There’s nothing like a possession to disrupt a wedding, or indeed a congregation. Could be supernatural, could be a curse, likely unable to explain all the same. The next 5 films for Halloween carry with the weight of enigma, of body control, of actions outside of the remit of natural human forces.
Mother Joan of the Angels (1961)
An extremely popular reception in Cannes in 1961, Mother Joan of the Angels is rife with visual imagery and powerful story-telling, as the subject of nuns being possessed gets an exhilarating portrayal. Filmed with such grit, the characters, even those enraptured, struggle with the harrowing change of circumstances around them. Fine performances, exquisite direction, vivid cinematography, Mother Joan of the Angels is still alarming to watch today, a testament to chilling filmmaking, could well teach a thing or two to the modern horror auteurs often struggling to make an impact with tales of religion and possession.
Piotr and Zaneta are about to be married, but when he finds a skeleton just prior to the wedding he begins to act strangely, seeing a mysterious woman named Hana, before having a seizure. It seems he is being possessed, and some of the close friends and family try to keep the reception somewhat in the dark so not to panic them. The film takes on an even sadder reputation given that Polish director Marcin Wrona committed suicide in a hotel room during a film festival in Gdynia.
Noroi: The Curse (2005)
The found footage sub-genre of horror can be especially effective when depicting events of the supernatural variety, given the restrictive physical viewpoint and still unique human point of view. Noroi: The Curse follows this spooky format well, utilizing an actual expert of the paranormal disappearing while making his new documentary. Watching the footage is a compelling experience, even in its slow-burning moments rather than relying on the over-used jump scare tactics. The spooks are held behind closed doors here effectively, and there’s enough creaking and prying as we build to the revelatory final act.
The Wailing (2016)
As dire events take hold of a community, the notion of possible entities of the unexplained being responsible is a lot to swallow. Another brilliant film from South Korea, The Wailing handles elements of horror and mystery in lean fashion, there’s no fat on this meat. There’s even emotive moments of humanity, never diluting the overall tone of the picture, and still remaining a spooky slice of abstract horror. Paced perfectly too, changes in the film’s narrative strands and dramatic levels never hinder from the constant ruffling of your nerves.
The Witch (2015)
Robert Eggers brought a fresh, genuinely eerie take on the folk tale. A tale of witches as the title might well suggest. But that’s not all, nor is a significant part of the main story, which focuses on a banished family, about to be undone by forces from the forest. The Witch is like a breath of fresh air, often painfully poised, the narrative lingers through unfathomable events, and soon enough the family begin to crumble within themselves. A fine example that horror can be subtle, and provide an impact worthy of the genre.
Comment below to let us know what possesses you in regard to great horror stories.