Tuesday, October 31, 2023
Subgenre: Halloween/Anthology Horror
Runtime: 97 minutes
Directors: 11 different directors for this anthology film (Link here)
Another Halloween, another Halloween horror anthology recommendation. Not as well known, but just as good as Trick 'r' Treat, this one sports a lot more cheese and laughs--I personally like it better. (Every year my ire grows toward the "autistic bus" segment of Treat!). Tales also has a frame story that is audio only, not woven into the film. In that capacity we get Andrienne Barbeaux herself basically reprising her role of Stevie Wayne from ex-husband John Carpenter's The Fog. She's a radio DJ, with a REALLY familiar voice, introducing each segment (10 to be precise, if you discount the frame story). All are chock full of Halloween tricks for the characters, and treats for us viewers. My personal favorite is Neil Marshall's segment "Bad Seed," and not just because, you know, he's Neil Marshall, but because I LOVE a killer plant yarn! Also, it just plain hilarious! Friday the 31st is also a highlight; it manages to put together two familiars that we had this year--Friday the 13th and Halloween (you know, it's a chocolate & peanut butter thing). So many of the others are just laugh out loud funny too. Plus they cover just about every horror trope typically associated with the holiday and even manage to invent a few new ones. We have an updating of the wicked witch who roasts human flesh--complete with melting, an updating of the urban legend trope, a nice twist on poisoned candy, etc. This is a true anthology, the work of multiple directors--every one with tongue firmly in cheek; and a treasure trove of horror actors that we all love. I find myself looking forward to this one a little more each year.
Monday, October 30, 2023
Subgenre: Haunted House/Ghost/Supernatural Horror
Runtime: 107 minutes
Director: David Bruckner
Okay, it's another haunted house film! What can I say, I'm a sucker for them! Only (and I swear), this is a really different kind of haunted horror. I am not giving away anything by saying that; it becomes apparent right away. We find out almost immediately that Rebecca Hall plays a character whose husband has died, in fact, he has committed suicide. Also, that he built the house that she is left alone in. Strange things start happening and she is naturally drawn to the conclusion that her deceased husband may be responsible for them. Slowly there is a realization of another sort; a much deeper and MUCH darker set of events start to befall her at night (as the title suggests). She slowly comes to the rather haunted conclusion that she may not have known the love of her life at all. Her insistence on solving this persistent mystery leads her to the darkest place of: the literal night house. I don't think it is wrong to say that this is a horror film about architecture, both of the mind, and in the literal sense. There is scene in which the perceived haunting seems to become very manifest, and it comes from or manifests itself as part of the house changing perspectives. Beth (Hall's character) believes that it's all in her head; she's just seeing things. Seeing them because she wants, or needs, to. Hall also delivers her performance of Beth in a sardonic style that is in no way typical of a haunted woman; which adds to the terror in an unexpected way. I first watched this film late at night on New Year's day, after a long day of cooking. I was a bit buzzed too. OMG was I not prepared to have the bejeesus scared out of me. Maybe it was the circumstance, but I was turning lights on that I had turned off before the film was over! Not helping one jot was the Richard and Linda Thompson song "Calvary Cross" used to GREAT effect & affect. We (meaning me and my husband) have (both of us) been steeped deeply in the music of the greater Fairport Convention diaspora of musicians since high school. Just hearing one note of one Richard's songs in the film is going to reach out and grab. And, the use of this particular song, and it's mournful to begin with (!), in this film at multiple points; the song almost becomes a character unto itself. I don't think I need to state that it does indeed take a lot to scare me. This one did!