It Doesn’t Think, It Doesn’t Feel, It Doesn’t Give Up: A Review of It Follows (2015)

it-follows-35781Release Date: March 13th 2015

Director: David Robert Mitchell

Country of Origin: United States

Language: English

Runtime: 1 hour 40 minutes

You’re probably all wondering why it’s taken me so long to write a review of It Follows, particularly since the film has been out for over nine months and I’ve been raving about it for nearly as long. The real reason is that I’m incredibly lazy and have a terrible work ethic, but the reason I’ll give you is that it was my favourite horror film of the year. I felt that, with 2015 finally coming to a close, it seemed somehow poetic to leave it to the last minute; one last happy memory of a year so riddled with natural disasters that it pretty much confirmed we are probably all going to perish as a direct result of pollution and global warming. Ah, what a cheerful thought. So snuggle down in your doomsday bunkers and read about why I thought It Follows was the greatest horror film of 2015.

This rather unconventional “creature feature” (for lack of a better subgenre) follows a young girl named Jay (Maika Monroe), who has just begun dating a ruggedly handsome guy named Hugh (Jake Weary). The couple appear to be hitting it off and, in spite of his occasionally suspicious behaviour, Hugh seems to be solid boyfriend material. That is, until they finally have sex. Unlike most scumbags, who just drop you an impromptu phone call when they discover they may have given you the clap, Hugh takes the whole ordeal a step further by strapping Jay to a wheelchair and informing her that he’s passed on a ghastly plague; a sort of supernatural STI that will follow her around and try to kill her. It takes the form of a human being (technically any human being it wants) and is invisible to everyone but her. The upside is it can only walk, so hop on a Segway for the rest of your life and you’ll be fine. Jay must find another unsuspecting victim to sleep with before she too falls victim to this sexy curse.

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Perhaps not the best way to deliver bad news

What immediately attracted me to this film was its unusual premise. While most creature features entail a flurry of violence and tease out the monster’s eventual reveal, It Follows is punctuated by just a few moments of graphic violence and is instead more of slow-burner. The emphasis is taken off of the “creature” and is placed on the protagonist, focusing on Jay’s attempts to escape this entity with the limited means at her disposal. In this way the film feels far more real, since she reacts in much the same way as you imagine that you would. In real life, there are no occult specialists or voodoo princesses knocking around in every high school library or on every street corner. When faced with a supernatural entity that is almost beyond our comprehension, chances are most of us would choose to just run. After all, how are we supposed to fight something that we know virtually nothing about?

As a slow-burner, this film depends almost entirely on the realistic performances of its actors and they certainly deliver believability in spades. The interaction between the characters felt eerily real, as if I was re-watching conversations from my awkward teenage years. There was no Hollywood sparkle, no witty one-liners, and no painfully cheesy dialogue. There was simply the heartfelt and confused rhetoric of a bunch of goofy kids desperately trying to figure out what’s going on and how to stop it. I bought into the dynamic of Jay’s friendship group immediately, and this was what hooked me into the storyline from the beginning.

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On a far more technical note, the cinematography and score of the film are fantastic. Some of the shots are not only breath-taking; they also serve to capture the essence of the film. When Jay leans out of the car after having sex with Hugh and the camera pans over her hand gently caressing a flower, we instantly understand what is being said without the need for dialogue. In many ways, this is a film about growing up and the innocence that is lost in the process. The film’s soundtrack, which was masterminded by US composer Disasterpeace, is a wonderful blend of jarring synth and eerily soothing tunes that are deeply reminiscent of classic 80s horror flicks like Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween. The violence may not be there on screen, but it exists in the music and atmosphere that David Robert Mitchell has masterfully created.

In terms of the horror elements, it is not the most immediately terrifying film, but it certainly sits with you. One could almost say, it follows you (oh yes, I went there). While I only felt a few twinges of fear whilst watching it, I found myself constantly checking behind me after I left the cinema, swivelling my head around like an owl on meth and wondering which of the many yawning cinema-goers could be “it”. I even gave my family dog a wide berth. Personally, what makes a successful horror movie for me is something that sticks with you long after you’ve watched it, gnawing at you and leaving you with thousands of delightful questions like: What exactly is “it”? What could “it” be a metaphor for? And how do I overcome the suffocating malaise of facing another year on this planet? For these reasons, It Follows holds a special place in my heart and is, without a doubt, my top horror movie of 2015.

If you want to know what other films I’ve loved this year, be sure to check out my reviews of Spring and Krampus.

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Acting: 9/10, all of the performances in the film are solid and the characters are easy to identify with, as they portray teenagers with startling believability.

Storyline: 9/10, the storyline is fresh and original without seeming absurd or unworkable.  

Fear Factor: 8/10, it may not get you while you’re watching it, but it’s sure to send a few shivers down your spine when you’re in the supermarket and you notice that creepy lady with the “come-hither-I-wish-to-murder-you” look.

Overall: 9/10, the performances, score, cinematography, and fascinating premise come together to make one of the finest horror films I’ve seen in decades.

