TOP 10 spookiest scenes in 2017 horror films (so far)

Hey guys, happy Friday the 13th!

Last year, to make a Friday the 13th special, I wrote a reflection upon the Jason Voorhees movies formula. I don’t really like that post anymore, thus I decided to swap tone this time around.

As a result, I came up with a list of the top 10 most frightening scenes that we’ve seen in 2017 horror movies. Unfortunately, I’m not easily scared by films, but these sequences were kind of impactful. Just to let you know, I didn’t take into consideration the ‘unsettling’ or ‘disturbing’ moments, otherwise I should have had to make a top-50 list…

10 She’s staring at you!Get Out. Chris, the lead character, is investigating on some creepy mystery revolving around his fiancé’s parents. As the good photographer he is, Chris picks up the camera to check on the family black maid when… boom! He frames her scarily staring back at him with empty eyes. This is a very impactful jump-scare that benefitted from the unsettling atmosphere created throughout the movie.

9 Jump-scare under the stairAnnabelle: Creation. Even though I’m not too keen on this sequel, when the cute Linda wonders around the creepy mansion the movie is set in, a loud noise in the dark makes the audience jump on their seats. The secret behind this well-executed jump-scare lies in its timing: Sandberg, the director, anticipated the moment and, therefore, the effect came unexpected and effective.

Dark Tapes8 Demon first apparition The Dark Tapes. This surprisingly good horror anthology finds a highly enthralling way to link four stories together: a fifth tale in which something is going downhill pretty fast for a bunch of paranormal investigators. The tension, built before the first segment started, turns the apparition of a hideous demon into a true nightmare when the storyline of the investigators is picked up again.

7 Rule #1: basements are not safe Cut Shoot Kill. This meta-slasher works perfectly as a psychological thriller, with no need for graphic sequences. That’s why, when the female lead ventures her way through a creepy basement, the discovery of a mutilated and tortured crew member (who, by the way, is still alive) gets under your skin and makes you startle quite a bit.

Killing-Ground- 36 She’s still alive! Killing Ground. Lately, Aussie movies are knocking it out of the park and this hunting game chiller is no exception. As a young couple camping by a lake discovers the remaining of a butchered family, the boyfriend nearly gets a stroke (and we did as well!) when he finds out a woman is still alive (barely…).

5 Rape attempt A Cure for Wellness. I love this movie, despite its last 20 minutes or so being completely and utterly absurd. However, towards the end Verbinski’s film betrays its tone and makes room for a rather scary scene that nobody saw coming, instead of keeping up with the mysterious and unsettling vibe developed throughout. I could have done without this sudden change of tone, but said sequence remains quite effective.

4 Pennywise and GeorgieIT. The opening scene sets the tone for you. Although this highly anticipated King’s adaptation isn’t properly scary, when the audience is introduced to Pennywise, the clown’s subtle creepiness makes us prepare for the worst, but his violent and gruesome assault to the little Georgie is something not easy to be forgotten.

EyesofMyMother_Trailer2.jpg3 Killer close-upThe Eyes of my Mother. Nicolas Pesce’s debut is a chiller that sticks with you for a long time. Awesome movie, if you ask me. One that doesn’t rely on tiresome horror tropes or conventional storytelling: however, when shit hits the fan, a nightmares-inducing close-up makes the viewer scream and, most importantly, the audience will constantly be thinking about the killer’s insane facial expression. Great stuff!

2 Krypt Creeper Gerald’s Game. Everything about the latest Mike Flanagan’s film is unsettling as hell. However, a specific character is, arguably, pure nightmare material: its abrupt, clear apparition on camera gives the audience a jump-scare for the ages, within a movie that otherwise refuses to rely on any horror cliché.

