31 Days of Hallowe’en 2021, Day 18: Homewrecker [2019]

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Oof. Where to start with this one?

Homewrecker - Movie Reviews
source: i don’t even care, i just want to get this fucking post over with

This is just a movie-shaped bag of poor choices and missed opportunities. After having heard some festival buzz on this a couple of years back, I’d been looking forward to seeing Homewrecker. I hadn’t expected anything game-changing – if anything, a small but but well-made dark comedy. This is one of those things.

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31 Days of Hallowe’en 2021, Day 17: Hellarious [2019]

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Another year, another anthology, only it wasn’t until nearing 5am and right near the end that I realised that this wasn’t a collection of short films new for the overall film as I’d already seen Death Metal years back.

Hellarious (2019) - IMDb
source: imdb
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31 Days of Hallowe’en 2021, Day 16: Seance [2021]

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First of all, I’m annoyed that this film doesn’t use the accent-grave over the e in the title, because I specifically remembered to hold down that fucking key while typing. And then I had to delete it.

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Second, for a film that’s set in a hoity-toity private school full of rich cunts, NOBODY is able to pronounce the Latin ritual phrases correctly. Look, I’ve been casually learning Latin on Duolingo and even I could have made an better educated stab at saying those fucking words properly. It sounds like gammon trying to order Indian food from my parents.

Also: CW: descriptions of SH (in the very first scene)

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31 Days of Hallowe’en 2019, Day 30: Special Day [short] [2019]

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Every so often I come across a horror short that scares the living daylights out of me long after I’ve finished watching it. Found via Shortoftheweek’s excellent horror channel, Special Day is the most bastarding slice of terrifying hell since David F. Sandberg’s Lights Out (the original 2013 short).

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31 Days of Hallowe’en 2019, Day 25: Reverse [short] [2018]

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For variety (and sanity), I try to include a short film every horror-thon, but it’s mostly to remind myself that the short film format has the potential to produce the strongest scares. They’re mostly single scenes, with no character build-up, are often wordless (good for global reach), and zip by in a few minutes. All of that cooks up some delicious and terrifying unpredictability.

For this October’s short, I chose Reverse, directed by Josh Tanner and co-written with Jade Van Der Lei. In it, an everyman (Joel Stanton) is just trying to get into his car and drive out of a dark underground car park. The setting itself is creepy enough, but an unseen force seems determined to prevent him from leaving…

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365 Days of Horror, Day 9: INTO THE DARK: THE MONSTERS AND NIGHTMARES OF HORROR ANIMATION [Lecture: The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies]

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“You coming to the pub, Chainsaw Phil?”

“I can’t – I’m going to a horror talk on animation at The Horse Hospital.”

“Look, man, if you don’t want to join us, just say so.”

It’s my first full season as a proper pass-holder, and my third lecture of this year’s winter semester of the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies. And not only was it on animation, but the venerable Robert Morgan (creator of the amazing The Cat With Hands), was there!

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31 Days of Hallowe’en, Day 31: The Stomach (2014)

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It’s it! I did it! The final film of this year’s marathon!

[I’ve a feeling you’ll likely see more horror posts from me before next year]

I cheated again this year – another short! And what a short. Writer-director Ben Steiner‘s The Stomach is equal parts bleak family fable, gritty neo-noir and grisly body horror. Packing two hours’ worth of backstories and interpersonal relationships into just 15 minutes, it’s no surprise that a feature-length is in the works – yet it never feels rushed or overcrowded.

the stomach 2014 horror short

Unlike Frank (Simon Meacock)’s stomach. The poor man, a medium who literally goes with his gut to talk to those in the afterlife, is ready to give up his gift. The work has taken its toll – physically and mentally – but his brother Tom (Ben Bishop) begs him to finish the day’s sessions before they agree to get Frank an operation that will replace his stomach. But back comes Mr. Pope (Peter Marinker), a recent client who’s not pleased with his service…

the stomach 2014 short horror

For such a short film, I genuinely cared about what happened to these characters. It’s a bittersweet fraternal story: the brothers have such chemistry and Frank looks so close to death, it’s hard not to feel for them both. It’s also a tension twofer, between the rough and grimy threat of Mr. Pope and the unpredictable forces of the ghostly beyond. Which, given that the tension starts straightaway, it’s probably a relief that it only lasts a quarter of an hour.

