Demons in Iran, twins in Austria and a murderer doused in kitchen grease...
Seems like March is the new January ( which is of course the poor man’s October) when it comes to horror. The dawn of spring arrives with a whole raft of cinema releases throughout the month. Goodnight Mommy is an Austrian film where twin boys in the countryside fear their mother is an impostor, post- cosmetic surgery, but is it her or them that’s the real threat? It screened to great reviews in Venice, getting comparisons to The
Orphanage and Funny Games, so definitely one to watch. Then there’s The Boy, which sees a nanny terrorised by a couple’s life- size doll that may be alive. Will it terrify? My prediction: probably not. Sci- fi horror is going big with sneaky sequel 10 Cloverfield Lane landing ( oh JJ, you cunning devil!), and also not so big with portal- to- the- underworld chiller The Other
Side Of The Door, from F director Johannes Roberts. And don’t miss Jacobean wickedness unbound in The Witch.
Another Sundance has set, and with it a handful of weird indie horrors that everyone’s going to be talking about in around a year when they finally come out. My vampire- bat ears are twitching for three. 1) Iranian chiller Under
The Shadow, set in Tehran in the late ’ 80s at the height of the Iran- Iraq war, is about a reluctant stay- at- home mother caring for her daughter who becomes haunted by demons after her husband goes into military service. Feminist and frightening, it’s being called “this year’s Babadook”. 2) Trash Fire: This is from Richard Bates Jr, who made brilliant freak show Excision and inventive but not quite as good Suburban Gothic. Trash Fire is a sort of black romcom about a couple who hate each other, and a maniac granny, ending in a bloodbath. Grimy indie mumblegore. 3) The
Greasy Strangler: Notorious already for how utterly disgusting, relentless, puerile and ugly it is, debut director Jim Hosking’s tale concerns a father and son who do disco walking tours in Los Angeles and who become love rivals over a woman on the tour. In his spare time the dad carries out killings naked and slathered in cooking fat. Sounds amazing!
That’ s not a knife!
The latest horror TV spin- off is Wolf Creek, coming to screening service Stan later this year. Director of the original Greg McLean is on board and Aussie outback nutter Mick Taylor ( John Jarratt) is also lurking in the background, though it looks from the first teaser that the focus will be on new character Eve, sole survivor of one of Mick’s attacks, who’s out for revenge. Wolf Creek is one of my favourite horrors, not for “head on a stick” or the horrific crucifixion, but for the horror of manners – the girls are out of their depth, they know that Mick’s a weirdo, but since he’s not actually done anything wrong at first they don’t hit him with a stick and run away. Because that would be rude. I would be the same. “You’ve hacked my arm off? Oh dear, sorry, it was my fault for getting in the way of your knife.” It’s the British way. Eve ( Lucy Fry) is an American tourist, so she’ll no doubt be a ripped weapons- expert who can survive days in the outback on a thimble of spit and a Hershey bar. The horror of embarrassment: now that’s truly terrifying.
A fond goodbye to a horror stalwart, as February saw the passing of Richard Gladman, aka @ cyberschizoid – publisher and editor of Space Monsters magazine, founder of Frighten Brighton horror festival and of the Classic Horror Campaign which petitioned to bring back horror double- bills to the BBC. I didn’t know him well but the few times we met he was hilarious, gregarious, generous and just really passionate about the genre. And he got things done. He’ll be missed.
Two reasons in pink to see The Greasy Strangler ! Cosmetic surgery terror in Goodnight Mommy. More obscured faces in Trash Fire.