Good witches, bad rewrites and an awe­some new body hor­ror on its way

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

pony blair?

So crit­ics didn’t like Blair Witch and au­di­ences didn’t go to see it. What the hell is wrong with peo­ple? Blair Witch is great! Scan­ning the re­views, the most com­mon com­plaint is that it’s too sim­i­lar to the orig­i­nal – a state­ment I dis­agree with on two counts. First, where it is sim­i­lar to the orig­i­nal, that’s a good thing! And sec­ond, my big­gest prob­lem is that it’s not sim­i­lar enough to the orig­i­nal, up­ping the shocks and scares, los­ing the am­bi­gu­ity and show­ing you way more witch, so it’s jumpy rather than crush­ingly men­ac­ing. But here’s a thing. Bri­tish crit­ics seem to have liked the film more than Amer­i­cans. SFX, Time Out, Ra­dio Times, Dig­i­tal Spy, GQ, The In­de­pen­dent, The Ob­server, Lit­tle White Lies, To­tal Film and Em­pire all gave it broadly pos­i­tive re­views. Are we more used to dis­ap­point­ment? Do we find get­ting lost in the woods more anx­i­ety-mak­ing? And does this mean talk of a new fran­chise is now off the ta­ble? I sin­cerely hope not.


An­other year, an­other FrightFest, filled with guest ap­pear­ances, too much booze, some re­ally in­ter­est­ing pan­els and five days holed up in a movie the­atre in West Lon­don fill­ing up on gory and grisly treats. Here are my top three films from that August Bank Holiday week­end.

Train To Bu­san – fran­tic Korean en­closedspace zom­bie movie from the di­rec­tor who made The Fake. Thrilling. My Fa­ther, Die – slow, in­tense and beau­ti­ful re­venge flick about an abu­sive fa­ther who kills one son and deaf­ens the other, di­rected by Pierce Bros­nan’s son, Sean. The Love Witch – gor­geous and strange ’70s-in­spired hor­ror-melo­drama about a young woman (Sa­man­tha Robin­son) us­ing magic and spells to se­duce men in a small town, from fem­i­nist au­teur Anna Biller. Check them out when you can.


A bril­liant thing is hap­pen­ing. Karyn Kusama, who made Jen­nifer’s Body (shut up, I liked it), and the rather bet­ter re­ceived The In­vi­ta­tion has picked up an adap­ta­tion of Chase No­vak’s Breed as her next project. I hap­pened to read this book when it first came out and it’s great. It fol­lows a cou­ple who travel to Eastern Europe for an ex­pen­sive and sin­is­ter fer­til­ity treat­ment when they’re un­able to con­ceive. It works and they have twins! The end. Not the end. This is a re­ally odd, dis­gust­ing, vis­ceral body hor­ror that de­fies ex­pec­ta­tions and tugs at the heart strings and Kusama is per­fect for it. This’ll also make her one of the high­est pro­file fe­male hor­ror di­rec­tors work­ing to­day, and may well push her into the main­stream – the fe­male James Wan? Give that woman a su­per­hero movie.


Guess who’s not mak­ing a hor­ror movie this month? Juan Car­los Fres­nadillo, di­rec­tor of 28 Weeks Later, that’s who. News was an­nounced that Steven Spiel­berg, whose com­pany DreamWorks was mak­ing the film, has halted pro­duc­tion of Haunted just weeks be­fore the shoot was to be­gin. It was go­ing to be a ghost story in­spired by Henry James’s The Turn Of The Screw, but the Berg and co stepped in and sacked Fres­nadillo, even though they’d al­ready spent $5 mil­lion on the project. Ap­par­ently Fres­nadillo and writer Scott Z Burns had made big changes to the orig­i­nal script (writ­ten by the dudes who penned The Con­jur­ing movies, ie peo­ple who prob­a­bly know what they’re do­ing) that Spiel­berg hated, in­clud­ing the ti­tle, the char­ac­ters and many of the things that hap­pen. Awk-Ward!

Blair Witch: scared au­di­ences away? Fancy catch­ing the Train To Bu­san? You’re gonna love The Love Witch.

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