 

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It Doesn’t Think, It Doesn’t Feel, It Doesn’t Give Up: A Review of It Follows (2015)

Time to Spread the Christmas Fear: A Review of Krampus (2015)

krampus-movie-posterRelease Date: December 4th 2015

Director: Michael Dougherty

Country of Origin: United States

Language: English

Runtime: 1 hour 38 minutes

Apologies for all of those who were waiting for a Malicious Myths segment, but sadly that will be postponed until next week. If you really need to get your fix, why not go back and read our post on good old Krampus himself?

From the director who masterminded the magnificent Trick ’r Treat, comes a movie about the true meaning of Christmas: consumerism, greed, and a reminder of your deep seated hatred for your dysfunctional family. When I first heard about Krampus, I was convinced that it was going to be a train wreck. It’s incredibly difficult to make anything Christmassy seem scary without it coming off as trite and kitschy, not to mention I have an extreme dislike for comedy horrors in general. Don’t get me wrong, I love Tucker & Dale vs. Evil and Shaun of the Dead as much as the next person, but I’m a firm believer that incorporating horror elements into a comedy film doesn’t make it a horror comedy; it’s just, at best, a parody. It wasn’t until after watching the trailer for Krampus, however, that I became truly intrigued.

The film is set three days before Christmas, when Tom (Adam Scott) and Sarah (Toni Collette), along with their children Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen) and Max (Emjay Anthony), welcome their much maligned extended family members into their home to celebrate. This motley bunch include Sarah’s sister Linda (Allison Tolman), her gun-toting husband Howard (David Koechner), their raucously redneck children Howie Jr., Stevie, and Jordan, and the vile Aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell). When Max is driven to distraction by his relatives and ends up destroying his letter to Santa, his German grandmother warns him that the power of the Christmas spirit is not only a force for good, it also wards off evil. Soon, the family find themselves at the mercy of something older than good old Saint Nick; the dreaded shadow of Santa Claus.

krampus3
Just your typical family get-together

It’s a stellar cast, and one that blends the comedy and horror elements of the film perfectly. The opening sequences, in which we are introduced to them as a family unit, feel incredibly genuine and are delightfully funny without coming across as too cliché or hammy. In a world where at least one new Christmas comedy comes out every year, it’s hard to maintain any sort of originality and yet Krampus manages to play with the genre’s stereotypes without necessarily succumbing to them. You’ve got the brothers-in-law who just can’t get along, the hateful older relative who drinks his/herself into an eggnog-fuelled coma, the mother exasperated with her ungrateful family after slaving away over a hot stove; yet it’s all done so seamlessly that you forget you’ve seen it all before.

krampus04In fact, the humorous elements are so well-executed that you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a fully-fledged comedy. Yet it’s when the horror begins that the film really starts to show its teeth. The snow and stunning set pieces (resplendent with the most terrifying snowmen I’ve ever seen) create a suitably oppressive and claustrophobic atmosphere that was chilling in of itself. Without giving too much away, the monsters are beautifully well-realised and stunningly designed. They’re the perfect mixture of the festive and the grotesque, with a certain ridiculousness that makes them both comical and horrifying. The celebrated (and rightly so) film critic Mark Kermode compared it to Gremlins in its delicious nastiness and Poltergeist in terms of its family feel. High praise indeed, but one the film has certainly earned. It’s refreshing to see a family comedy that’s not afraid to show its monstrous side.

There were moments where I laughed myself to tears and times where I gasped with fear, which really speaks to how effective this was as a comedy horror. But what marred my enjoyment and what I’d describe as the film’s major problem was pacing. It started off as a slow burner, which served it well when it came to establishing the family dynamic, but then it seemed to introduce the titular character far too early. I was eager to see how they were going to portray Krampus, and his opening sequence is a work of pure art, but the initial reveal came just a little too early for me. Not only that, but thereafter the pace slowed once again and the film unfortunately dragged for a good ten minutes. This sets a regrettable yet recurring pattern, as the pace suddenly quickens and then just as rapidly drops far too often.

With that out of the way, Krampus is not only by-far and away the best Christmas film this season, I personally found it to be one of the most enjoyable horror films of 2015. Its sharp, its witty, its delightfully dark, and I felt sucked in by the narrative from beginning to end. So if you’re sick of those cheesy carollers’ smiles, tired of encountering random objects covered in fairy lights, and shiver inwardly at the thought of hearing “Fairytale of New York” one more time, treat yourself to a little holiday horror and go see a film that is sure to amuse and terrify.

Cloven
Please God, not The Pogues

Acting: 8/10, all of the actors were perfectly cast and really sell the family dynamic. Koechner and Ferrell are particularly charming and elevate the comic elements of the film.

Storyline: 8/10, the storyline is an interesting take on the Krampus mythology and sets the film apart from other Christmas-based horror films.

Fear Factor: 7/10, some of the creatures are honestly disturbing and are sure to satisfy the most morbid of curiosities.

Overall: 7.5/10, Krampus is a clever and entertaining romp that doles out fear and fun in equal measure.

