The Halloween Horror Movie Marathon participated by my very own wife and I was, like many of the genre’s plot points, something that kind of crept up on us. Horror films are something we enjoy as a film-watching partnership, but often stumble in our search for fresh, fruitful film experiences. The Greek was exceptionally forthcoming in her research just recently, and with a whole host of horror titles available, and thus found, the ever-growing list was something we started delving into way back in September. Pretty much a movie-a-night and 50 Films for Halloween was spawned (Letterboxd here), and would take us right up to the nights of the spooky holiday. The following 50 films then, might not all be all-out horrors, or the greatest films ever made, but all have their eye-catching, heart-racing, thrill-seeking statuses intact. Looking for something to watch this Halloween? Here’s the first 10 for your consideration.
As the eerie action and antics re-locate to Enfield, London in 1977, the formula remains intact and spooktactular in places, only the accents are different. Ed and Lorraine Warren, specter inspectors you might call them, are back on the case, but easily swayed it seems and unable to wave any magic wand, as young daughter of the Hodgson family, Janet, is seemingly possessed but labelled a fraud.
Guillermo del Toro has a fine grasp of the beauty in horror, which could in his gorgeous execution water down the chills. Not here, in a cast dominated by children, The Devil’s Backbone holds firm in it’s rigorous, unyielding mystery, and flashes a story before our eyes that does not hold back on the wide open face of tragedy and treachery.
Three years before he set out to remake his own deathly, atmospheric film, Ole Bornedal crafted a rather effective Danish chiller. Almost tongue-in-cheek at times, Nightwatch grabs your attentions with some sinister, penetrating moments. Fresh-faced Nikolaj Coster-Waldau heads the cast, taking on a night watchman job in a morgue, where the subsequent strange events could even send shivers down Jamie Lannister’s spine.
Standard horror set-up (the title being a crucial feeder) just about comes into its own by the final act/ With some hefty, narrative-driven plot holes, and wooden performances by a couple of the principles, The Gravedancers borders on the distractingly ridiculous at times. Stick it on when you’re having dinner or a glass of wine, perhaps, but worthy of your time all the same.
If the laughable make-up of teenage girl Ginger’s slow transformation into werewolf can be ignored (which it relatively easily can be), then the movie has some well-thought out notions – and a somewhat smart, satirical take on the horror genre. Essentially depicting the conflicting changes through adolescence, Ginger Snaps has all-too familiar sentiments in it’s adventurous tale-telling.
There is not much denying a certain satisfaction in the film’s gory climax – whether predictable or not it feeds the human instinct for violent redemption. Bringing cannibalistic family values to the dinner table, We Are What We Are (remake of the Mexican horror) is a memorable fable on the upholding of traditions and places in the world, no matter how inhumane those elements may be.
During a prosperous family’s dinner gathering, guest including partners of the grown-up children, all hell literally breaks lose when a band of deranged killers sporting animal face masks gain entry and start their massacre. We gradually realize that Erin, the girlfriend of one of the sons, has more courage and sense of practical self-defense than the entire family put together – and the killers meet their match, and ends, as bloody battle ensues.
What may sadly cop out ever so slightly in its climactic scenes, the moral message of loyalty and preservation is well orientated here. The entities hidden away in the shadows are frightfully introduced, making the audience wait and wonder as to what and why the chilling disturbances might be. Plenty of viewer anticipation fulfilled here, a well-rounded story that is given a convenient conclusion.
Some of the best horror films run with their own set of rules, free of leashes and shackles, to go forth and ravage our heart and souls. One of Martyrs many strong points is the ability to transcend the plot to new, more impactful levels, seemingly morphing from one extraordinarily penetrating and ultra-violent sequence to the next. There are moments you can’t unsee here, and the compelling, emotive glue has no easy release for its audience.
Keeping the scares to a bare minimum and the chemistry of its two central characters high on the agenda both work to the film’s advantage. The Innkeepers is a surprisingly captivating and nervy little picture, taking audience anticipation all the way to the twisty and turny, spooky final moments.
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Stay tuned for the second 10 shortly.
Follow the marathon on Twitter: #50filmshalloween
See the full list on Letterboxd: Halloween Marathon 2016