October 2015 in Review

Halloween has come and gone, and I've managed a decent amount of horror films this year. Anyone else see the Ash vs Evil Dead premiere? (VERY recommended, especially to fans of Sam Raimi's deadite destroying trilogy). So, let's jump into the films I viewed over the past October.

The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence) - 0/5 - When the end of days comes, take comfort in noting we've seen more than one film of ass sewn to mouth action. Vile.

Argo [rewatch] - 4/5 - This time around, a few bits didn't work as well for me. The final third in particular, where a character suddenly finds his courage, while the countdown and chase felt tacked on.

Despite this, the rest of the film was still well written, directed and acted.

Macbeth (2015) - 4.5/5 - What Justin Kurzel has delivered here is an atmospheric adaptation, packed with tension and brutality which is stunningly shot to gorgeous visuals. But the real story here is the acting. Across the board, no matter how small their role, the acting is nothing short of phenomenal.

Halloween: Best film of the month
and Best film rewatched

The Omen (1976) - 4/5 - Compared to similar films, this "Devil child" story may not stand out as much, while it's pace may be a tad sluggish initially. Despite this, Richard Donner does terrific work crafting an unsettling tone throughout. The performances are top notch, with Gregory Peck and Lee Remick terrifically conveying parents who love their child, while wondering if he's more mischievous than other children (to put it mildly). Billie Whitelaw may as well have been to Hell for tips, as her performance is downright unnerving, while Harvey Stephens does great work with a well placed mischievous smile. The deaths are especially memorable, with a number of them appearing as a shock due to how untelegraphed they truly are.

The Blair Witch Project - 4.5/5 - Pretty much the best use of found footage I've seen to date. he characters feel genuine, acting temperamental as their frustrations become more apparent throughout their documentary. The initial build up is handled well, as directors Myrick and Sánchez couple restraint with very human scares to a chilling degree, before entering a creepy finale with callbacks to previous moments of dialogue.

In short, what's been crafted here feels like what it was advertised as: real footage that's been found of a groups last moments. A fantastic piece of horror.

The Martian - 4.5/5 - The combination of Ridley Scott's direction and Drew Goddard's script does wonders for this film, as humor, tension, drama and impressive feats of science are expertly balanced for an outstanding piece of sci-fi.

Crimson Peak: Best film seen in cinemas

The Gift (2015) - 4.5/5 - With one film, Joel Edgerton manages to simultaneously prove himself as a triple threat. He delivers a smart script, confident direction and a fantastic performance, resulting in one of the years best films.

Friday The 13th (1980) - 1.5/5 - This cult classic which spawned a horror icon actually feels really cheap, generic and unmemorable (except for the killings).

Inside Llewyn Davis [rewatch] - 4.5/5 - It's still great to see Poe Dameron and Kylo Ren singing for Mr Kennedy to not shoot them into outer space. But joking aside, the emotional heft hit me a lot more during this viewing, the cinematography and performances remain masterful, while the song are still as exemplary as when I first heard them. I still don't get the hellish ride with John Goodman and Garret Hedlund though. Was that meant to signify the lowest point for him, with an insight as to how much further he could fall? I'm honestly unsure, but this is still a magnificent effort that deserved more Oscar nominations than it got.

The Final Girls: Best film new to me

Joy Ride (2001) - 4/5 - This film manages to be great thanks to two particular components. The first is how effectively John Dahl builds the dreading tension throughout. This is accomplished thanks to the mystique surrounding the villainous Rusty Nail, a character we hear over the CB radio as opposed to constantly seeing. The number of red herrings help to build the mystery, leading to some tense moments, particularly a whole scene involving an ice truck.

The other successful component is the cast. Paul Walker, Steve Zahn and Leelee Sobieski do effective jobs in crafting believable characters with effective dynamics and relationships with one another. This is especially prominent in Leelee's case, as the writing fails to support her character.

The Final Girls - 4.5/5 - A self-aware love letter to 80s horror, providing great humor, an exceptional cast, visual inventiveness and an unexpected emotional core. One of the years best.

Goodnight Mommy - 1.5/5 - Sluggish horror drags out an interesting (and kinda obvious) idea, before descending into torture porn.

Goodnight Mommy: Biggest Disappointment

Tucker & Dale vs Evil [rewatch] - 4.5/5 - Remains a fantastic horror comedy. Packed with sweet moments, fun subversions, laugh out loud moments and a likable cast.

Splatter (2009) - 0/5 - Go home Joe Dante, you're wasting whatever talent you have remaining on this cheap looking, awful piece of trash.

Sinister (2012) - 3.5/5 - The script could have been better utilised in writing the characters, as it seems like everybody who isn't played by Ethan Hawke is left shortchanged. Be it the family who may as well not be there, the helpful professor who's only witnessed over the computer, or the helpful Deputy who doesn't even get a proper name, there could have been more effort put into that. Thank goodness Scott Derrickson manages to deliver on the creeping feel of unease, giving chilling moments from the very first scene. The actual kills are especially chilling. Granted, the ending will be seen a mile off, but despite the unnecessary final jump scare, this is a pretty solid effort.

The Blair Witch Project: Biggest Surprise

Black Mass (2015) - 3/5 - Johnny Depp leads a talented cast giving fantastic roles. Shame the story's uninteresting & limp.

Idle Hands - 3.5/5 - Limp wristed proceedings, until director Redman Flender gets a handle on the tone and delivers a tight-fisted piece of horror-comedy.

Crimson Peak - 4.5/5 - Guillermo Del Toro delivers a fantastic period tale which happens to include ghosts, ready to chill with touches of Hammer Horror and a fantastic ensemble.

The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence):
Worst film of the month

Spectre (2015) - 4/5 - If this is Craig's last Bond film, he's gone out on a great note.

Robot Chicken DC Comics Special III: Magical Friendship - 3.5/5 - An enjoyable special which hits more than misses with its jokes.

Psycho (1960) [rewatch] - 5/5 - It's still a masterful tale of suspense and horror, even if the man's infodump at the end would've been better left cut out of the film.

Halloween (1978) [rewatch] - 5/5 - It's been 5 years since I first watched this, periodically viewing it on October 31st. Yet the chills and scares still get me as much as they did in the first viewing. John Carpenter, you magnificent bastard.

Best film of the month: Halloween
Best film seen in cinemas: Crimson Peak
Best film watched for the first time: The Final Girls
Best film rewatched: Halloween
Biggest Disappointment: Goodnight Mommy
Biggest Surprise: The Blair Witch Project
Worst film of the month: The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence)

Number of films watched: 22

Monthly average rating: 3.5/5