Evil-Within-6201 This would scare the devil The Evil Within. Unconventional to its core, this film utilises both horror tropes and original ways to frighten the audience. In a fully climactic grand finale, the movie ends with a bloodcurdling sequence in which one of they main characters attends a freak show. Out of the blue, a terrifying womanly creature appears on stage: the practical effects used to give it life are so well done that’s hard not to think it’s real. Which is why The Evil Within takes the cake as the film featuring the spookiest scene in 2017… so far!

Cheers!

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Saviours of the genre? A reflection upon horror cinema and its current, brightest filmmakers

Whoever has the tiniest interest in cinema would have noticed that the 2010s have seen the release of many interesting horror films.

After the prolonged drought of good Hollywood horror flicks in the early 2000s, many have finally grasped the endless opportunities offered by this chameleonic and polyhedral genre.

The search of innovation within horror cinema is, finally, experiencing a peak that, in my opinion, hasn’t been on the horizon (to the current extent) since the 80s. Eventually, production companies on one side, and audiences on the other are giving dignity to a genre which has been reduced to mindless entertainment for teenagers for a far too long time.

Sure, part of this ‘horror renaissance’ derives from the overall good quality of formulaic and conventional films and, as a result, we are witnessing a true outbreak of cinematic universes expansion. From a non-posh perspective, though, this is a quite positive feature: on one hand, films such as Insidious (2010) and The Conjuring (2013) shaped mainstream tastes for the better; on the other, they tangentially made room for unconventional and brave indie horror that might become the classics of tomorrow.

Therefore, for this blog post I decided to focus on those promising filmmaker who, working mostly on horror flicks, are redefining the genre and providing us with worthy cinematic experiences. Since I dedicated to him an entire series of posts, you won’t find James Wan in the list, although his name was worth mentioning.

If you have any disagreement or think any other director should be on this list, please let me know in the comments section below. And do not get mad at me if your favourite newcomer filmmaker doesn’t appear on this post! Cheers!

Horror directors 1David F. Sandberg (Sweden, 21 January 1981) – the Swedish James Wan’s doppelganger has debuted with two box-office blasts: Lights Out (2016) and Annabelle: Creation (2017). These movies feature conventional plot and jump-scares, which, however, are executed in a mature and wise way. Characterised by beautiful cinematography and compelling protagonists, Sandberg’s flicks please mainstream audiences to a level only Wan has been able to reach. Although I’m not a big fun of his work, its impact on the genre is undeniable and Sandberg is giving viewers something they weren’t used to anymore: pure good quality entertainment.

Horror directors 2Sean Byrne (Australia, [sorry, his bio is untraceable]) – after his acclaimed debut (The Loved Ones, 2009), Sean Byrne’s Devil’s Candy (2017) sets itself as one of the surprises of 2017. This heavy-metal horror flick has confirmed the director’s talent and given us hope for his next steps in the horror industry. Featuring unusual storytelling and surreal imagery, Byrne’s films simultaneously shy away from being overly artsy or pretentious. Let’s see what other treat he’ll provide us with!

Evil Dead - 2013Fede Alvarez (Uruguay, 9 February 1978) – with the blessing of no one less than Sam Raimi, the Uruguayan director made his feature-length debut with the surprisingly good Evil Dead (2013), a reboot/reimagination of the classic The Evil Dead (1981). Three years later, Alvarez strengthened the respect he earned thanks to the horror/thriller Don’t Breathe (2016). The guy has proved to be highly chameleonic, being able to create two extremely intriguing films which rely on very different themes (gore for the first, suspense for the latter), while conveying emotions through well-written characters and utilising unconventional camera-work. Muy bueno!

horror directors 4Jordan Peele (USA, 21 February 1979) – I know, I know. The comedian/telly producer/actor has just made his directorial debut and, so far, he’s made only one movie. Still, this little movie is the most appreciated horror flick on RottenTomatoes since… well, ever! Get Out (2017) represents a nice, innovative take on the genre. Peele’s film is something rarely seen before: a combination between comedy (a lot), horror and social commentary. All of that is accompanied by great cinematography, astounding camera-work and excellent acting. If Peele decides to keep on making horrors, mainstream audiences are in good hands.

