Tag Archives: horror movies

Saturday is Horror Day #8 (x-posted at Full Moon Dreaming) – Swiss Army Man, The Babadook

Reviewed by: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Swiss Army Man

Stranded and alone and sure he will never be found or loved again, Hank (Paul Dano) decides to take his own life. Poised on the top of his cooler, his head in the noose, he suddenly spies what seems to be another person washed up on the beach. Almost killing himself to reach that person, he discovers what appears to be a corpse. But appearances can be deceiving, as Hank discovers when the corpse (Daniel Radcliffe) begins to convulse.

 

Beside himself with joy at no longer being alone, Hank discovers that his newfound friend is very flatulent, even if silent. Harnessing the power of his flatulence, Hank finds himself on top of the corpse, whom he names Manny, and is swiftly cutting across the water thanks to his strong gassiness.

 

Hank and Manny thus begin their long journey together, during which Hank discovers all sorts of uses for Manny, in the strange powers he possesses – much like a Swiss Army knife. Manny’s spit is fresh water for Hank, and he can break things with his hands. When Manny spies Hank’s phone, he asks about the girl in the picture. Hank is embarrassed to admit she’s a random girl on the bus he has always been too scared to speak to. He leads Manny to believe the phone is his, and the girl is his sweetheart, giving Manny something to look forward to when they get home.

All right, maybe strictly speaking this isn’t a horror film, but it has a dead guy in it who talks and a 

whole lot more, so I’m including it. And hey, it’s Daniel Radcliffe, whom we saw last week in The Woman in Black. This was a surprisingly different movie than I expected. I think it’s much deeper than strictly the story of a farting corpse. I believe it’s Hank’s journey to find himself, and to work through all the angst in his life. Interpret the ending however you like, but this film will make you think about a lot of things.

The Babadook

Amelia Vanek(Essie Davis) is a single mother doing her best to raise her seven-year-old son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) on her own. Her husband was killed on the night Samuel was born, while driving AMelia to the hospital. Samuel is a very bright, creative boy who loves his mother dearly, but finds himself shunned by the other children and their mothers because they find him to be too different.

 

While Amelia loves her son, she has never gotten over the death of her husband, and she finds herself stressed all the time, which isn’t helped by Samuel’s clinginess, and the way he ends up in her bed because of his vivid imagination. He finds a book on the shelf which he requests she read to him, so she does, about someone called Mr. Babadook. For a children’s book, it sounds scary, and she isn’t sure it’s appropriate for her son. That idea is reinforced when he becomes convinced that the Babdook will get them if she lets him in.

 

The situation goes from bad to worse as Amelia’s friends don’t want to have her son around, his behavior gets him removed from school, and she doesn’t know how to deal with his nightmares, and his insistence that he will save her from the mysterious Babdook. Sometimes, she just wishes, her husband hadn’t been the one to die that night….

The Babdook is a gripping story about a woman who is trying to cope with stress/PTSD and unresolved grief, and then is faced with a supernatural creature who seems to want to take her son. Amelia is doing the best she can, but her continued lack of proper sleep puts them all in grave danger, as she becomes more and more unable to cope with the reality of her life. As the film progresses, we see a reversal in the roles of Amelia and Samuel as she regresses and he becomes more and more determined to protect the mother he loves.

This is a film that really begs to be paid attention to. It’s deeper than you might think it is. I would give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars. But don’t look for a sequel, there won’t be one.

Saturday is Horror Day #7 – The Woman in Black (1989), The Dentist (x-posted at Full Moon Dreaming)

Reviewed by: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Woman in Black (1989) 

 


Grieving widower Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is sent on business to a remote region, leaving his son Joseph with the nanny. He promises Joseph they will be reunited in just a few days when the nanny brings him on the train to meet him. Arthur is a solicitor who has to go through all the papers left on an estate, which is a tall order indeed. On his arrival, Arthur gets the distinct impression that no one wants him there. His room reservations suddenly don’t exist, and everyone seems determined to put him on the next train back to London. But Arthur isn’t one to give up quite so easily.

