Today is the 1st of April! Which as you probably already know, means it’s April Fools Day.
April Fool’s Day is a day celebrated each year with practical jokes and hoaxes, it has permeated all aspects of work and life, and the horror genre has not escaped. With that in mind today I want to talk about the 1986 classic horror film, April Fools.
While this is a horror film it is a black comedy. It was directed by Fred Walton and centres around a group of college students whose vacation is disrupted by a killer.
Today I am writing to tell to you about Antlers, which is a film with a lot of symbolism.
It was released in 2021 and directed by Scot Cooper. It was adapted from the short story, The Quiet Boy, written by Nick Antosca.
The story takes place in a small town in Oregon, where a drug dealer, Frank, runs his meth lab out of an old mine. Frank is visiting his lab and he; his son Aiden and Franks meth pal are all attacked by a creature in the mine. Frank and Aiden escape but meth buddy does not. However, Frank and Aiden are not well after the attack and return home to be locked in the basement by Franks other boy, Lucas.
Today I want to write to you about the film, Midsommer.
Midsommer is a folk horror story that was released in 2019. It was written and directed by Ari Aster, who you may remember from Hereditary. Midsommer and Hereditary are both very similar in their ability to build and hold tension as well as the sheer depth of the atmosphere.
In these blogs I usually go heavily into spoiler territory but I’m going to avoid that with this film, just because the best experience you can have with this film is when you go in blind. While the strength of this film comes from its atmosphere and its ability to build tension and keep you up there for as long as it damn well pleases, that does diminish when you know exactly what’s coming. Though that being said this isn’t a film that relies on a twist its got wonderfully crafted characters, and well thought out settings, the story is a very strong one and when you rewatch it you’ll notice all the little foreshadowing hints that you might have missed on first viewing.
Today I am writing to talk to you about a film I only watched recently, The Platform. This was a very intense film and an interesting exploration of human nature, and the class system, it affected me more than I expected it to. The film came out on Netflix in 2019 and is Spanish, directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia.
It is described as a social science thriller.
Our main character, Goreng, who we experience the prison through, wakes in a concrete cell marked with the number 48. He has no memory of how he came there or any understanding of where he is. The situation is explained to him by his cell mate they are in a “Vertical Self-Management Centre”. It is later explained that Goreng volunteered to enter the prison, though others are incarcerated.
The ‘gimmick’ of this prison is that food, a veritable feast arrives on a platform that starts on the top floor and slowly moves down through the building. This means that the people at the top have access to all the food and the people below have less and less and less, those on lower floors will starve.
Today I am writing to talk (let’s be honest I’m going to gush) to you about some of the best-written horror films, in my humble opinion.
Horror films can be great for a multitude of reasons, such as great characters, great effects, great jump scares (lol kidding), great lore, the list goes on. There’s so much to like and enjoy in this genre and medium.
But one of my favourite things is when I encounter a film that’s been beautifully written.
There’s real thought and nuance behind the dialogue and storytelling, so much so that you get sucked in and its not till the story is over that you realise the craft involved in keeping you that engrossed. I especially enjoy it when I find a film that’s premise is utterly ridiculous, for example the killer grass field by Stephen King. This is literally a film about scary grass. But the writing has taken what is a ridiculous concept and turned it into something, that while not flawless, certainly held my attention and kept me guessing.
So, with that in mind, today I want to talk to you about my top 3 well written horror films.
Do not get me wrong modern day special effects like CGI etc can be amazing when done well and either hilarious or uncanny valley when done poorly. I am not here to bash CGI I just want to gush for a moment about old school costumes, and puppetry etc.
These effects have a very warm place in my heart, probably because I was born in the mid 80’s and so spent a lot of my pre-teen years watching films like Dark Crystal, Legend, Gremlins and Labyrinth. Either way, I love the fact that these effects are ‘real’ as in the actors can see and respond to an actual ‘creature’ as opposed to people n green body suits covered in ping pong balls. They make eye contact; they physically touch the creature, and it shows in their performance.
It is for this reason that I became a fan of Guillermo del Toro, his version of Hellboy was amazing, Pan labyrinth was fantastic and his creatures in all his films are of such high quality it is like they were ‘real’.
So, when I saw he was attached to Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark I was thrilled. I could not wait to see what he did with this and I was not disappointed.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was released in August 2019, directed by André Øvredal, and is based on the children’s book series of the same name.
Today I am writing to discuss the film, Girl on the Third Floor.
This film came out in October 2019 and was directed by Travis Stevens. I very much enjoyed this take on the typical haunted house trope, and how the traditional effects it used made everything seem more real.
The story is about Don, a chap who decides to buy and renovate an old house for himself and his wife, but lo and behold things do not go smoothly due to supernatural shenanigans.
Today I wanted to write to you about the new horror film His House.
His House was released on Netflix in the UK on October 30th and was directed by Remi Weekes who also wrote the screenplay.
This film is a perfect combination of supernatural horror and social pressures. It is told from a viewpoint we don’t see very often, at least not one I have been exposed to very often. The story chills the audience on a multitude of different levels, from the supernatural level to the fear of war-torn countries, the fear of your own morality slipping away, the fear of losings one’s identity, the guilt of those who survive and the fear of isolation and imprisonment. All of this is cleverly woven together to tell a truly immersive story.
As I’ve said in previous letters nearly all my favourite horror films are Japanese in origin.
I think this has to do with several elements, the fact that I watch these films subtitled (which I find much more immersive and a less passive way of watching a movie), the stores they choose to tell and the fact that I am not naive to Japan, which means I only see the imports and usually money won’t be spent importing a film unless there’s a market for it and it’s reasonably good.
One of my favourite horror movies is Dark Water and it is that film that I want to talk to you about today. Keep in mind I will be discussing the 2002 story and not the 2005 remake with Jennifer Connelly.
Dark water was directed by Hideo Nakata and released in 2003 in the UK.