Trailer Tuesday: Killing Ground

Killing Ground looks awesome. I’m a sucker for movies that taking place while camping, so that hooked me right away. Plus, it’s Australian, which means it probably pushes the boundaries of horror, at least a little bit. It does look a bit like Deliverance, at least in delivery (upon looking at the trivia for this movie, apparently Deliverance is referenced!). I’m worried the creepiest moments are in the trailer, though. Here’s to hoping they saved some of the tension for the actual movie-going experience.

Killing Ground comes out 21 July 2017 here in the states.

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.

Movie Review: Raw (2017)

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Released: 15 March 2017 (France)
Director: Julia Ducournau
Writer: Julia Ducournau
Actors: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Nait Oufella
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Synopsis 

When a young vegetarian undergoes a carnivorous hazing ritual at vet school, an unbidden taste for meat begins to grow in her.

(via IMDB)

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If you know me, you know I love French horror. French horror pushes every possible boundary they can–with buckets of gore as an accompaniment. I’m also a fan of supporting female directors, so Raw seemed like the perfect movie: a debut by up-and-coming French director Julia Ducournau. Plus, reviews trickled in about how the movie caused viewers to flee the theatre, usually in order to vomit because of the gratuitously violent content. Now, you should always read these reviews with some suspicion–they’re mostly clickbait. However, it did make me hope that the movie would push boundaries the way that French horror usually does.

That line of thinking is what you need to leave behind before viewing this film. Raw is more of a personal drama with added horror elements (there is cannibalism, after all–but only about three scenes of cannibalism). If you go into this movie wanting a gory horror flick, you’re going to be disappointed. There are a couple gross moments, don’t get me wrong (and they’re awesome), but this movie focuses more on relationships, desires, and transformations of the body.

I’ve watched Raw twice now, and can’t help but notice how reminiscent it is to one of my favorite horror movies–Ginger Snaps. Though Ginger Snaps deals more with menstruation taboos, I do think there are similarities with the sisters’ relationship and the sort of “unleashing” of a woman’s sexual side.  Obviously, Raw is a bit more brutal than Ginger Snaps is, and deals with cannibals rather than werewolves, but I still think they pair well together.

Raw also details how repressing one’s deepest desire can fuck with you when you have to confront it alone once you move away from home. It’s a movie about hunger–both sexual and physical. It’s a primal hunger that affects the main character, Justine, more and more as the film continues. I loved the way that her body language changed as she grew more confident (and hungry)–it grew more fluid, but also more hunched and animalistic. Both Ducournau and Marillier did a fantastic job at portraying Justine. She’s easily the most relatable cannibal figure I’ve seen in the horror genre, and you do sympathize with her as the movie progresses–especially once it becomes clear that she’s trying to navigate and learn how to deal with her newfound monstrosity. And the dichotomy between how she handles her situation and how her sister handles the same situation is great.

Another plus for this film is the soundtrack. The music is so good. It perfectly captures the atmosphere and tone, and matches the cinematography well. Along the same lines, the way that Ducournau utilizes color is fantastic. There are rich reds, and vibrant blues and yellows. When a scene needs to be more subdued it is, but that’s juxtaposed between colorful, vivid moments.

Raw is definitely a film to rewatch. I think you catch more with each subsequent viewing, and I feel like each time I watch it my understanding of the ending deepens and grows.

All in all, I highly recommend checking this film out–but remember that it’s a bit more slow-paced and it’s not a gorefest. It’s not going to be the scariest movie you see, but it is going to challenge the way that you view certain taboos and behaviors. And, if you’re a fan of body horror and how the body can transform and push its own boundaries, you’ll dig this film .

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.

Book Talk: The Collector by John Fowles

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Synopsis

Withdrawn, uneducated and unloved, Frederick collects butterflies and takes photographs.He is obsessed with a beautiful stranger, the art student Miranda. When he wins the pools he buys a remote Sussex house and calmly abducts Miranda, believing she will grow to love him in time. Alone and desperate, Miranda must struggle to overcome her own prejudices and contempt if she is understand her captor, and so gain her freedom.

