It might look like the last week and a half of moviefest has only 15 titles, but if you look closely you will see that one is a television series. The Haunting of Hill House is a Netflix original series that released on October 12. I left this off the moviefest calendar for the simple reason that the schedule was set by September 30 and I assumed this series would release one weekly episode at a time. But all 10 episodes were immediately available and I had some sleepless nights on my hands thanks to a general tendency towards insomnia and a poorly timed case of bronchitis.
The Haunting of Hill House includes the same characters and haunted history as the 1963 film The Haunting and its 1999 remake. Masterfully cast with Timothy Hutton and Henry Thomas playing older and younger versions of Hugh Crane, and Elizabeth Reaser as Shirly Crain with her co-star from Ouija: Origin of Evil playing her younger self. Carla Gugino, who you may remember as the dutiful wife in Gerald’s Game, plays Olivia Crain while co-star Kate Siegel, who also appeared in Gerald’s Game and Ouija: Origin of Evil, plays the adult version of Theo. Siegel also starred in Hush and had a small role in Oculus while Lulu Wilson starred in Annabelle: Creation. Those were just connections to other horror that I made while watching the film. The all-star cast brings us nightmares from the haunted house in a series that is terrifying from the first episode to the last. It is a must-see that nearly earned the coveted 5-skull rating but for the last half of the final episode. There is some family controversy surrounding this episode and whether it cost a skull or made it the best horror series ever. You decide. The Haunting of Hill House is so good and so terrifying that it should take a place at the top of your horror bingefest any time of the year.
And since I have always been a fan of the 1999 remake of The Haunting with its own all-star cast, I squeezed it in after finishing the series to enjoy a different take on the same story. I think I like it even more now.
In the Mouth of Madness is part of John Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy, so named for the bleak endings of the films’ characters. The Thing and Prince of Darkness round out the trilogy. In the Mouth of Madness centers around the disappearance of horror novelist Sutter Caine, a character based on Carpenter’s friend, Stephen King. In addition to references to King and his New England roots, there are plenty of references to the works of H.P. Lovecraft, including the film’s title. Fans of Lovecraft will enjoy this creepy journey through somebody’s nightmare, a 1994 cult favorite that you may have missed until now.
The Endless is a new film about two brothers who escaped a UFO death cult but return a decade later seeking answers. This is a film that crosses genres and I had decided it did not belong on a horror list until the real fun starts to happen. The plot is original and while it seems like it moves a tad slowly in the beginning, it is never boring with a twist that I didn’t see coming. Don’t confuse this film with a one-man film by the same name written, directed and starring Mason Guevara. That one isn’t on any of my lists.
Honorable mention this week to Insidious: The Last Key for being the 4th film in the Insidious series and not sucking. The first two Insidious films are amazing, each as good as the other. And while the last two are lesser stories by comparison, they are decent movies that fill in some of the ghost hunter history with new horrors from the further. The only real criticism I have is that the chronology of the films goes back in time while Lin Shaye gets older. I hope they don’t come back for another sequel – The Conjuring universe failed miserably on its 5th try – but it seems that bad horror movies sell so we’ll see what the future brings.
Hereditary made its debut in this year’s moviefest. Extensively reviewed in a previous post, it was just as good if not better the second time as it was in the theater. Thank you, Toni Collette.
The last two new films this week include Ghost Stories, an anthology of three unexplained cases of the supernatural that you will want to go back and watch as soon as you finish to fill in what you missed. Partly because this film is very British and the dialogue can be tricky to make out. And partly to see if you can spot where the film is going before it does. The movie got mixed reviews – from very boring to very British. I agree with the latter and really enjoyed the psychological slow burn but you have to like that sort of thing. I do.
28 Weeks Later is new to the line-up and I gave it two skulls, which is maybe ½ skull more than it deserved in honor of its awesome predecessor. You can argue that people turned into zombie-like flesh eaters because of a lab experiment gone wrong is so far fetched that separated family members finding each other in a huge mass of homicidal confusion can’t be that much of a stretch. But it took the sequel just a step too far for me. Combined with the ridiculous scenario of a military operation allowing a known infected patient into the safe zone after 28 weeks of what can only be described as an apocalyptic cleansing, and I’m out. The action in this movie is a repeat of the first film - there is nothing new here beyond a weak attempt at a family reunion.
Tales from the Crypt (a nightmare from my childhood), Scream, Ouija: Origin of Evil (still terrifying), The Evil Dead, Poltergeist, and Paranormal Activity, and It complete the season. I think I’ve seen It seven or eight times since it came out last year. I will probably put it on the Holiday horror list.
You heard me. Holiday horror.
Final tally for 2018: 45 movies and one television series in 31 days. Nineteen films on the moviefest this year, not bad. I would venture a guess that is close to 100 hours of movies then then I might be suggesting 20% of my waking hours spent at this ghostly hobby. It’s always fun to keep track of what is really scary.