Ghostland movie review

For those of us who are into the horror movie genre, Pascal Laugier is a familiar name. He earlier brought us “Martyrs” , a movie that even to this day keeps shocking its audience (and french horror is known for not being shy about breaking a few boundaries here and there). He’s also behind two lesser known horror movies: “House of Voices” aka “Saint Ange”, and “The Tall Man” , the latter being more of a mystery thriller. In other words: I couldn’t help but being at least a little curious about Mr. Laugier’s new addition to horror, “Ghostland” .

The story follows a mother and her two daughters as they are on their way to their new home: an old country house they’ve inherited from her aunt. Early on, we learn that one of the girls (Beth) loves writing horror stories, which causes a bit of jealousy in her sister (Vera) as their mother keeps encouraging Beth’s talents. We also learn that Beth is quite a fanciful personality – an important hint which will make sense later on.

On their first night in the new home, they’re attacked by intruders who’s intent is murder – two characters that are so over-the-top that they’re almost a little unbelieveable: a skinny goth-looking transvestite and a huge ogre-looking freak who is (of course) retarded. And they’re driving a candy truck. Oh yes. However, even though the villains are a bit too much, they actually fit well inside the already weird country house filled with creepy dolls and strange knick-knacks.

While “Ghostland” does not shock or repulse in the same way as “Martyrs” did, it’s still an intense and suspenseful movie, and shows that Laugier’s still got what it takes.

The Terror review

Based on Dan Simmon’s book from 2007 by the same name, “The Terror” is a fictionalized account of Captain Sir John Franklin’s lost expedition of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror to the Arctic, in 1845–1848, to locate the Northwest Passage. Lead by Sir John Franklin and the Royal Navy officer Francis Crozier, and with a crew of 128 men, both ships get stuck in the ice and they find themselves isolated many miles from the outside world. They try to blow up some of the ice with dynamite, without much luck. As members of the crew starts dying from scurvy, tuberculosis and lead poisoning, they also find themselves hunted by an Arctic monster called “Tuunbaq”, which is a creature resembling a polar bear.

The Terror review

“The Terror” has a season of 10 episodes, and Ridley Scott is one of the producers. I’ll admit there are few movies or tv-series that manages to get under my skin these days, but “The Terror” managed to do so. There’s a thick atmosphere with lots of suspense and meat on its bones, and the landscape of ice and nothing-ness really gives a grim and isolating look, and it’s so well done that you can barely see what’s green screen and what’s not. Costumes and scenery are rich with details which also lifts the realism up a few notches and matches the time period. The acting is also great, especially by Jared Harris as the alcoholized Francis Crozier who eventually needs to get his act together and figure out a plan on how to get the rest of the crew back to civilization.

Some additional facts from the true story: Franklin’s wife assembled a search party in 1845 without finding any traces of the ships or the crew, and there were multiple searches since then. Many years later, in 1980-90, several remains were found and exhumed, and the mummified remains showed evidence of severe lead poisoning, and cut marks and polishing of bones indicated cannibalism. As late as 2014, one of the ships were found in the Victoria Strait area north of Canada, which was later revealed to be HMS Erebus. In 2016, they also found HMS Terror. Better late than never…but even if both ships were found, much of the tragic story behind the expedition remains a mystery.

The series are available at Primevideo.

We went to see this little horror movie gem, after wanting to find out what all the fuss was about. I’m actually going to be honest – when I saw the first trailer for the movie, I was put off by the thought of a completely silent movie with (I presumed) a ton of jump scares. I’m glad I still went to see it on the big screen, though!

First of all, the movie is not completely silent, so yes, you can eat your popcorn without everyone hearing it. There’s background music and sound effects, and while there are a few moments where everything is so silent you’d be able to hear someone at the first row lit a fart, the movie does contain enough music and ambient noises to feel like…a normal movie, actually.

Now, over to the premise of the movie: set in an apocalyptic world, we meet a family on a scavenging hunt. We learn early on that there are monsters out there that can’t see, but have an incredible hearing, which explains why they don’t speak and don’t make any noise. It doesn’t take long for one of the monsters to show us viewers how devastating and quick the effect can be if you make them hear you, which makes us understand exactly why the family is so paranoid about making the slightest sound.We follow the family over time (a timespan over multiple years) and how they try to survive in a world where every little noise can be deadly…

A very exciting movie with a fresh take on apocalyptic horror.

Fun fact: the father in the movie is played by the director himself (who was also a co-writer of the manuscript), and the mother is played by his real wife.