 

 


On the train, he strikes up an acquaintance with a man from the village, Sam Daily (Ciaran Hinds). Hitting it off, Sam invites Arthur to dinner the following night and Arthur agrees. The estate where Arthur is to work is sadly neglected and very desolate. And yet Arthur spies a woman on the property, one dressed entirely in black. On his return to the village, he happens to be at the constable’s office when two young boys bring in a girl who is in a bad way, having apparently drunk lye. Before Arthur can even think what to do, the girl dies in his arms. And now the villagers are more adamant than ever that he must go, that it’s his fault the girl died.

 

When he goes to dinner at the house of his new friend, Sam warns Arthur not to talk about children, if at all possible. He and his wife (Janet McTeer) lost their son, Nathaniel, and he doesn’t wish to distress her. But Arthur learns there is more to that story when, at the dinner table, Mrs. Daily talks of how her son liked to draw and still does and then proceeds to jab a knife into the wood table, gouging it severely before her husband calms her down.

 

Sam doesn’t believe in the supernatural, but since his wife’s death, Arthur isn’t so sure. And now he’s seeing and hearing things that make him wonder who is the woman in black, and what does she have to do with the deaths of the children?

I have to admit I wasn’t sure what to expect of this film, or of Daniel Radcliffe. I was just beginning to think it a run of the mill gothic when suddenly it wasn’t. And yes, I’ll admit I jumped at least once. The premise has been used before. We saw it in Dracula with Jonathan Harker going to Dracula’s estate in order to discuss legal matters with him. But this version sees Radcliffe as a grieving widower trying to deal with the loss of his wife while raising the son he loves more than anything.

This film has a definite Gothic atmosphere, and a rather creepy vibe as we watch Arthur become sidetracked from his duties by the mystery of the woman in black, whom he has seen more than once. And every time he sees her, another child dies. I really liked it, and definitely didn’t see the ending coming. Definitely worth the watch, I give it a pretty solid 4 stars.

The Dentist

 


Dr. Alan Feinstone (Corbin Bernsen) is a successful dentist with more than just a cleanliness fetish – he absolutely abhors anything that is even a little dirty. Finding out that his young blonde wife is cheating on him, with no less than the pool man, who is filthy and dirty by the very nature of what he does, sends Alan careening over the edge, spiraling into madness… and revenge.

While spying on the pool man at his neighbor’s house (she’s also carrying on with the man), the good

 


doctor is attacked by her dog, whom he dispatches with cold efficiency. Long overdue at the office, his 


patients are growing impatient, and his loyal office staff is trying to placate them. When the doctor is finally in, he starts to keep his appointments, including that of a budding starlet, April Reign (Christa Sauls) who has been brought by her manager, Steve (Mark Ruffalo). Upset over the perfidy of his wife, the doctor hallucinates and begins to molest the poor woman while in the chair. He comes to himself to find her panty hose on the floor, her bra undone. He hastily tries to make repairs, but ends up shoving the panty hose under the table, and telling her manager to take her out for fresh air as she’s had a bad reaction to something.

As if things weren’t difficult enough, the doctor has been dodging calls from an IRS agent, until the agent shows up on his doorstep and can’t be ignored any longer. How will he deal with him, with so much on his plate?


Luring his unsuspecting cheating wife to his office under the pretext they are going out, he introduces her to a new chair he’s had installed at his office, and to a rather unusual producedure. Later he takes her home and wreaks vengeance on the hapless pool man.

The doctor can’t seem to catch a break, and people are catching on. So, like the Energizer Bunny, he keeps going and going and…

This was an interesting role to see Corbin Bernsen play, as I mostly known him from his stint as the sleazy divorce lawyer Arnie Becker on LA Law. I think he was already not too tightly wound from the beginning with his compulsions and his visions, but the discovery of his wife’s adultery caused him to snap. I think the strength of this film lies in trying to figure out just how far this crazy dentist will go to get revenge, no matter who gets hurt. Not a great film, but I do intend to watch the sequel. I’ll give it a solid 3 stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #5 – Unearthed, Thirst, Hereditary (x-posted at Full Moon Dreaming)

Reviewed by: Julie Lynn Hayes

There’s nothing quite like a good horror film, am I right? Sadly, the first film on this list is not a good horror film. I didn’t even finish watching it. I’m only including it on this list as a warning to those who might be interested in watching it to watch at your own risk.

