Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Rundown of the 13 Best Horror Movies I've Seen in the Past Year
[9 of 13]

(September 2013)

"[Coherence] started with a test to see if I could shoot something without a crew and without a script.”
--James Ward Byrkit

Well, let me come right out and say that Mr. Byrkit and company aced this test.
The set-up’s simple: a group of friends get together for a dinner party, on the night that Miller’s Comet passes.
And what Byrkit and his cast manage to improv out of a limited budget, notecards, and short character descriptions is an exquisite Twilight Zone Chinese puzzle mindf*ck feature debut.

To say any more would be to say too much…

“We are visitors.”

(Coherence OS’ courtesy of &

A Rundown of the 13 Best Horror Movies I've Seen in the Past Year
[8 of 13]

(September 2013)

Within the first seven minutes of Proxy, something horrendous happens to pregnant Esther Woodhouse (Alexia Rasmussen), triggering the sequence of horrible events that serves as the twisted spine for this unsettling narrative.
After giving us Scalene, with the always excellent Margo Martindale, producer/director Zack Parker (from a script co-written by Parker with Kevin Donner) serves up this sordid tale about the terrible, f*cked up things fundamentally damaged people do to each other.

Fair warning, there is nothing remotely “entertaining” about this kind of intensely disquieting psychological horror, the kind you’d never really see from Hollywood.
This is some tough stuff, and I’m not talking about guts and gore or your standard lunatic serial killer from Central Casting. Fake blood and rubber intestines and bug-eyed, drooling Looney Tunes are easy.
Getting under the skin by showing just how crazy apparently “regular” folk can be, now that takes some skill…

(Proxy OS courtesy of

A Rundown of the 13 Best Horror Movies I've Seen in the Past Year
[7 of 13]

(September 2013)

Based on José Saramago’s novel O Homem Duplicado (The Double), Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy is sly and subtle horror with a distinctly Cronenbergian air to it.
Here, Jake Gyllenhall plays History professor Adam Bell, who quite suddenly discovers he’s got an exact lookalike in actor Daniel Saint Claire (real, non-screen name, Anthony).

A fascinatingly oblique take on the doppelgänger idea, Enemy is a tale that’s more concerned with how the weird sh!t scenario impacts on the characters, rather than the whys and the mystery behind said weird sh!t scenario.
If you’re looking for clear cut answers without the slightest hint of ambiguity, then look elsewhere…

As he navigates the story’s unsettling and uncertain terrain with us, Gyllenhall is ably assisted onscreen by Mélanie Laurent (as Adam’s girlfriend Mary), Sarah Gadon (as Anthony’s pregnant wife Helen), and the radiantly awesome Isabella Rossellini (as Adam’s mother).
Given her presence in the senior’s Cosmopolis and A Dangerous Method and the junior’s Antiviral, Gadon’s presence only further enhances the Cronenberg echo here, while Rossellini adds just the faintest whiff of Lynch to the proceedings.

Certainly, this is horror that will not be to everyone’s taste, and that WTF ending will almost surely lose some people as well, but for my money, Enemy is a riveting narrative that is intent on exploring the inhabitants of a world with mysteries aplenty imbedded in its hidden architecture, a story that asks us to weave our own meanings out of the vague wisps and sinister tatters that are left to us as the end credits sequence begins.

Parting Shot: Nominated for 10 awards at this year’s Canadian Screen Awards (including Adapted Screenplay and Best Motion Picture), Enemy was ultimately honored with five: Achievement in Direction, Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Gadon), Achievement in Music – Original Score (Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans), Achievement in Cinematography (Nicolas Bolduc), and Achievement in Editing (Matthew Hannam).
It will be noted that Hannam is another Cronenberg connection, having also edited Antiviral.

It’s only fitting that David Cronenberg just also happened to be the recipient of a lifetime achievement award at the same Canadian Screen Awards night, where Villeneuve had this to say: "The thing that I admire the most about other filmmakers is when they are able to build their own world. And there's nobody like David Cronenberg."

(Enemy OS’ courtesy of

A Rundown of the 13 Best Horror Movies I've Seen in the Past Year
[6 of 13]

(August 2013)

Juno Mak's feature debut is an impressive feat: it’s a phantasmagorical tour of Chinese superstition and religion that’s also a loving (and semi-meta) homage to the Jiangshi films of the ‘80’s.

And it pays this rather noteworthy tribute by stripping away the comedic wackiness of the original Jiangshi films and delivering an atmospheric tale of blood and shadows and death.

