Well, this chills and thrills has mostly horror, as I was doing a lot of research for my types of horror guide. Some of it was pretty rough going, but I did find some great movies that I would call underrated, considering their harsh IMDb ratings. As well as a crime TV show that is very reminiscent of The Sinner, just in a procedural format.
I was really impressed by Hidden, which is a virus movie (full review). It was one location set, where a family is hiding in a bomb shelter after a deadly breakout. A lot of the movie focuses on the family trying to survive underground, having not gone outside for almost a year. But of course, events happen, such as their food being eaten by rats, that make them venture outside. Obviously, this is a bit of slow burn, but I found the activities of the family interesting. The threat of The Breathers was very intriguing as they sounded like monsters. But where it impressed me however was the ending, which was something I did not expect at all. Hidden is written and directed by the Duffer Brothers, who you may know from Stranger Things which they produced.
I was immediately drawn to watching this, not only due to its high IMDb score but also the fact that it stars Sam Neill. Though it was interesting to see Sam Neill in his younger days, I was not happy with this film. The best way I can describe it is 2 hours of incoherent screaming. The premise is that a man returns from being away on a secretive business trip when his wife asks for a divorce. Neill’s character does not want a divorce and tries to win his wife back, but he finds that she is acting more and more strange, so he becomes suspicious of her. As you can imagine, as he digs deeper into her strangeness, he finds something more sinister than just wanting a divorce. For me, however, I grew tired of her randomly turning up and screaming about something. I did manage to grind my way through this, but I had to skip the tunnel scene with the wife just screaming and rolling around. Unfortunately, the ending was not enough to make up for the incoherent and boring storyline up until then.
The Beach House (2019)
The most striking thing about The Beach House had to be the ominous atmosphere, you always feel like something is just about to happen that will be disastrous. The first-time director, Jeffery A. Brown did a great job in making this. It follows a couple who are staying at a beach house to spend some quality time together. However, their alone time is first interrupted by unexpected guests, then by a mysterious fog that starts to roll in, that has unusual effects on them. In a way, this reminded me of Sweetheart, as you mostly follow the main girl in this who has to figure out things on her own when all things go to hell. The latter portion of the film felt a bit Lovecraftian in its atmosphere, but only briefly touched on that. There is no exposition about this fog and its effects, it is only a survival movie. Though I have to say the ending did disappoint a bit, as it fell victim to “people do stupid things” in movies to move the plot alone. But apart from that, definitely worth a watch for those who like a slow burn.
Castle Freak (1995)
I am a fan of Jeffery Combs, but this is such a strange and weird film. After his aunt passes away, John and his wife and daughter inherit her mansion. In the hopes to sell it off, they go to stay at the mansion to sort through things. However, when they turn up, the daughter, who is blind, is convinced that someone else is there apart from them. Not believing her, and having their marital problems distracting them, they do not look further into it until a death occurs. The title does give away a lot of what it is about, so you can probably guess what happens from then on. It wasn’t a bad story at all, the characters were interesting and fleshed out, but I just could not get on board with the monster in this. It just seemed like a shallow attempt at horror, and the gore was too gratuitous in my opinion. Perhaps if I had seen it when it was released, I might have different feelings, but I have never been a fan of anything that touches on torture porn.
Motive definitely has an unusual take on a crime show. It is similar like I said to The Sinner, except each crime is only an episode-long, so there is no slow burn like the former. I was sceptical that knowing who the killer and the victim is at the beginning would not work so well, but surprisingly it does. Just like The Sinner, it is finding out why the killer committed the crime that makes it so intriguing. Especially when they are first presented you are not sure which one is going to be the killer or victim. Most of the time, the persons caught in this are not related in any way, so it is a nice unfolding throughout the episode. It also helps that all the characters are very well done. Even with the procedural format, you do feel like you get to know them a bit better, and there are certain crimes that show more of their personality and principles. Though the star for me and of the show would be Angie Flynn (played by Kristin Lehman). She manages to be tough, vulnerable, and funny which is impressive as a detective, too often they are very cardboard especially women.
Paranormal Activity (2007)
I might have watched this when it came out, but I did not remember much from it. This does fall in the same category as The Blair Witch, in that I was not impressed. Though I would say it was better than the former. Considering we only follow two characters through the whole film, it did keep my interest for the most part. But I did find that I absolutely hated the boyfriend in this. For those who have not watched this, it follows a couple, Micah and Katie who have just moved into a suburban home when strange occurrences start happening centred on the girlfriend. To figure out what is going on, Micah suggests recording everything that happens during the night and day. Katie also seeks the help of a paranormal investigator, but unfortunately, nothing comes of it, instead, things start escalating beyond reason.