 

 

Time to Spread the Christmas Fear: A Review of Krampus (2015)

Life Probably Seems Short No Matter What: A Review of Spring (2014)

Release Date: September 5th 2014

Director: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead

Country of Origin: United States

Language: English

Runtime: 1 hour 49 minutes

After watching Crimson Peak last week and feeling soul-wrenchingly disappointed, I thought it only fitting to review another film that ended up on my list of Top 10 Most Anticipated Horror Films of this year. Spring nabbed the number two spot, because the concept of a romantic sci-fi horror sounded refreshing and the trailer, resplendent with stunning cinematography and a subtly beautiful soundtrack, promised a solid release with an intriguing premise. So, when it was finally released on DVD this April, I dutifully badgered my other half into buying me a copy.

The story revolves around a young man named Evan Russell (Lou Taylor Pucci), who flees the US after his life begins to fall apart. Vulnerable and afraid, he travels to Italy and meets the broodingly beautiful Louise (Nadia Hilker), a mysterious and beguiling Italian woman who simultaneously appears to encourage and rebuff his advances. As the two grow closer and Evan finds himself falling deeply in love, he also comes ever nearer to exposing Louise’s dark secret. What follows is a tender portrayal of love at its most beautiful, and its most terrifying.

Note: There will be some mild spoilers in this review, although no major plot points are revealed.

From the outset, the cinematography in the film is superb. It was filmed on set in Italy, and the sweeping panoramas of the small rural village that Evan finds himself in are breath-taking. They also serve to propel the film forward, as they heighten the sense of romance while maintaining tension. The soundtrack complements this perfectly, with its soothing mixture of downbeat piano pieces and stark use of jarring synth tracks. In short, the set-up and atmosphere were enough to draw me in long before the “horror” element of the film began.

The performances of all the actors are phenomenal, as each one is as believable and engaging as the last, but Nadia Hilker and Lou Taylor Pucci are the real driving force behind the film. Taylor Pucci redeems his lackluster performance as that Jesus lookalike who gets completely brutalised in Evil Dead (2013) with his portrayal of the kindhearted and lovable everyman Evan, while Hilker gives a commanding and compelling performance as the enigmatic Louise. The vast majority of scenes depend upon them, as the film’s focus is primarily on the budding romance that develops between them. They have fantastic onscreen chemistry and their love story feels authentic, causing you to subconsciously root for them and become engrossed in the progression of the plot.

This makes it all the more distressing when the supernatural elements do start to kick in, as you fear for both of the main characters’ well-being. The film isn’t necessarily an out-and-out horror flick, in that it is not particularly scary, but this is forgivable as the narrative it weaves is genuine, enthralling, and thought-provoking. In many ways, what happens to Louise and Evan is a metaphor for love as a whole. The fear of intimacy, the craving for affection, the dread of exposing your vulnerability to someone else; these are feelings we can all relate to. And the film explores them through the medium of the sci-fi horror genre, providing a fresh take on a topic that has fascinated mankind for centuries. What does it mean to fall in love? How do you know when you are? And what would you be willing to sacrifice for it?

Louise’s secret, or should I say condition, also makes for an interesting commentary on the horror genre. As she attempts to explain herself to Evan, she expands on the deficit of human knowledge and how we often fear the unknown. There are no such things as ghosts and ghouls, she expounds, but simply a lack of scientific understanding. This ties in with the concept of love, as it too is a thing that we fear simply because we do not fully understand it. In short, Spring isn’t just a better love story than Twilight (because seriously, what isn’t), it’s a beautifully crafted exposition of two young people falling in love, overcoming obstacles, and learning what it means to trust in the unknown. After all, love only comes around a couple of times if you’re lucky, and movies this good only come around a couple of times a year.

Acting: 9/10, all of the actors put forward startlingly good performances, but Nadia Hilker and Lou Taylor Pucci are what make the film so delightfully and exceptionally watchable.

Storyline: 8.5/10, the storyline is a refreshing take on the sci-fi horror genre and also a fascinating exploration of young love.

Fear Factor: 5/10, the film isn’t particularly scary, but that doesn’t detract from the narrative as a whole.

Overall: 8/10, this is by far one of my favourite films of 2015 and, although it may not be a horror aficionado’s cup of tea, it’s just the ticket if you’re looking for a gentle, intriguing watch.

Life Probably Seems Short No Matter What: A Review of Spring (2014)

Ghosts Are Real, This Much I Know: A Review of Crimson Peak (2015)

Release Date: October 16th 2015

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Country of Origin: United States

Language: English

Runtime: 1 hour 59 minutes

Crimson Peak was by far my most anticipated horror movie of 2015. As October 16th approached and my impatience reached fever pitch, I waited with baited breath, checking the cinema website every few days (hours…okay minutes) to see if I could finally book my ticket. And it wasn’t just because I wanted to see Tom Hiddleston’s bum. I have loved Del Toro’s work ever since, at the tender age of sixteen, I sat down to watch Pan’s Labyrinth and swiftly made the horrifying realisation that it was not a children’s film, as my mother had previously thought. The deliciously dark atmosphere, the mingling of the real and the fantastical, the strange and beautiful creatures that populate a world barely hidden behind the veil; these are the things I love about Del Toro. And the trailer for Crimson Peak, with its gothic opulence, colourfully twisted ghosts, and creepily sexual undertones, promised not to disappoint.