(via Goodreads)

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I picked The Collector up because it sounded psychologically interesting, and it sounded like it might be disturbing–and who doesn’t love feeling disturbed? I was not disappointed on either front. This book made me really uncomfortable in certain areas, if only because the mindset that Frederick has seems so familiar to that particular set of young males who feel personally offended whenever a woman doesn’t return whatever feelings they might have. It’s just a book that hit a bit too close to home. I was both glad that the book didn’t let me down, and also sad that the situation read a bit too relevant still.

It’s fascinating reading Frederick’s point of view throughout the book, because you get to see how he justifies/views his actions. And I love that Fowles then gives us Miranda’s point of view from her diary of the things we’d seen up until that point solely through Frederick’s POV. I will say, I felt her portion dragged a bit and was a tad too repetitive, but it does make you feel for her, and it makes the book even more thrilling because you start to hope she’ll make it out the prison Frederick has placed her in. Fowles also does a great job at showing her deterioration of spirit into a sort of madness as her captivity progresses.

I’ve seen some criticism about her unlikeable voice, but I found her to be a Salinger’s Franny-esque character, which made her more likable. (And, in case you were wondering, Frederick reads very Humbert Humbert mixed with–what I would presume from the character, as I still haven’t read the book–Joe from You. He’s sarcastic and dry and bitter, but also highly eloquent and logical in the same way Humbert Humbert is.)

My favorite part of the novel were the Tempest inspirations strewn throughout it. I love that Frederick tells Miranda his name is Ferdinand, and that she calls him Caliban. It’s perfect for the situation, and it added some complexity and literary depth to the book that I quite enjoyed. And, of course, the imagery of her being a butterfly that Frederick has attempted to collect and pin down is wonderfully tragic.

So, if you’re in the market for a quiet but disturbing read, I recommend The Collector. It’s horrific in how relatable it is, and it’s thrilling the sense that you want to know how Miranda can possibly get out of Frederick’s grasp. If you have any suggestions for other books to read that are Collector-esque, let me know! I’m always in the market for new horror books to check out.

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.

Trailer Tuesday: Happy Death Day

Happy Death Day centers around a teenager who has to relive the day of her death over and over again until she can figure out who is killing her. It’s like Groundhog Day, but with death. This movie doesn’t look like it will be super original or groundbreaking, but it does look like it will be entertaining enough. Also, I love that it comes out on Friday the 13th. Perfection.

It doesn’t seem like there are a lot of October horror releases this year, which is sad. Will you be checking out Happy Death Day? Let me know!

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.

Trailer Tuesday: Woodshock

Woodshock is a drama/thriller that comes out in September, starring Kirsten Dunst and Joe Cole. I love the atmospheric quality of the trailer, and hope that the movie delivers the same dark whimsy throughout the entire film. The colors, the music, the artsy shots…all of it looks perfect. The trailer doesn’t give a good sense of the movie, but it seems to include drugs and paranoia. I love a good thriller, so I’ll definitely be checking this one out!

 

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.

Best Horror Movies to Check Out on Netflix

I love watching movies–obviously. They’re one of my favorite ways to pass the time; this means that I’ve watched most of the horror movies that are currently on Netflix. (Please add more, Netflix.) Knowing this, recently, a friend asked for some horror recommendations, so I’ve compiled a list of my favorite horror movies currently available to stream on Netflix (USA). These are in no particular order, save for Starry Eyes at #1, because it’s my favorite.

starry-eyes-dvd20coverStarry Eyes (2014)

Starry Eyes is probably my favorite indie horror movie. It tells the story of a young, hopeful actress who stumbles upon a secret Hollywood elite that promise her fame and fortune–for a price, of course. This movie is well acted, and has great cinematography. It’s definitely a body horror film, so it gets quite…intense. It’s well worth it, though. I highly recommend, and this is a film I’ll purchase if it ever leaves Netflix. I love it that much.

 

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I first saw It Follows in theatres, and it was a perfect theatre experience. However, it’s a movie that doesn’t lose its atmosphere in its transition from cinema to streaming on your computer or TV. If you haven’t seen this film, all you need to know is that a young woman is followed by an unknown supernatural force after a sexual encounter (the metaphor is strong with this one). What works the most for me in this film is the cinematography and the music. They’re both fantastic.

honeymoon_film_posterHoneymoon (2014)

Honeymoon is a quiet horror film. It’s subtle, and moves slowly. It’s beautifully shot, and well acted, and definitely deserves a place on this list. I love this movie. All I’ll say is that a newly married couple go on their honeymoon (surprise, surprise), but things start to go awry when the husband finds his wife wandering and disoriented in the woods one night.