Unearthed (2007) – This movie takes place in the desert, where something is attacking cattle. Let me think, what else? The lady sheriff likes her liquor.. And something strange is going on. I can’t really tell you much beyond that because it bored me so much, I turned it off within half an hour. Bad acting, bad writing, and nothing to hold my interest. The only name I recognized in the cast list is M.C. Gainey, who played Bo Crowder in Justified. Nuff said here.

 

 

 

Thirst (2009)

Father Sang-hyum (Kang-ho Song of Parasite) volunteers to be part of a medical experiment, in order to

help people, despite the fact that most of the volunteers before him have died. Although he lives, he requires a blood transfusion which transforms him into a vampire. Returning home, he is looked upon as something of a miracle, and people look to him to help them, unaware of his true nature. They only know he suffered for them.

Going to the hospital to perform his priestly duties, he encounters a childhood friend, Kang-wood (Shin Ha-kyun) and the friend’s mother, as well as the adopted girl who grew up to marry the friend, Tae-ju (Kim Ok-bin). On leaving the hospital, the priest becomes a part of their lives once again, finding himself drawn to the girl he knew so long ago. Tae-ju is less than happy with her dumb husband and his controlling mother, and it isn’t long before these two begin an affair. Once Sang-hyun reveals to Tae-ju what he really is, she is shocked at first, and more than a little disturbed, but it isn’t long before she embraces her lover’s vampiric nature and revels in the potential power they can wield. 

Too bad she has such a dumb husband and a controlling mother-in-law.

Thirst was directed by Park Chan-wook, the same director who brought us The Handmaiden, The Vengeance Trilogy, and Stoker. It is a very well-made and erotic film, an unusual take on vampires, and is not without its humorous moments.

 Although they are both vampires, the priest and the wife are different in temperament. Sang-hyun 

attempts to keep his appetites under control, only taking from those who have already expressed a desire for death in the confessional. One person he feeds from is a kindly man in a coma, whom he says would gladly agree to feeding the priest if he were able to do so. Tae-ju, though, is the opposite. Her new conditions seems to have brought out the cruelty in her nature, and she is more than happy to do away with her husband. Although, ironically, he becomes like a third wheel in their relationship, even after death

This film was well done and very interesting. I enjoyed it and would give it a solid 4 stars.

 

Hereditary (2018)

Annie (Toni Collette) is an artist who designs and builds miniature rooms, taken directly for her life. She is currently in the middle of working on pieces for her next showing when her mother dies. The death of Annie’s mother is a tragic event for her entire family, especially for Annie’s daughter Charlie, who was close to her grandmother. Charlie is a bit different, not given to being very communicative. Like her mother, she is an artist, both mother and daughter being compulsive in that regard.

 

 

The family attempt to pull together and move on with their lives, but tragedy seems to follow them. Annie tries to secretly deal with her grief by going to a survivor’s group meeting, but she isn’t sure that is helping. And her son, Peter, feels the weight of what has happened.

 

But the worst is yet to come.

 

This film was definitely more than I expected, to be honest. Not your run of the mill horror movie by any means. Gabriel Byrne plays Annie’s husband Steve, trying to hold his family together in the midst of so much tragedy. Annie herself is conflicted about her role as a wife and mother. At the beginning we get a glimpse of the controlling nature of her mother, who practically considered Annie’s daughter Charlie as her own.

Annie’s actions seem rather psychotic at times, and one has to wonder if she’s got mental issues going on, or if there is something seriously strange happening to this family. When Annie is approached by a member of the group, Joan, she latches onto her as though she is a lifeline for the drowning mother.  Joan has known grief too, having lost her husband and son.

Peter is suffering his own guilt and torment over what has happened to Charlie, and his mother’s actions

are not happening, as the tension grows among them, until he begins to see and experience odd things as well.

I will admit to having some wtf moments where my jaw dropped. Director Ari Aster did a great job with this film, the cast was wonderful, and the story is far from average. I won’t give any spoilers, but pay attention, particularly to the opening.

I think by the end of the film, you’ll be ready to scream too. I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars. Well worth the watch.