Film Challenge: 31 Days of Horror 2014

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 – You’re Next (2011) –

More of a thriller than a horror, You’re Next has an original premise although it is somewhat easy to predict. But it still has some great twists and decent gore, and it thoroughly enjoyable. The performances are really good for such an amateur cast list, too.

Film 2 – Would You Rather (2012) –

The poster on Netflix suggests a much gorier movie, but whilst it starts off quite timid, it gets better as it goes on. It’s pretty decent for a limited release horror, but there are too many distractions from what we all want to see. However, the surprise casting of Brittany Snow is a great one.

Film 3 – Jennifer’s Body (2009) –

Obviously marketed as a sexy horror that’s really cool with its decent soundtrack and short-skirted twist on your average horror, Jennifer’s Body may seem a little try-hard at times but it’s still a fun comedy horror to watch. Megan Fox scooping blood from the stomach of boys doesn’t make for much of a horror, but I’d happily sit and watch her do anything.

Film 4 – Shutter (2008) –

From the executive producers of The Ring and The Grudge, I was expecting a decent remake of the Japanese original. But Shutter is nothing on its predecessor, nor on the two classic horrors that the poster links the film-makers to. Even though Shutter comes from Japanese director Masayuki Ochiai, the remake is a massively poor effort.

Film 5 – Secret Window (2004) –

This is one of those thrillers that I always forget the ending to, which is what keeps me interested every time I watch, even if it isn’t anything particularly original or unpredictable. But Johnny Depp is enough to keep you entertained, and it has a pretty tense atmosphere.

Film 6 – Joy Ride (2001) –

I guess this is the reason why Paul Walker was chosen for the Fast & Furious films, although the first film was released around the same time as this. It’s a decent thriller and a premise we don’t see too often, so it easily keeps your interest with enough twists and suspense.

Film 7 – House Of 9 (2005) –

A very obvious thriller with poor characters and average performances, but I loved that ending!

Film 8 – Scream 4 (2011) –

There really isn’t any way they can keep this franchise going, it’s just the same story over and over again. And that’s the point of the ‘Scream’ premise, so there’s no escaping that. The Scream films are a lot of fun though, so it’s not a completely bad film, it’s just no longer original or has any real mystery.

Film 9 – Halloween (2007) –

Interesting to see the origins of the Halloween killer but disturbing to see such violence from a young boy. It’s a very unsettling story yet still very intriguing. And the second half of the film is a great homage to the original films, with far too much screaming and heavy breathing from a sobbing teenager hiding in a cupboard. It may be an unnecessary remake/addition to the franchise, but as a stand-alone film, I still think this is one of the scariest/tense horrors that I’ve seen this Halloween.

Film 10 – The Thing (2011) –

There was no chance of this film bettering John Carpenter’s film and with his original film still holding up so well, there isn’t much point to this remake. It’s not an overly bad remake, but the one thing that you expect the film to improve on would be the graphics. Yet I prefer the practical effects used in the original film which made me sick to the stomach in comparison to the special effects used here. Therefore, this film felt largely unoriginal, lacked any big scares, and came across as unnecessary (as most remakes do). However, the cast is great and if people are drawn to the original film because of this one, then at least that’s something good to come out of it.

Film 11 – I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) –

From the same writer as Scream, it’s a predictable American teen horror but it’s the cast make that make this such a 90s classic. If you could handpick a cast for a 90s horror, I don’t think you could get much better than Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, and Freddie Prinze Jr.

There are some dumb moments in the plot, but I Know What You Did Last Summer is 100-minutes of harmless fun and it is a film that is full of nostalgia for me.

Film 12 – Urban Legends 2: Final Cut (2000) –

I’m a huge fan of the first Urban Legends film, so this sequel had the intention of not only bettering the first, but also playing homage to many other horrors and directors with its film school setting. But whilst it mentions Hitchcock’s name over and over again, it has none of the suspense or originality that a good horror film should.

Definitely not as good as the first film, but there are still some fun moments.

Film 13 – Saw VI (2009) –

The Saw franchise has completely lost its original point at this time. The story progression still has a strong focus, still piecing things together to help the audience understand it more, but it’s getting to the point where I don’t care anymore. However, at least they’re still trying to make these sequels relevant, and the deaths themselves are gruesome enough to make it a fun watch.

Film 14 – Friday the 13th (1980) –

I don’t quite know what to think. It’s hard to think that this is such a big horror franchise when this first film is so … I don’t want to say bad because it’s not; it’s obvious why it has been so influential, but it’s so tamer than I thought it was going to be. There’s little suspense because all we see is a different character go missing every 15 minutes or so, and then occasionally a bit of blood. The other characters don’t know what’s going on around them so there’s no tense atmosphere or real threat.

It’s a much duller build-up than I was expecting, but there are some great moments at the same time. I wouldn’t have guessed the ending if it wasn’t general film knowledge, but whilst the revelation of the killer was a shocker, they were also the least threatening person ever. But there’s still a lot of fun to be had with this film, especially when it stars a young Kevin Bacon, and whilst there weren’t any real scares, that ending on the boat absolutely creeped me out.

Film 15 – Bait (2012) –

It’s like the cast of Home & Away get caught in a Sharknado. You know exactly what to expect with this film – bad acting, poorly developed characters, and very little horror. There’s very little added surprises in terms to things like added humour or decent gore, but the CGI effects are the worst part of all. The death scenes themselves are quite good, though, and the story moves quickly so it’s entertaining enough, if still pretty bad.