Spoiler incoming…It is my opinion that this ghost was benevolent really, and was just trying to scare Katie out of the house away from her terrible boyfriend. Throughout he minimizes and downright ignores her concerns – putting himself first at every step. I feel like my theory is confirmed when the ghost possesses Micah and kills him.
Another Earth (2011)
Well, this is how cerebral sci-fi can go wrong. Not wanting to get any spoilers, I did not look beyond the summary and film poster on IMDb. With a score of 7 at the time of writing, I felt like not much could go wrong that would make me not like this film. Another Earth starts with the discovery of another earth in the sky, which the government has made contact with and has discovered is a parallel version of their earth. That is the background, but in this movie, we follow a student and an accomplished composer that have a connection that is shrouded in tragedy. I don’t feel like I would call this sci-fi, the connection to sci-fi elements is very tenuous at best. Though this other earth is discussed, it is not the focus of the film which plays more like a tragic drama. I felt pretty let down, once I realised this wasn’t going anywhere. If they had made a connection to another earth that had more of an impact on the characters then maybe, but it was the tragedy that was the impetus for all of the film’s events. If you too were disappointed by this sci-fi, I would recommend The Man from Earth which I feel flows better and has a much better payoff.
Well, this was an oldie, and though it had its flaws, I did enjoy this quite a bit. Following a group of employees in a supermarket at night, things start getting tense when they are being stalked by a mysterious figure who ends up picking them off one by one. I wouldn’t say the deaths are that adventurous, but they are good enough for slasher fans. The effects are not that bad considering, I did completely flinch at some of the deaths. But what turned it for me, was when the killer was revealed. They were hilarious with their lines and I kinda wished they had not kept the killer secret for so long as that was my favourite part.
My Bloody Valentine (1981)
I have seen the remake, but never the original, so I thought I should see it for myself. I can see why they decided to remake it, as it is an interesting premise, that you could see might have been as popular as Mike Myers. However, that is not the case, and I guess because we don’t get any backstory to the killer until the very end when it feels very forced and not thought out. I wish I could say that the deaths had some impact but apart from the first body, I found myself not caring too much about the characters to have an impact. One thing though is that it makes me want to revisit the remake to make a comparison.
I was hesitant to watch this mainly because the main character is played by the actress Nicole Muñoz, who unfortunately for me, has a punchable face. And I have to say, it did not help that she was playing a stroppy teenager in this. So it follows Leah, whose father has recently died. The mother, played by Laurie Holden, is consumed by her grief and decides they need a change of pace and moves them both to a remote cabin by the woods. Leah is upset by this, as she misses her friends and feels neglected by her mother. In a fit of rage, she performs a ritual to kill her mother, but the next day regrets it. She isn’t convinced that it is anything more than a silly ritual until she and her mother start having dangerous accidents. It is pretty good and the scary bits did manage to freak me out, but I just could not get on board with Muñoz. Maybe others won’t have such an aversion to her, so this might be a worthwhile watch.
I watched this years ago shortly after it first came out, and in a lull of what horror to watch, decided to revisit it. Thankfully I can say that it has held up surprisingly well. The body horror in this is fantastic and is hard to watch at times, so for fans of that sub-genre, I would thoroughly recommend this. It follows two couples, one going on an anniversary trip and the other a pair of criminals on the run from the law, whose paths collide. Held hostage by the criminals, they are ordered to drive, but after hitting a strange animal, have to pull into a gas station to seek repairs. They soon become trapped inside the gas station, when a creature starts to attack them.
That’s all for this Chills and Thrills.
In case you missed anything last month:
- Hunter Hunter Review – a brutal and brilliant movie
- Time Trap Review – a cerebral sci-fi everyone can engage with
- Countdown Review – doesn’t break the mold but fun nevertheless
- Altered Review – the creature feature all horror fans hope for
- The Rental Review – a genre mash-up that fails
- Sea Fever Review – an eerie and claustrophobic survival story
- Sweetheart Review – one of the best creature features in recent times
- Infini Review – a flawed but diverting sci-fi horror
- Synchronic Review – a sci-fi that ruins its potential