4.4/5

And that’s it for this year’s horror-a-thon. See you next year!

365 Days of Horror, Day 70: The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow (short) (2008)

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the facts in the case of mister hollow

I never would have thought that a camera zooming in and panning out over and over across an old-timey-looking photograph would be such a fascinating, spooky little short.

After a series of newspaper clippings, we as the viewer are invited to take a close look at a single photograph of four people in a forest clearing. One man is kneeling, possibly tying his shoelace or fixing something on the ground; another in sunglasses is waving at the camera; a woman is holding a baby, and an older man is looking at the car to their right.

At first glance, it just looks like a regular 1920s-era photo of a family or group of friends who are headed off on a road trip or something (there’s a house in the background behind the trees).

But as the camera rolls in and out, poring over the photo over and over again, little details start to emerge, and parts of the photo, especially the odd facial expression, morph as our understanding of the photo becomes clearer.

It’s all quite spooky and gothic and menacing, in a vintage, sinister kind of way. A jump-scare at the end mars it a little, but it’s a minor low point at the end of an innovatively-designed piece. The way in which we’re shown the photo over and over is like a pop-up book; the forest’s trees don’t just get glossed over, they become 3D; we weave in and out of the branches and around cawing crows. We peer into the car’s backseat, zoom in and around what the kneeling man is really doing and, even on subsequent viewings, can still pick up new details, which is a nice touch for a short based on the hidden details that any photograph could be hiding.

A picture telling a thousand words, indeed.

365 Days of Horror, Day 43: Arrêt Pipi (short) (2015)

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arrêt pipi short horror As if I needed another reason to avoid public toilets.

This Belgian short is predictable but grimy, gritty and realistic enough to sustain some pretty decent dread. It’s smoothly shot; nice colour contrasts, and capable acting. The plot is simple: a young couple stop to use a public loo but are out of loo roll in each cubicle (seriously, unless you’re drunk, who doesn’t fucking check before going in?). The janitor/bathroom attendant/old lady asks if they want red or blue toilet paper. The couple laugh, but, well, then it gets weird.

Predictably weird, but gory and scary enough. The atmosphere’s been effortlessly built for us: said public toilet (gross and nerve-wracking enough for any germophobe); lack of toilet roll (even scarier); being trapped in said toilet by aforementioned lack of toilet roll and weird goings-on. Not like you can escape, right? That’s already uncomfortable and tense enough without what follows.

I don’t care if I get backed-up kidneys. If I can avoid using a public loo, I will hold it until I get back to the comfort of my own home/hotel. Especially after this.

[And fuck you if you hover; you actually ruin it for the rest of us]

365 Days of Horror, Day 41: Giggle (short) (2015)

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giggle short film 2015You know, I can’t be an asshole about every short film that I watch. Expectations might always have to be manually lowered once you’re ten seconds in, because you’ll know if you’re watching a minus-budget production rather than something a bunch of top-of-their-game film students worked on. That being said, this isn’t that great, even for the former.

It’s a bunch of awkwardly-set-up static shots (i.e., accidental almost-upskirting – which is worse as the sole protagonist couldn’t have been older than 14) with not much to build up the tension other than a mysterious giggle. Kid investigates and we get a very cheap jump scare with some lop-sided CGI. For what little we get, it would have been better if 4 minutes had been chopped off the 6 and a half-minute running time, including the ostentatious ‘A FILM BY [DIRECTOR’S NAME]’ credits at the beginning. Kid, you ain’t fucking Kubrick.