Knock Knock

31 Days of Horror, Day 31

I didn’t have high hopes for this movie. The reviews were bad, and the only thing casual audiences seemed to like about Knock Knock was the nudity. Still, I was prepared to give this movie a chance. Then, my wife said, “Oh, Eli Roth directed this.”

Damn. While Roth kept his trademark tongue-in-cheek humor intact and abandoned the excessive gore, I was too put off by the terrible acting to enjoy the fact that Roth finally learned what subtlety is. So I’m not going to waste any more time reviewing this movie. Continue reading

Long Weekend

31 Days of Horror, Day 19

When you wrong Mother Nature, don’t be surprised if she claps back. That’s the central conceit of Colin Eggleston’s 1978 Aussie horror classic. In Long Weekend, a married couple whose relationship is on the outs attempts to salvage what’s left of their marriage with a trip to a remote beach. Or, rather, that’s the husband’s idea of therapy. His wife would rather chill at a posh hotel. Clearly, their differing ideas of what makes for a good time is just one example of why they aren’t working.

The other: she cheated on him, got pregnant during the affair and aborted the baby at her husband’s request. Ouch. Continue reading

The Eyes of My Mother

31 Days of Horror, Day 15

Girl learns how to butcher animals from her mother, who used to be a surgeon. Girl loses mother in a particularly horrific way. Girl reacts in an equally horrific way – repeatedly, for about 77 minutes.

Yeah, I get that this is the directorially debut of Nicolas Pesce, and it was shot on a shoestring budget. That explains why a) the film is in black and white and b) so much of the violence, and major plot points, are left to the viewer’s imagination.

But, I mean, at what point does strategically cutting away from a gruesome scene, or flashing forward in time, become less of an artistic decision and more of a crutch for lazy writing? Continue reading

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th

31 Days of Horror, Day 13

Friday the 13th on Friday, the 13th – in October? Yeah, we kind of had to. Honestly, I was only half paying attention to the movie, since my last viewing was still fresh in my mind. But there’s still a lot to like here. Sean S. Cunningham took all of Middle America’s fears — hitchhiking in a stranger’s car, backwoods bumpkins and, yes, even premarital sex — and fed them.

At Camp Crystal Lake, doing any of those things is a recipe for certain death — and not at the hands of a hockey mask-wearing maniac. The real genius that separates Friday the 13th from Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween is that the antagonist here isn’t the boogeyman. It’s a middle-aged woman whose kind eyes are a proverbial mask for a split personality with a mean overhand knife swing. Continue reading

Lights Out

31 Days of Horror, Day 11

I would like to propose 10 alternate titles for Lights Out, a 2016 horror film about some weird shadow thing that torments a family when – wait for it – the lights go out.

  1. Depression is a Shadow Monster: The Movie
  2. Ninety Minutes of a Shadow Monster Scratching Wood Flooring
  3. A Really Heavy-Handed Metaphor for the Fact That Your Depression Affects Loved Ones
  4. But the Metaphor Doesn’t Work Because Some Random Woman Saw the Monster
  5. Also Shadow Monster Kills a Cop
  6. And the More I Think About it, Suicide Also Has a Ripple Effect
  7. So Ultimately That Should Not Have Killed the Monster
  8. But I’m Just Some Guy – I Didn’t Write the Script for Lights Out
  9. I Only Had to Watch and Analyze It
  10. The Babbadook: Kidz Bop Edition

Trash Fire

31 Days of Horror, Day 10

Single white male with a penchant for nihilism, booze and bulimia seeks woman who will put up with his crap. Must be cool with the whole “alcoholism affecting libido” thing. Pro-choice is a plus, but not a dealbreaker. Must come into relationship expecting a real horror show, but be okay with occasional laughs.

Turnoffs include talking about my excessive drinking and any mention of my family members, many of whom perished in a house fire.

Call me – the journey’s a blast, but expect things to get messy in the end. They usually do.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

31 Days of Horror, Day 9

[Scene: A meeting room somewhere in the headquarters of Impostor Pictures]

Pitch Man: So this great script came across my desk.

Studio Exec: I’m listening.

Pitch Man: It’s an ontological horror film…

Studio Exec: [checking watch] Whoa. Got an important lunch meeting. Just came up.

Pitch Man: Like Saw. You know, a bunch of people trapped in a room with no idea how they got there?

Studio Exec: Lunches can be rescheduled… Continue reading

Closer to God

31 Days of Horror, Day 4

I had very meager expectations for this movie. The bar was set so low it was practically a limbo. Still, Closer to God managed to let me down. Luckily, I live-Tweeted the entire movie, so I wouldn’t have to articulate why I disliked this film in paragraphs of prose.

They really mined the C-list for this one:

Continue reading

Black Water

Black Water

31 Days of Horror, Day 3

Three young Australians go out into the swamp in search of some primo fishing and instead find themselves getting preyed upon by a giant crocodile. That’s the premise of Black Water, a film that robbed me of 90 minutes of my life. Just to give you an idea of the tedium to which I was subjected, the three protagonists spend the majority of the film’s running time hiding in a tree.

Take my life. I’m obviously not using it to the fullest of its potential.

In lieu of a proper review, allow me to regale you with 10 ways the film could have pivoted to distinguish itself from the hundreds of other (read: better) films in the creature horror subgenre: Continue reading