Reviews - Films

Epic Music in Horror Films

Dun dun duuuuuuun!

Today I want to talk to you about one of the most epic tools in a horror film and/or game makers tool kit. 

I am of course talking about sound design. 

Sound is essential to building tension, suspense and anxiety as well as signalling to you that you can breathe for a moment and when you should be wary. While all sound design is essential to managing this control of tension, I want to focus on Music today (though there will be a bonus video at the end of this blog re other kinds of sound). 

As I said, music is intrinsic to horror films, music invokes emotions, something movies and games use to their advantage. Music is an amazing communication tool, telling you want to think and feel without saying a word. A great way to ‘tell’ without ‘telling’. 

Composures are magicians. 

Think back to jaws as a good example, you hear that tiny clip of music, and you know to get the hell out of the water. Or the sharp violin screech in Psycho. All of these sounds resonate with us in a way that words sometimes struggle to. 

Today I want to share with you my top five favourite horror soundtracks. 

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Reviews - Films

Film: Malignant

Baby Back

Today I want to talk with you about a movie I enjoyed, about a lady who has visions only to find they are coming true.

Malignant is a supernatural horror film, it was released in 2021 and directed by James Wan. It was written by James Wan and Ingrid Bisu and Akela Cooper.

Setting

Modern-ish day America.

Characters

Our main characters are:

  • Madison – our main character  
  • Sydney – Madison’s sister
  • Gabriel – I’m saying nothing.
  • Detectives Kekoa Shaw and Regina Moss
  • Dr. Florence Weaver & Victor Fields & John Gregory – doctors at Simion Hospital

Plot

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The film starts in 1993, in Simion Hospital, with Dr. Weaver, Victor Fields and John Gregory treating a psychiatric patient, Gabriel. Gabriel has apparently got magic powers, as he is able to eat electricity and broadcasts his thoughts via speakers. Unfortunately for everyone Gabriel turns violent and kills a bunch of people in the hospital. Dr Weaver claims she can’t fix him and they have to cut the cancer out.

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Reviews - Films

Review: April Fools Day.

Day of fools

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.

Continue reading “Review: April Fools Day.”
Reviews - Films

Film: Antlers

Everyone loves a wendigo

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.

Summary

Photo by Vincent M.A. Janssen on Pexels.com

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.

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Reviews - Films

Review: Midsommer

Rituals and pretty dresses

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.

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Reviews - Films

Review: The Platform

A social experiment gone wrong

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.

Summary

Photo by Donald Tong on Pexels.com

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.

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Reviews - Films

Top Three Well Written Horror Films

Film writing at it’s best

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.

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Reviews - Films

Review: Haunt

Comedy Horror

Today I am writing to talk to you about the film Haunt.

Haunt isn’t the kind of horror I would normally enjoy as it is a slasher film, I prefer supernatural or psychological horror, yet I still found this film enjoyable so I wanted to talk about it.

Haunt came out in 2019 (remember 2019, before the pandemic, wistful sigh), and recieved mixed and positive reviews. It was written by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, they both also directed it.

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Review: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

I’ve got a story to tell

I am a big fan of the old school special effects.

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.

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Reviews - Films

Review: The Girl on the Third Floor

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.

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