Penny Dread­ful

SFX's high priest­ess of horro

SFX - - Opinion -


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.


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!


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.

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