A would-be filmmaker, Scott, brings his girlfriend Penny with him to a cabin far away in the woods. Here, he hopes to achieve the ultimate inspiration for this film (a nature documentary) but that proves to be harder than expected…that is, until they accidentally come across one of the artistic works of the mysterious “Mr. Jones”: an artist surrounded by mystery, known for creating creepy artistic scarecrows. Both being very fascinated by this artist’s works, not to mention thrilled by the fact that they accidentally found his secret hideout, they decide to make a documentary about Mr. Jones instead. Mr. Jones does not appear to enjoy this unwanted attention, however, and soon the couple are drifting into a world of nightmares…
“Mr. Jones” is a found footage-style horror movie from 2013, which is Karl Mueller’s debut, who both wrote and directed it. The first half of the movie is actually quite thrilling: the scarecrows are creepy as hell and sets a really good atmosphere, and the mysterious artist (Mr. Jones) is quite creepy too.
What’s the biggest downside with “Mr. Jones” is that it actually starts with a concept that leaves you quite intrigued: the mysterious scarecrow-artist who’s hiding away in a cabin deep in the woods is a very interesting concept. Unfortunately, the final part of the movie slides away from this and into a dreamy latter part that becomes trippy and confusing, to the point where it simply gets a bit tedious. It strays away from what we expected to be a creepy villain/monster and delves into something more philosophical, and the unfortunate result is that all the built-up tension dissipates.
“Mr. Jones” does have its moments, however, especially in the first half of the movie. It’s a different kind of found footage horror movie, where its originality might either make or break the viewing experience for you.
Fun fact: the scarecrows in this movie were made by an artist called “Pumpkinrot“, who’s making some really cool Halloween decorations.
Director: Karl Mueller Country & year: USA, 2013 Actors: Jon Foster, Sarah Jones, Mark Steger, Faran Tahir, Stanley B. Herman, Ethan Sawyer, Jordan Byrne IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2507280/
Mary, a new mother, gives birth to twins, but only one of them is alive. While taking care of her living child, Adam, she suspects that something, a supernatural entity, has chosen him and will stop at nothing to take him from her.
The horror genre has quite often touched the subjects of pregnancy and child birth, where what is supposed to be one of the greatest joys in some people’s lives suddenly turn into unimaginable horror, where the death of a newborn being the ultimate fear of any pregnant woman. After losing one of her children during birth she gets a severe depression, refusing to remove the second crib from the room, desperately holding on to what ‘could have been’. So when the first paranormal incident happen – when she hears a second baby’s cry from the room – we actually see a glimpse of hope in her eyes, not fear. As the viewer you feel that this might portray a mother’s ultimate loss in a way that makes us feel that she is, indeed, on the brink of insanity. Then again…they’ve just moved into a new house. And more things start to happen where it’s not so obvious that it’s all in her mind or a result of depression and anxiety due to her loss.
Still/Born does have a certain atmosphere in the first half, much thanks to “old hat” scare techniques where less is more, and where it plays more on the psychological level. When the demon/entity is introduced it turns into something that’s considerably less creepy, despite the idea of this baby-grabbing entity having potential. Unfortunately, the progress becomes somewhat monotonous, where her experiences with the demonic entity has the unfortunate effect of toning down the suspense rather than increasing it. It does have some creepy scenes, but it also feels like there is a bit of lost potential here, as it could have been so much more.
Still/Born is director Brandon Christensen’s first feature film, and despite some issues it is not at all a bad movie. Thus, I’m glad he’s already got something else in the works according to IMDb: a horror movie called “Z“, which is about a family that find themselves terrorized by their eight-year-old son’s imaginary friend.
Still/Born was co-written by Colin Minihan (one of the directors behind “Grave Encounters“). Colin Minihan is also the co-writer for Christensen’s upcoming horror movie “Z”.
Director: Brandon Christensen Country & year: Canada, 2017 Actors: Christie Burke, Jesse Moss, Rebecca Olson, Jenn Griffin, Michael Ironside, Sheila McCarthy, Sean Rogerson, Grace Christensen, Dianne Snape IMDb:https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6087426/
Legend has it, that deep in a foul stone-walled well resides a vile feline being, which instead of paws, has human hands for stealing body parts from unsuspecting passersby. With this in mind, a weary old man leads an enigmatic young stranger deep in the rude and undisturbed woods to witness firsthand the otherworldly creature. Could this ghastly old folk tale be true after all?
