Over the last few years, after the release of The Mist, REC, Cloverfield, The Ruins, and I am Legend amongst many others, I sensed a return of real investment and quality control in mainstream horror; a quality control induced by a passion for the genre on behalf of the film makers, and no doubt some new technology helped out too. And the quality seems to be sticking around …
Watching this on the recommendation of Horror Reanimated, made me realise I had been waiting for this film for quite some time – hoping for it, in fact. It is cinematic proof that body horror can be explored intelligently. That true extremes of human horror, of butchery, of madness, of death at the hands of the pathological stranger, of the loss of control physically and mentally, can all be explored and portrayed with style and wholeness and harmony and even radiance. It’s also made within the frenetic pace the narrative of modern films demand, whilst also including an affecting visual aesthetic, and is all underwritten by a deeper exploration of deranged idealism that’ll leave your head spinning. And it’s French! The first Saw film reached for this, as did Rob Zombie’s first Halloween remake, and Frontiers – going back a bit it’s the welcome terrain of the first Hellraiser film, and practically all of Cronenberg too. It also reminded me of Clive Barker’s literary themes circa Books of Blood. I’ve seen glimmers of these qualities over the years in horror films, but few succeeded with the same power as Martyrs.
Looks bland: honeymooner couples picked off on an island by mysterious assailant. But is as exciting and thrilling as these films need to be and promise to be, but rarely are. The villains also succeed in being fascinating but really disturbing. In fact, the screen even goes black and white through the eyes of the killer (he’s that crazy he changes the colour of the world). It also features Timothy Olyphant – the sherif from Deadwood – who is fast turning into another Willem Dafoe and Lance Henriksen, for me, as a leading man: is as cool as the devil. Best psycho film I have seen since Jennifer Lynch’s Surveillance. Because the psychology works; you have to get that right.
The Killer Inside Me.
Saw the press screening with the film reviewer for the Fortian Times, and this is a superb film. Like a David Lynch film without the zaniness, and the very best depiction of a psychopath I have yet seen onscreen. It’s out next month. I read the Jim Thompson novel over ten years ago and can remember being left baffled, but I must revisit the book because I clearly missed something.
Can’t quite understand the unreasonable and harsh reviews this film has copped. It’s a good solid sci fi horror flick, capturing the isolation, coldness and claustrophobia of a spacecraft on a long journey. I liked its concept too, and its echoes of The Descent in space. Ripples of Sunshine, Alien, and Event Horizon in here too. Left me wishing there were more sci fi horror films being made.
Another French gorefest, without the intelligence or artistry of Martyrs, but gruesomely compelling all the same. In fact, I hid my eyes twice and often shouted “unnecessary” out loud. One or two really creepy touches too.
House of the Devil.
A real slow burner with an authentic, if not astonishing, eighties visual style, that includes one of my favourite edits of all time – one that suddenly reveals the contents of a room beyond a hallway – and it made my head swoop. Real basic black magic horror, that screams don’t underestimate the power of the satanic and the occult in film (good to see some Medievalism back in horror). It made me feel so nostalgic I could even feel the warmth of my old living room, circa 1986, with the curtains shut and a tape of The Exorcist or Texas Chainsaw Massacre on the video machine.