Yet, in many ways, disappoint it did. Perhaps my expectations were too high, perhaps the film had been marketed incorrectly, but it certainly wasn’t the film I had envisioned it to be and wasn’t really the one I wanted to see. With that aside, I’ll start with the plot and what I liked about it before I become too damning and potentially unlikeable (no one likes a critic, after all).

Crimson Peak follows the story of a hopeful writer named Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), who has just completed her first gothic horror novel. As a young girl, Edith is convinced that she was able to see ghosts and has since become fascinated by them. Meanwhile, a sexy young baronette named Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) has left his home in England and arrived in America to drum up funding for some fantastical steampunk-esque machine he’s been working on.

He’s come with his clearly evil sister, Lady Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain), whose main function is to play the piano and give people that “bitch-I-will-cut-you” look every now and then. Unsurprisingly Edith and Thomas hit it off immediately, get married, and proceed to return to his creepy mansion in England, named Allerdale Hall. Edith shows absolutely no concern for the fact that the house clearly doesn’t have a roof and that there’s horrifying red clay seeping down the walls. Yet all is rather unsurprisingly not what it seems in Allerdale Hall, as Edith begins seeing ghosts once again and starts to piece together the horrible truth behind the Sharpe family name.

Evidently the costume designer for “Natural Born Killers” needed work

The cinematography throughout the film is absolutely stunning and many of the scenes are beautifully well-realised, with the costumes, backdrop, and choreography coming together to form some of the most stimulating and visually nourishing shots I’ve seen in a long time. The luxurious furnishings, plush dresses, crisp white snow, and deep red…well…everything combine perfectly to form a set that screams gothic literature.

The style employed in the first half is deeply reminiscent of 1930s horror films like Frankenstein (1931), where it looks as though the shots have been filmed in a theatre rather than on a typical film set. This gives the first half of the movie a suitably oppressive feel, while paying homage to the forefathers it is trying to imitate, but I found that it jarred aesthetically with the second half, which is filmed on the grandest Hollywood set money could buy. Allerdale Hall is full of character and, with its dilapidated walls, oozing floors, and creaking pipes, has a certain ruined beauty to it. Essentially, it’s the perfect set for a gothic horror film of this calibre.

That’s one sexy looking…house…

The unique and vibrant designs behind the ghosts are refreshing, as they’re not your usual “creepy child” or “eyeless woman” fare (I’m looking at you, Paranormal Activity). In spite of some dodgy CG, they are beautifully realised and insanely creepy, though some of their fear factor is lost by them getting a little too up close and personal with the camera. After all, less is more, and this is never truer than in horror flicks. The Del Toro influence is most obvious here, as several of the ghosts reminded me of their wispy counterparts in Mama and The Devil’s Backbone.

Jessica Chastain plays the role of the quietly malevolent Lady Lucille perfectly, striking that fine balance between being terrifying and still believable. Tom Hiddleston and Charlie Hunnam, who plays Edith’s childhood friend Dr. Alan McMichael, boast solid performances but it was Mia Wasikowska that proved to be the real surprise as she was actually rather good. I had incredibly low expectations for her and she shattered them with her on-point performance of the delicate yet feisty Edith Cushings. Another surprise delight was Jim Beaver, an actor that I’d never heard of, who plays father Carter Cushing and provides a much-needed slice of comic relief.

Where the film fell down for me personally was the storyline. It’s unfortunately hugely predictable and several of the ‘subtle’ hints towards the mystery behind the house were as obvious as a stab to the face (you’ll get it when you see it). Not only that, the plot itself is deplorably unoriginal and left me wondering whether I had missed something crucial. Surely all that build-up couldn’t have been for nothing? Well, in many ways it was, but the build-up was deeply enjoyable, so I can’t fault it too much. In short, it’s essentially like getting onto a rollercoaster and making the nerve-racking climb up, only to reach the top and find that you’ve accidentally entered “Mr. Froggy’s Mild Ride” and not “The Pants Soiler”.

Acting: 7.5/10, there wasn’t a single actor whose performance I could fault, although Jessica Chastain is the real powerhouse that drives the narrative forward

Storyline: 5/10, the storyline was deeply disappointing as it was predictable, unoriginal, the supernatural elements were largely inconsequential, and it spent far too much time building up to an unsatisfactory ending

Fear Factor: 7.5/10, its chock full of far more violence, tension, and scares than you’d expect for such a low-rated film

Overall: 7/10, perhaps my expectations were too high, but Crimson Peak barely came close to some of the stronger horror titles this year

Ghosts Are Real, This Much I Know: A Review of Crimson Peak (2015)

My Top 10 Most Anticipated Horror Films of 2015: Part II

In the interests of continuity, welcome to the second part of our top 10 upcoming horror movies, complete with stunning posters, gory details, tantalising trailers, and the odd awful joke (or two…or eight…it’s all just jokes…don’t judge me). In Part I we introduced you to sci-fi horror Infini, romcom horror (it’s totally a thing now) Nina Forever, psychological thriller Estranged, haunted house/farm film The Suffering, and creature-feature Dark was the Night. Part II promises even more obscure sub-genres, dark twists, big names, small names and, most importantly, new IPs. Because seriously, if they bring out another Paranormal Activity I’m going to eat my shoes. So I ask you, please support these new movies. Please don’t make me eat my shoes. I’m on a diet.