“The Cat With Hands” is a horror/fantasy short from 2001 made by Robert Morgan, and features some good old-fashioned stop motion animation. A short, strange and dark little tale!
Somewhere in Germany we see a random boy who’s playing with a ball, and gets spanked by his mom for coming home late. The boy then kills her with a meat cleaver, and our new terrifying slasher villain “Karl the Butcher” (or simply “The Butcher”) is born. Then we skip twenty years later where The Butcher is being transported by the polizei from-or-to God knows. Then one of the transporters have to take a piss, and The Butcher manages to escape as soon they stop the car, and kills them all in the worst low budget-way which is pretty indescribable. And we’re only seven minutes in, so take this as a foretaste to what the rest of the movie will be.
Then we’re being introduced to a nameless blonde chick who drives to a gas station, parks the car and switches to an other car to continue driving. When she arrives at the countryside and into the woods, the car dies and she yells “scheisse”, which describes this movie pretty well so far. And now that it’s gotten dark and her being all alone, what could happen? We see The Butcher from pov-view while he halts and grunts like a pig, then attacks her, and cuts one of her titties off. Make me wonder if Lars Von Trier has seen this. However, he then butches her to pieces (off camera) and eats some of her entrails. Yummy, good night.
Next day, The Butcher hunts for more victims in the countryside when something unexpected happens: he suddenly collapses. Maybe food poisoning from the woman’s guts he ate last night? Or maybe the actor is simply tired of this (violent) shit and realized that his performance never would lead to any Oscar Nominations, and would rather go home and play Nintendo? Who knows. Movie over? No way! We haven’t even gotten halfway through its running time. Then we meet our next victim who by a coincidence spots The Butcher laying by the road. And, like nice and empathic people do, he checks if he needs help, which of course turns to be quite opposite when The Butcher grabs his meat cleaver and cuts his hand off. And his dick, which he don’t eat. Thank God. And in order to not waste any precious time, we’re jumping straight over to the next victim, an aggravated redneck, played by the director Andreas Schnaas himself, who yells (in German) “fucking shit”. At least, the movie seems to have a sense of self-awareness.
And at this point I think you know the drill: every new character who gets on camera is just set up to be the next victim and killed off as quickly as they came, like a fart in the wind. So yeah, Violent Shit couldn’t be a more blunt and fitting title: It’s Violent Shit and that’s exactly what you get. A bunch of death scenes filmed over four weeks, “directed” (to use that word loosely) by Andreas Schnaas, who is a part of the trinity of the underground horror scene from Germany, along with Olaf Ittenbach and Jörg Buttgereit. Shot with his friends and with a budget that was enough to buy some gallons of cranberry juice as fake blood, rent a low-fi Video-8 format-camera and buy a lot of Heineken. The result is something you would expect to see from some kids in their early teens made for shits and giggles in their back yard on a weekend without any goal, purpose, ambition or a script.
One thing’s for sure: if you’re a fan of non-budget-amateurish-splatter horror, Violent Shit won’t fail to entertain you. The witty German dialogue, which apparently are just improvised and dubbed in post-production, makes it even more funny. Also worth mentioning that Andreas Shnaaas did the impressive thing of actually managing to drag his Violent Shit to the movie theaters in Germany, but it was pulled shortly after when it got under the censor board’s radar. It eventually found its way over to the USA where it became an underground cult classic on VHS.
A “Five Films Collector’s Shitition” with all of the four Violent Shit-films and the zombie flick “Zombie ’90: Extreme Pestilence” is available from Synapse Films. Knock yourself out. I couldn’t find any trailer, but down below you can see a clip with Karl The Butcher in action showing no mercy.
Director: Andreas Schnaas Country & year: Germany, 1989 Actors: Andreas Schnaas, Gabi Bäzner, Wolfgang Hinz, Volker Mechter, Christian Biallas, Uwe Boldt, Marco Hegele IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094271/
Berlin, 1977. A shitty place to be. A young, disturbed girl named Patricia (Chloë Grace Moretz) is on the run and seeking the doctor/prof/psychiatrist Klemperer. She’s in a state of psychosis and mumbles incoherent lines while she waves with her arms and then says in German “I was right. They are witches”. She then talks about the ballerina school she attended where she was a victim of abuse, and end the therapy session by saying (in German) “they will slaughter me and eat my cunt from the plate”. Yikes… We then get introduced to Susie (Dakota Fanning), a young, shy and naive American lady, who traveled to Berlin to attend this ballerina academy where she meets the strict dance instructor Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton). She settles in and has no idea what rabbithole she has gotten herself into. In the meantime Dr. Klemperer starts an investigation to take a closer look at what shady business is really going on in this academy.
This remake of Dario Argentos “Suspiria”, which was the first of the The Three Mother-trilogy, takes also elements from its two sequels, “Inferno” (1980) and “Mother of Tears” (2007), but goes in its own direction. Which is a good thing. Directed by Luca Guadagnino, who made mainly drama, romances and some documentaries, does a fantastic job here and shows that he has a great eye for horror and the aesthetic. The 70s-style is spot on and while the original had more of a colorful nightmarish fever-look in a baroque environment, this one is the straight opposite. It’s bleak and cold, and the ballerina school being surrounded by tall, wounded buildings gives a more realistic, melancholy look and a sense of dread and urban isolation.
The casting is great, but the one who sticks out is Tilda Swinton who plays the ice-cold Madame Blanc and Dr. Klemperer, hidden by the most believable old-makeup I’ve ever seen. Chloë Grace Moretz wanted the role as Patricia so bad that she learned to speak German even though she’s got only six minutes of screen-time. And as a homage to the original, Jessica Harper shows up in a brief moment. The film isn’t without its fair share of death scenes, one who probably stands out the most features one of the dancing students who gets her whole body twisted and broken during a dancing ritual. It’s one of the most terrifying scenes in the movie in terms of violence, but I can assure you that you’ll get a juicy payoff at the end. But the one who got most terrified of Suspiria was the star herself, Dakota Fanning, who got so messed up mentally during the shooting that she had to go to therapy. She also did ballet-training for two years in preparation for the role.
Overall, “Suspiria” 2018 is your typical love/hate movie that messes with your head and possibly also with your patience. With its run-time on 2 hours and 30 minutes, it can be a lot to digest. There’s a lot of weird shit going on here that leaves far more questions than answers, opening up to be analyzed to death and beyond. I liked it for what it was and really enjoyed the whole atmosphere, the cold eeriness, the characters and overall the look and style of the film. It grabbed my attention, but you definitely have to be in the right mood and expect the unexpected.
Director: Luca Guadagnino Country & year: Italy | USA, 2018 Actors: Chloë Grace Moretz, Tilda Swinton, Doris Hick, Malgorzata Bela, Dakota Johnson, Angela Winkler, Vanda Capriolo, Alek Wek, Jessica Batut, Elena Fokina, Mia Goth IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1034415/
When you are all alone in a small dark room, what do you fear the most? Is it the temporary blindness or is it the uneasy deep feeling that someone, or rather something, is observing your every move?
“Lights Out” is the horror short by David F. Sandberg that later became the full-length 2016 horror movie by the same name. In many ways this horror short can be seen as somewhat superior to the film, since it keeps a lot of the mystery with its short run-time, and can easily take us all back to those periods in our life when we were afraid of what might hide in the dark…
Kyle Buckneil is a young, troubled lady who has been in and out of prison and rehabilitation programs without much success. After a failed attempt to blow up an ATM, and poor driving skills, it’s right back to the courtroom where she is sentenced to spend eight months of “house arrest” in her childhood home: an old victorian house in the country. With a bracelet around her ankle she can only stay within the property during those eight months, with her mother and stepfather, whom she does not have the best relationship with.
The days go by with lots of smoking and slacking around on the couch, but one day she hears on an evening program on the radio that her mother has called in, claiming that the house is haunted…and especially down in the basement, a place that apparently opens up a lot of repressed memories from Kyle’s childhood. Things are beginning to happen gradually, like weird sounds in the walls and a mysterious ringtone that can be heard at night, leading down to – take a guess – the basement, where she gets an unpleasant experience. And of course, she can’t escape since she’s literally forced to stay there.
In other words: it builds up to something that may seem like a conventional ghost movie where things go from bad to worse. Our prison bird will be attacked one night by a Poltergeist-style teddy bear, knocking it off and throwing it in the fireplace..only for the teddy bear to come back during a showering scene, freaking her out even more. Eventually she gets enough of all the weird happenings, and would rather spend time in prison than in a haunted house. But of course, she can only forget about that.
