The final Scandinavian production graced by the presence of Noomi Rapace before her departure for Hollywood stardom in Prometheus and more to come, Babycall arrives amid a torrent of thriller imports from Norway and Sweden, hoping to capitalise on the growing appetite for more substantial genre fare. Rapace plays Anna, an abused young woman who, together with her eight year old son, enters the witness protection scheme to escape her violent husband. Her palpable paranoia only grows more desperate when the baby monitor she purchases to keep watch over her son begins picking up the sounds of struggle from another apartment in her large complex.
The killer Piranha series has come a long way from the squealing rubber puppets of Joe Dante’s classic Jaws clone. It’s become a symbol of offensively gratuitous sexy violence. Much like in Piranha 3D, the screen overflows with blood and breasts; exposed skin and bone are in abundance. These shocking images are wrapped up neatly by a truly cruel sense of humor, which, if you’re feeling a little on the dark side, is incredibly infectious. It’s Piranha 3DD and it makes no apologies.
So one kid turns to the other kid and says in a nasally voice, “Hey, I dare you to go into the woods.” After the kid nonchalantly dismisses the image of his mother waving her finger as a warning to stay away from the forest, they both decide to venture on and discover whatever horrors or joys are concealed inside the thick maze of ominous trees. In essence, this is the basic force of a road trip horror movie. It tells us why we should be afraid of forbidden places.
The true-life events that happened in the town of Prypiat in 1986 provide enough materials to make an effective, chilling flick. Reactor #4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant explodes in a horrific way. An entire town evacuates literally overnight. It was a truly terrifying situation. Now take all that into account and throw it in a blender with horror attributes that stem from three radically different sides of the horror medium spectrum. Chernobyl DIaries in your cup, anyone?
Found footage is so overused at this point that even the reviews damning the latest film to employ the technique are, in themselves, riddled with clichés. It’s near impossible to discuss yet another purveyor of home video style chills without noting its roots in Paranormal Activity, maybe even The Blair Witch Project. The genre’s critics have become just as blandly monotone as the films are, for the simple reason that there’s nothing much to be said. We get the same setup almost every time: a residence and its occupants are threatened by some otherworldly happenings, prompting them to mount cameras in every room of their home. Cue falling crockery, shifting furniture, the occasional hint of a face in the shadows, and a soporific sense of plotlessness periodically interrupted by a loud noise.
If science is a way of objectively understanding the world around us, then perhaps science fiction is a means by which to filter such knowledge through the lens of human subjectivity. While traditional thinking has pitted science and religion as philosophical antitheses, both strive to overcome the logistical impasse of human purpose: why are we here? The greatest science fiction operates as an existential tome, conferring unto its readers a deeper appreciation of the human condition, and the fact that we are all lost souls floundering in a sea of our own insignificance. Its elliptical and obtuse confrontation of this quintessential aspect of humanity is what continues to make Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey the genre’s defining work for many. The same broad thematic scope informs Beyond the Black Rainbow, a film so unflinchingly ambitious in its imagery and cinematic aspirations as to make it among the greatest works of science fiction to emerge in Kubrick’s wake.
Sometimes Wes Craven makes films with serious intention; you can tell because they usually have something to do with either subverting the classic family unit or nightmares. Then there are the ones he makes with a smirk on his face. Deadly Friend is the latter, and the smirk is undeniably infectious.
It’s almost not fair. While I’m not alone in this, it’s not everyday a hardcore film lover can say they’ve been waiting, literally, three years for a movie to see the light of day with a straight face. It’s not every day you can tell a fellow flick-stick or even just a regular movie viewer that the reason for such a long delay IS NOT due to horrible screen tests or “unfinished special effects”.
The faceless killer has been a staple of the horror genre for as long as there have been heroines trying to escape them. The formidable shape of an unidentifiable stalker speaks to our fears of the unknown and allows us to project whatever horrors we can muster onto their adaptable and mysterious psyche. Often these villains are explained to death (literally) either by the end of the film or at least by the third or fourth sequel. Although the unknown is and will forever remain the ultimate universal fear, perhaps the narrative trick of having your villain represent that fear has become old hat, as seen in the sometimes interesting, but all too often tedious ATM.
Premiering at Sundance in January of 2011, the upcoming horror Silent House saw the light of day just eight months after the Uruguayan The Silent House, a quick-hash remake indicative of a sinister and troubling paradigm in Hollywood horror. Indeed, The Silent House has seen little to no release any form in North America; distributors snatched up the rights to the original and fast-tracked a reproduction so quickly that most viewers are not even aware that Silent House is a remake, let alone given the choice to decide for themselves which to watch. It’s a troubling embodiment of the buffer Hollywood has erected to separate the rest of the world from the American market and to capitalise upon the originality of foreign productions.