This is a continuation of observations on films I’ve watched this year, although I’m making a bit of a detour for Halloween. Every now and then, I’ve participated in challenges to watch 13 horror (or at least horror-adjacent) movies in October, and that’s always fun.
This year, I’m going with two sub-challenges: five movies produced by Blumhouse, and five films from the Rotten Tomatoes Top 100 horror films.
Movie #181/ New Movie #103/ 2019 Movie #15/ Rotten Tomatoes Top 100 Horror #1: Midsommar
This story about grad students going to a Northern European pagan festival kinda speaks to me as an Estonian-American. The basic story is pretty good, the mythology is well-realized and the story actually says something about grief and mourning.
Movie #182/New Movie #104/ 2010s Movie #30/ Blumhouse #1: Town That Dreaded Sundown
It’s a strange sequel/ remake, which shows how a town is affected by the publicity behind an actual 1970s horror movie, and the source material of actual grisly murders. Beneath it all is an okay meta-slasher.
Movie #183/ 2010s Movie #31/ Rotten Tomatoes Top 100 #2: It Follows
It’s probably one of the best concepts for a horror movie in the last decade, setting a well-realized world with characters encountering supernatural forces in an understandable way. The little details and mysteries really help sell a tremendous directorial debut.
Movie #184/ New Movie #105/ 2020 Movie #10/ Blumhouse #2: You Should Have Left
This straight to video (download) film about a family in a strange house isn’t perfect. The scary house is okay, but could be better realized. Amanda Seyfried (likely to get an Oscar nomination for Mank) is underused. There are some odd decisions in the adaptation (There isn’t much of an explanation about how a middle-aged banker accused of the murder of his first wife got to marry a much younger actress) and at the end, it’s not clear why we should care for the protagonist. It’s a decent showcase for Kevin Bacon as a flawed man encountering the supernatural.
Movie #185/ Silent Movie #11/ Rotten Tomatoes Top 100 #3: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
For a little while, this may have been the best movie ever made. It remains a great example of German expressionism in film. The Kino Blu-ray has a decent restoration, and a decent supplemental documentary on the historical context.
Movie #186/ 1980s Movie #15/ Rotten Tomatoes Top 100 #4: The Shining
Kubrick’s effort at horror may just be the best cinematic ghost story.
Movie #187/ New Movie #106/ 1960s Movie #21: The Devil Rides Out
This Hammer picture about a satanic cult is a rare chance to see Christopher Lee play a good guy.
Movie #188/ New Movie #107/ 2010s Movie #32/ Rotten Tomatoes Top 100 #5: Bone Tomahawk
I’ve heard Sonny Bunch mention this western-horror hybrid a lot, so I was intrigued. It generally works pretty well, establishing a new type of villain in an offshoot Native American tribe that kidnaps settlers on the frontier. High marks to Kurt Russel as a sheriff encountering things beyond his imagination, and Patrick Wilson as the prototypical civilized man forced to sacrifice everything for the possibility of saving his wife.
Movie #189/New Movie #108/ 2010s Movie #33/ Blumhouse #3: Happy Death Day
I do remain a sucker for time travel, and this film does combine a reasonably inventive college slasher film with a concept that provides for humor and horror, as the victim keeps experiencing her death over and over.
Movie #190/New Movie #109/ 2010s Movie #34/ Blumhouse #4: Happy Death Day 2 U
The sequel builds on the original in some interesting ways, providing an explanation for the chaos, as well as a world where the lead gets something she really wants. There are some big decisions that I don’t quite accept.
Movie #191/New Movie #110/ French Film #/ 1970s Movie #17: The Iron Rose
I saw it on a list of best horror movies, so I was intrigued. But this story about a young couple lost in a graveyard at night can be slooooooooow, even if it does occasionally have strong visuals.
Movie #192/New Movie #111/ 2010s Movie #35/ Blumhouse #5: Unfriended
The gimmick of a found horror film based on video messaging apps has gained relevance post-COVID. It generally uses the format pretty well, and has a decent story about teens forced to reveal secrets (even if it’s pretty clear all the actors are in their twenties) although the final monster isn’t all that convincing.
Movie #193/ Silent Movie #12/ Rotten Tomatoes Top 100 #6: Nosferatu (BFI Restoration)
The original Dracula adaptation has stunning visuals, and probably the most compelling arc for the young married couple for any of the films. Count Orloc may just be the best cinematic vampire
- The Shining
- The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
- It Follows
- Bone Tomahawk
- Happy Death Day
- Happy Death Day 2U
- The Devil Rides Out
- You Should Have Left
- The Town That Dreaded Sundown
- The Iron Rose