Session 9 (2001)

Danvers State Mental Hospital is an old asylum that has been empty since 1985. An asbestos team lead by  Gordon (Peter Mullan) and Phil (David Caruso) is hired to do the preparations for the renovation of the old building. With a bonus payment of 10.000 dollars hanging over their heads if they get the job done within one week, the working environment becomes filled with stress and bickering. This is nothing compared to what the asylum has in store for them, however…

Down where the most crazy of the patients were held, one of the workers finds an old sound recording of the interview with Mary Hobbes, a woman with three personalities: “The Princess”, symbolizing her innocence, “Billy”, who is her protector, and “Simon”, whom the doctor tries to come in contact with. Even though Mary’s story belongs to the past, it’s not without consequence for the asbestos workers.

“Session 9” is a psychological thriller that’s at times a bit slow, but builds up to something really creepy. While not perfect, it’s a pretty well-crafted horror movie that manages to keep the suspense up while keeping jumpscares and cgi-effects at a minimum. It’s a movie that plays primarily on the psychological horrors: knowing that there’s something scary there but it isn’t something you can see or touch. The ending puts everything together in a really creepy context, and is prone to give quite a chill.

IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0261983/

The Lodgers (2017)

Set in 1920’s rural Ireland, “The Lodgers” tells the dark tale about Rachel and Edward: twins that are living alone in a large but crumbling mansion which used to belong to their ancestors. We learn early on that they have strict rules they need to follow: they need to be in bed by midnight, they cannot let anyone else enter the house, and trying to escape might put the other one’s life in danger. The sinister force that haunts them wants them to continue their family’s “sin”, something Rachel is determined to not let happen, and this puts both her and Edward’s life in danger from the wrath of “the lodgers”.

While this movie is mostly presented as a horror film, it’s more of a gothic drama with a rather sad story than a scary one. While the house is beautifully atmospheric and creepy, there wasn’t much of a build-up to keep up the tension. The “sin” that “the lodgers” wants the twins to commit is also too easy to figure out very early in the movie, which doesn’t make it much of a surprise when Rachel reveals it later. There was a lot of potential for some real good chills and scary moments, but in that regard it didn’t have much to deliver. The movie does have strong visuals and good acting, so if you’d go for it and expect a gothic drama instead of an actual horror movie you may not be disappointed.

IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4399952/

Ravenous (1999)

During the Mexican-American war in the mid 1800’s, Captain John Boyd is sent up in the mountains to Fort Spencer, a secluded camp where a small group of weirdos keeps it guarded. One evening a disturbed, frozen Scottish man named Colquhoun arrives. He tells a horrible story about his gang of people somewhere up in the mountains, who were forced to eat each other in order to survive. Some of the men join Colquhoun and head up to the mountains to look for survivors.

The movie’s tone is set already within its first seconds. You don’t exactly know what to expect, but will quickly realise that this film is one of a kind. The film is known for its black humour, but it is first and foremost a pure horror movie with blood n’ gore where the humour is kept on a more subtle level. The greatest thing about Ravenous is how unpredictable it is, how the tension builds up, and the use of great forest landscapes that adds to the grim, cold atmosphere. It’s always refreshing to see actors actually interact with the real nature instead of standing in front of green-screens in a studio, isn’t it…

It also have top notch actors, but Robert Carlyle as Colquhoun really steals the show here. He does a truly terrifying portrait of his character. Watching his grin with the blood dripping from his mouth as he stares with his crazy eyes…that’s something that just sticks with you.

IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0129332/

Grave Encounters

Grave Encounters is a “found footage” horror movie about a reality TV series where three paranormal investigators visists historic haunted landmarks in the United States, like we’ve seen in “Ghost Hunters”, “Ghost Adventures” and numerous more of these shows that’s exploded in the recent ten years. But “Grave Encounters” was ahead of its time, according to what a producer tells us in the introduction before the movie starts. The film revolves around the sixth episode of “Grave Encounters” where the entire crew were to inspect an abondened haunted asylum where they disappeared and were never seen again. The only thing that was found was the 70-hour raw footage trimmed down to the last episode. And the producer that introduces us to the episode also tells us that what we’re about to watch is real, has not been tampered with, and just been edited strictly to cut down the time.

The movie also does not hesitate for a second to throw in some obvious satire on “Ghost Adventures”, which has become one of the most famous series in the genre. Grave Encounter’s host and producer Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson) can easily be seen as a parody of Zak Bagans with the same style of clothing, hairstyle and manic behavior. The crew also brings along a psychic, a dude that looks like a mix of Mick Jagger and Iggy Pop who must turn on his acting skills between the takes. The series has so far been a pure hoax with its five episodes, but after they get locked inside the mental hospital while camera gets rolling and shit starts to happen for real, they show their true colors and aren’t as tough as they seemed to be. Well, exept the host, Lance, who pushes the crew to keep the show going.

What makes Grave Encounters one of the much better found footage films is the realism, great acting, and steady narrative. They go from being characters in a fake series where everything is scripted, to obviously distressed and scared people when things begin to actually happen. It’s that “what-if” scenario that makes Grave Encounters stand out from the found footage-jungle out there. What if all of those paranormal investigators actually got a real up-close encounter with a ghost? Would they run away, or would they actually stay and get more out of it? Well, in this case we know the answer, but it’s a funny thing to think of when you see one of these shows in disbelief. Also filmed in a hospital where the narrow, dark corridors give a cool, isolating atmosphere, and overall a great tension that builds as a locomotive till the end.

imdB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1703199/

Monsters of October

We’re soon heading into my favorite month of the year: October, the month of Halloween! Last year I had “Monsters of October” , a series of horror movie reviews that I would update with 3 times a week during the whole month. This year I’ve decided to give this another run, and on October 1st the second “Monsters of October” will start!

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