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 – Stephen King’s It (1990) –
I thought I was missing out on something by not having seen this as a child, but maybe I’ve missed out by watching it 15 years after its release because I just found this quite dull.
Every child is scared of clowns so the premise is great. I enjoyed the friendships and relationships, and you can tell that it was adapted from a novel (especially a Stephen King novel) since the story feels so well developed. But the scares were so far apart that this already lengthy film felt like I had been watching for a lifetime.
A great performance from Tim Curry and there are a few scary moments, but it really hasn’t aged well.
Film 2 – Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013) –
I didn’t overly enjoy the first Insidious film, but this was a huge improvement. It’s not often that I would say that I really like a horror film, but I would certainly watch this one again.
This second chapter follows directly on from the first film but also uses certain devices to go back in time to explain why things were going on in the first film which I found quite clever.
As a horror film, it is of great quality, as if the writers and directors gained some confidence after the first film and knew how to handle the genre much better this time around. There’s some brilliant camera work, as well, creating a number of jumpy moments that will linger with you.
Film 3 – The Amityville Horror (2005) –
I haven’t seen the original film yet, but from reading up about the ‘true story’ it is based on, it seems like quite a good adaptation, though things do happen pretty fast so a lot of the scares go over your head. There are some really creepy moments throughout, but it has no after effect. A great cast, though.
Film 4 – The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death (2014) –
I enjoyed the first film so I thought this would be worth a watch. I liked how the story progressed and linked to its predecessor but, in the end, it was repeating a lot of the same scares. Still, it does make you jump out of your seat quite a bit.
Film 5 – Child’s Play 2 (1990) –
For a sequel, Child’s Play 2 is a great film. It’s not overly scary, but there are some gory moments and it’s still really fun.
Film 6 – Annabelle (2014) –
From the makers of the impressive The Conjuring, Annabelle is a huge disappointment. The doll that the whole film is centred around is horribly creepy in appearance, but there is nothing else scary about this film. It felt like an episode of Home and Away gone horribly wrong; too much cheesy drama and not enough real horror.
Film 7 – As Above, So Below (2014) –
I’d imagine that the Paris catacombs would be a whole lot scarier than they make it out to be in this film. They should have played more on the real scares that you would experience down there than making it out to feel so unbelievable. It felt very similar to The Descent in places, but this didn’t work, either.
Film 8 – The Haunting in Connecticut (2009) –
Probably the least scary horror film I have watched so far this October. “Based on a true story”, it’s not believable in the slightest.
Film 9 – The Last Exorcism Part II (2013) –
The first film wasn’t too bad, but this sequel is awful. For some reason sex was included anywhere that it could be fitted in, making the film feel sleazy and lazy. It’s a dull horror that feels completely unnecessary.
Film 10 – Final Destination 2 (2003) –
The only Final Destination film that works well as a stand-alone horror. I think the rest are still good films, but this second instalment maintains the first film’s originality and suspense. The premonitions in this instalment are probably the most memorable, as well.
Film 11 – The Gift (2015) –
More of a psychological thriller than a horror, but the promotional trailers wanted you to think that something really creepy was going on. And it was. Just not in the form of any paranormal activity. Thank God. Instead, The Gift is an intense thriller with a dark underlying storyline that’s very effective. Joel Edgerton is brilliant.
Film 12 – The Visit (2015) –
I’m not too sure what to think at the minute. Part of me found this hilarious, but it was also very odd. Yet I like the uneasy quality to it. There’s a lot of crazy humour, but also many intensely creepy moments which are balanced really well.
Film 13 – Knock Knock (2015) –
I thought it was going to turn into Hard Candy by the end, but it was neither as nail-biting or as original. The two female leads were both very attractive, making the first 40 minutes or so quite sexy and entertaining, but it all goes downhill after that. Keanu Reeves is great and fair play to him for getting involved in this, especially when the writing isn’t particularly great.
Film 14 – The Wicker Man (1973) –
It is somewhat dated now, especially with that weird song in the background constantly, but it has a tense atmosphere throughout. It’s not scary, but it’s certainly quite chilling and eerie.
Film 15 – The Green Inferno (2013) –
As a film in general, I’d give this a rating as low as 2 stars, but as a horror film, I would give it at least 4. It takes a while to get into it, but The Green Inferno has some of the most disgusting and uncomfortable scenes that I have ever seen. I generally thought I was going to be sick a number of times, and after the film had finished I felt on edge for a good while afterwards.
