The Greek and I close out our series of 50 films for Halloween with a heavy dose of family values. Light relief? Not if you consider kidnapping, murder, rape, madness, deviance et al as gratifying. Families often suffer in horror movies, these last 5 of our selections are no different.
Bill Paxton, God rest his soul, directed and starred in a psychological thriller back in 2001 named Frailty – and I bet not a lot of people knew that. His first feature behind the camera, Paxton plays an extremely religious man, believing demons walk the Earth disguised as humans, and God has entrusted him to destroy them. His troubled boys are drawn into this web of madness, and the film digs deeper into the horrors of humanity. Matthew McConaughey plays a supporting role, and just about steals the show.
With the excellent Oldboy and Lady Vengeance (to name just two) under his belt, South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook has strands of Stokerhorror running through his creative veins. His first English-langauge venture was back in 2013, gathering an impressive cast headed by Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, and Matthew Goode. When India Stoker’s father passes, she has to not only contend with her imbalanced mother, but her father’s brother arrives on the scene, imprinting some fear and suspicion into India. And rightly so.
A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
A Tale of Two Sisters allows me to plug yet another magnetic movie from South Korean cinema. A psychological chiller, brings mental illness and haunting to the table, quite literally it seems as the sisters are reunited into a rather unconventional family environment. As ghosts sporadically visit, and deep, dark secrets come out of the closet, things become decidedly worse. So many twists and turns, and not pleasant ones, I’m sworn to secrecy here by my own recommendation for the movie. Besides, you probably wouldn’t believe me if i told you. Go see it.
As I’ve alluded to before, the Spanish certainly know how to inflict quality psychological thrillers on us. Kidnapped opens with an alarming scene of a man being suffocated, setting the scene for what turns out to be a home invasion movie that will likely leave your stomach curdling and your heart racing. The very final scene alone is a gut-wrencher. Encapsulating a string of disturbing events, Kidnapped is quite the traumatic experience, but one that is very difficult to ignore.
Well, this has left me all frustrated but for all the right reasons, I guess so… it’s a good thing? ‘Raw’ is an aptly made allegory, keeping thematically tight from beginning to end, albeit tiptoeing unevenly at certain parts that end up heaving under the weight of ill-timed symbolism. And therein lies my problem with the feature. Because it is good. Really good. However, had it not become so self-aware past the slow-burning murmur of the first act, it wouldn’t have forgotten an important point. No matter what, it’s a movie, and movies need some sort of structured narrative, otherwise they become more of a repetitive symbol than circularly symbolic and that tends to detract from the viewer’s enjoyment, hindering the possibility of full-on immersion into the narrative. Which is exactly what happened here. Foregoing motives and reasons in favour of promoting The Idea, ‘Raw’ is a case of visual philosophy more than is an entertaining journey into sexual awakening, establishing personal identity, freedom and discovery which, in itself isn’t a negative, but… if only it had been injected with a couple of familiar cinematic breathers, it could have been so, so much better. Would make for a decent thematic double-bill next to both ‘Let The Right One In’ and ‘Bullhead’. – – – The Greek
So there we have it, the finale of the 50 films for Halloween. As always, comments welcome.