The third week of October is special because it is my birthday. Remember when you could do whatever you wanted on your birthday? Your favorite food, your favorite dessert, your favorite movie. October birthdays are the best because it seems like the world is colored Halloween. That's how I remembered it as a child and it's how I see it now. Trunk or Treat be damned.
A few new films this week, my favorite being 28 Days Later. When this film was suggested I thought it was new - or at least recent. Nope, this movie is 15 years old. Where has it been - or more accurately, where have I been? 28 Days Later is in the zombie genre - that may have something to do with it. I don't love zombie movies. When I was in high school I saw Night of the Living Dead. A few years later I saw Return of the Living Dead. "Brains ..." Cult classics to this day, everybody loved them but honestly, not my cup of tea. And to be fair, I couldn't get past the second episode of The Walking Dead. Up until now, my favorite zombie film was Michael Jackson's Thriller, and I'm not sure that qualifies. 28 Days Later is a little different in that victims who become infected don't die and come back to eat brains; rather they become zombie like suffering from an extreme type of rage that lives within all of us. This contemporary take on the zombie genre actually has a plot with some twists and turns and surprises that I did not see coming and it is now the best zombie movie I have ever seen. I was tempted to hold back a ½ skull for the tunnel scene. Your life is on the line and so is your child's; you have survived this long - and not by driving over a bunch of wrecked vehicles in a dark tunnel when the light is your friend. But in the end I gave it a rare 3½ skull rating bordering on 4. The movie ends with the promise of a sequel. Okay, the sequel was released in 2010 - not exactly a secret.
Lights Out was released in the summer of last year and didn't make it to video in time for the Halloween moviefest. I love that horror movies often take place in huge houses - living rooms so big that my entire first floor would fit nicely inside. Lights Out was filmed the same house as Ouija and Ouija: Origin of Evil. Creepy roots, indeed. I really enjoyed this movie that plays on what we are all afraid of: the dark. Sleeping with the lights on and candles burning keeps the evil away and who doesn't leave a light on after watching a scary movie or hearing a noise that you can't quite identify? This is another one of those films that captures the actor's genuine response. The actress that played Rebecca had not seen Diana prior to filming so the terror is real. As real as it can be surrounded by cast and crew. This is a film you should catch if you haven't seen it already. And keep an extra light on, just in case.
Included this week were perennial favorites such as Poltergeist, The Ring and Paranormal Activity 2. I noticed something in the second iteration of Paranormal Activity that I hadn't noticed before. When they bring the nanny back to cleanse the house and drive out the demon, they transfer it to the the sister, Katie. I have no idea how I missed that in the many times I've seen it other than the benefits of home viewing include the distractions. A strong prequel, but slightly less than the original just because going into it, I knew it wasn't real.
Oculus is also a seasonal favorite with its complex story line bouncing back and forth between then and now, what is real and what is not. Like Insidious, it is a film that is hard to watch in the background when I am working in the test kitchen. Turns out I am not the only one that gets confused with the different timelines. The screenwriter used italics to differentiate the past from the present in order to avoid this confusion. No sequels on the horizon here, and that's just fine by me.
Nightmare on Elm Street lends itself much better to multi-tasking. Maybe it's just because my children and I have been been watching it for 30 years. Yep, I was that mom who raised my kids on horror films just like my mother did. Freddie is simply one creepy bad ass. Am I the only one who gets sleeping watching this movie?
Mama is new to this blog, as is the remake of Evil Dead. I have seen both previously but not as part of the moviefest. Evil Dead is an excellent remake as long as you are okay with a mild shift in the genre. The 2013 version is definitely not a "comedy." The back story is more serious and cult favorite Bruce Campbell is missing. Expect a lot of gore - more than the original - this one is high on my list of gory films. But a solid remake that I definitely approve of and I lied about Bruce Campbell. Now you have to go find him.
Mama is an underrated horror film directed by Anthony Muschiette, the man who brought us the stunning remake of It last month. Jessica Chastain's starring role in this film is first rate and it gives me hope that she will return as the adult version of Beverly in the second half of It. Mama hooked me in the opening scene and delivered plenty of suspenseful chills like Lily playing "alone" in her room and Mama's identity. Very little CGI was used to create the Mama character; she was played by by a Javier Botet, a man with a genetic condition known as Marfan Syndrome. This condition affects the connective tissues and gives him the slender figure, very long fingers, and joint mobility. The movements are real and only the hair is CGI. Javier also plays in other films you have probably seen like the Crooked Man in The Conjuring 2.
I closed out this week with the movie that holds the title for the scariest movie I have ever seen. I know there are a lot of horror movie fans who agree with this ranking even though we also agree that The Exorcist is up there. The Conjuring has everything that makes it a 5 skull horror movie starting with a strong plot (inspired by) a true story and a terrific cast. The gradual build-up from a cold, smelly room to a full exorcism is as terrifying as anything I have seen.
We are down to about a week before Halloween with plenty of chills in store.