Trailer Tuesday: Leatherface (2017)

I wasn’t all that excited about Leatherface until I found out that the directors from Inside (or, À l’intérieur) were involved. That movie is one the most disturbing, most violent films that I’ve seen and loved––so I have high hopes that they will bring that special joie de vivre to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. The trailer looks amazing. The moments they show don’t seem to give too much away, and the music used is perfect. Plus, we’ve got Lili Taylor in it, and I love her. I’m especially excited that it’s going to be a straight to VOD/DirectTV movie, because it means that they won’t have to cut any of the gore or disturbing moments to fit a particular rating. I know some folks think this means that the movie is going to suck, but I believe the exact opposite for this one. I think it’s going to be great.

I cannot wait to see this film, and I’m so glad it’s dropping in October. Happy Halloween to us all.

Until next time, stay scary.

––E.

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Book Talk: ‘Salem’s Lot

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Author: Stephen King
Original date released: 17 October 1975
Publisher: Doubleday
ISBN: 978-0-385-00751-1
Pages: 595
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Synopsis

Thousands of miles away from the small township of ‘Salem’s Lot, two terrified people, a man and a boy, still share the secrets of those clapboard houses and tree-lined streets. They must return to ‘Salem’s Lot for a final confrontation with the unspeakable evil that lives on in the town.

(via Goodreads)

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I’ve had the reissue, illustrated edition of ‘Salem’s Lot sitting on my bookshelf for many years. I originally ordered it from one of those book club memberships where you’d get like three books free for just shipping, and then you’d get the catalog in the mail every season with new additions for a discount. I snatched up this copy, because it has about 100 pages of extra material at the end––a couple short stories based around ‘Salem’s Lot and “deleted scenes” from the main text. Like a lot of readers, I was waiting for “the right time to read it,” which turned out to be probably ten years after purchasing it. Whoops.

‘Salem’s Lot is the perfect summer read, which may sound unbelievable, but stay with me. Lot features certain elements that King does best: it’s a sprawling epic of a novel with a dozen recurring narrative voices in a small town where shit goes down. It’s the sort of novel you want when you’re sitting on your porch, drinking some iced tea, listening to the groan of cicadas. It’s atmospheric and haunting. The characters make stupid decisions, but they make stupid decisions that you’re somehow invested in. And, it’s quite a large book, and the summertime is the perfect time for large, devouring reads. I’d say the same thing about It––a King novel that I read last summer. Perhaps this will be a new tradition of mine: one huge King novel a summer.

Now, this is a horror blog, so you might be wondering if I found the novel scary or not. I do think there are creepy moments, particularly the scene with the school bus. That scene has stuck with me since finishing the novel, and might be that one moment I think back to fondly while discussing the book. It’s terrifying, and I loved it. At first, I was a bit unsure how the novel would juggle the haunted house trope along with the vampire trope, but King handled it well. Quite deliberately, the house felt like something out of a Shirley Jackson novel: it’s a sprawling, decaying spector to the quiet destruction of Jerusalem’s Lot.

And, if you’re a fan of vampires, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by King’s take on the monster. The vampire, Kurt Barlow, is so sassy and witty; he stole the scenes he was in, and just like I root for Dracula, I wasn’t angry he was killing off a bunch of people in the town. He has a scene with the town pastor that is of particular delight to me, and one of the strongest, most compelling scenes in the novel. It centers around faith and belief and makes you question whether or not the town and its inhabitants want to be saved.

The one critique I have lies with the other characters in the novel. They don’t have a lot of personality (a lot of King’s characters tend to sound and act the same, I’ve found), and they don’t really develop throughout the book––but that sort of works in the novel. The one character I thought was pretty great was Mark Petrie. He’s a geeky twelve-year-old who loves universal monsters, and he’s arguably the smartest character in the novel. I would love a book that’s about him hunting vampires and nerdily talking about monsters as a grown up.

All in all, King’s writing and storytelling shines in ‘Salem’s Lot. It’s accessible and not too long or too weird if you’re new to Stephen King’s writing. I highly recommend!

Until next time, stay scary.

––E.

Trailer Tuesday: The Ritual

I hadn’t heard anything about this new movie–The Ritual–and only came across it scouring Youtube for new horror trailers. I’m glad I stumbled across it, because it looks like it could be promising. If you’ve been here for a while, you know I’m super into horror that takes place in nature. It’s one of my favorite sub-genres of horror. There are so many fun psychological twists and turns one can take, and this looks like it might be a lot of fun. It also looks like it might break the fourth wall a bit, or play with genre irony. I’m thinking, in particular, of the moment in the trailer where one of the characters says “This is definitely the house we die in,” or something along those lines. It’s a great line.

The Ritual comes out 13 October 2017.

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.

Trailer Tuesday: Midnighters (2017)

Midnighters is Alex Essoe’s new movie, which recently debuted at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Essoe, of course, starred in Starry Eyes, so when I heard this was her new movie, I knew I had to check it out. Midnighters appears to be pretty psychological, which is exciting. It’s been described as “Hitchcockian”–a bold statement to make, but an exciting one if it’s pulled off well.

I love that this movie seems to combine two horror tropes: the “I hit a stranger on a lonely road” trope and the “small town, everyone knows my secrets, and we’re all gonna die” trope. At least, those are what I picked up on in the trailer. With a dash of “is my husband lying to me!?” for good measure. I have high hopes for this one!

I’m not sure when Midnighters will come to the big screen or VOD. I’ll update when I have more information.

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.

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.

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.

Movie Review: The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

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Released: 21 December 2016 (USA)
Director: André Øvredal
Screenplay: Ian Goldberg, Richard Naing
Actors: Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox, Ophelia Lovibond
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Synopsis

Cox and Hirsch play father and son coroners who receive a mysterious homicide victim with no apparent cause of death. As they attempt to identify the beautiful young “Jane Doe,” they discover increasingly bizarre clues that hold the key to her terrifying secrets.

(via IMDB)

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The Autopsy of Jane Doe is one of those quiet, subtly creepy horror films that I love. I went into the movie with some high expectations because of the trailer, and I’m quite happy that the movie didn’t disappoint me.

the-autopsy-of-jane-doe-directed-by-andrecc81-c3b8vredalThe most striking thing, to me, was how claustrophobic it felt. For the most part, the two main characters spend their time in the morgue with the “Jane Doe,” so when shit starts to hit the fan, there’s a heightened awareness about the possibly dire situation at hand because there’s nowhere for the characters to run. They’re boxed in, which affects the way you, as a viewer, feels when you’re watching it. The room you’re in might start to feel a bit smaller. The shadows slowly creeping up the walls might seem a bit more haunting. I adore the subtle dread that such small horror movie sets can achieve in the hands of a great director. The fact that the claustrophobic room just happens to be a morgue makes it even more dreadful. Added to this is the fact that we don’t see a lot of horrific things. This movie plays with both the characters’ and the audience’s imagination. Are you seeing something? Are you not? What’s really there? The small set amplifies these questions and the uneasiness you might feel. This film’s success in this department reminded me a lot of the tone and anxiety brought forth in Pontypool–one of my favorite smaller horror films.

The other solid aspect of the movie was the acting. Both Cox and Hirsh were great in this film. I found it easy to sympathize with both of them, and you really do start to root for them. It’s easy to make a familial relationship too saccharine when terrible things start to happen, but I never thought the acting or the script got overly sentimental, which I appreciated. I also have to give props to Lovibond, who managed to really creep me out, and nailed the whole “laying dead on an autopsy table” aspect of her character. The one plot point I felt was a tad unnecessary, or perhaps just underdeveloped, was the girlfriend–and a lot of this is because I felt she became an easy variable to throw in without a lot of work necessary by the end of the film. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about.

the-autopsy-of-jane-doe-red-band-trailerThe effects used were, overall, great. There’s a lot of gore in the movie, which is to be expected when you go into a movie about an autopsy. You’re going to see a bone saw, and you might (definitely) see some brain. I particularly enjoyed the second set of skin we got to see about halfway or three-fourths of the way through the movie. I thought that was a great touch, particularly in light of the advancing plot, and looked awesome. Just like the claustrophobia of the autopsy room, the breaking down and stripping back of Jane Doe’s body makes you feel uncomfortable in all the best ways, but it’s never gratuitous. It never feels exploitative, either.

I’m obviously not going to spoiler the ending, but I will say that I thought it was a bit weak immediately after watching the film. However, I think it would seem stronger upon a rewatch. I obviously enjoyed the reveal that happened, but I felt that everything came to a head too quickly after the reveal. It felt just the tiniest bit rushed. It would be interesting to see how it comes together knowing ahead of time what will happen.

Overall, I highly recommend this movie. It’s a solid, successful horror film. It’s more original than the scores of remakes we keep receiving, and it makes for a great night. I , obviously, recommend watching it in the dark. It adds to the discomfort that the film so successfully achieves.

Have you seen The Autopsy of Jane Doe? What did you think?

Until next time, stay scary.

–E.