 

 

would_you_rather_posterWould You Rather (2012)

Would You Rather is the one “trash” horror film I have on this list. This isn’t a great film, by any means. But, it is really entertaining. The acting is okay, and the twists and turns aren’t original, but I have a soft spot for horror movies that focus on a group of people locked in a room or house who have to play some sort of game to survive (see also: House of 9, Nine Dead, and obviously Saw).

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The Babadook (2014)

Australia has been on its game horror wise, and this movie is no exception. That said, this is probably the most polarizing film on this list. People either love it or hate. I’m of the love it camp–I think this movie is beautifully shot, and Essie Davis is fantastic as Amelia–a single mother still haunted by the violent death of her husband, who has to raise her son alone. She’s not a great mother, and her relationship with her son at the beginning of the film is, well, horrifying. Davis still manages to make her character sympathetic, though, which I commend her for.  You’ll like this movie if you like subtle horror that doesn’t focus on blood and gore.

220px-pontypoolposterPontypool (2008)

Pontypool is more of a psychological thriller than a horror film, except for a few horrific moments near the end of the movie. It follows a talk radio host’s discovery of a deadly outbreak in his town of Ontario while he’s on the air. This is one of the few Canadian horror films I’ve seen, and like many of the movies on this list, it’s a lot more subtle than your usual run-of-the-mill Hollywood horror films.

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Under the Shadow (2016)

Under the Shadow is an Iranian horror film about a mother and daughter who are struggling to survive in post-revolution, war-torn Theran in the 1980s, and discover a sinister presence haunting their home. I’ve not seen many Middle-Eastern horror movies, something that I’ve been trying to rectify as of late. Under the Shadow is more a movie about relationships than it is about the horror, which I loved. It’s a horror movie with a lot of heart, that’s also well acted and directed, and I loved how rooted it was in its culture. I highly recommend this if you’re trying to get into more foreign horror films, particularly those set in the Middle East. This one won’t disappoint!

3b31ae06a27cc58e_hush-poster-150dpi_v8-xxxlarge_2xHush (2016)

Mike Flanagan is easily becoming one of my favorite current horror directors in the US right now. His direction and vision is a much needed breath of fresh air in the horror genre. Hush employs a more original take on the home invasion sub-genre of horror by having a deaf woman as its protagonist. It’s tense, and well acted (though I do wish that an actual deaf woman was playing the role, because representation).

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Last Shift (2014)

Last Shift is a horror movie that took me by surprise. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. It’s extremely well done for a low-budget horror film–it managed to have more successful scares than the popular, big-budget horror films that I’ve seen lately. It details a rookie cop’s first shift in a closing police station. Naturally, supernatural hijinks ensue. This is one that you want to make sure to watch in the dark. It’ll add to the overall ambiance of the film.

thesacramentfilmfestivalposterThe Sacrament (2013)

The Sacrament is the one film on the list that is based on something that happened IRL. It follows a young man who tries to find his missing sister (accompanied by a camera crew, because found footage), and finds that where she’s been living–known as Eden Parish–is a bit…off. Again, this movie is pretty tame for most of the film, although it does maintain a tense atmosphere once they get to the cult–I mean, community. Once the denouement happens, though, it all goes to shit. Very quickly. All I’ll say is, don’t drink the kool-aid, kids.

 

If you haven’t seen any of these, enjoy your Netflix binge. If you have, let me know what you think!

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.

Trailer Tuesday: Rupture

A horror movie with Noomi Rapace? Sign me up.

From the trailer, it looks like Rupture follows abduction from a mysterious organization and her subsequent attempt (s?) to escape from their grasp. It looks like there is a shape-shifting, or possible alien theme to the movie. The organization is trying to unlock a gene that Rapace and others like her have that leads to “the rupture.” It reminds me, in all honestly, of Cú Chulainn’s Torque (á la The Táin).  I’m excited about this movie because 1) Noomi Rapace and 2) the colors look brilliant. I’m a fan of super over-saturated color schemes, and this looks like it might deliver on that front. Plus, it promises to deliver some grotesque moments of body horror.

Rupture comes out in the States on 28 April 2017.

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.