Horror Cinema: X

Ti West’s horror movies are among my favorites—The Innkeepers, The Sacrament, and The House of the Devil—that I have seen multiple times. His newest feature, X, lives up to his reputation.

Like his previous movies, X takes a horror genre cliché and puts a refreshing new spin on it. Like Texas Chainsaw Massacre or the Wrong Turn series, X takes place in a remote country setting with the locals as villains. Watching it, I admit that I was skeptical at first because I had seen the storyline before. But, I was intrigued early on because of the reason why the main cast of characters was going to the remote country location, which was something I had never seen before, so that kept my attention. Then, as the narrative unfolded and the villain was introduced and developed, I was hooked!

With good pacing, satisfying gore, and a strong cast of characters, I highly recommend X.

West, Ti. X, A24, 2022.

Horror Cinema: Lin Shaye Appreciation Post

I am fan of the Insidious franchise mostly because of Lin Shaye’s character Elise Rainier. I was especially happy when the movies became largely about her character, offering more of Lin Shaye’s sincere and haunting performances.

Image from screengeek.net

Did you know that Lin Shaye has been acting in the horror genre for a while? She was a high school teacher in 1984’s Nightmare on Elm Street.

Image from flipscreened.com

A more recent horror movie starring Lin Shaye is 2019’s Room for Rent.

With the same sincerity she uses to play Elise Rainier, Lin Shaye makes the protagonist of Room for Rent endearing. However, in this movie, instead of being a champion for good like Elise, her character is obsessive and dark. She certainly carries the movie, but she does it well.

Craven, Wes. Nightmare on Elm Street, New Line Cinema, 1984.
Stovall, Tommy. Room for Rent, Uncork’d Entertainment, 2019.
Wan, James and Leigh Whannell (created by). Insidious (film series), 2011-ongoing.

Horror Cinema: The Turning

I came across The Turning on Netflix. I enjoyed most of it: the contrast of the modern main character with the older estate and secondary characters; the jump scares with the mannequin; a creepy kid, who is a ghost?

My interest fell off about two thirds through when I lost touch with where the story was going. The main character was going mad and seeing things, and, instead of focusing in on the ghost story as a conclusion, I found that it spiraled out into chaos.

I have never been that impressed by Henry James’s “Turning of the Screw.” I have tried a few times over my lifetime because I love some of his other works, and I love nothing more than a ghost story. When I started this movie, I was hopeful that it would be a fresh take on the story and could change my mind on the source material.

Not successful.

Sigismondi, Floria. The Turning, Universal Pictures, 2020.

Horror Cinema: Hatchet III

I had high expectations going into Hatchet III because I thoroughly enjoyed the other movies in the franchise. I was not disappointed. Not only did this iteration of the Victor Crowley story offer satisfying blood and guts, it expanded on the folkloric backstory behind the villain. Whereas other franchises can get bogged down by trying to explain backstory, this one made it better, changing my view of Crowley as a crazy swamp man into a crazy swamp monster.

If you like the Hatchet movies, then I am pretty certain you will like this one, too. Highly recommended!

McDonnell, B.J. Hatchet III, Dark Sky Films, 2013.

Horror Cinema: The Blob (1988)

I was reluctant to watch 1988’s The Blob, but a good friend of mine insisted I see it, and he was right to make me watch it. Unlike the campy original from the 1950s, the 1988 version is scary and has some gruesome effects. Highly recommended!

Russell, Chuck. The Blob, TriStar Pictures, 1988.

Horror Cinema: Into the Mirror (2003)

When I discover a horror movie that is a remake of another version, I make sure that I have seen the original before I watch the latest production. I learned about Mirrors that was made in 2008 and featured Kiefer Sutherland and was based on the South Korean 2003 movie Into the Mirror.

Into the Mirror had many satisfying spooky scenes where what was seen in the mirror was not what was happening in front of it.

The film’s premise was interesting, although I found that the narrative got a little wandering near the end when it was trying to make the spiritual horror make sense, which I did not think was completely necessary. Nevertheless, the movie had a good share of scary moments, and I would recommend it.