Some of the scenes are filmed incredibly well and the locations are beautiful, but if it wasn’t for the few but horribly gory scenes then this would have been quite a disaster.
As sick as the few gory scenes made me feel, I do feel like Roth could have taken it further still. If he wanted to take it that far, then there were more opportunities for him to do so, and I think if he grossed audiences out even more then more would have been convinced that this was a brilliant horror.
Film 16 – American Psycho (2000) –
American Psycho is surprisingly engaging to watch. A large part of that is down to Bret Easton Ellis’ brilliant book that the film is based on, but it’s all strongly to do with Christian Bale’s phenomenal performance as Patrick Bateman in this adaptation.
Although the character of Bateman should be immensely dislikeable, Ellis crafted his characteristics so well that we find ourselves almost condoning his behaviour, urging him to pursue his alter ego as a psychopathic murderer at times, with Bale taking on the role to become one of his most stand-out performances to date.
Full of shock and intrigue, although not half as gory as the book, the adaptation has a classic feel to it, using similar lines of dialogue to the book and with superb acting throughout.
Film 17 – 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 18 – The Fog (1980) –
I prefer John Carpenter’s other horror films, but there’s no denying that he knows the genre well.
Film 19 – Rosemary’s Baby (1968) –
I’ve watched many “classic” horrors this October, but this is the first of them that I have loved. Roman Polanski’s horror is incredibly well-paced and full of suspense. You really don’t know what’s going on until the end, and when the credits start rolling you’ll find yourself screaming at the screen for more. Mia Farrow is absolutely incredible, leading this mystery perfectly.
Film 20 – Poltergeist (1982) –
Poltergeist isn’t overly scary and at times it feels more like Ghostbusters than a horror film, but I love the use of real visual effects which make for some really gruesome scares. The acting is superb and it’s great to see an original paranormal film, unlike much of the repetitive rubbish we have to see today.
Film 21 – Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) –
This shouldn’t really be a part of the Halloween franchise because of the lack of Myers and Jamie Lee Curtis, but it definitely should have spawned its own Halloween franchise.
As a stand-alone horror, the story is excellent and I feel that they could have done so much more with it if it was its own franchise. It’s misleading because I wanted a Michael Myers film which is why my rating is so low, but if I had watched this knowing what it was then my rating would have been a lot higher.
Film 22 – The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) –
I know that if I was in this situation that I would be screaming an awful lot. But OH MY GOD! My ears were hurting after the final half an hour or so of this.
It’s a shame to be watching this film after seeing so many remakes/similar horror films that are recycled today because it all feels rather repetitive. But then you have to remember that this is the film that inspired all of the others, and you can see why so many other horror directors have based their work on this classic.
Film 23 – The Sixth Sense (1999) –
If only all of M. Night Shyamalan’s other films were as good as this one.
I had to study this film as part of my English Literature GCSE’s when I was about 15, so I’ve had to pay a lot of attention to this film. And you can see why this film was chosen because there are so many brilliant techniques used to tell the story. However, I’m not sure why I was made to watch it in my teens, because there are some scenes which still put me on edge today.
Film 24 – The Faculty (1998) –
It’s like Scream but with aliens. A pretty formulaic American teen horror but with a great 90s cast and a really enjoyable story that pays homage to the likes of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Film 25 – Halloween 8: Resurrection (2002) –
Who’d have thought that Busta Rhymes would have saved the day?! For an eighth instalment this still kind of works. It’s nothing in comparison to the first two films, but it’s an interesting way to keep the story going.
Film 26 – Dracula (1992) –
Francis Ford Coppola tells the story of Dracula incredibly well and Gary Oldman suits the role perfectly.
Film 27 – The Possession (2012) –
Nothing like a satanic demon to bring the family together. The atmosphere is constantly creepy but the scenes of the girl possessed are pretty poor. It doesn’t hold up well overall.
Film 28 – House of the Dead (2003) –
If I wanted to see people fighting zombies like in the arcades, then I would play the game. I wouldn’t watch this, whatever the case.
Film 29 – Paranormal Activity 5: The Marked Ones (2014) –
This feels very different from the rest of the franchise and, instead, is very dull and unoriginal.
Film 30 – The Purge (2013) –
An interesting dystopia set around a future where we are given 12 hours, every year, to “purge”, a period in which all crimes are legalised. However, think of the most boring way you would spend that 12 hours, hiding away in your home away from other purgers. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make much of an entertaining film, although I do think it sets up the franchise brilliantly.