Co-produced by Ju-on mastermind, Shimizu Takashi, Geung Si manages to rope in even a non-Jiangshi film fan like myself (those who know me well know that the wacky schtick is so not my thing) with the aforementioned phantasmagoria and atmosphere and the straight-faced, straightforward approach to the narrative.
The fact that I was not a particular fan of Jiangshi also meant that the meta leanings of Geung Si pretty much flew right over my head, but even missing out on that aspect during my first viewing did not diminish my amazement at the film.

Playing out like a wild and creepy mash-up of Asian horror and wuxia, I highly recommend this, especially for those KADASIG readers who’ve ever wondered what a film adaptation would look like.
For my money, it would look something like Geung Si

(Geung Si/Rigor Mortis OS’ and Character Poster courtesy of

A Rundown of the 13 Best Horror Movies I've Seen in the Past Year
[5 of 13]

(August 2013)

Bruno Forzani and Hélène Cattet take their particular brand of neo-giallo--as seen in past ¡Q horror! candidate Amer--even further in the kaleidoscopic phantasmagoria of L’Étrange Couleur des Larmes de ton Corps.
What begins with the mysterious disappearance of a wife very quickly leads us into a dizzying realm where narrative all but breaks down, and dream logic overwhelms the proceedings; this is like an Argento giallo on a bad acid trip. It’s about eroticism, obsession, and quite unsurprisingly, death.
I imagine, if you enjoyed Amer, then chances are, you’ll enjoy L’Étrange Couleur… as well.
But if your test drive of Amer wasn’t quite to your liking (and I did say it was the sort of film that wasn’t for everyone), then I’d avoid getting behind the wheel of this one too…

(L’Étrange Couleur des Larmes de ton Corps OS courtesy of

A Rundown of the 13 Best Horror Movies I've Seen in the Past Year
[4 of 13]

(May 2013)

America. 2022.

Unemployment is at 1%.
Crime is at an all-time low.
Violence barely exists.

With one exception…

That exception is The Annual Purge, a 12-hour orgy of chaos and destruction sanctioned by the U.S Government, during which “… any and all crime, including murder, [is] legal.”
The thinking here is, if you can just keep all that rage and all those violent tendencies bottled up inside yourself for 364 days, then you’ll have the Purge in which to vent all of it without any legal repercussions whatsoever.
Hate your boss? That bullying head cheerleader? Your wife who cheated on you with your best friend? The barber who gave you that sadass haircut?
There’s always the Purge…

Brought to us by James DeMonaco (who co-wrote Skinwalkers, of which I must admit, I was not a fan), The Purge is a hard-hitting, tense little exercise in cautionary horror that manages to give one pause to consider the nature of violence and the costs of a “stable” form of governance.
99 out of every 100 people may have a job, but this is a world where doing the right thing just makes you an idiot who brings down grief on the heads of those you care about, as well as your own, a world where anyone killed during the Purge is considered a “sacrifice to make [America] a safer place.”

Of ¡Q horror! note: Rhys Wakefield, as the “Polite Leader,” plays an even bigger douchebag here than he did in last year’s ¡Q horror! title, +1.
Lena Headey (familiar to ¡Q horror! territory due to The Brøken) is also in this one, though sadly, she does not get to deploy any of her Many Bitch Faces of Cersei Lannister here. And as we all know, she’s a bloody expert at those…
Ah, well.
Can’t win ‘em all…

“Blessed be the New Founding Fathers for letting us Purge and cleanse our souls, Blessed be America, a nation reborn.”

Parting Shot: Reviews of The Brøken and +1 can be found lurking in the Archives.

(The Purge OS’ courtesy of

A Rundown of the 13 Best Horror Movies I've Seen in the Past Year
[3 of 13]

(March 2013)

Old friends Craig (Pat Healy) and Vince (Ethan Embry) haven’t seen each other for five years, and a chance meeting with Colin (David Koechner) and his wife, birthday girl Violet (Healy’s The Innkeepers co-star Sara Paxton) opens them up to the opportunity (and a night) of a lifetime…

This feature debut of E.L Katz, co-written by Deadgirl scribe Trent Haaga with David Chirchirillo, is definitely one of the most disturbing entries amongst this year’s ¡Q horror! 13, and that’s saying something.
It’s got some streaks of black humor running through it, but ultimately, it’s a potent portrait of just how petty and cruel individuals can be in the light of monetary reward; it’s about the horror of how far desperate people will debase themselves for some cold hard cash.

Parting Shot: A review of past ¡Q horror! title, Deadgirl, can be found lurking in the Archive.

(Cheap Thrills OS’ courtesy of