Film Challenge: 31 Days of Horror 2012

On my Letterboxd account this month I have partaken in the film challenge, 31 Days of Horror. This month, I watched a horror film every day in celebration of Halloween.

Here’s a list of what films I watched:

Film 1 – The Omen (1976) –

Children make the creepiest horror films, and The Omen is one of the best of them. What a classic, with all the right scares in all the right places.

Film 2 – Friday the 13th Part II (1981) –

You know exactly what you’re going to get with this classic horror sequel but in some ways, I enjoyed it much more than the first film. The concept is fine, but it would have been a lot better if the twist was that it was a massive prank set up by both of the teen’s parents to teach them a lesson for being such dicks.

Film 3 – The Thing (1982) –

I put this on when I woke up this morning. I thought “It can’t be that scary. I’m sure it’s going to be pretty tame.” 2 minutes in, I nearly threw up my breakfast.

Film 4 – Friday the 13th Part III (1982) –

One of the least memorable instalments in the franchise, but they are what they are and it’s still fun enough.

Film 5 – The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 (1984) –

This came on the TV when a friend and I were in our hotel room in Iceland. We weren’t really in the mood for watching anything, but we couldn’t turn over because of how intensely creepy this film was. But it’s very much like every other high school horror of its time, filled with clichés, a terrible script, awful characters and immensely bad acting. But it’s still creepy.

Film 6 – The Evil Dead 2 (1987) –

I obviously need to rewatch this at some point as I don’t have the same view that everybody else seems to have. The first film is great fun, but I felt very little about this second film. I just felt that the story was lacking and that spirits were being thrown all over the place just for the mere sake of it. But the graphics and visuals are just as freaky, so it didn’t lose its style.

Film 7 – Scream 2 (1997) –

With a brilliant opening scene, this sequel is just as fun, just as clever, and just as gory as the first.

Film 8 – Child’s Play 4: Bride of Chucky (1998) –

Although things started going in a very different direction after the third film, I have always loved the addition of Jennifer Tilly as Tiffany. She and Brad Dourif have a great chemistry.

It’s also interesting to see one of Katherine Heigl’s earlier roles, although I care much more about the dolls than the humans in this franchise.

Film 9 – Scream 3 (2000) –

I love the film-shoot backdrop as this third instalment is still an entertaining slasher film. It’s great to see Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox all return, as well as director Wes Craven which we don’t see too often with sequels. The end reveal isn’t as clever as the previous films but the lead up to is good fun.

Film 10 – Final Destination (2000) –

At the point where it all began, Final Destination, much like the Saw franchise, was an original horror. It’s certainly the best in the franchise but, for me, it started something great. I love how the franchise has come around in full circle and, for that, this is one of my favourite horrors.

Film 11 – Jeepers Creepers (2001) –

Wow. Watching this film many years later, those dead bodies look absolutely awful! Still, this film chills me to the bones.

The first half of this film is full of suspense and creepiness, but it does die down pretty quickly. That doesn’t stop me from having to keep the lights on when I go to bed after watching it, though.

Whilst the effects and visuals have aged terrible, I do think the atmosphere of this film gets better with every watch, as we just don’t have many horrors like this any more. It shows that you don’t need the obvious scares to make a good effect, just a lot of built-up tension.

The two leads also make a nice change, as their brother/sister relationship and their decent acting skills mean that the film doesn’t fall to horrible clichés or over the top performances.

Film 12 – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) –

This is another horror franchise that I grew up watching the remakes of before being introduced to the originals, so I’ve always liked this film. With a great performance from Jessica Biel, there are so many memorable scenes from this film that have stuck with me over the years.

Film 13 – Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003) –

It might be worse than its predecessor, but it’s so much scarier. Maybe it’s because I watched this one at a sleepover as a teenager before watching its better quality predecessor, but this has always been a horror film that has scared me the most.

Centring on a group of high school students, the film does fall to the same flaws of most American teen horrors, but that’s largely because it’s a cast of mostly known unknown young actors who get picked off one-by-one. However, they all help to build up a tense atmosphere and The Creeper still gives me nightmares. I just hope I never get stranded in a cornfield at night after seeing this.

Film 14 – Saw I (2004) –

A fantastic, original horror, despite how its sequels progressed. Saw brought something new to its genre with a great villain and some really disgusting torture scenes. This film scares without really trying to, entertaining you with how sick and twisted it is. But it looks the part too, despite a low budget, with a great set and use of colour.

Film 15 – Saw II (2005) –

We’re still at the point of being creative and original with the franchise here, with some decent acting to add to the terrifying nature of these situations. There’s more gore and more horror, making this a solid sequel. Even if they couldn’t get much better than these first two films, I was always going to keep on watching them.

Film 16 – Final Destination 3 (2006) –

At this point in the franchise, there aren’t really any surprises as to how these films will play out, except of how these high school teenagers will die in both the opening scene and the events that follow. But that’s enough for me. I like the premise of this franchise and it keeps me entertained enough. Of course, Mary Elizabeth Winstead helps to make this third film so well, too.

Film 17 – Silent Hill (2006) –

I’ve never played the video game myself but I remember knowing whenever my younger brother was playing it as the music would terrify me enough. This film has the same eerie atmosphere which is why it completely creeps me out. It is tense and disturbing and, whilst it could do with some better character development, the atmosphere and practical creature effects are enough to get under my nails.

Film 18 – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006) –

A story about how a psychotic murderer is nurtured and led to become the legendary Chainsaw killer we all know from the many, many horror films already made about him. This should be haunting, disturbing and psychological, but it’s a repeat of a film we’ve seen too many times before, with the addition of a few small pieces of background information. It’s sickening rather than scary, and too cynical for it to be gory fun.

Film 19 – Saw III (2006) –

The story is still being thought about at this point so it’s just as successful as the first two films. With better scares and many moments that will make you squirm, there’s enough to make you think without this just being scenes of torture.

Film 20 – The Hills Have Eyes 2 (2007) –

Nothing like the second film in the original franchise, but I guess they tried to modernise the story with soldiers. Re-watching it 7 years after my first viewing (in an attic with loads of friends and all the lights switched off), it wasn’t nearly as scary as I remembered it being, just gory and purely disgusting.

Film 21 – Paranormal Activity 1 (2007) –

I’ve refused to watch this film for years because I’m awful with scary films. I don’t like the dark as it is, and I knew that if I watched this film then I would be scared to even go to bed. But actually, it was pretty rubbish. It was tense and the fear was built up well, but it didn’t really go anywhere.

Film 22 – Saw IV (2007) –

At this point in the franchise, I think the story is still running pretty smoothly. But I think this is also the last film that I deem as a worthwhile addition to the franchise. After this, it just gets a bit unnecessary. But then I forget that Saw 5 is actually one of my favourites, so I don’t know. I guess this is just the last time that everything feels concise enough.

Film 23 – Saw V (2008) –

For me, Saw 5 is where it all ends. In my head, it had ended after Saw 4, but I forget that this is actually one of my favourite instalments. It’s not yet at the stage of being nothing but torture porn, even if it is one of the goriest, and as ridiculous as it is to keep the story going on, it adds a lot of background information in some quite clever ways.

Film 24 – Final Destination 4: The Final Destination (2009) –

I like some of the final scenes, but this is definitely the least original and memorable instalment in the franchise.

Film 25 – The Last Exorcism (2010) –

Same old, same old. Boring, predictable and cliche, it’s more like a parody than a homage to exorcism films.

Film 26 – Insidious (2010) –

I was excited to see this after reading so many good reviews, but I wasn’t completely impressed.

For me, too many horrors feel the same. They usually consist of the same qualities and I rarely expect one to amaze me. As most do, I only watch for the thrill of the scare, and in the end, the only thing that really affects my rating is whether the film stops me from sleeping at night or not.

Insidious starts off well with promising performances from Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne and the tension is built up really well, but when the story finally gets going around an hour later, I found it quite boring and quite frankly rather silly. There was only a single two-second clip of the face at the dinner table that freaked me out, so I was able to sleep pretty well after watching it.

Film 27 – Saw VII: The Final Chapter (2010) –

I loved the beginning of the Saw franchise, and have even enjoyed it up to the fifth instalment, although an obvious drop in quality. My problem with the franchise is that it has obviously been dragged out for the sake of it and as slowly as possible to get the most out of whatever storyline is left over.

Saw 6 was okay, but this final film is just terrible. It’s probably one of the most uncreative films I have ever seen, and it’s obvious that the filmmakers were scraping the bottom of the barrel to do one final film in 3D.

The storyline is pretty non-existent, somehow modernising the horror and therefore downplaying its impact, and the characters are all meaningless and their acting terrible. It made me squirm in my chair often enough, which is what the Saw franchise is good for, but even the gore is pretty pathetic. It’s just pointless.

Film 28 – The Woman In Black (2012) –

I’m not sure how this was a novel beforehand as not a lot happens. It’s just two hours of a woman’s screaming face appearing in the background. However, it did make me jump every two minutes, so the atmosphere was obviously very effective. The ending is a bit of a letdown, too, but Daniel Radcliffe gives a decent performance.

Film 29 – V/H/S 1 (2012) –

So the only link between these films is that they are all found-footage? I guess that makes sense… sort of. I was constantly waiting for the stories to come together in some way but they didn’t, so I’ve been left a little underwhelmed.

Instead, V/H/S, as an ” anthology”, consists of a number of individually decent horror flicks. Each story is as bizarre and mysterious as the first but they are all incredibly creepy.

As horror shorts, they all work really well, and the use of found footage suits them, too. The found-footage style of filming isn’t one that overly annoys me and it really suits horror/darker films, with Cloverfield and Chronicle being some of the best recent examples, adding an extra layer of scares. It occasionally becomes frustrating when the filming blurs out the most important moments of action, but it really does give light to the terrifying atmosphere and makes you feel like you are there. For that, these films did what they were made to do.

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About Charlie Morris

Proofreader and film blogger living in Cornwall.

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