Taken at face value it’s difficult to describe Richard Stanley’s adaptation of Lovecraft’s The Colour Out Of Space as a good film. The cast grind their way through a frankly abysmal screenplay and, although both Joely Richardson and Madeleine Arthur manage to tease out excellent performances, Nicolas Cage appears to cosplay Nicolas Cage.
Robert Eggers’ new horror The Lighthouse exhibits a close familial bond with the themes and ideas explored by its older sibling, The Witch (2015). Having watched the film, it makes sense to personify the Lighthouse. It’s not simply a structure or setting, like the Witch’s lair in the woods; the lantern room represents the fleshy heart of the film, its relentless rotations setting the pace for the plot’s quiet development like a steady heartbeat (sometimes uncomfortably noticeable; most times a silent, immutable truth).
Horror can be a phenomenally surprising genre. For every handful of unimaginative paint-by-numbers slashers, there comes a film genuinely distinctive and unforgettable. Swallow, the debut feature of director Carlo Mirabella-Davis, is one of those films.
Even though they have arguably been around since Frankenstein and the inception of horror, medical horror films have been in retirement for quite some time. American Mary and the remake of Flatliners are perhaps the most recent examples for the 2010s, even though it’s a setting ripe with horrific potential, as proven by the popular franchise Re-Animator. Netflix’s newest horror film Eli documents the horrors of the cost of private medical care in the United States alongside the usual fears that accompany a hospital setting: patient vulnerability during treatment, suspicious staff members with questionable motivations, and the possibility that the hospital itself might be haunted. It also raises several interesting questions regarding informed consent: how much should a patient be allowed to know about his or her condition if it puts the entire world in jeopardy?
Coming to this new Netflix horror over a week after its launch and, being a user of Twitter, I was subjected to a range of diverse opinions. And some strong emotions too. At first I thought, “what’s all the fuss about?” In the Tall Grass got off to a promising start – the production was slick and stylish, the idea was novel and, at first glance, quite neat and concise. But as the running time dragged on, In the Tall Grass progressively lost its way.
In Search of Darkness, a crowdfunded documentary that showcases 80s horror, is the ultimate nostalgia trip. For anyone who grew up in the 80s or otherwise quenched their passion for horror on the films of this decade, this 4-hour-plus love letter will have you pining for the days when more was really more – more blood, gorier special effects, but not necessarily more budget. Nor, when we look at the 80s oeuvre as a whole, more quality.
Alien is very possibly my favourite film. I certainly spend much time overthinking it, as anyone who’s read my recent article on its Gothic roots will already know. Imagine my annoyance, then, when I realised I would miss the limited theatrical run of the film’s new documentary, Memory: The Origins of Alien, directed by Alexandre O. Philippe. Imagine my comparable delight when it suddenly became available to stream through the website of the trusty old BFI.
It Chapter Two is the much-anticipated sequel to Andy Muschietti’s 2017 It, following up twenty-seven years after where It left off. The child members of the Losers’ Club have grown up and grown apart. Apart from Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa), who stayed in their childhood home of Derry, Maine, all of the other Losers moved across the country and have completely forgotten about their previous battles with the homicidal supernatural entity which appears to the children as Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgård). After a string of child disappearances, Mike calls the other Losers, instructing them that it’s time to make good on the promise they made twenty-seven years ago to return if Pennywise ever comes back.
William McGregor’s feature debut Gwen is not your typical horror film. In fact it’s not really a horror film. What is terrifying about this film is its grey, trudging depiction of the harsh reality of life in the Welsh countryside of Snowdonia at the turn of the nineteenth century. Eleanor Worthington-Cox plays Gwen, a teenage girl whose father is away fighting in the army, struggling alongside her severe, exhausted mother Elen (Maxine Peake) to look after her little sister and prevent their small farm from falling into the hands of the local quarry owner, Mr Wynne.
Editor’s note: as this is an analysis of the film Midsommar, there be spoilers ahead.
Midsommar is Ari Aster’s latest horror offering following 2018’s Hereditary, and sees a group of friends who travel to Sweden for a festival that only occurs every 90 years, only to find themselves amongst a pagan cult.