What’s happening in the world of horror movies this month…
Horrific scenes, including an itchy look at insects.
Horror for dummies
The Conjuring made a boat load of money so naturally someone thought: milk it! Desperate to master the alchemy of how to turn grue into gold, Annabelle was born, a careless spin- off based around the premise that a leering, dirt- smeared, oversized doll crammed into white taffeta like the Don’t Look Now dwarf on wedding day, makes an excellent gift for a pregnant woman. Or indeed anyone. The set up: late ’ 60s, Mia and John are blissfully expecting a baby when a bunch of Satanists break into their house unleashing a series of events not particularly related to said creepy doll. Cue a depressingly obvious series of horror clichés. Annabelle didn’t have to be terrible. It’s not horribly made, the acting isn’t awful, there’s even one moment that’s quite scary ( which is in the trailer…). It’s just so insultingly cynical. And I hate this kind of thing. A film rushed out which hasn’t bothered to develop its mythology, doesn’t care that there are gaping plot holes, that the behaviour of its protagonists makes no logical or emotional sense and assumes its audience is so stupid it signposts the plot using ACTUAL SIGNPOSTS! The “scary doll” we all came to see never even moves by itself, making Annabelle inferior to Dolly Dearest. And no one wants that. Remember the mid- late ’ 90s when all those cheapo post- Scream meta- slasher teen- movie cash- ins came out and everyone proclaimed it the death of horror? That.
Youth in revolt
And then along comes 19- year- old Drew Casson with his “microbuster” Hungerford and the future of horror is suddenly in good – or at the very least interesting – hands. This is a wildly ambitious horror sci- fi currently doing the festival circuit, shot over a period of just nine days on a tiny budget by a group of young non- professionals. Okay, so there are some problems – it could use a judicious edit, all the normal problems with found footage apply ( why are you still filming?!) and some of the performances could use a more experienced director, but the world building, the creature effects ( yes, there are creatures) and the sheer sense of scale is mind- blowing. Hungerford starts with a bunch of flatmates getting ready for a party, it teases that it’s going to be cut- price zombie same- old and then, boom! becomes something so much more exciting. It’s a calling card, but wow, what a calling card. Next up from production house Wildseed: drugs and witches in Bristol. As long as it hasn’t got a creepy doll in it, I’m in.
Na cho man
Two films called Extraterrestrial to choose from on DVD this month. Out 29 October Extraterrestrial – a bombastic, CGI- rich thrill ride from the directors of Grave Encounters starring sexy young starlets ( and Michael Ironside!) as a group of youths who find a spaceship in the woods and have to battle alien invasion, government conspiracies and at least one probing. I haven’t seen it, it looks like fun. Also out now: Extraterrestrial. Absolutely the opposite. A carefully observed, darkly funny relationship drama which happens to be set against the backdrop of a massive invasion, this is the latest from Nacho Vigalondo and it feels like a companion piece to his excellent time travel horror Timecrimes ( 2007). Julia and Julio have just spent the night together. But Julia is with Carlos. And nosey neighbour Angel knows. Oh and the aliens have landed. Wry, clever and just a little bit moving it’s not quite horror though it deftly plays with all that we’ve learned from Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers and The Thing. Excellent.
“It’s been like this the whole time – Deacon on ‘ dishes’. It still hasn’t moved in five years!” Four vampires share a flat, argue about the cleaning rota, try to get invited into the coolest nightclubs and occasionally paint the town red. As detailed in Red Alert ( page 9), What We Do In The Shadows is a horror- com mock doc from Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement. Like all great comedy horror it’s garnering comparisons to Shaun Of
The Dead though they’re different fish – Shadows has a higher zinger rate for a start though it shows One the same love for the genre. Viago ( Waititi) is a foppish dandy, Vladislav ( Clement) a bloodthirsty Impaler type, Deacon ( Jonathan Brugh) the sexy “young” neck nibbler and Petyr ( Ben Framsham) a Nosferatu- style beast. Then there’s Nick, a new clan member who just wants to tell everyone he’s a bloodsucker because it’s cool. Absurd, timely and not massively scary, it’s still going to be one of my top films of the year.
Na me- ag eddon
You’ve battled the
Piranhaconda. You’ve faced down the mighty Sharktopus. You’ve sheltered from the
Sharknado. And soon you can put on a hat and a waterproof in the face of Sharknado: The Second
( out 27 October). Now, mind your toes for the Volcanosaur! The latest from Syfy is about a giant dinosaur who lives under the earth’s core and is so massive that... oh who cares. It’s out on DVD on 17 November, if you must…
Dreadful Old Movies
Stuck for something to do at Halloween? Go see The Babadook... Already seen that? The
Invasion Of The Body Snatchers ( 1956), from Dirty Harry helmer Don Siegel is getting a theatrical re- release at the end of October. A different beast to the magnificent 1978 version, yet still a tense and highly effective story of a small- town doctor who finds his patients and friends transformed into soulless pod people.
Timelessly terrifying. “Your spag bol? Nothing to do with us. Someone else must’ve pinched it…”
At least two brilliant releases this month. What We Do In The Shadows is a hilarious house- share comedy with vampires, while Extraterrestrial is a dark, dry relationship drama with spaceships. Then there’s Volcanosaur. It’s going to be terrible – of course it is! I’d still rather sit through that than cynical doll dirge Annabelle…
No one had warned her that this Ice Bucket Challenge involved mud.