Movies are the only antidote to the horror of the real world
A TIME TO SCREAM
This month in film has been frankly very depressing. Not the features (Happy Death Day! Stranger Things 2! Err… Jigsaw!) but in the unfolding horror that is the widespread abuse carried out by powerful blokes in Hollywood. You’re tired of hearing about it. But horror reflects society – it always has done – so I’m quite sure we’ll be hearing about it more in times to come. Where victims have felt unable to speak out, horror is a great place to do so. It was always so – the Soska Sisters’ autobiographical American Mary , for example, deals with a young woman abused by a powerful male colleague who takes revenge into her own hands.
What’s emerged is a picture of an industry where victims suffered and then felt they weren’t listened to and now they need to scream. We all know how male-centric Hollywood is, but in the wake of this storm now more than ever it’s time to give women and those less represented a voice. The low budget, high impact nature of horror which allows more creative freedom is the perfect place. I urge producers, financiers and fans out there – let’s make horror a safe space for all different voices so people can tell their stories, and maybe things can change for the better.
MIND THE CHILD
On that, I do hope McG is feeling like a bit of a tool right now as he watches back his movie The Babysitter (on Netflix now), with its jokes about false accusations of sexual harassment and “black lives matter”. I’ve no idea if he thinks he’s being satirical but against a backdrop of slo-mo bikini shots and lingering close ups of girls making out it just feels like a ’90s adolescent male fantasy. Instead go and see the other babysitting movie, Better Watch Out , in cinemas now. It’s a super-modern twist on the home invasion movie with a whole lot more sophistication in its gender politics. Okay, it might be basically Home Alone with ultra-violence, but it’s a Christmas treat.
WE’LL DRINK TO THAT
Foreign Curio Of The Month prize goes to The Bar , available now on Netflix. This is a relentless Spanish infection horror which reminded me of [REC] (though with more laughs). A random group of strangers find themselves barricaded in a local cafe in Madrid when a man is shot just outside the door. This isn’t a siege situation though – instead they’re trapped inside with an infected guy and the authorities have no desire to let them leave. It’s a character piece, fast-paced and funny with standout set pieces (a scene of the group trying to force an oiled-up homeless man through the too-small opening of a sewer will stick with you), though there’s also discourse here about class and personal responsibility. Also check out Witching And Bitching , from the same director, Álex de la Iglesia. It follows a heist gone wrong which leads a group of guys and a kid who might be the chosen one into a coven of witches who want to eat them. Magic.
YEAR OF FEAR
December is upon us and it’s time to look back at the year in horror – and really it’s been a cracker. Annabelle: Creation was surprisingly scary, 47 Metres Down brought sharks back with a bang, XX gave us a female-only anthology, while Thelma was a beautiful Scandi take on Carrie. My top five though (in no particular order) are: Raw – furious French coming-of-age cannibal film exploring dark female fantasy; It Comes At Night – slow burn claustrophobic infectioner where the horror is other people; IT – warm, nostalgic clown chiller with characters you really care for; Get Out – smart socio-political comedy-chiller using genre tropes to talk about serious issues; The Killing Of A Sacred Deer – cruel, black and shocking cautionary tale with Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman. Here’s to a great 2018!
Better Watch Out… A Christmas home invasion with a twist.