Halloween has always had a touch of magic to me. I’ve always thought the idea of having a holiday where everyone can dress up as their favourite characters, fantasy creatures and personal idols, and pretend to be them together is really cool. For one day a year it doesn’t matter how uncomfortable you are in yourself, you can be whoever, or whatever you want and people don’t care – for one day a year, people GET cosplay!
But on top of the costumes and the candy, and the cheap skeletons, bats and pumpkins that can get strewn about the place, Halloween, and indeed all of October, is a month-long celebration of my favourite genre and all of it’s tricks and tropes, horror. It’s one month where everyone, young and old, wants to be a little scared, and everyone is into checking out the classics, both new and old, to see what Freddy, Chucky and Pinhead et al. have to offer.
As such, over the coming weeks, I’m here to show you some of my favourite horror/supernatural films. Some are absolutely essential, some are just for fun, but all are good for a night in with some junk food, some good friends and some wacky costumes. So, without further ado, I’m going to kick this thing off right with some new school horror; here’s my 3 essential horror films of 2013, so far:
I honestly had not the faintest clue about this film going into it. All I knew was that is Jeremy Gardner’s film-making début, it featured a couple of ex-baseball players and it was about zombies. I am a sucker for a zombie film, so I had to see it. 100 minutes later, my jaw is practically on the floor. Occasionally, there comes a film that not only works to re-invent a genre that has become set in it’s ways, but does it in an incredibly clever way, and on an absolute shoe-string budget ($6,000!) and is above all else entertaining. This is one of those films.
It’s really hard to balance an almost satirical look at humanity while also being resolutely serious in your content without one dominating the other. This is a film that balances both of those incredibly well – you want to cry as much as you want to laugh. Focussing entirely on just two characters, one Jeremy Gardner and Adam Cronheim, who knock their performances out of the park, the film essentially just follows these two around as they attempt to survive and make sense of life post-zombie apocalypse. It’s grim, but light-hearted, it’s warm but stoic and I find it hard to talk about it without ruining some aspect of it. Just watch this film. The last 20 minutes is one of the best last acts of anything I have ever seen.
One of my favourite hobbies, and biggest drains of my money, is browsing DVD stores for films, usually horror films that are off the radar – most of which are off the radar for a good reason. I happened to find this on one particular venture. Sporting a very good looking Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps Trilogy) on the cover, the movie looks and feels like a slasher film, but it’s really not. Instead it’s this weird, twisted film about the underbelly of body modification and a surprisingly non-graphic, somewhat well-delivered one at that.
Essentially, Katharine Isabelle is a student surgeon who needs money, and she begins accepting money for performing some unconventional surgeries on people who want some unconventional things done to their bodies. Somewhat like The Battery, the film is dark, but satirical, it doesn’t ever quite go as dark or as grim as you may like it to, but it does have some cool scenes and motifs. I say it’s non-graphic as well because it would have been very easy for the film-makers, the Soska Sisters, to fluff the content with horrific scenes of torture and gore but it doesn’t, instead presenting this cast of undesirable characters that disgust you all their own. Despite a very lacklustre second half where they seem to lose sight of the films story a little bit, this is interesting, and if nothing else makes sure the Soska Sisters are worth keeping an eye on.
2012’s V/H/S really surprised me in that it was a found footage film that was genuinely entertaining. Not to sound cranky, but the whole ‘found-footage’ trend got pretty old pretty quick. That said, V/H/S was a cut above the rest. An anthology film, with three short films being tied together with over-arching narrative, it was clever, it was distinctive and above all, it was creepy. Genuinely creepy. 2013 saw a sequel, with yet more ambitious film-making in the found footage horror style.
Same format for the sequel, the films presented are creepier and cleverer than its predecessor in all the right ways. This is definitely the more new school of the three films I’ve presented here, there are more easy scares in here and more obvious story-telling, but they are contrasted with some very cool ideas and some outside of the box thinking. Two of the films, ‘Phase I Clinical Trials’ and ‘Safe Haven’ are, without a doubt, the highlights, and genuinely unnerved me as I was watching them. ‘Phase I Clinical Trials’ is the most distinctive perspective of the films, and as such presents a very interesting twist on the ‘haunted house’ scenario with some dark twists. ‘Safe Haven’ is the horror film you would imagine if North Korea and the Westboro Baptist Church were combined, and that is all I’ll say on the matter.
So, any horror films from this year that you guys will be checking out, and any you can recommend to us we may have missed, let us know!
‘Til next week, same Arcade time, same Arcade channel!