Note: As I haven’t seen any of these films yet, there are no spoilers here other than what I’ve gleaned from their respective trailers.

  1. Cub

What happens when Friday the 13th meets Lord of the Flies? It seems you get a visceral slasher resplendent with gore, terror, and kids in Boy Scout costumes. Wait a second, kids in Boy Scout costumes?! Yes, you heard me right. Deadly, deadly boy scouts. Cub is a Belgian film about a group of Cub Scouts who venture into the wilderness for their summer camp. Our main protagonist, a 12-year-old boy named Sam, is constantly at odds with his scout leader and appears to be almost completely ostracised by the group. So, when he begins seeing strange things in the woods and becomes convinced that something is stalking them, no one believes him.

Yet our cuddly cubs will soon discover that what Sam has seen is not only real; it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Something feral is lurking in these woods and no amount of badges will protect them from it (especially not that ridiculous Bug Catching Badge. Seriously, when will that ever come in handy? What are you gonna do, throw ants at the psycho-killer?). Films like Martyrs and The Orphanage have long since proven that our foreign cousins are not only capable of “doing” horror, but are often willing to push the boundaries of “acceptable” horror. In a trailer that actively refutes the trope “children in horror films are un-killable”, it seems our Belgian slasher may just be following in their footsteps. If you fancy scouting out Cub, watch the trailer here.

  1. The Nightmare

It’s rare that you hear the terms “horror” and “documentary” in the same sentence, unless we’re talking about Animal Planet’s visual abomination Monsters Inside Me. But this year, from the director of celebrated documentscary (it took me five minutes to think of that) Room 237, it seems we’ll be treated to The Nightmare; a film focused on the devastating psychological illness known as sleep paralysis. For all of those who don’t know, sleep paralysis is a condition where people find themselves paralysed on awakening or falling asleep. They are unable to move, speak, or react in any physical way but, more terrifying still, some sufferers report experiencing vivid hallucinations similar to nightmares.

The aim of The Nightmare is to present a sequence of interviews from victims along with visual representations of their experiences. From looming shadowy figures in room corners to feral creatures perched at the foot of the bed, we follow as the documentary takes us step-by-step through the horrific living nightmares these people endure on a regular basis. Though the film has been recently criticised for its lack of scientific information, the graphic recreations of this perturbing phenomenon sound promising and, though it may not be as informative as Room 237, it appears that director Rodney Ascher has amped up the fear factor. If you want to get trapped in The Nightmare, watch the trailer here.

  1. Backcountry

While many horror films these days are resplendent with ghosts, ghouls, zombies, and supernatural mischief makers of all kinds, it appears as though filmmakers may have lost sight of how terrifying real life can be, particularly when you’re being chased by a giant bear. Backcountry goes back to the roots of good ol’ natural horror, reminding us that we as human beings are weak, pathetic, squishy creatures compared to our wild counterparts. In an incredibly direct way, the arrogance of man is what inevitably leads urban couple Alex and Jenn down the thorny path of horror. The couple decide to take a camping trip in Provincial Park, trekking the secluded Blackfoot Trail that holds a special place in Alex’s childhood memory, and Alex, fancying himself as a seasoned outdoorsman, opts to forego the convention of reading maps.

It is his stubborn insistence that eventually, and rather predictably, ends with the couple getting hopelessly lost. The shot of the couple nervously peering out over the vast expanse of forest as the true ramifications of their mistake sets in still chills my bones. Yet being lost is the least of their worries, as it soon becomes apparent that the hapless duo has attracted more than just bad luck. Something is tailing them, and is about to show them just how formidable the natural world can be. Of all the trailers in this top 10, I have to say that this one filled me with the most intense fear. Unlike the supernatural based horrors, it felt like it could really happen to me, and did in fact happen to Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend; the couple upon which the film is based. If you’re ready to venture into the Backcountry, watch the trailer here.

  1. Spring

Spring seems like an oddly jovial title for a horror movie but trust me, with a trailer as deliciously dark as this, the film promises to be anything but. I immediately took to the film as it reminded me so much of Afflicted and, though I don’t condone plagiarism, when an idea is promising then I’m all for people adapting it to their own ends. The film is classed, rather bizarrely, as a romantic horror since it follows the love-story of an American man named Evan and an Italian woman named Louise. After his life takes an unfortunate turn, Evan makes the decision to leave the US and opts for the nearest flight outta Dodge, which just happens to be going to Italy.

There he meets the ethereally beautiful Louise, a withdrawn individual who appears to be harbouring a dark secret. As time goes on and their love affair deepens, Evan finds that, far from being simply a “crazy chick”, Louise is suffering from a debilitating illness that manifests itself in the most horrifying of ways. The stunning cinematography and elements of body-shock horror employed in the trailer had me utterly convinced and I simply can’t wait to partake in a little slice of romantic horror. If that doesn’t put a Spring in your step, watch the trailer here.

