Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Horror Movie Recommendations: Part 2/3 (The interesting movies.)

So, this is a list of horror movies I find interesting. They aren't the necessarily the best horror movies ever, or the most influential, but they try something original or different and are definitely worth your time. I am more impressed by a movie that tries something new and fails than by a well done but more traditional film. I love ideas! And ambition! 


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Pontypool (2010) This is a zombie movie where you hardly see any zombies. It takes place in a radio station, and most of the action is heard, rather than seen. It's also a zombie movie where the zombie virus is transmitted via language instead of bodily fluids. The virus infects lexemes. I think this is the first linguistics horror movie, and for that alone I love it. Stephen McHattie is also really charming as the radio host, and the film has a hypnotic cadence to it. There are problems, though. An unexpected turn toward B Movie cartoonish mad scientist babble for a brief section toward the end is jarring and might not be to everyone's taste. And while I found the ending sort of lovely, it should be noted that it doesn't make much literal sense. When I watch it, I like to imagine that partway through they realize that logic is infected too, and so it has to be avoided if they want to survive.




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Session 9 (2001) This is a daylight horror movie, which I always find strangely compelling. And it was filmed at the abandoned Danvers State Insane Asylum. The Danvers asylum is a classic and creepy building, built to the Kirkbride plan and I guess I should state here that the history of mental institutions is something I find fascinating and horrifying already. Sometimes you hear that a setting is as much a character as anyone else in a movie, and here that's very true. They milk the location for all it is worth, and it works. Add to this creepy glimpses and descriptions of the horrible things that were actually performed in these places, and a late movie unexpected modern re-enactment, and this is a movie that makes me feel cold in the pit of my stomach every time I watch.



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The Last Exorcism (2010) is another handi-cam horror movie, but one that comes at it from an interesting perspective. The movie is meant to be a documentary following a charlatan priest, whose charm and good looks have carried him this far in life, but whose conscience has begun to get the better of him. So he's agreed to make this documentary exposing exorcism as fake. His job is just to provide a show, performing a fake exorcism and setting people's minds at ease. But things don't go as planned this time, and not as you might expect, either. It is unclear for a long time whether the girl in this movie is actually possessed or the victim of sexual abuse, and either way the priest has promised her something he can't provide. Help. Before coming completely off the rails with an idiotic ending, this is a movie that examines the responsibilities and costs of giving people something to believe in.





Shutter (2004) is a thai horror film that steals from just about every j-horror convention. There's a pale ghost with long black hair that always seems wet. There's flickering cuts, and there's a young woman who needs to find out what the ghost is trying to tell her. And there's an unexpected bleak ending. But in addition to some above-average scares and some really freaky scenes, Shutter also surprises by being an unexpectedly ambiguous and nuanced examination of the self-deceit and justifications of people who do terrible things but don't want to believe they are terrible people.  


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Part 1 of the recommendations was "important" movies. Movies that are important to me, and to the horror genre in general.

Part 3 of the recommendations will be "Fun" movies. Horror movies that are just great gory ridiculous fun. Maybe not so scary, but definitely awesome.

10 comments:

  1. Danver's is not to far from where I live and I was working real close to it for awhile. The Asylum was pretty much all demolished awhile back though. Which is kind of a shame. Those old Kirkbride Asylums are awesome. There's one in about 15 minutes up the highway from me in Taunton that is (mostly) intact still.

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  2. I loved Pontypool so hard. The characters are all so good, especially McHattie.

    I heard there's a sequel in the works, and I'm really looking forward to it.

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  3. I feel like the asylum was doing most, if not all, of the work in Session 9. The plot sort of fell through for me. But that "I live in the weak and wounded" line always makes my skin crawl. It's worth it just for that.

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  4. I was just recommended Pontypool by an amazing writer - can't wait to see it.

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  5. @keith: There's other books in the series, and I'd be really interested to see where they go. My understanding is they plan to fool around with scope. The next movie being a neighbourhood, then city-wide?


    @unknown: That line kills me, yeah. Yeesh.


    @risa: Let me know what you think!

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  6. I'm glad you liked Last Exorcism. I really thought it was a better film than it had to be. It's rare for the first, non-horror half of a movie to be so entertaining, and there was some really cool stuff that I liked.
    Just saw PA3, and I have respect for the first two but the 3rd lacked to relatability and muddied the timeline. Still worth a check out for the scare and thrill factor though.

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  7. Session 9 was an excellent if rarely heard about movie. Gave me some serious creeps. The actors were remarkable.

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  8. Pontypool! The huz and I have been trying to remember the name of it so we can watch it again, as "That horror film with zombies at the radio station" hadn't gotten us any results.

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