Now that the holidays are upon us, there are many symbols to celebrate the holidays. The menorah for Hanukkah, The kinara for Kwanzaa, and a decorated tree for Christmas. One of these symbols that makes you get ready for Christmas is the Advent Calendar that provides treats for each day in December up until Christmas day. As you open each box of each day, a new surprise awaits you, creating more and more anticipation for this winter holiday.
I always assume the objective of video games are to be fun and to immerse the player in the world created. Movies based on video games often don’t focus on immersion so much as monetization, and, except for a few goofy pleasures like Warcraft, there is a really bad track record. With Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, I could tell writer/director Johannes Roberts cared about fans of the games with easter eggs, dialogue reminiscent of NPC’s, and a fair amount of blood. But was it fun or immersive? Not really.
Everyone likes to be a little bit scared now and then. It's why horror films have been around since almost the start of cinema, with House of the Devil coming out in 1898.
Slashers never die, especially as a genre. For almost half a century, iconic slashers have stalked audiences, and modern hits like Terrifier, The Babysitter, and the Fear Street trilogy have kept the tradition alive through the 2010’s. It seems each decade has birthed a few slasher icons: Leatherface and Michael in the 1970’s, Freddy and Jason in the 80’s, or Candyman and Ghostface in the 90’s. However, when we get to the new millennium, we hit a bit of a dead period. Aside from the remake boom at Platinum Dunes and Dimension Films, original slashers were falling under the radar. With the exception of a certain Creeper who doesn’t need to be brought up in polite company, the only breakout horror icon of the 2000’s is undoubtedly Jigsaw of the Saw franchise, and calling him a slasher is a question worthy of its own article. Well, just like any good slasher villain, they can’t stay buried, and there’s definitely a few underrated from this decade worth unearthing.
Antlers shrugs off it’s lore-heavy roots in favor of a broad look at the cycle of violence and abuse. While I can’t deny that more could’ve been done with it on this front, it zooms in on a few individual characters in a bloody bleak tale that feels appropriate as an adaptation of a short story and where it works, it truly shines. Ironic, as the sun rarely shines in this film.
Often films try to stuff or force multiple layers into the story. Such is the case for Adam Ethan Crow's Lair, a mystery horror about a man trying to prove his friend's claim that he was possessed by a demonic spirit to overturn his murder conviction, all while a family is forced to face their demons metaphorically and literally. These two stories link together through the family staying in a flat that is rigged with cameras and creepy props to hopefully bring the spirit out of hiding. It's definitely a mouthful for a film that never really satisfies either storyline in the end.
Foreign horror films feel like they haven't been getting the love it properly deserves. Banjong Pisanthanakun's film The Medium is a scary movie that everyone should sit through even if subtitles aren't your favorite (promise subtitles are not terrible). A documentary team heads to a region in Thailand where a shaman has inherited their Goddess, but as time passes the spirit possessing the family may not be the one they expected.
In movie trilogies, the sequel is often revered and the third one appears to not stick the landing. I have hope for the third film in the revitalized Halloween series because this sequel, Halloween Kills, left a lot to be desired. The ideas are all there but there were several distracting moments that kept it from being tight and efficient. If you simply are looking for fan service then you may enjoy this film, but as a fan, I have to be honest. The honest truth is this movie is a mish/mash capable of great fun and missed opportunities.
Watching a new horror film often means adding jokingly to a mental list of do’s and don’ts. For instance, upon viewing the new French film Titane, I briefly felt like I should never enter France again because of the pain and violence shown on screen. The same rules apply here, as Lamb is a bleak film that puts any dreams of farming out to pasture. I say these things jokingly but it is a testament to the stories being told.
Last year, in my review of Anonymous Animals, I discussed the movement of New French Extremity (NFE) and its impact on the horror community. Lying dormant throughout the 2010’s, Anonymous Animals seemed to spark a return of the provocative French horror scene. Cut to this year, and NFE is all but back with a vengeance with the announcement that France’s Julia Ducournau’s sophomore body-horror film, Titane, had won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes film festival. We are used to horror films being snubbed by the Academy, so imagine the collective surprise when one snagged, arguably, the top film prize in the world. On top of that, Ducournau is the second woman in history to win said award, so on all fronts, Titane is a landmark. So, what in particular about this film impressed the international market, and sparked audience fainting during its North American premiere?