Well with it being Hallowe’en soon here’s some horror films that aren’t very Hallowe’eny.
What We Do In The Shadows (2014)
dir. Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi – ★★★★★
Jemaine Clement, one half of the “Flight of the Conchords” phenomenon, recently teamed up with the occasional director of that show and future “Thor: Ragnarok” director Taika Waititi to expand on a short film they had made several years ago. It’s a mockumentary, a genre I must admit I’ve grown to hate, so I was delighted that this is as entertaining and as funny as it is. It deals with a group of vampires struggling with modern life, house-sharing and the seemingly simple task of doing the dishes an it succeeds by finding humour in the minutiae and the details instead of trying to be too clever or broad. While it might be too laid back or droll for some, if you enjoyed the “Flight of the Conchords” at all you’ll love it and will a get a kick out of a certain cameo.
dir. Bob Clark – ★★★★½
Bob Clark, a barely talked about now director had a very mixed career. He directed the surprise smash and “American Pie” forerunner, “Porky’s” and one of the better Christmas perennial movies, “A Christmas Story” before making very forgettable films like “Baby Genuises” before his untimely death in 2007. He started off however making very effective cheap horror films and “Black Christmas” is often credited as essentially being the first slasher film, preceding John Carpenter’s Hallowe’en by four years for example. The set-up is pretty simple, a sorority house starts getting freakish and threatening phone calls just before Christmas and suddenly people start getting killed. The film benefits from the camera showing the point of view of the stalker in a lot of the scenes and also some pitch black humour (particularly the inept police force) and an ending that everyone but Clark seemed to be against. The film’s main cast is made up of Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea (of 2001: A Space Odyssey fame), SCTV’s Andrea Martin, Superman’s Margot Kidder and John Saxon playing the Lieutenant investigating the goings on.
dir. Gerard Johnstone – ★★★★
A great little New Zealand comedy horror (that’s right, another one) with a nice conceit for a horror film due to the fact that there’s an actual reason why the main character can’t leave the house, she’s actually under house arrest. Gerard Johnstone’s debut feature mixes plenty of laughs with nods to nearly every haunted house movie cliché. Not everything works in the film, some of it is very broad and it’s a bit stodgy at the start when it’s setting everything up but it really does come together fantastically in the final third.
The Babadook (2014)
dir. Jennifer Kent – ★★★½
Essie Davis stars in this Australian tale of a widowed mother and troubled son who are plagued by a presence seemingly linked to a pop-up book they found. While not exactly ever being scary, the film does a great job in building tension in nearly every scene particularly through its sound design. The conceit is also interesting dealing with a mother seemingly at the end of her tether with her young needy son she’s almost beginning to despise and marks it out from the rest of the pack of horror movies available over the last few years.