Horror directors 5.jpgAdam Wingard (USA, 3 December 1982) – with You’re Next (2011) and V/H/S 1 and 2 (2012-2013) he earned praises, whereas Blair Witch (2016) and Death Note brought him down to earth. Regardless, Adam Wingard is a make-or-break deal that’s giving small twists to the genre. Very eclectic and innovative, his direction ranges from one sub-genre to the other: from the slasher to the anthology to the horror/thriller to the paranormal. Especially the first two I just mentioned benefitted a lot from Wingard’s talent, who’s adding unpredictability to these sub-genres. Unfortunately, he seems to having abandoned the horror route in favour of summer blockbusters (he’s set to direct the upcoming Godzilla vs Kong film). Come on Adam, go back to your horror passion: money doesn’t buy happiness! Well, it does… I think.

Darren Aronofsky (USA, 12 February 1969) – here I’m cheating a bit, since Aronofsky didn’t direct only horror flicks. However, his inclusion on this list is due to my unconditional love for the guy as a filmmaker and, more importantly, all the horror/disturbing elements included in his films. If we all close our eyes and pretend Noah (2014) never happened, we’ll realise that Aronofsky can’t make anything bad. Whatever he puts his hands on, turns into cinematic gold.

horror directors 6.pngRequiem for a Dream (2000), a surreal and disturbing journey within drugs and compelling addicts, and Black Swan (2010), an outstanding psychological horror about the ballet world, give me hope for Aronofsky’s upcoming Mother! This is, most likely, a horror drama on the trail of Rosemary’s Baby (1968) – it could even be a reimagination of Polanski’s masterpiece – which has the potential to be excellent. In general, Aronofsky always delivers uneasiness through its movies, being able to add a surreal touch to them while, simultaneously, avoiding the artsy-fartsy, pretentious route. I might be wrong (or you might disagree with me), but I consider Aronofsky’s work a constant journey in the real-life horror, that one connected to our fear of drugs or unhealthy obsessions. Which means that if you’re a mama boy (like myself… ops!), Mother! would likely change your perspective!

Mike Flanagan (USA, 20 May 1978) – from a guy born in the wicked town of Salem, Massachusetts, becoming a horror director seem a natural route. All jokes apart, Flanagan is a sort of miracle man: after his 2011 debut (Absentia) received a quite cold welcome, Oculus (2013) knocked it out of the park, but was clouded by some foreign horror masterpieces that came out the same year nonetheless.

horror directors 7Both his first feature-length films revolve around the supernatural element. However, Flanagan utilises demons and ghosts to tell human stories and dig into his characters’ feelings and emotions. Yet, he plays with the audience’s expectations by creating the set-up for jump-scares and then avoiding them, whilst making us frightened in much subtler ways.

Nevertheless, I named him ‘miracle man’ since he’s been able to direct a script based on a board game and turning it into something highly watchable: Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016) is a fairly enjoyable horror movie, much deeper than the story itself deserves. Also, in comparison to its predecessor Ouija (2014) – a shameless cash-grabbing train-wreck – Flanagan’s sequel looks like a masterpiece. Clever and competent, Flanagan will likely deliver other great films to both mainstream and underground audiences in the future. I challenge you Mike, your next film should be a found-footage about alien abduction: let’s see if you can turn that into a quality product!

horror directors 8Nicolas Pesce (USA, 18 January 1990) – the golden kid has nailed it with his first and – so far – only feature-length film: The Eyes of my Mother (2017) is perhaps no masterpiece, but will certainly develop a cult following. This black-and-white artsy horror/drama is almost flawless and the young director behind it handled story, cinematography and characters in such a unique, mesmerising way. Hired to direct the next Grudge film, I can only hope the production company behind the project will give Pesce as much freedom as possible, so that the guy could make his unconventional touch emerge in a Hollywood film. Make it black-and-white, Nick!

