We simply could not resist delving into the horror binge this year, the wife and I, as we hover ever closer to Halloween. The 50 films we kind of showcase here, come in 10 parts, and a mixed bag of genres. They are not all all out horrors, sure, nor are they all classics. All worth a mention though. Every film in the 50 the wife and I have seen, but it will be the majority of my words you’re about to read, though my dear Greek kicks things off as we wander through the stories of children, a horror staple.
El Orfanato (2007)
Coming to us through the sharp viewpoint of Juan Antonio Bayona, and clearly influenced by the earlier work of the movie’s very own producer, Guillermo Del Toro, The Orphanage is a tightly shot, lean début movie, daring to throw a brand new, steel spanner in the works of age-old horror banalités, breaking the rulebook’s cogs to thriller-truism oblivion. Scary kid-ghosts? Check! Spooky house that seems coming to life into a character of its own? Check! A history drenched in blood returning to haunt the present with its claim in revenge? Yeah, we’ll go ahead and double-check that one. But do we once get bored of the same-ol’ terror-inducing techniques? Absolutely not since… they’re hardly present. We watch our heroine embark on a challenging journey, with no comedy to juxtapose her tragedy, no sort of relief, no end of torment in sight. Still, even as the walls start closing in around her in a most claustrophobic way, even as our chests tighten with the need for release, in filmmaking brilliance, we remain right there with her. We stay by her side, gripping the edge of the passenger’s seat with might as the Past melts into the Present, as Today itself frays away, threading its path into emotional limbo. We hold her hand and gasp for breath, with nothing left to do but seek to shield ourselves mentally against the dreaded jump-scare… that never comes. Because the film is far more profound and complex than to bid us farewell with a widely predicted extravagance of horror. Because Laura’s multilayered, gothic fairytale deserves more respect. Because El Orfanato is better than that. – – – The Greek
Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
Peter Weir has always resonated with me, even when watching his films as a kid. Films of troubled folk, spread through varied landscapes and life events, but never without a kind of serene beauty somehow. Weir is also one of the masters of the final sequence, his last moments often linger longer after you even realize. Picnic at Hanging Rock is no different, his ethereal masterpiece, like an uncomfortable but enticing dream shadowing the mysteries of reality. This is haunting for sure, so brilliant, so vivid, so tragic, you never really wake up from this.
The Boy (2016)
Is it a doll? Is it a boy? A house of intrigue and strange goings-on awaits our protagonist, who has certainly attracted more than she bargained for with this once simple babysitting gig. Depending on your disposition here, this might be the kind of throw-away horror picture you fancy, it might well be up your street – I can pretty much guarantee that you will chuckle from time to time, question the acting, and see most of the plot twists a mile off. So my advice, see it with a pinch of salt, but hold your expectations. We’ve all seen far worse than this, so give it a shot.
Lucile Hadžihalilović’s surreal French horror is both inviting and captivating in all its beautiful and startling images. Set by the sea where only women and boys appear to dwell, a red stafish soon becomes more memorable than the dead boy that introduced it. Évolution is a clinical, mysterious thriller, the unknown journey it takes you on is a huge part of its, well, not sure if charm is the right word, but well worth the experience.
Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard are in a breaking marriage, in fact with their two troubled children, the family as a whole is fragile following the tragic loss of the third child. Adopting 9 year-old Esther, an orphan from Russia, is intended to glue some of the cracks together of the family. Of course, this girl is revealed to be bad news, very bad news. As suspicions grow, as do the horrific events, as the cunning Esther does what she has to do to cover her tracks. Isabelle Fuhrman is extraordinary here, demonstrating a truly sinister presence, portraying a child with a pretend innocence and a figure of chilling maturity.
Let us know if and when you have seen these films, would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.