The first 40 minutes of the film is undoubtedly the best. And with both the title, the alternative cover and an old Victorian house, one expects a claustrophobic chamber drama where God knows what might happen. But I’m not spoiling anything by saying that Housebound isn’t what I expected it to be at all. It’s also listed as a comedy, but I think the comedy aspects is more unintentionally funny and doesn’t blend very well with the tone and atmosphere it builds up in the first act. It’s overall an entertaining movie, but do not let the title and cover fool you.
Directors: Gerard Johnstone Country & year: New Zealand, 2014 Actors: Morgana O’Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru, Ross Harper, Cameron Rhodes, Ryan Lampp, Mick Innes, Bruce Hopkins, Millen Baird, Wallace Chapman, David Van Horn IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3504048/
Alma, a little girl, skips through the snow-covered streets of a small town. Her attention is caught by a strange doll in an antique toy shop window. Fascinated, Alma decides to enter.
“Alma” is a CGI animated horror short by Rodrigo Blaas, which tells us a simple yet creepy tale. In the world of animation, Rodrigo is a familiar name as he’s been involved in several animated classics (as an animator for Ice Age, Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up and more, and also as a director for some episodes of Guillermo del Toro’s animated series “Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia”). This little short goes to show that all kinds of animation, even if it’s “cute”, can be quite creepy…
Dr. Louis Creed and his family have decided to move away from Boston and settle down in rural Maine in order to live a more quiet life, and give Louis more time with his family: Rachel, his wife, Ellie, his daughter, and Gage, his young son. Their new home seem to be peaceful and nice…except for the highway being located right outside where heavy trucks keep roaring by all the time. They soon discover a pet cemetery close by (where a lot of the pets have been victims of said trucks), where children have buried their beloved pets for a long time. The place holds a power that is by no means good, however, something the Creed family is about to discover in the most horrible way.
“Pet Sematary” is one of Stephen King’s most famous novels, and is actually based on his own close encounter with a truck nearly killing his own son. He got the inspiration after his time at the University of Maine at Orono, where he was teaching for a year as a gesture of gratitude for the education he had received there. During that time, he and his family rented a house near a busy road who had claimed the lives of numerous pets in the neighborhood, and the children there had created a pet cemetery near the house King and his family rented. They also had a cat at the time: Smucky. Unfortunately, Smucky became one of that road’s victims, and King’s daughter Naomi buried it in that pet cemetery. Shortly thereafter, King’s son Owen had a close call running toward the road. All of this gave him the inspiration for this novel, but after writing it he felt he had gone too far with the subject matter and discarded the idea of having it published. However, since he needed to publish a final book for his contract, he reluctantly submitted it to Doubleday. And of course, it became an immediate success.
Now, for those of us that have read the book and seen the first movie adaption, it’s hard not to make comparisons. There are quite a few things that have been changed completely here. The first adaption from 1989 actually follows the book more closely than this one, but at the same time I also think that this new adaption captures the dark and tragic tone a lot better, as it is a story that deals with something that all of us know but always dread to think or talk about: the death of loved ones, and how far we would be willing to go if we could reverse it.
I was also quite curious about how they would depict Zelda (Rachel’s sister), who was slowly dying in a horrible and painful way from spinal meningitis while turning into a hideous “monster” (and, since the illness turned her clinically insane, also made her bitter and mean towards Rachel), and this has given Rachel PTSD-like symptoms. I actually think Zelda is one of the creepiest parts of the whole story, and it also plays a major factor over explaining why Rachel is struggling so much with everything that’s got to do with death. While there has been some changes regarding Zelda’s death in this movie, I actually think that the book’s version of Zelda’s demise was better…but yeah, I know why they did it, as it gave them a perfect setting to make some creepy scenes and jump-scares.
Overall, this new movie adaption of Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary” is a well made horror movie, and despite some differences it manages to capture a lot of the original feelings of dread from the book, while also leaving enough space for both movie adaptions to exist on their own.
Directors: Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer Country & year: USA, 2019 Actors: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, Jeté Laurence, Hugo Lavoie, Lucas Lavoie, Obssa Ahmed, Alyssa Brooke Levine, Maria Herrera, Frank Schorpion, Linda E. Smith, Sonia Maria Chirila IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0837563/