corner. Fast forward to about 33 seconds to see the set-up!

So. Awesome.

Nightmares for life

SO BRILLIANT.

I think JoBeth Williams totally deserves a Scream Queen title for Poltergeist, don’t you?

Poltergeist

31 Horror Movies I Own #7: Poltergeist
“You moved the headstones, but not the graves!”

Another Tobe Hooper masterpiece, Poltergeist is one of those rare horror movies that ages well. Despite its 1982 filming date, it doesn’t really feel that dated (unless you pay attention to the electronics…) and still holds up.

The story of the Freelings and their encounter with the group of ghosts living in their house could come of as campy and comical, especially with the inclusion of Zelda Rubenstein’s squeaky-voiced Tangina. But this thing is so well written and packed with suspense, that it reads as straight-up terror. (more…)