We live in a world full of “come on kids this house will be a fresh start, ignore your sister’s demon voice” plots. Because of this, there are very few films in the horror genre that have made an impression on me. I put this mostly down to my cynicism, but also I find myself bored of bad jump scares and unnecessary gore. Below are details of films that have made an impression on me because they brought something new to the table. Perfect viewing for the Halloween bank holiday weekend.
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
A spiritual successor to found-footage monster movie Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane continues the world building of the franchise. It concerns a woman, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who gets in a car accident following a fight with her partner. She is rescued by bunker owner Howard (John Goodman) who eventually informs her that the world outside is now inhabitable. As the film unfolds, Howard becomes more and more unstable. Michelle begins to question if he is telling the truth or if he just wants to keep her and other inhabitant Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) captive.
10 Cloverfield Lane is a great pick if you enjoy a film that keeps its secrets right on up to the last second. Just when you think you have Howard’s intentions figured out, the plot opens itself up just enough to send your mind racing yet again. John Goodman really plays the part well, sometimes hero, sometimes villain, never simple.
The Witch (2015)
A period drama soaked in supernatural goodness, The Witch is about a banished puritan family as they try settle away from the plantation they once lived in. The family welcome a fifth child into the world while on the farm but things start to go sour from then on. Teenage daughter Thomasin (Anya-Taylor Joy) takes her eyes off of her new little brother for a fraction and he disappears. A witch gets her hands on him. Slowly the family descend into a spate of paranoia and hysteria. Soon enough, mother Katherine (Kate Dickie) and father William (Ralph Inenson) begin to turn even on their own children.
This film is a slow burner, so if you are looking for something quick and easy The Witch may not be for you. However if you can handle the artfully drawn out tension throughout, you will be rewarded with a gloriously delicious conclusion.
It Follows (2014)
Many of us are familiar with that Mean Girl quote (also a real life view of some people); “Don’t have sex, you will get pregnant and die.” It Follows takes this sentiment to a whole new level. This film’s premise begins when teenager Jay (Maika Monroe) having sex with her boyfriend Hugh (Jake Weary). Her boyfriend knowingly passes something onto her in the act, and no, it’s not chlamydia. Terrifyingly Jay has a curse passed onto her which means that death lurks around every corner. Hugh explains the deal after chloroforming Jay and tying her to a chair. If she dies at the hands of the curse, it will go back to haunting him. What a nice guy.
The most terrifying thing about It Follows is the form the horror entity takes. Not only does it appear as a friend or a random stranger, it also moves at a walking pace. It is deeply unsettling and far more effective than things popping out into your face. It is absolutely gut-wrenching and it lasts for the whole film. The premise is also fresh but familiar, an urban legend for modern times.
Comedy horror Paranorman follows Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee) a boy more comfortable speaking with the dead than the living. An outcast among his family and his peers, he finds a friend in Neil Downe (Tucker Albrizzi) also regular recipient of bullying. Visions bring him to learn of a curse put on the town by a witch and he is informed by his uncle Mr. Prenderghast (John Goodman) that he must lift it before it is too late. This proves difficult as his peers and his family accept his powers as nothing more than Norman being a weirdo.
Although on the lightest side possible of the horror genre, Paranorman packs a real punch both emotionally and visually. It deals with very important themes such as bullying and loneliness in a way easily understood by children and adults alike. Visually, the fact that it is a stop motion film adds to its impressiveness. It also manages to be genuinely funny, with a humour that does not rely on shock value or nastiness to get its point out. This is totally summed up in a revelation about one of the characters in the end.