I am wishing all my followers and readers a very Happy Halloween, and am presenting a scary and psychologically-interesting Australian horror film “The Babadook“. This film by Jennifer Kent takes its concept from her own short film “Monster” (2005) about a spooky presence pestering a family of two. Similarly, in “The Babadook”, a widowed mother and her son, who has behavioural problems, are trying to cope with the death of their husband/father, while their house is slowly being invaded by a terrified being from a children’s story-book. This wonderfully thought-out, acted and designed film can be read deeper than it initially appears. In “The Babadook”, what may seem to be a straightforward horror story could actually be a thought-provoking cinematic allegory of people learning to deal with and accept the trauma in their lives.
It is that time of the year again when everyone is writing about exciting spooky stuff, and to accomplish two objectives with one action, I am contributing to the “October Birthdayz” blogathon by NuwanatNo Nonsense with Nuwan Sento celebrate the birthday of his sister. The theme is famous people who were born in October, and, to celebrate Catherine Deneuve’s 75th birthday, I am reviewing Polanski’s “Repulsion” with Deneuve in the lead role. A review of this highly influential psychological horror film, that showcases Deneuve’s talent to the full extent, will not only fit nicely into this blogathon’s theme, but can also get you early into the Halloween spirit. Thanks for hosting and inviting me, Nuwan, and the readers can also check out other entries for this blogathon here,here and here.
“Repulsion” can be considered a classic in the psychological horror genre. The plot revolves around Carole (Deneuve), a young woman from Belgium who works in a beauty parlour in London and lives in an apartment with her older sister Hélène (Yvonne Furneaux). Sweet and shy, Carole often finds herself day-dreaming, and tries to politely rebuff the advances of her obsessive suitor Colin (John Fraser). She also expresses hostility towards her sister’s married boyfriend Michael (Ian Hendry). Things take a turn for the worse when Carole’s day-dreaming leads to her mind having the life of its own and the triggers seem to be any sexual hints or attempts made at intimacy. When Hélène leaves for a vacation in Italy, Carole is unable to cope, and, feeling abandoned, slowly starts her descent into madness.
Luca Guadagnino (“Call Me By Your Name” (2017) and “I Am Love” (2009)) is rebooting Dario Argento’s cult classic of the same name, and from the many plot similarities, it can be described as a remake (despite what actors may say). There seem to be both similarities and differences in the presentation: the music hints at the original, but some visuals are innovative. My favourite element here will be Tilda Swinton as Madame Blanc, a clever cast. It will also be interesting to see her character’s antagonistic tension and relationship with the character of Dakota Johnson. My concern is that I hope the film will remain dark and provocative with nice scary jumps, and not become too ridiculous. I am also disappointed with the cast of Johnson. She seems to be good here, but my belief is that someone younger with more remarkable features should have been cast in the lead role. Since it is Luca Guadagnino, a stylish and thought-provoking presentation is guaranteed. The original material is also intriguing, so it promises to be a good film.
It is that time of the year again: time for trick-or-treating, pumpkin-carving, witches-watching and party-going! To celebrate the tradition which may date back to some ancient rituals of Celts, here is my review of the film “Split” from one of the front-men of the modern horror/thriller genre – M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense” (1999), “Unbreakable” (2000), “The Village” (2004)). Also, to get you into the festive mood, you can check out my other reviews of horror films, all of them are listed here.
This film is M. Night Shyamalan’s latest creation, which exceeded everyone’s expectations. Here, a man Kevin (James McAvoy) abducts three girls and holds them hostage in a building. Kevin suffers from a multiple-personality disorder, one of the most serious and rarest of all psychiatric illnesses. He has twenty-three different personalities, who compete for attention in his head, and the captive girls must race against time to free themselves before the emergence of the most frightening and uncontrollable twenty-fourth personality called simply “The Beast”. “Split” is very well-made, with the outstanding acting, especially by McAvoy, and a fascinating plot and topic. What about Shyamalan’s penchant for unbelievable twists, one may ask? Well, there are simply no twists, in a traditional sense of this word, or none to concern oneself when watching the film.