I remember you horror movie review

Ég man þig” aka “I Remember You” is a horror-thriller from Iceland, directed by Óskar Thór Axelsson and based on a book by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir.

The movie is told with two perspectives: one is the story of Freyr, a psychiatrist who is tormented by the disappearance of his 8-year old son, and the other is the story about three people that are going to renovate an old house in a small abandoned village. The troubled psychiatrist becomes the “detective” of the story, trying to solve the mystery of his son’s disappearance. In both stories the characters starts to reveal certain dark secrets from the past, and each story has one character that’s mainly experiencing these situations. At first these two stories seem to happen without any connection to each other, but how it’s all tied together will be revealed towards the end.

The Icelandic landscape sets a great atmosphere in this film, and the abandoned village and the house they’re going to renovate literally gave me the creeps just by looking at it. While the movie plays out more as a slow-burn crime/mystery movie, the horror elements fits in nicely where they are placed and helps building up the tension.

Vanja and I have now finished all 5 seasons of “Bates Motel”, and here’s some thoughts: (warning: may contain some spoilers)

Bates Motel” is a kind of prequel and re-imagining of the 1960s film. The original film and book has no connection whatsoever to this series, just to be clear. This is a stand-alone story that neither demands that you’ve seen the Hitchcock version or that you’ve read the book.

After a marriage from hell, Norma moves with her son Norman to the little seaside town of Pineview. She’s bought a motel that is going to be the “Bates Motel”, and they’re both eager to start a new life. On the outside, Pineview seems like an idyllic, quiet little place…but on the inside it’s a place filled with questionable people, narcotics, and a corrupt sheriff who develops a love-hate relationship with Norma. She does not receive a good welcome either: the municipality wants to remove the main road from the current location, which is right outside her newly bought motel, and place it far away and thus putting her in a risk of going out of business.

As things are progressing in all kinds of directions, Norman initiates a relationship with his teacher, who is later found dead. Norma notices he’s had one of his recurring “blackouts” in the timespan the teacher was supposedly killed, and thus the worried mother develops a strong paranoia as she fears that Norman is behind the murder. She turns into a sickly overprotective mother, who does everything she can to keep an eye on her son, which becomes harder and harder as his psychosis grows.

We get several subplots along the way, some interesting, some less interesting. Characters come and go, but the common thread is the toxic relationship between the mom and her son, which we are waiting for to turn out in full bloom (at least those of us that are familiar with the original story). With its 50 episodes, the series manages to keep itself filled with suspense right up until the end. And I liked how it ended, I honestly didn’t see that coming.

Overall, I think it’s a great series with great characters, acting and a lot of tension and suspense.

Happy Death Day

Tree Gelbman, a young college student, wakes up in a guy’s room, hungover as hell and barely no memory from last night. On top of it all, it’s her birthday today, a day she is not too fond of for reasons later revealed in the movie. She leaves the guy’s room with a pissy attitude, and we see pretty quickly that this is a girl that tends to make bad choices in her life, and treat people around her like crap. At the end of the day, she gets chased by someone wearing a mask, and ends up being killed. And then she wakes up in the guy’s room again, repeating the day all over again. In a desperate fight to reveal the identity of the killer, and try to figure out how to avoid being killed by him/her, she relives the day of her birthday and murder over and over…

«Happy Death Day» goes into a concept that has been touched multiple times over in other movies and tv-series: that of reliving a specific day over and over («Groundhog Day», «Triangle» and «Timecrimes», just to mention some). So in that regard, this movie brings nothing new or groundbreaking to the horror genre. It’s a simple yet entertaining horror comedy that is best served without any expectations in mind.

Stephen King's 1922

Based on a novel from 2010 by famous horror-writer Stephen King, comes this Netflix original that was released on October 20th. It’s a story about Wilfred James, a proud farmer who conspires to murder his own wife when she wants them to move away from the farm and sell the land, which she owns because it was willed to her by her own father. Neither the father nor the son wants to move away from the quiet farmlife they’ve grown so attached to, and Wilfred convinces his son to participiate in the murder of his wife. After comitting the horrible act and dump the body of her into the well outside, Wilfred soon starts to experience that things do not go as smoothly from there on, even with his wife out of the way…

«1922» is for the most part a dark thriller, with some horror elements mixed it. There are no over-the-top weird stuff that some might be used to from certain popular works by the famous author (like «It», for example), it’s a down-to-earth thriller with some supernatural elements mixed in. Unexpectedly, when a desperate man like Wilfred decides to murder his wife due to his own desires, we all know that he won’t escape such an act unscathed…and neither will his son. “In the end, we all get caught”.