Film 16 – Chernobyl Diaries (2012) –

I’ve certainly seen a lot worse this October. Chernobyl Diaries isn’t the obvious horror you might think it is. It’s not particularly original but it does keep you guessing a little with its cat-and-mouse chases. The performances aren’t bad, either, even if the script isn’t particularly strong. It wouldn’t leave me going to bed with the light on but it does have a few good scares and I’ll always be curious by Chernobyl-related stories.

Film 17 – The Amityville Haunting (2011) –

What an awful family. What a stupid family. And what utterly ridiculous characters. Where was the horror? Where was the gore? Where were the scares? The odd shadow isn’t creepy. Nothing happens. The hand-held camera style filming could have been used to get strengths; it might have become too much like Paranormal Activity, but at least that was scary.

Film 18 – Slither (2006) –

So fucking disgusting. And the swearing is needed in that sentence because it’s just gross. But is it so disgusting that it’s actually good? I can’t tell you that at the minute because I feel too sick.

Update: At first I was disgusted I wasn’t impressed but thinking back on it, that’s what you want from a horror, right? I’m always disappointed when a horror doesn’t have an effect on me, and this certainly does.

Film 19 – Grave Encounters (2011) –

A little annoying at the beginning and it certainly drags on at the end, but this horror had my hiding behind my pillow. It’s your typical ghost hunter story with the usual bumps in the dark, but it puts a good twist on the premise and it keeps you on edge constantly.

Film 20 – Older Than America (2008) –

The American promotion and poster for this film, titled American Evil, makes you believe that you’re about to see a big blockbuster horror that will chill you to the bone. But “Older Than America” is more of a Native American indie film that they’ve stuck Bradley Cooper’s face on.

Film 21 – Piranha 3DD (2012) –

I quite liked the first Piranha remake: it was hilariously bad but it was still laugh-out-loud funny and entertaining enough. This is what a horror-comedy should be like: not grossing you out completely, but being full of gore in a way that makes you shout, “As if!”

This second film was a bit of a mess though. The story was largely irrelevant with so many unnecessary subplots and characters, but it made me cringe more than it did laugh (although I will admit that I did laugh). David Hasselhoff is pretty hilarious in this, too.

Film 22 – Paranormal Activity 2 (2010) –

I like how the story continues and works as a prequel, but not nearly enough happens in comparison to the first film. There are less scares and we see even less of whatever’s in the house. I did like the inclusion of a dog and a baby, though, which adds a little more fear factor.

Film 23 – Fright Night (1985) –

I liked the recent remake of this film until I watched this original. This 80s film is a classic vampire horror and doesn’t take the piss like the remake does.

Film 24 – Quarantine (2008) –

A pretty straight forward remake on the foreign language original, pretty much playing out as an exact copy. But the characters are more annoying, so it’s one of those films where you can’t wait for the lead to die. I found it a little creepier than the original, but it’s still largely unnecessary with how similar it is, adding nothing new to it.

Film 25 – Halloween II (2009) –

A “sort of” remake? Not at all! Rob Zombie’s taken the story off on his own with this one. I liked his first remake, but this sequel was just a bit weird and had a completely new cast of characters which put me off from the start.

Somebody asked me where I would draw the line between good gore and disgusting recently. Well, this is where I draw the line. The first film had ‘good gore’, showing all of the action and using a lot of blood. But this film takes it too far, smashing in people’s heads into tiny pieces for the pure sake of it.

Film 26 – [REC] (2007) –

You can see why they’d want to remake this film because it’s a great virus horror filmed with hand-held cameras. But don’t bother watching the English remake, because the story is exactly the same and this original is so much better.

Film 27 – The Purge: Anarchy (2014) –

I thought the first Purge film had a great concept but that it didn’t really live up to it. I like the idea of this sequel as every dystopia has a rebellion and we get to see more of the purging, but it goes off in too many places. However, this isn’t one of those horror sequels that they make for the sake of it, because the characters are actually pretty likeable. I felt quite sad for them a number of times, and it’s hard to find characters you can engage with in films like this so I have to give it that.

Film 28 – [REC]² (2009) –

It’s interesting how the story continues and there’s some good progression, but it’s very similar to the first film so it doesn’t quite have the same effect. However, there’s still a lot of zombie chaos to have fun with.

Film 29 – The Quiet Ones (2014) –

I don’t like stories like this because they may be “based on actual events” but I don’t believe in any of this kind of thing. But this film doesn’t push the paranormal down your throat and doesn’t force you into thinking that this is all true, even though it supposedly is.

A few unexplainable things happen, but I like how it tries to give explanations and theories for most of it. I like the whole style of the film and setting, as well, and all of the performances are decent. As one of Olivia Cooke’s earlier performances, as well, it’s great to see where she’s gone from here.

Film 30 – I Spit on Your Grave (2010) –

It’s not a bad production for such a horror, but I take no enjoyment from a group of men sexually torturing a girl. Her revenge was okay to watch, though, but its extremely gruesome and it makes for a very sick film.

Film 31 – The Conjuring (2013) –

There’s nothing really original about The Conjuring as the true story is a mixture of horror stories we have seen many times before, but this is an exorcism horror done right. It’s creepy, tense, and entertaining at the same time, with solid performances from Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, and Lily Taylor.

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About Charlie Morris

Proofreader and film blogger living in Cornwall.

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