Something old, something new, something Blumhouse, something to do
BLAST FROM THE PAST
So Ouija 2 is okay. Or rather, should we say, Ouija -1, given this is a prequel set in the ’60s about a mother and two girls who hold fake séances in the name of bringing “comfort” to the bereaved. But when they pick up Hasbro’s game, “Ouija”, things get a bit ghostly.
Retro settings for horror films seem to be all the rage. You don’t need to worry about mobile phones, CCTV cameras or any modern technology. But actually it’s more than that. We live in an age of cynicism. Of social media, “meh” and “LOLs”, where everyone has seen everything before, and no one is scared by anything that isn’t a loud noise and a crash zoom. Taking us back to a time when we were more isolated, when power cuts and candles were a thing, when houses were creaky and we could believe in ghosts, is strangely comforting. Ouija 2 isn’t great. But it did make me miss a simpler time when all we had to be afraid of was our youngest daughter being possessed by the malevolent spirit of tortured WW2 victims and not all this Trump and Brexit stuff.
GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER
Trailer of the month goes to Get Out , another from the Blumhouse horror factory. Daniel Kaluuya stars as an African-American guy who heads to the country to meet the parents of his Caucasian girlfriend, but once he’s there he’s confronted with a barrage of bizarre and terrifying racist behaviour. There’s some crazy supernatural stuff going on here as well, and some alarming mind games from Catherine Keener’s hypnotist mother. It’s directed by Jordan Peele of comedy duo Key and Peele, so I’m expecting wry laughs as well as social commentary and freaky horror.
Two Pixar animators have released a short – and it’s a little bit harrowing. This is Borrowed Time , a seven-minute vignette about an ageing sheriff returning to the scene of a horrible accident that’s been plaguing him since he was a young man. It’s a Western – think No Country For Old Men meets Toy Story 3. Filmmakers Lou Hamou-Lhadj and Andrew Coats said they wanted to make an animation that’s not for kids and that they want people to see animation not as a genre in itself but just another method of storytelling. The next step, then, is surely horror. Okay, there’s a fair bit of horror anime from Japan, while stopmotion movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride touch on horror themes, but outside of that it’s sparse. Are we missing a trick? Pixar’s so damn good these days their films are completely immersive – with zero restrictions, they could surely scare the life out of us. Make it so, guys.
More on shorts then – and two new ones doing the festival circuit that I urge you to watch. The first is Connie , from director Cat Davies, a kind of funny, feminist riff on the ventriloquist section of Dead Of Night, where a struggling comedienne adopts gobby puppet Connie to freshen her act – but at what cost? The second is Dawn Of The Deaf , which just won the prize for Best Short at Sitges. It deals with big issues like the impending zombie apocalypse and it looks astounding, with 28 Days Later levels of scale. Dawn Of The Deaf was shot in London with the deaf community and is a teaser drumming up interest for a feature to be shot “with an entirely deaf cast for a mainstream horror audience” according to writer/director Rob Savage. It’s genuinely excellent – this isn’t a “good cause” movie, other than the good cause of the potential for a really great, frightening horror that’s a little bit different from the norm. Head to www.DawnoftheDeafMovie.com for more.
Spooky houses and kids in Ouija: Origin Of Evil. Dark animation Borrowed Time. Connie could have Miss Piggy any day.