Posts Tagged scary movies

IN THE REALM: 13 Film Suggestions for Halloween


I’m not into horror. Not into lots of blood and gore. I do enjoy a well-written thriller. In the 80s there were lots of scary films out there and I think that many GenXers can’t those out of our heads: Amityville Horror; Poltergeist; Friday the 13th; Children of the Corn. Here’s a mix of films that are excellent, flip-you-out thrillers or are about vampires or ghosts.

drag me to hell

1. Drag Me to Hell (2009)— yes this is horror and I loved it. Directed by Sam Raimi, Alison Lohman plays a loan officer who kicks an old woman out of her house and gets cursed. it’s brilliant
rating: A


2. Byzantium (2012)— another gorgeous film directed by Neil Jordan. Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton are sisters and vampires in a quiet seaside town.
rating: B+

Only Lovers Left Alive

3. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)— as you’d expect vampires to be. all sex and drugs and rock and roll. Directed by the arty Jim Jarmusch and starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston.
rating: A-


4. Dead Again (1991)— Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh in a jumpy, classic make-you-scream thriller.
rating: A

let the right one in

5. Let the Right One In (2008)— girl vampire and it’s GOOD. completely unique.
rating: A

rosemarys baby

6. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)— Mia Farrow in this classic about a mysterious pregnancy and its aftermath. Directed by Roman Polanski.
rating: B+


7. The Blair Witch Project (1999)— the original found footage horror/scary film. I saw it in the theater and was freaked out for days.
rating: A

skin i live in

8. The Skin I Live In (2011)— Antonio Banderas stars in this Pedro Almodovar (love him) film about a plastic surgeon who creates an indestructible synthetic skin.
rating: A-

secret in their eyes

9. The Secret in their Eyes (2009)– retired attorney writing a novel about one of his unsolved homicide cases.
rating: A


10. The Ghostwriter (2010)— Ewan McGregor plays a writer hired to write the memoir of the former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan). As he completes research and writes he uncovers some secrets the PM would like kept hidden.
rating: A


11. Swimming Pool (2003)— a British mystery writer (the venerable Charlotte Rampling) visits her publisher’s South of France vacation home. Her interaction with his unusual daughter sets off a series of unsettling events.
rating: B+


12. Contagion (2011)— appropriate. all-star cast portraying healthcare professionals, government officials and everyday people who find themselves in the midst of a worldwide epidemic.
rating: B+

the others

13. The Others (2011)— Nicole Kidman plays a woman convinced her old, darkened house is haunted.
rating: B+

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

DVD: Halloween Suggestions

Aggie [Ashley Judd] is a waitress at a lesbian club in Oklahoma. She is all “stay away/ don’t mess with me” tough on the outside and vulnerable/ “I’ll crack at any moment” on the inside. Ashley Judd plays these types of characters with such an innate ability to give the audience something from a dismal character. Aggie has a lousy ex-husband [Harry Connick, Jr.] who has just gotten released from jail. She lost her son a decade ago. Aggie bemoans her “miserable existence of laundromats, grocery stores, marriages and lost children.” This woman is so lonely that she asks a Gulf War veteran [Michael Shannon] she just met to stay with her? Are we to believe this? Turns out he spent years in a hospital [in the mental ward of course] and believes he was tested on. Bug literally crawls under your skin and takes hold of your mind as you figure out what is it about this film. This dim setting is not likable or relatable. At first, it just pricks you, then it burrows.

The acting and story makes it credible and the film quickly turns into a paranoid vision of terror and oblivion. The sighting of a bug turns into a big cover-up, an issue of trust or consequences and a genuine fear. It connects bugs to the CIA, the military, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and Jim Jones Temple’s People! Sometimes funny and sometimes downright creepy and bizarre, Bug is not a film for everyone. I laughed out loud at the absurdity and cringed at the possibilities. It is that effective and completely original.

Ashley Judd is phenomenal. I love every film she does, every role she takes. This gorgeous, self-assured woman is able to become the most desperate of characters [please put Come Early Morning on your netflix queue]. She delves in and does not let go. She embodies this icky, questionable woman and makes her complex and layered. Aggie is a survivor.

It is not that Bug is super deep or philosophic or existential. At the beginning I was even thinking “what is going on?” and then bang! It blows up and out and over and it’s fantastic.Bug is just a satisfyingly good psychological thriller.

This one is much more cerebral. Grace is creepy. It’s also feminist to its core. Grace manages to tap into women’s issues as it hones in on a woman’s bond with a child. How far is a woman willing to challenge morality to provide her baby with the most basic of needs: food, shelter and safety? Jordan Ladd is excellent in her transformation from the easy-going, hippie chick to the anemic, obsessed, and unwaveringly devoted mother. Grace is truly disturbing and will make you think for days after you watch it.

Blood Car
Killing people for fuel is not racist, it’s patriotic. It’s all about making a sacrifice to fuel our cars, mow our grass, grill our steaks . . .
It’s the (near) future and a cute vegan [Mike Brune] plans to use wheatgrass for fuel as gas prices are $30/gallon. [Wheatgrass is green and alternative energy is the green movement] Anna Chulmsky [looking exactly the same as she did in My Girl! except she now has boobs], the spunky wheatgrass vendor, seems the perfect match. But he starts hooking up with the hot girl who sells meat. [How’s that for ironic?] Blood Car provides a thinly veiled commentary about consumerism, automobiles and American culture. The film’s literal message is human blood as fuel source. It’s immensely clever, kitschy and fun.

Let the Right One In
Wonderful. Quiet, haunting and mesmerizing. This is a vampire film done right.

Lakeview Terrace
This is one of those films that smolders. It starts with a few off-handed remarks that might or might not be racist. A few incidents that could be construed as annoying or bordering on threatening perhaps. Director Neil LaBute [In the Company of Men, The Shape of Things] knows discomfort and how to make you squirm in the theater. Lakeview Terrace succeeds by turning an idyllic suburbia into a creepy nightmare. Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington, and Patrick Wilson are all quite good.

Other suggestions:

Open Water

The Orphanage

Dead Again


Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: