SFX's high priestess of horro
So Adam Wingard’s The Woods is actually a stealth sequel to The Blair Witch Project, called Blair Witch . Mind blown. Given the ridiculous publicity machine that exists around movies – marketing campaigns that cost millions, carefully controlled screenings and, very frequently with horror, critics not even being allowed to see the film before it’s out, Lionsgate seems to have done something risky but genius. Not only did they not tell anyone it was happening, EVEN THOUGH THERE WAS A TRAILER, but they announced the movie and then immediately screened it to a massive fan audience, who loved it. Blair Witch didn’t give anyone time to moan about it. We’ve made Blair Witch, boom, here it is. At the time of writing I hadn’t yet seen it, but with Wingard and his regular scribe Simon Barrett (The Guest, You’re Next) on board I’m so up for this. I’m throwing in my chips and I’m going to say film of the year right now.
Talking of horror surprise attacks, the first trailer for M Night Shyamalan’s new film Split arrived this month. It’s got a lot going for it – James McAvoy as the lead, Anya Taylor-Joy from The Witch starring opposite him, produced by my beloved Jason Blum. And the first 30 seconds or so looked cool – McAvoy as a skinhead weirdo who kidnaps three teenage girls and locks them in a basement. And then he rocks up in a dress doing a “We’re ladies!” voice. And then he’s a nine-year-old kid. I want to like it but, boy, this looks stupid! McAvoy is apparently a person with 23 distinct personalities residing in the one body. Riiiight.
NETFLIX AND THRILL
I’ve been trawling Netflix for horror movies lately, which can be something of a thankless task. I did spot a new addition that I’d highly recommend though – The Invitation , directed by Jennifer’s Body’s Karyn Kusama. It’s a creepy and uncomfortable horror of manners, where a guy and his girlfriend visit the house of his ex-wife and her new fella for a dinner party. It’s awks. And then it’s a lot worse than awks. Check this out and while you’re there have a peek at Ava’s Possessions, a horrorcomedy about a girl who has to attend rehab for the recently possessed. Fun!
PENNY FIXES THE FILM INDUSTRY
Every low-budget movie would be better as a genre flick. Here is my irrefutable evidence. I went to a very early sneak peek screening of a movie called The Ghoul , admittedly because I didn’t bother to read the blurb and assumed it was a horror. It’s not (quite) but it should be. It’s written and directed by Gareth Tunley and stars Tom Meeten as a guy who might be an undercover cop investigating a strange murder. Only of course it’s a great deal more complicated that than. It’s impressive, well shot and Meeten’s incredible. But the problem is it’s not a genre film, or not properly anyway. In fact it turns into a drama about mental illness. Not metaphorically but very literally, and though we’re teased with hints at a demonic psychiatrist using his patients to achieve immortality in some way, it’s very clearly the delusions of a troubled mind. There isn’t even a ghoul in it. Cut down the middle, up the genre factor, make it a whole lot more ambiguous and suddenly you’ve got an awesome indie chiller that’s still about mental illness just not quite so literally. Critical acclaim, the festival circuit and a Netflix release are all yours. Bish bash bosh and now you’re the director of the next Marvel movie. And that’s a principle that definitely applies to all low-budget movies ever.
A new Blair Witch? A new Shyamalan? Horror has been a total ninja this month
James McAvoy battles multiple personalities in Split. Blair Witch is back! And it took us completely by surprise! Guess who’s coming to dinner in The Invitation.