  1. Crimson Peak

Okay, so I know that Crimson Peak is hardly an indie horror movie but hear me out here; I really like Del Toro. Like, really. I would eat his shoes, happily. That being said, the aim of the Top 10 wasn’t necessarily to discuss indie horror films but simply to present you with a few new IPs. So here we are. Though I’m as yet unconvinced by leading lady Mia Wasikowska, whose unbearable blandness has been the downfall of many promising films, the deliciously dark duo of Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain promises to, at the very least, redeem Mia’s yawn-factor. The film sets out to be a Gothic romance come haunted house horror, with the Sharpe family mansion performing the role of the “why-the-hell-do-people-live-here?” house most effectively.

Aspiring author Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) is taken in by mysterious stranger Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), who whisks her away to his family’s creaky manor and introduces her to his rather antagonistic sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain). However, it soon becomes apparent to Edith that the house is plagued by something otherworldly and, though she expresses no true fear of ghosts, the secrets that lie beneath the Sharpe family’s handsome exterior may prove too much for her fragile psyche. After all, this is a house that bleeds, breathes, and remembers. If all this has piqued your interest, watch the trailer for Crimson Peak here.

So what did you think of our Top 10? Are there any promising horror titles you feel we’ve missed? Please let us know in the comments.

Thanks go again to blogs Rhino’s Horror and Big Gay Horror Fan for introducing me to several of these fantastic trailers.

My Top 10 Most Anticipated Horror Films of 2015: Part II

My Top 10 Most Anticipated Horror Films of 2015: Part I

From Sinister 2 and Insidious: Chapter 3 through to Poltergeist, Amityville: The Awakening and yet another Paranormal Activity movie, 2015 appears to be the year of the sequels, prequels and remakes. In light of the sudden lack of imagination plaguing our upcoming horror titles, I’ve compiled a list of 10 new IPs that are sure to whet your appetite for fear. With slashers, sci-fi, creature features, and psychological horror, there’s something for everyone this year. Though many of these films are still doing the festival rounds, some of them have already been digitally released and a fair few have even enjoyed a limited cinematic release in the United States.

Note: As I haven’t seen any of these films yet, there are no spoilers here other than what I’ve gleaned from their respective trailers.

  1. Infini

Of all the horror subgenres (and there are so very many), sci-fi horror has to be one of my favourites. So when I first saw the trailer for Infini, a film resplendently reminiscent of both the video game Dead Space and the original Alien movie, I practically drooled all over my laptop. It follows a search-and-rescue team who have been sent to an off-world mining facility known as Infini to rescue the lone survivor of a biological outbreak. Yet it soon becomes apparent that this disease, whatever it may be, has given these space miners more than just a case of the sniffles. The greatest threat to the crew, as the trailer coyly hints, is “each other”.

Okay, so it’s basically just Dead Space. But what’s so wrong with that? I loved the Dead Space games and the thought of watching an entire movie just like them fills my dead space (by which I mean the cold dark place where my heart used to be) with butterflies. If that isn’t enough to tempt you, then watch the trailer for Infini here.

  1. Nina Forever

If I’m perfectly honest, when I first saw the trailer for Nina Forever I really had no idea how I felt about it. It was quirky, it was novel, it had one of the worst one-liners I’ve ever heard, but was it totally convincing? After watching it a further few times I can firmly say: I still have absolutely no idea. But I’m definitely intrigued, and that’s something. Nina Forever is about Rob; a man who unsuccessfully tries to commit suicide after his long-term girlfriend is killed in a car crash.

As time passes, his wounds begin to heal and he engages in a budding romance with co-worker Holly. The two finally go to bed, passionately committed to one another, but their intimacy is swiftly interrupted by the twisted corpse of Nina, Rob’s dead girlfriend, who appears to have climbed out of their sheets. So begins a vicious cycle where every time Rob and Holly try to have sex, the figure of Nina appears to berate and torment them. And you thought your sex life was terrible. If you’re as intrigued by Nina Forever as I am, watch the trailer here.

  1. Estranged

I’m a bit of a nerd, which is my grossly understated way of saying I’m a massive nerd. So when I heard that James Cosmo, the man behind Game of Thrones’ quietly powerful Jeor Mormont, was going to star in an upcoming horror movie, I grabbed my Stark emblazoned mug of tea and settled down to watch the trailer for Estranged. And I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed. The film is about a young girl named January who suffers a near fatal accident and is forced to return home after a six-year absence spent travelling.

Accompanied by her boyfriend, she’s wheelchair bound and appears to be experiencing near total amnesia, having completely forgotten why she left or what her childhood was like. As she struggles to uncover the truth behind what made her leave, the thin façade her “caring” family have attempted to preserve starts to crack. Although I think the trailer gives a little too much away, the claustrophobic atmosphere and the pervading sense of dread is undeniable. If you fancy having a gander for yourself, or simply want to see James Cosmo out of that Lord Commander’s outfit (awww yeah), then watch the trailer for Estranged here.

