Like I said in my previous post, I was pretty busy with horror-related work leading up to this most glorious of holidays. I was actually able to reverse-engineer a binge on new horror movies into some lists which made the whole thing feel a lot more productive.
Before really diving in, I watched Creep on Netflix (the source of most of my viewing experiences this season). This one didn’t quite make any of the lists because it didn’t fit anywhere, but I thought it was a solid use of the first person, found footage set-up. The basic idea is that a videographer is hired by Mark Duplass’ character to follow him around so he can make a video for his unborn child because he’s dying. But, the videographer soon realizes that this might all be part of a much larger game. I’ve talked about my Duplass fandom here several times and think it’s a credit to his abilities that I was never quite sure until the last few minutes of the movie whether he was the title character or the other guy. As it happens, Duplass also starred in The Lazarus Effect and Mercy, two supernatural movies I recommend checking out.
I also finally got around to watching a movie called Wolves that I’ve had for about a year. I’m on a lot of PR email lists, but try not to request materials I don’t think I’ll actually watch. I didn’t respond to the one for Wolves, but got the movie anyway. And, you know what? It’s actually pretty good.
I assumed it would be a kind of Twilight for werewolves, but it’s actually a neat little story about kid trying to figure out what to do about his newfound lycanthropic side. Sure, there are heavy doses of melodrama and coincidence, but that’s all to be expected. The film also benefits from some great werewolf costumes and Jason Momoa, who’s quickly moving up the action actor ladder in my mind. If you’re looking for an actual quality werewolf movie though, do yourself a favor and watch Late Phases. Man, I loved that movie.
I did not actually like It Follows and almost didn’t put it on my supernratural list. I had a lot of problems from the beginning — the score rubbed me the wrong way, something I don’t know if I’ve ever written, let alone noticed — and it just seemed like it was going for cute weirdness over actual weirdness (the e-reader compact in the shell thing). The latter element threw me because I kept expecting it to mean something, but it didn’t, it was just there to be unusual.
I also agree with Quentin Tarantino’s assessment that this film could have been great instead of just good if it had actually stuck to its own rules better. The director responded by saying he was just trying to figure out what would be scary. For some people that’s fine (hence the movie making the list), but for me it just rubbed me the wrong way. If you’re going to build a mythology, build it. Don’t present ideas and then go back on them later. Still, I liked the general idea and the cast was kind of mesmerizing. Had I been able to turn my brain off a bit more, I would have been far more fully into it, I think.
I spent most of the day working on my new laptop on the couch while watching horror movies in the living room (the kids are gone). The one new movie I made a point of checking out was Ti West’s The Sacrament. I absolutely adored (and was seriously freaked out by) The Innkeepers and was excited, but nervous to watch his next movie for fear that it might be too scary. I can not avoid the fact that I’m becoming a bigger wuss the older I get.
Anyway, The Sacrament is about a Vice film crew who goes to a remote commune in Africa to check out a group that started out as a rehab community. All the transplants follow a man known as The Father who says he’s looking to set up a new community untainted by the outside world. I really don’t want to give too much away about this one, but it continues in such a real, raw way as things fall apart that I found myself more than unsettled. I had knots in my stomach like crazy and walked away from this one feeling like I’d been through the wringer. In other words, I’m glad I watched this one during the day and not alone at night.
Finally, a few more quick thoughts. First, What We Do In The Shadows might be my all time favorite horror comedy because it has a deep heart to it that reminded me of The Office. My heart soared and dipped more times watching that movie than just about anything else of late. I also think all parents should watch The Babadook and will go into more detail over on PopPoppa.com. Oculus has an amazingly written script that never stops surprising and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones does a great job of making you like the characters before tearing them apart. It’s a fantastic entry in a series I don’t remember much about.
I learned a few interesting things about myself this year. First off, I apparently don’t hate the found footage style nearly as much as I thought I did. Creep, Marked Ones and Sacrament all use the conceit in ways that I appreciate, which is the key to that style, it has to make sense. Also, I apparently don’t dislike werewolf movies nearly as much as I thought I did because Wolves and Late Phases both made for solid viewing experiences, though for very different reasons.