I won a contest where I was required to watch back-to-back horror movies over the course of twenty-four hours on Halloween. You can read the story about how I won and why I did it here. I wrapped up all of the planned viewings earlier in the AM today and promptly passed out afterwards. This morning, I woke up fully rested (thanks Daylight Savings Time!) but still physically fatigued from the whole experience. The hardest part so far? The conscious decision to NOT have any coffee/caffeine today due to the ridiculous amounts of it that I ingested during my watch-a-thon. Please note that all grammar mistakes and typos you find in this post will be blamed on that decision.
Now, in my previous blog entry, I had conveyed that I haven’t watched many movies in the 21st century that would qualify as horror/scary movies. However, I did watch a lot these films pre-2000. I’ve been deep into franchises like Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream and others along with some of the slow-burn nightmare fuel of Seventies cinema and a variety of Stephen King flicks. So I wasn’t walking into these films without some basis of that motion picture genre knowledge to pull from.
All that said, here are my brief thoughts on the twelve movies I watched which (again) I had never see before until yesterday.
Saw (2004) was good. I hear the “torture porn” element of it ramps up heavily as the series continues, but the original seemed like a solid standalone film. Clever story and some shocking visuals without dragging it out too much. Here’s my live-tweet thread the film.
Dawn of the Dead (2004) was good. This showed up on a bunch of lists I had researched and, I’ll be honest, my curiosity was peaked when I found out that Zack Snyder was directing. He’s very 50/50 with me, but when he’s good he’s damn good. I liked his execution of the concept, but one detail bugged the hell out of me: it was very obvious to anyone who’s been to Canada that the mall was not in Wisconsin. You see a Roots store (Canadian brand) in one of the first shots inside the mall. They could have at least redressed/omitted certain stores. Here’s my live-tweet thread the film.
Let the Right One In (2008) was outstanding. I love films that create an atmosphere visually by making effective use of the story’s location. The snow, the darkness and the actors added to the impact of the movie. Let’s face it: kid vampires are creepy as fuck, and the emotional impact of the story coupled with some of the key characters’ awkwardness all combined for an emotionally charged viewing experience. I’m on the fence as to whether or not I want to see the American remake. Here’s my live-tweet thread the film.
Hereditary (2018) was excellent. Misleading on purpose and more complex than you are initially led believe, this movie as absolutely disturbing and it’s made that-much-better by the amazing cinematography and top notch acting. This isn’t just a great horror flick, it’s solid filmmaking overall. Here’s my live-tweet thread the film.
28 Days Later… (2002) was good. Honestly, it’s probably very good since it was groundbreaking for what it did when it came out. However, after a decade plus of The Walking Dead and similar style entertainment it just wasn’t as strong as I was expecting considering how much I love Danny Boyle. Sometimes the timing of seeing a film can hinder its impact. Here’s my live-tweet thread the film.
Paranormal Activity (2007) was good. The cleverness of it is detracted from the fact that I liked/respected/enjoyed The Blair Witch Project already. However, Paranormal Activity takes this concept and handles it well in its own right making for an interesting take on a niche within the genre. Here’s my live-tweet thread the film.
The Ring (2002) was great. I went back and forth as to whether to watch this or the original Ringu (1998), but I eventually decided on the American version since it was technically a 21st century flick and I like Gore Verbinski. The Ring is a solid movie and enjoyed it a lot, but I probably won’t know how I fully feel about it until I see the Japanese version. Here’s my live-tweet thread the film.
Train to Busan (2016) was outstanding. The second foreign horror film I watched on this list (and the second movie I’ve claimed as “outstanding”) is easily one of the best zombie movies of all time in my opinion. The story takes hold and gives you very few chances to catch your breath, but its completely worth the stressfulness of the experience. I’d watch this one again and probably will again in the future. Here’s my live-tweet thread the film.
It: Chapter Two (2019) was good. The first one was better, and this one seemed like it tried too hard to be creepy which made it less creepy. Additionally, the story wasn’t as cohesive as the first one. I’m glad I watched it for the completionist in me, but it isn’t really a “best of” when talking about 21st century horror. Here’s my live-tweet thread the film.
A Quiet Place (2018) was very good. It’s a concept film that’s cleverly executed to create impactful “jump scare” moments and the mythology is a neat idea. I found myself as a sci-fi geek, though, analyzing world building related plot holes in my mind. (Where did their electricity come from without making noise, for example?) The nerdy stuff aside, I’m now curious enough to check out the sequel. This was Shannon’s favorite film of the ones she sat through with me. Here’s my live-tweet thread the film.
The Cabin in the Woods (2011) was good. This had Joss Whedon’s fingerprints all over it from character archetypes to certain actors appearing in the film. It’s a clever story. I liked laughing along the way in a horror film for the right reasons, and overall it was an enjoyable flick. Here’s my live-tweet thread the film.
Midsommar (2019) was excellent and probably the most disturbing film of the bunch. As a result of this and Hereditary I know now Ari Aster by name. I also know that he must be fucked up mentally on some level to put out movies like this, and he’s unquestionably one of the most talented filmmakers in the industry right now. Here’s my live-tweet thread the film.