Jeffrey Franken (James Lorinz) is a young medical student whose fiancee, Elizabeth Shelley, gets overrun by a lawnmower at a backyard party and gets shredded to pieces. The only thing left of her is her head, which he puts in the freezer. He’s determined to get her back in some way, and arranges his garage into a typical “mad scientist” lab. Then he drives around New York’s dark streets to pick up the finest hookers to assemble body parts for his new girlfriend.

Obviously,  troubles start right from when she wakes up, with a mentality of a whore and all the body parts stitched on her. She escapes the garage and gets loose on New York city and all she can say is: Need some company? Looking for some action? Got any money? And then she enters a bar where she meets the pimp of the missing hookers who notice a certain tattoo on her new arm..

With a title like «Frankenhooker» you may expect the worst, but if you’re familiar to Frank Henenlotter’s movies you know what you’re getting yourself into. With the limited amount of resources and small budget, he really knows how to use it and combine horror with comedy. Frankenhooker is probably his best one and the most lightened, entertaining and overall the craziest. And like Henenlotter’s previous films, the darker and sleazy streets of New York are portrayed in a authentic way. Shot without permission during the night with real hookers in the background gives his films a more realistic look.

James Lorinz is great in his role as Jeffrey. He reminds me of a milder version of Herbert West. He’s sympatethic and really feels bad for killing streetwalkers to collect the body parts, but he really wants his loved one back. The more he slips into desperation and obsession to fix his fiancee back to life, you just feel sorry for him. Patty Mullen as the Frankenhoooker isn’t bad either. She’s not as serious as Lorinz, but her facial ticks and overacting fits the tone and her scenes are entertaining  as hell.

And of course, how can you not love a movie with exploding hookers?

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

A father and a son who are running a coroner business from their own home, need to identify the body of a young woman who was found in a house full of brutally murdered bodies. The other bodies were that of the family living in the house…but in the basement, the police found the half-buried corpse of that young woman. The corpse is pristine, there isn’t even a scratch on her or any blood. As the old saying goes, however: looks can be deceiving…

When they start their “work” on her (and if you are queasy when it comes to body horror, you’ll probably be squirming in your seat while watching it) they soon find out that the girl appears to have been through extreme torture before she died. Her tongue has been cut out, one of her teeth are missing, and from the inside it appears that she’s been burned…but still, her outside is intact, like if nothing ever happened to her. The girl harbors a dark secret, however, and soon weird shit starts to happen.

«The Autopsy of Jane Doe», directed by norwegian André Øvredal (known for «Troll Hunter», aka «Trolljegeren»), has given us a really atmospheric and creepy film that easily manages to get under your skin. There are several scenes that are outright bone-chilling. Well recommended if you enjoy dark psychological horror movies.

The Babadook

«The Babadook» is Jennifer Kent’s debut movie based on her short film from 2005 titled «Monster». It’s the story about a widowed mother, Amelia, who is still struggling with trying to cope after her husband’s violent death. Plagued with nightmares and depression, she’s also having more than a handful with her son Samuel, a 7-year-old with a really needy personality with hyperactive periods and often throwing tantrums. To top it all, he’s got a fear of monsters that he believe are lurking around in the house. One night she decides to read a book for him in order to make him calm down and sleep, and she finds a book in her own home that she can’t remember having seen before. The book is titled «The Babadook”…and after reading from it, she also starts to sense what her son has been sensing: that something evil lurks around in their house…which later manifests itself as the evil spirit «The Babadook».

One could argue wether «The Babadook» is more a horror tale of a mother that is slowly going insane, or a monster movie. Seeing how the strugglig mother is trying to cope by balancing her work with her needy son and her trauma is somehow chilling by itself, because it’s so down-to-earth, even without any kind of monster mixed in. In many ways, the movie could be seen as some kind of metaphor for the pain and struggles of motherhood. There’s many ways to interpret this movie and what happens in it, especially the ending, which is also similar to the ending in the short film «Monster».

 

Oh, and the book featured in the film was actually printed as a real pop-up book where people could pre-order one in a crowd-funding campaign. Vanja actually pre-ordered one of these, and below are some photos. This is the first print run, autographed by Jennifer Kent (and it doesn’t look like there’s going to be a second print run, so this is a rare gem):

Mister Babadoo

Mister Babadoo

Mister Babadoo

Mister Babadoo

Mister Babadoo

Mister Babadoo

Mister Babadoo

Mister Babadoo

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