I honestly dare you to try and find a film more bizarre than Nobuhiko Obayashi’s 1977 haunted-house horror-comedy — and adequately titled Japanese production — House. While the synopsis of the plot is rather straight-forward, what transpires in this absolutely bonkers 88-minute roller coaster of gores and goofs is anything but ordinary, and barely even comprehensible. However, this is what makes House such a one-of-a-kind experience that deserves to be seen and (hopefully) adored by a larger audience. Merely describing the overview of House does it no favors, nor would it necessarily make you want to watch it. It’s a fairly simple set-up, after all. What makes House so watchable, so unique, and ultimately so great, is its unbelievably kooky execution and intentional surrealism.
I truly have never seen a film as weird as this one.
”I’m saying I’m an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over and the insect is awake.”
For the second review of horror month, I have decided to look upon a variation of the horror genre, exploring the sub-genre of “body horror.” Body horror deals with bodily change, being of transformation, destruction, etc. Body horror focuses more on the physical being of the character to create horror rather than, for example, the use of shadows.
Perhaps the most famous body horror director is David Cronenberg, who directed Naked Lunch, Scanners, and Videodrome, all of which are a part of the genre. He also directed The Fly (1986), which may very well be his quintessential work, with the incredible practical effects displaying a maturation of technique. The film does not play the body horror genre with extremity. Rather, it uses pacing and subtly to truly introduce its horrific events.
It’s finally October, which will allow me to focus on many genres of film, right? Well, maybe not.
For this month on Christian’s Cinematic Syntax, I will be exploring the horror film and its sub-genres to demonstrate their inner complexities — those of atmosphere, as well as the many different underlying factors that make a horror film truly horrific. In order to do so, it is necessary to establish my thoughts on horror films from different decades and review them. It is also important to say, I will have no pattern to the films I choose. It will be heavily influenced by memory, and films that I am reminded of for spontaneous reasons. And since the Criterion Collection recently upgraded the film Vampyr to Blu-Ray on October 3, it was an obvious first choice.
Vampyr is a film directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer, and was originally released in 1932. At its release, it was barraged with backlash, so much so that it even caused the director to have a nervous breakdown. But as the film moved on through the ages, it emerged as a classic of the time period.
Esteemed director Darren Aronofsky’s (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream) latest, mother!, is a certifiably polarizing film. It features a cast of beautiful, seat-filling stars (Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem among them), but what transpires on-screen is anything but their regular fare — and this is a movie that probably won’t be filling seats for much longer. In fact, the rare ‘F’ Cinemascore the film received this past weekend is something I’m almost certain Aronofsky was shooting for (how he convinced anyone to fund this I surely will never understand). Despite what the mass audience may think of it, I’m actually here to convince you to see this movie; my hope being that maybe you’ll love and respect it just as I do.
mother! forgoes an easily digestible first act. Instead, Aronofsky slowly hints to the bigger picture he has ingeniously planned, all before the film explodes into a raucous second half and unforgettable finale. Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play an unnamed couple referred to in the credits simply as “Mother” and “Him,” respectively. Together they live in a beautiful house secluded from the rest of the world. He’s a renowned poet in search of the right inspiration, while she works on crafting and finishing the perfect home.
Every 27 years, IT comes back. Not only in the wildly popular fiction’s universe, but in our timeline as well. Many grew up with the 1990 TV miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s acclaimed novel leaving a lasting effect, myself included. Now, 27 years later, and just like the characters in the film itself, a new generation will experience their own form of horror. This new version, courtesy of Mama director Andy Muschietti, isn’t without some glaring faults, but is largely able to sidestep these issues due to its fantastic cast of young actors, a strong script that’s both horrifying and humorous, and a profoundly unsettling take on an iconic villain.
IT opens in grand, terrifying fashion in adapting one of the story’s most iconic scenes. In the small town of Derry, children are going missing at inexplicably high rates, including middle schooler Bill Denbrough’s (Jaeden Lieberher) younger brother, Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott). On a rainy October day in 1988, a bedridden Bill helps Georgie to construct a paper boat and sends him out alone to play, unaware that this would be the last time he would see his brother alive.
When you’ve seen as many horror films as I have, and have been a fan of the macabre genre since a young child, then you can find yourself often hard-pressed in discovering new films that actually affect you; films that dare you to watch even when the happenings on screen force you to look away in disgust and terror. Raw, from French writer-director Julia Ducournau, is one of these films. Raw is the hardest horror film I’ve watched in years, leaving in its wake a bad, bad taste in my mouth (and certainly its main character’s mouth as well), but one very much worth enduring.
Raw centers around Justine (Garance Mallinier), a bright teenager starting her freshman year at a prestigious French veterinary school. She’s following in the footsteps of her parents, who originally met at the school, as well as her older sister, Alexia (Ella Rumpf), who simultaneously attends the school. Justine stands out among her new peers because she, alongside her entire family, practices vegetarianism, and she’s been strictly taught her entire life to absolutely never consume meat.
Raw, creepy, and thought-provoking: The Babadook is designed to give the viewer an inside perspective on what depression feels and looks like, and it succeeds. In The Babadook, there is no romanticizing this disease, which is cleverly disguised as Mister Babadook. Jennifer Kent’s first feature-length film was not wasted with this incredible picture. Beautiful cinematography and allegorical expression are used brilliantly to cover a subject that is sometimes kept in the basement, under lock and key.
We are introduced to Amelia Vannick (Essie Davis) and her son Samuel (Noah Wiseman), and instantaneously, due to the superb misè-en-scene, it is painfully obvious that this is a tense household. The feelings that are presented through the use of these elements give such believable verisimilitude that it is hard not to imagine yourself in Amelia’s situation.