John Dies At The End
Another case of “I read the book first,” John Dies At The End, is not quite as effective as its source material. The novel is rip-roaringly funny, so much so, I read it twice back-to-back. Nevertheless, the full-length feature is worth checking out for its attempt at bending the genre. The story of a lad and his best mate who battle bizarre supernatural forces sounds like Supernatural-lite, but it’s so much more fun than the TV show. While it may have suffered from a low budget (some of the effects are a little distracting), it’s an enjoyable way to pass a couple of hours.
Yeesh, Hellraiser. If you weren’t aware by now, I was raised on horror. My parents weren’t big fans, but I schooled myself. There was no Netflix, or Hulu, so my film education originated in video stores, while I pored over the TV guide to see what movies were coming up. Hellraiser is one of those flicks I’d read about, and managed to buy from a second hand movie stall in the local market – and it was just as shocking as I’d hoped.
Based on Clive Barker’s novella, The Hellbound Heart, like most responsible horrors it poses a ton of questions about desire, and the consequences of chasing it. The monster synonymous with the franchise, Pinhead, is a menacing terror who certainly made me sit up and pay attention. It’s a gruesome movie, that’ll have you longing for the days when scares weren’t computer generated.
I love my found footage, and so Grave Encounters was a shoo-in for me. It’s a shame that it’s been cast aside amongst much inferior takes on the ‘ghost hunting’ genre. The basic story involves a film crew who journey to an abandoned psychiatric hospital in an attempt to capture footage of some spectral shenanigans. It burns slow, and builds up tension via ways that’ve been exhausted throughout cinema, but manages to sidestep any obvious trappings. I was petrified, and so was my brother, as we both sat mouths agape at the film’s twisty conclusion.
Blair Witch with trolls is how this movie was described to me before I caught it. It’s not an inaccurate description, as it pursues three youngsters out to capture footage of a genuine troll. Their journey leads them to a bona fide troll hunter, whom them wind up shadowing, and… well, you should really see it for yourself. Combining the found footage element with an established mythology to great effect, there’s really nothing quite like watching a bunch of people screaming as a giant troll pursues them. Nothing.
Now, I haven’t seen this film in donkeys, but I recall that it was certainly better than its video sleeve gave it credit for. A family journey down a dark highway and a whole host of weird experiences befall them, as one by one they each disappear. It’s a high concept pic that’s driven by a series of outstanding performances, particularly by genre stalwart Lin Shaye. If you like your horror with a side order of twist, then give it a shot.
Cabin In The Woods
Last week I was having a chat with someone I’d just met about monster movies, and I mentioned this. He made the “Eh” sound accompanied by the horizontal hand wobble, to indicate it’s merely “okay.” It took a great mustering of self-restraint to not issue forth a phenomenal head butt. Much like Blair Witch and Scream, Cabin In The Woods can easily be lumbered into a category in which it simply does not belong. Scroll through Netflix and you’ll see there’s tons of movies that sound similar, and heck, even its title seems to brazenly admit that it’s just another slasher.
If you’ve never seen it, or better yet, never heard of it I urge you to watch it. Reinventing the horror genre was a done deal when Scream popped up in 1996, but Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon managed to up the ante with this clever 90 minute horror romp. If you’re tired of the horror tropes and the stupid behaviour of intelligent characters – watch this tonight.
Seriously, do it. You won’t be disappointed.