Christian’s Cinematic Syntax: “Audition”

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For my final review of October, Takashi Miike’s Audition (1999) is going “under the knife” to receive a proper dissection — this dissection being necessary to finalize our horror timeline, and to bring the intent to fruition. Audition is another psychological horror (akin to my previous review for Jacob’s Ladder), but with elements of a thriller and “sadistic horror.” The “sadistic horror” elements being the film’s most influential and most “revered” moments, although, they only occur in the latter half of the film.

In comparison to the other film’s I’ve written about this month, Audition‘s filmic elements are more subdued. The film emphasizes climactic horror, with a build-up in narrative that is far from anything else in the horror genre. In addition, this build-up is slow-paced with an atmosphere heavily dependent on the sets and the somber score, showing a difference of extremity between the first and second halves (romantic half/horror half). These two halves have versatility, having the ability to stand alone as separate entities and, I would argue, as separate films.

I believe this type of horror film is an embodiment of a Venn diagram, in my mind, with the  “halves” being one of most obvious contrasts within the film. Even so, I believe the Japanese film poster is indicating such, with the wire being in the shape of one and having Shigeharu Aoyama placed on one side of it.  

*Spoilers ahead*   

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The Weirdest Horror Film Ever Made: A Review of Nobuhiko Obayashi’s “House”

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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.

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French Feminism Fright: A Review of “Raw”

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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.

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Student Double Feature: Courtney Dial and Ahimme Cazarez Review Jennifer Kent’s “The Babadook”

Below are two Lewis University students’ perspectives on the 2014 horror film The Babadook.

Courtney Dial:
You can also visit Courtney’s own blog at Horror Film Mondays.

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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.

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JFR’s Managing Editor Weighs in On a Frightful Classic: “The House of the Devil”

Recently, we featured reviews from two students on the 2009 film The House of the Devil. Below is another perspective on the same film, written by Jet Fuel Review Managing Editor Sam Gennett.

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For film fans who are nostalgic for the ‘80s but are tired of re-watching Halloween to get their retro-horror fill, Ti West’s The House of the Devil (2009) is a refreshing rejuvenation of late ‘70s and early ‘80s horror. Shot on 16 mm film, this movie seems to have been teleported from the ‘80s into the 21st century. With the grainy film look, dim cinematography, and use of Mötley Crüe’s “Kickstart My Heart,” West brings viewers back to the good ol’ days of flannel, indoor ashtrays, and Satan worship.

Samantha (Jocelin Donahue), desperate for money, takes a babysitting job, but didn’t we all learn what happens when you babysit after watching Elizabeth Shue in Adventures in Babysitting (1987)? Clearly, Samantha missed that film because she coerces her friend into driving her to a house in the middle of nowhere. They pass a cemetery on their way there, and the shot is briefly superimposed over the establishing shot of the house, effectively foreshadowing events to come. Continue reading

Bring Your Weapons to Work Day: A Review of “The Belko Experiment”

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James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, Slither) is one of the premiere screenwriters working in Hollywood today, but his near-spotless track record doesn’t save the latest film credited with his writing, The Belko Experiment, from disappointing mediocrity. It’s too bad, as the premise alone should have made for an exciting moviegoing experience, but the self-seriousness, uninspired filmmaking, and extremely underwhelming ending results in a messy, unrewarding watch.

The poster for the The Belko Experiment cites it as a sort of “Office Space meets Battle Royale,” but the comparison to Office Space starts and ends with the fact that it’s set inside an office building, and it’s only like Battle Royale in that it’s central idea revolves around a group of people who are forced to murder each other. Unfortunately, The Belko Experiment isn’t nearly as hilarious as Office Space, nor as exciting as Battle Royale.

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Party Hard: A Review of “Murder Party”

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Over the following weeks, I will be reviewing the three films directed by Jeremy Saulnier, a particularly exciting young filmmaker who has been garnering a lot of traction these past few years. Perhaps not so well known to mass audiences, but definitely in the view of more niche horror/indie film corners of the spectrum, Jeremy Saulnier is a young writer-director best known for his critically acclaimed 2013 revenge-thriller Blue Ruin.

After seeing his latest release, Green Room, I went back and watched his previous films, and will be reviewing them in chronological order of release.

And so, Murder Party:

Murder Party is an 80-minute comedy-horror film from 2007 by a first-time director, created with virtually no budget, and featuring a cast of amateur actors. Admittedly, it doesn’t seem to have much going for it knowing that, but Saulnier and Co. actually work to create a humorous, lean, and unique horror film that is unlike any I’ve seen before.

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