Sung-ho, Kim. Into the Mirror, Cinema Service, 2003.

Horror Cinema: Sea Fever

The overall feeling that Sea Fever left me with was of humans as prey, and the film did a great job of telling a captivating story of a small group of people facing the challenge of a deep-sea predator. Throughout the movie, I was convinced by the science and the characters’ slow realization of what was happening to them, which made the story believable and more frightening. Add the element of body horror to that with how the creature found its way into the bodies of the crew, and you’ve got a great creepy movie!

My favorite aspect of the narrative was the superstition of the sailors, which provided ominous foreshadowing as the story unfolded. I also loved the deep-sea creature and how it was shown. It certainly put the limited power of the humans into perspective.

Hardiman, Neasa. Sea Fever, Signature Entertainment, 2019.

Horror Cinema: The Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch (1968)

I came across The Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch while browsing for a horror movie to stream on Apple TV. The image of the little girl with the snake face in the trailer had me interested. When I started it, I had low expectations because it reminded me of Obayashi’s House, which was a major disappointment for me.

The Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch turned out to be excellent, and I highly recommend it. The supernatural aspects throughout the movie were clever plays on the protagonist’s childish imagination, and the movie’s narrative was captivating and rewarding in the end.

Yuasa, Noriaki. The Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch, Daiei, 1968.

Horror Cinema: The Conjuring 3 — The Devil Made Me Do It

The latest installment of The Conjuring provides lots of jump scares and spooky characters, which I love about this franchise. I also like how these movies are inspired by the real life paranormal cases of Ed and Lorraine Warren without becoming docu-dramas.

The Conjuring 3 focuses on a murder case where the Warrens argued that the defendant was possessed by a demon. In the real case, the judge of the trial rejected the defense plea of not guilty by demonic possession stating that such a defense would be impossible to prove, also stating it would be “irrelative and unscientific” to allow testimony in support of the possession defense .

The jury were not legally allowed to consider the demonic possession defense and the defendant’s lawyer then instead argued self defense. The defendant was found guilty of first degree manslaughter on November 24, 1981. He was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in jail, but only served 5 due to good behavior.

The court case does not make a major appearance in the movie, which, instead, focuses on the Warrens tracking down the demon itself … among other guilty parties — I’ll leave it at that to prevent spoiling it for you.

When I embark on a sequel, I am usually nervous about what to expect. But, The Conjuring sequels have proven so far to be great!

Find more behind-the-scenes facts about The Conjuring 3 at IMDb Trivia.

Chaves, Michael. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Warner Bros. Pictures, 2021.

Horror Cinema: Wrong Turn (2021)

I am a massive fan of the Wrong Turn franchise. The first film had a kick-ass heroine, and the following movies continually out-did themselves in gore and senseless killings, to my cheering it on. One of my all-time favorite horror scenes is the decapitation in the school gym in Wrong Turn 4, let alone the decapitation at the end of that movie on the snowmobile. So good.

When I saw that there was a new addition to the franchise, I watched it as soon as I could. Before turning it on, I looked up reviews to see if I could get a feel of what to expect, and I was warned that this movie was not going to be what a Wrong Turn franchise movie would usually offer. Reading that, I went into it disliking it. If I don’t have cannibals and a total kill count by the end of the movie, will I have truly seen a Wrong Turn movie?

I can’t say I hated it. I would consider it a light version of the franchise. The effort to pull the expected senseless gore into a storyline was difficult because what makes a Wrong Turn movie great is that the plot is just that some buggers take a wrong turn and get hunted and eaten by cannibals. Although I wasn’t loving the plot, I did like that it never lagged, and the conclusion was satisfying, even if it was simply the satisfaction of ending on an intense scene.

I also can’t say I’d watch this movie again, even if I wanted to introduce someone to the franchise. Not a big deal because the other versions will certainly continue to be in regular rotation for horror movie nights.

Nelson, Mike P. Wrong Turn (2021), Saban Films, 2021.