<<<I took care not to reveal any specific spoilers, but some discretion when reading is still advised>>>
Darren Aronofsky’s “Mother!”….I am happy to report that there is no need for some mass panic. “Mother!” may start slow, but it proves to be a very enjoyable “descent” into sheer madness overall. The initial story here is Him (Javier Bardem) and Her (Jennifer Lawrence) settling into a married life in a country mansion, until one couple (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer) become their pestering lodgers against the wishes of Her. Ironically, the main flaw of Aronofsky’s psychological horror film “Mother!” is that it is not his first film. If it were, it would have been a masterpiece of achievement. Instead, “Mother!” is just the “recycling” of the elements/tricks present in Aronofsky’s previous films. How does this affect this film, one may ask? Well, Aronofsky’s “recycling” of his ideas reduces the overall effect, impact and unpredictability of “Mother!” by as much as 80%. “Mother!” formula is quite simple to understand. The film is structurally and archetypically “Black Swan” (2010) + touches of some “over-the-top” home invasion and “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968). This is all to it. And, where it is not all, it also incorporates, quite evidently, Aronofsky’s artful orange-colour bursting creativity and philosophy we have all previously seen in “The Fountain” (2006) and biblical/allegorical references. The saddest thing here is that the film is quite entertaining and even brilliant in parts, and the premise would have been completely unforgettable had Aronofsky been more original in his work.
“Get Out” is one of the best-reviewed films of this year. It is a debut film of director Jordan Peele, and has a dedicated, up-and-coming cast to match the film’s ambition. In this film, which is part psychological horror and part societal critique, Chris and Rose (Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams), an interracial couple, go to visit Rose’s parents upstate. It would be the first time that Chris meets Rose’s parents and he is visibly nervous. Soon upon arriving, Chris is overcome by the atmosphere of unease all around, questioning whether he is really that welcomed in the neighbourhood. Despite elements of brilliance in setting the atmosphere, unfortunately, the film strays half-way through from its initially brilliantly-presented social horror into some mediocre overt-hostility premise, and ultimately leads to a predictable and unimaginative ending.
This will be my 100th film review and to celebrate the occasion I thought I would review one of my favourite of psychological horror films – Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”. Adapted from a novel by Robert Bloch, this film is a real classic of psychological horror genre, which practically revolutionised the way horror films were shot ever since its premiere. Relatively innovative in how it presents the characters, story and the ending at that time, Hitchcock’s “Psycho” is as suspenseful and frightening as it is entertaining, and is definitely a “must-see” for anyone who has even a slightest interest in the genre.
“Beauty isn’t everything. It’s the only thing”, says Roberto Sarno in “The Neon Demon”. Director of this movie, Nicolas Winding Refn, seems to have taken this statement close to heart, and crafted a film where visual beauty is, indeed, the only thing worth paying any attention to, seemingly forgetting that, in film-making, visual representation is never the only thing that counts. Refn (also director behind critically-acclaimed “Drive” (2011)) is now here also the writer, and his story is about Jesse (Elle Fanning), an underage aspiring model, who comes to LA to try her luck in show-business. After gaining initial success, Jesse realises that the climb to the top is thornier than she had previously imagined it to be, especially when a group of fellow models start to covet her natural attributes and instantaneous success. Despite its outstanding visual effects and a promising premise, “The Neon Demon” is preposterous and misguided, that kind of a film which one can easily stop watching half way through, never really caring about the ending.
‘Insidious’, directed by James Wan (‘Saw’ (2004), ‘Dead Silence’ (2007)), is one of those few psychological horror films that are genuinely scary without sliding into ridiculousness or downright dullness, and that also provides for a very good entertainment in terms of fascinating subject matter, gripping plot, good acting and great sound effects. In ‘Insidious’ the plot centres on the Lambert family, who recently moved into their new house. After Dalton Lambert (Ty Simpkins), a small boy, has a falling accident in the attic, and mysteriously slips into a coma, strange things start to happen in the Lambert family’s new house. When Dalton’s mother, Renai and father, Josh (Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson) start to investigate the causes and nature of strange apparitions and noises, they soon discover that their child’s endless sleep has more to do with the house’s haunting state than they have ever dared to guess.
Adapted from a novel by Ira Levin and directed by Roman Polanski, ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ is a psychological horror movie which can now be regarded as a cult classic of the horror genre. The centre of the story is a young couple – Guy and Rosemary Woodhouse (John Cassavetes and Mia Farrow). After the couple’s move to Bramford, a gothic complex of apartment buildings in New York, strange occurrences begin to take place, and their elderly neighbours’ friendliness becomes too suspicious. When Rosemary gets pregnant, suspicions about people around her start to escalate, and the final question becomes: what is the truth here, and what is just a figment of her imagination?