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!

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.

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