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.

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.

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

«Ginger Snaps» is the story of two sisters, two outcasts that are obsessed with death. Their main hobby is to play around with practical effects and a photo camera, taking pictures of themselves playing dead. The sisters face a serious threat when Ginger, the oldest of them, is getting bitten by a creature resembling a werewolf, on the night she has her first menstrual period. Soon, Ginger’s behaviour and appearance starts to change, and Brigitte, the youngest of the two sisters, must try and help Ginger. But is there really any way to stop what is happening to her?

This movie is just as much a werewolf movie as it is a coming of age movie. Ginger’s gradual transformation into a werewolf beast, changing from the young and “innocent” older sister that Brigitte is used to, could be seen as some kind of metaphor for the female coming-of-age experience shown through Ginger’s lycanthropic transformation. This makes the movie one of the most imaginative Werewolf films I have seen thus far.

«Ginger Snaps» became successful enough to warrant two sequels: «Ginger Snaps 2, Unleashed» from 2004, and «Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning», also from 2004. I have not seen any of these movies yet, and I personally think this first movie ended pretty well and with no need for any sequels.

Vanja and I went to see “It” on friday, directed by Andy Muschietti (previously known for the horror movie “Mama” ).

To be honest, I was a little sceptical to this movie at first. When I saw one of the first pictures from the movie, with Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise, I couldn’t help but thinking “yikes, he looks like a character from Looney Tunes”! (Probably because of those big buck teeth). And I suspected it would end up being way too cheesy and that Bill would not live up to Tim Curry’s previous performance as Pennywise in “It” from 1990.

I am happy to have been totally wrong, though.

Bill Skarsgård’s performance as Pennywise well exceeded my expectations. He was just the right amount of cheesy (he/it is a clown, after all) and right amount of creepy, in order to set the right atmosphere. Instead of trying to copy Tim Curry’s famous version of the character, Bill did his own thing. Just like Heath Ledger did with The Joker.

Now, as for the movie itself, I really enjoyed the “Goonies”-vibes in it, and the 80’s theme (one of the young actors are also from “Stranger Things” , a series I also really liked that had a strong 80’s feel to it).

While I have seen the 1990’s version, I haven’t read the book, so I can make no comparison between them. But like the 1990s version it comes in two parts, and I’m looking forward to the second part.