On toy boys, girl ghosts bat­tling it out and a ter­ri­fy­ing new trend

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Opinion -

Ghost Girl-fiGht

In a mashup of ter­ri­fy­ing vs ter­ri­ble, an April Fools’ vi­ral is set to be­come re­al­ity with ’90s J-hor­ror hair-off Sadako Vs Kayako. The movie, pit­ting the venge­ful girl-ghosts of Ringu and The Grudge against each other, is set for a June 2016 release in Ja­pan. It’ll be di­rected by Koji Shi­raishi, who made 2009’s grim sex-pest-fest Grotesque, which is banned in the UK. All of which points to this be­ing rub­bish. But I can’t deny the teaser clip, with Kayako’s hand reach­ing over Sadako’s well gave me chills. I’m try­ing to neu­tralise my nerves by imag­in­ing lit­tle Toshio from The Grudge as a “Ring Girl” car­ry­ing the num­bers of up­com­ing rounds while Sadako and Kayako mope in the cor­ners in night­ies and box­ing gloves.

trees of life

A more promis­ing Ja­pan-set hor­ror is The For­est, out 26 Fe­bru­ary star­ring Natalie Dormer. It’s set in the real-life Aoki­ga­hara for­est at the base of Mount Fuji, a place no­to­ri­ous as a sui­cide venue and re­put­edly the home of dark spir­its. Dormer plays an Amer­i­can woman in search of her miss­ing twin sis­ter, who ven­tures into the for­est and ill-ad­vis­edly ig­nores warn­ings not to stray from the path. Bizarrely, this is the first of two sui­cide for­est hor­rors slated for 2016 – the sec­ond, from Por­tu­gal, is A Floresta Das Al­mas Per­di­das (The For­est Of The Lost Souls), also set in a no­to­ri­ous sui­cide venue, this time about two peo­ple who’ve ap­par­ently lost the will to live who meet in the for­est. It’s a com­ing-ofager which de­volves into a ’70s slasher – definitely stray­ing off the path.

liv­inG doll

Also out in Fe­bru­ary, The Boy, where a nanny is em­ployed to babysit a child which turns out to be a life-sized doll. Fur­nished with a set of rules (do not cover his face, do not forget to feed him, do not leave him alone) which she fla­grantly ig­nores, be­fore you can say “FFS Grem­lins!!!” ev­ery­thing goes a bit Child’s Play. Di­rected by Wil­liam Brent Bell, who made 2012’s The Devil In­side, it has a tan­ta­lis­ing trailer but I fear the film will be dis­ap­point­ing.

The Devil In­side made $102m off a $1m bud­get The Boy done bad, we’re guess­ing. even though no one liked it – watch this space for an in­flux of doll movies. Mean­while, if you have Net­flix, why not check out Lucky McKee’s May, a slow-burn, creepy in­die about a young woman with a lazy eye who has a doll in a glass box for a best friend. It stars An­gela Bet­tis, who years later would have her face bit­ten off in McKee’s The Woman, and Scary Movie’s Anna Faris as a vet­eri­nar­ian’s re­cep­tion­ist.

into the dark

The an­nual Sun­dance film fes­ti­val is about to land and with it the Mid­night se­lec­tion, an arm­ful of genre world pre­mieres that in pre­vi­ous years have in­cluded the best hor­rors of the year. The Babadook, What We Do In The Shad­ows and next year’s The Witch all launched there. This year nine movies have been an­nounced, in­clud­ing Rob Zom­bie’s lat­est 31, Kevin Smith’s lat­est Yoga Hosers, a new one by Ex­ci­sion di­rec­tor Richard Bates Jr called Trash Fire, and a Brit/Ira­nian Farsi-lan­guage po­lit­i­cal hor­ror called Un­der The Shadow. Then there’s The Black­out Ex­per­i­ments by a di­rec­tor called Rich Fox. Un­clear if it’s part doc­u­men­tary, this is an ex­plo­ration of an un­der­ground trend called Black­out. Th­ese are elite haunted houses in the US that are less a bloke in a mask wav­ing a leaf blower (which I adore) and more rape-sim­u­la­tion, suf­fo­ca­tion and stick­ing your hand in a bog full of fake vom. This is ex­treme, ex­pe­ri­en­tial stuff which forces you to ques­tion your own re­ac­tion to real-ish hor­ror. Keep your eyes out for screen­ing re­ac­tions late Jan­uary, and ap­proach Black­out it­self with cau­tion.

In need of a hand? Try Sadako Vs Kayako. Don’t go down to The For­est to­day…

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