  1. The Suffering

Before you ask, this movie is not about Kim Kardashian’s yoga pants, long suffering though they may be. The Suffering is about a property appraiser who is asked by a polite elderly gentleman to take a look at a rural farm he owns. This seems innocuous enough but, on arrival, our real estate expert is confronted with horrors that are beyond his comprehension. As he desperately battles to break free or, at the very least, find out what is going on, we follow as the world he has entered slowly descends further and further into madness. Alice (or should I say Alicio?) has well and truly tumbled down the rabbit hole and all of the mushrooms in the world won’t be enough to bring him back.

That being said, when I first read the synopsis for the film I wasn’t entirely convinced. A man is asked to stay overnight in a spooky isolated house, you say? Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Yet after watching the trailer, which was far better than it had any right to be, I was hooked. Aside from one rather lame duck jump scare, the trailer’s use of sound, the build of nervous tension, the intrigue, and the sheer irksome creepiness of it all got under my skin in all the right ways (again, awww yeah). If you fancy becoming one of The Suffering (and no, I don’t mean Nicki Minaj’s underwear), then watch the trailer here.

  1. Dark was the Night

This seemingly by-the-numbers creature feature took the Screamfest Horror Film Festival by storm last year but, for whatever reason, has yet to see an official release. Dark was the Night follows the story of Sheriff Paul Shields, played by the stoically enigmatic Kevin Durand, as he struggles to protect his community and his family from an evil lurking in the forest outside the sleepy town of Maiden Woods. The trailer at first appears to be your standard, there’s-something-in-the-trees, oh-god-it’s-eating-me kind of monster movie but the subtle hints at Shields’ shadowy past and the looming threat of mental illness point towards a darker possibility.

Yet it was not so much the storyline that impressed me as the calibre of acting. In the short trailer alone, the believability and generally likeability of the characters can already be felt. Gone are the painfully attractive high school students whose survival instincts are matched only by their IQ. Gone are the creepy redneck stereotypes that ominously play their banjos and lick their lips as you pass by. All that is left are real small town Americans struggling with a very real evil; though the nature of that evil is up to you to discover. If you want to see just how Dark was the Night, then watch the trailer here.

So which of these up-and-comers gives you the chills? What upcoming horror titles are you most looking forward to? And what do you think will make it into our Top 5? Please let us know in the comments.

Thanks go to blogs Rhino’s Horror and Big Gay Horror Fan for introducing me to several of these fantastic trailers.

My Top 10 Most Anticipated Horror Films of 2015: Part I

Malicious Myths: El Chupacabra

From a young age, something about the chupacabra both deeply unsettled and fascinated me. It was small, it was feeble looking, and it was kind of cute in a creepy, reptilian sort of way. Yet the disturbingly vicious method in which it killed its victims skyrocketed it in my childish mind from mischief-making sprite to bloodthirsty emissary of Satan. The name chupacabra literally means “goat sucker” in Spanish and before you ask, no, this isn’t some kind of freaky Hispanic porno. The chupacabra is classed as a “contemporary legend” and supposedly began terrorising the Americas in the 1990s, starting with a spate of killings in Puerto Rico.

In March of 1995, eight sheep were discovered dead on a Puerto Rican farm. The victims had only three puncture wounds on their chests and had been completely drained of blood. Now I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of a fan of my blood and would prefer that it stayed in my own body. By August of the same year nearly 150 farm animals and pets had reportedly been killed in the same way. Violent, ‘Nam-style flashbacks began plaguing the locals as they were reminded of a similar epidemic in 1975, when the Puerto Rican town of Moca had been terrorised by “El Vampiro de Moca” or “the Kitten of Moca”. Just kidding! “THE VAMPIRE OF MOCA”. As if life wasn’t hard enough, it appeared as though the towns of Puerto Rico were once again being targeted by the only vampire with a goat fetish.

At first, people thought a satanic cult may be behind the killings, until a woman named Madelyne Tolentino came forward and claimed to have seen a creature. Not just any creature, but a small, scaly, kangaroo-like reptile that hopped after goats in a menacing and totally non-comedic way. Silverio Pérez, a Puerto Rican comedian, is credited with coining the term “el chupacabra” not long after the incidents were reported, which is a testament to just how seriously people were taking our little lizard friend. When you’re named after a joke by some two-bit comedian, you’re hardly striking fear into the hearts of men.

Yet our slithery bloodsucking imp wasn’t about to let this deter him. Not long after Tolentino’s testimony, similar killings were reported from the Dominican Republic and Bolivia right through to Mexico and the United States. Apparently, by March of 2005, el chupacabra had even reached Russia and took the liberty of killing and draining 32 turkeys just to, you know, let everyone know he was there. The last known sighting took place in April of 2014, when a couple from Ratcliffe, Texas claimed to have captured one of the beasts. Scientific researchers discovered the animal was in fact just a racoon with sarcoptic mange but I have to believe that, if I was confronted by a foot-high hairless creature rummaging through my garbage, I’d probably think it was Hellspawn too.

Lately, some people have started to argue that the chupacabra may in fact be an ABE or “Anomalous Biological Entity”. In sci-fi speak that means a pet or experiment that once belonged to an extra-terrestrial race but has since escaped and decided to wreak havoc on our planet. These UFO aficionados claim that the government has been trying to hide the presence of the chupacabra for years and that perhaps, just perhaps, the Republican Party is actually being sustained by goat’s blood. Okay so that part about goat’s blood is a complete lie but, if hyper-intelligent alien life forms did exist, do you really think they’d spend the better part of their time engineering a creature whose primary goal was to terrorise a few Russian turkeys? This reporter says, yes…yes they probably would.

Appearance

By artist Rodrigo-Vega

Physical descriptions of the creature vary between countries and it appears to range in size from “large rabbit” right through to “small bear”. It’s characteristically reptilian, with either leathery skin or greyish green scales covering most of its body and spines or quills jutting out of its back. Most descriptions claim that it hops like a small kangaroo, but in some areas it appears to run on all fours like a wild dog. It is often portrayed as looking slightly emaciated, with unnaturally pronounced eye sockets and skeletal features. Being a predator, it has large fangs and claws for taking down goats and turkeys, the most cunning of prey, but it is sometimes depicted with features like that of a vampire bat due to its predilection for drinking its victim’s blood. So just imagine a bug-eyed, scaly frog with oversized choppers and you’re practically there.

Origins

Sil from the movie “Species”

Believe it or not, chupacabras may not actually be real. I know this may come as quite a shock to you, so just take a moment to let it all settle in. After a five-year investigation, Benjamin Radford, author of Tracking the Chupacabra, discovered that the original eyewitness, Madelyne Tolentino, had actually been describing the alien Sil from the sci-fi horror flick Species. Why it took Radford five years to figure this out is beyond me, particularly when you take into account the fact that Tolentino had seen the movie only a few days prior to the event. Evidently it was a slow day at the Bureau for Chupacabra Investigation, or Radford just really needed the money. Either way, Radford concluded his investigation by stating that Tolentino had not seen a chupacabra but was in fact just batshit crazy, as she had begun to believe that the events from the movie Species were really happening.

By artist hellcorpceo

Over 300 reported victims of the chupacabra were examined by veterinarians and a necropsy of the corpses found that the animals had not actually been drained of blood but were just a little deflated, as I’d imagine anyone would be after, you know, becoming a corpse. Many of the reports in the United States and several other countries were confirmed to be coyotes suffering from sarcoptic mange that had started hunting livestock because, in their weakened state, they couldn’t take on their usual prey. The two holes on the necks’ of the victims were consistent with canine teeth and the fact that the animals had not been eaten indicated that they probably escaped their predator but died later due to internal bleeding.

So a rather disappointing end for our creepy little critter. No one knows exactly why the legend has perpetuated for so long or why it spread to so many different countries, but at least now goats of the world can sleep a little easier.

Modern-Day Usage

Considering how young this urban legend is, the chupacabra has managed to weasel its way into a number of media outlets. In fact, its fame is so far-reaching that I can’t even begin to mention all of the references to it here, so I’ve chosen a smattering of the more famous ones to give you an idea:

  • The films Chupacabra: Dark Seas, starring John Rhys-Davies, and Guns of El Chupacabra, starring Scott Shaw, both revolve around the urban legend.
  • In Marvel’s Fantastic Four miniseries “Isla de la Muerte”, our heroes head to Puerto Rico to confront the chupacabra.
  • Marvel’s notoriously controversial antihero Deadpool is at one point enlisted by a Mexican goat-herder to save his prize goat Bella, which has been kidnapped by a group of chupacabras.

    Dexter’s cheeky chupacabra
  • During the second season of the cartoon Dexter’s Laboratory, Dexter accidentally creates a creature known as “La Chupacabra” that subsequently escapes and makes its way to South America.
  • In the South Park episode entitled “Jewpacabra”, Eric Cartman tries to hunt down a Jewish chupacabra that he claims kills children on Easter Sunday.
  • In an episode of Futurama, the Planet Express crew travel down to the sewers and are confronted by a vicious monster that the local mutants call El Chupanibre.
  • In the anime Occult Academy, Maya and the gang investigate a series of mysterious cattle deaths near their school. The character Ami is eventually kidnapped by the chupacabra, and it’s up to her friends to save her.
  • In the wildly famous T.V. series X-Files, the episode entitled “El Mundo Gira” reveals that the chupacabra are actually illegal immigrants who have been infected with an alien fungus.
  • In an episode of the T.V. series Bones entitled “The Truth in the Myth”, one of the possible murder suspects is a chupacabra.
  • In the video game franchise Castlevania, later games feature an enemy known as the “Cave Troll” but this is a mistranslation; the enemy is in fact a chupacabra.
  • The chupacabra features as an enemy in the video game series Shin Megami Tensei.

  • In the video game Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, a chupacabra can be killed as part of a side-quest. Killing it even rewards you with an achievement entitled “Chupathingy”.
  • In the video game Fallout: New Vegas, the character No-Bark Noonan confuses an enemy known as a Nightkin for a chupacabra. When someone explains to Noonan that the holes in the murdered cattle were in fact made by bullets, he responds by saying “well…we got a chupacabra with an automatic weapon”.
Malicious Myths: El Chupacabra