The Spierig Brothers (Australia, 29 April 1976) – did I save the best for last? I don’t know, it’s up to you to decide. In my opinion, the Aussie twins are among the best horror filmmakers working today. Their debut was the extremely underrated Undead (2003), a low-budget alien-zombie horror comedy – yes, I’m serious – which provided quite some gore, laughter and great entertainment.

However, it’s with Daybreakers (2009) that I fell in love with Peter and Michael Spierig: I talked about that film in my underrated movies series, so I won’t come back to it again, for the moment. Let me just say that their attempt to a non-horror flick (Predestination, 2014) is probably the best sci-fi film of the 2000s, at least in my opinion.

horror directors 9.jpgThe Aussie directors will make their Hollywood debut with Jigsaw (27 October 2017), the eight chapter of the Saw franchise which will have the hard task of reinvigorating a storyline that has been messed up throughout the years to the point of becoming tiresome and barely watchable. Also, in 2018 they will release Winchester, a supernatural horror drama that sounds really promising.

All in all, the Spierig Brothers are excellent at crossing genres and unconventional plots, which is what I really like about them. If with Jigsaw I’m a bit sceptical (for the first time in their career they didn’t write the script), Winchester is already one of my most anticipated movies of 2018. I honestly don’t think they will ever make any bull dust!

I know this post is already long enough, I apologise for that, I just want to add that the topic of this list is, obviously, the directors. In the 2000s there have been single movies worth watching and praising; nevertheless, these films came, mostly, from out of Hollywood: UK, France, Japan, Australia and Korea gave us many amazing flicks. However, here I decided to focus on those directors who might change the Hollywoodian attitude towards horror cinema, making mainstream films you can actually care for, instead of just wasting your money with. I hope you’ll like it, cheers!

The hunting game we were waiting for. Killing Ground – movie review

Has anyone seen Eden Lake (2008)? It is that British movie starring Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender go on a camping trip by the lake and get assaulted by a group of twisted teenagers who turn their love escape into a terrible nightmare.

Well, Killing Ground, written and directed by Damien Power, is the Australian counterpart of Eden Lake, although better executed and acted than the already very good English film.

Killing-Ground- 3By the clever usage of non-linear storytelling, Killing Ground tells the story of a couple who go to a remote location to find peace and spend a nice weekend away from the civilisation. Soon their expectations will be let down and they’ll find themselves immersed into a mortal hunt-and-pray game where the odds are extremely adverse.

Simultaneously, though, the movie tells another story, which happened before the main one.

Other than the particular technique utilised to tell the events (never left to exposition, instead always for the viewer to figure out), Killing Ground is a straightforward horror thriller which runs for 89 minutes without a single dull moment or a sequence that makes you feel relieved.

Everything but pretentious, this flick is a pure adrenaline ride filled with compelling characters (villains included), drama, action and an overall sense of dread and tension.

The biggest achievement Mr Power reached in this movie consists of the ability to give a new look to something we have seen before tons of times.

The direction is immaculate. The editing, only external interference to the story, perfectly connects the two storylines and is refreshingly clean and subtle. The soundtrack – or I better say lack thereof – is barely noticeable but fully part of the story development.

Yet, the restraint location and limited use of actors makes for compelling characters in Killing Ground. Every single one of them is well-rounded and, pleasantly surprising, none of them is formulaic.

Shot entirely on location, the movie doesn’t use CGI throughout the entire runtime. The practicality behind every special effect cooperates to create a greedy atmosphere, despite a colourful and vivacious cinematography.

Killing-Ground 1I found myself looking in pure delight at the lack of black and white in this film: the good guys are not heroes and the villains (although fairly depicted as sadistic psychopaths) appear normal to the rest of the community and, therefore, to the audience in the scenes where they are dealing with other people.

Unapologetic without being gruesome or needing to show extreme violence on the screen, Killing Ground ends with a blast. The grand finale is, indeed, very fulfilling (something I experienced only with Get Out this year) and profound enough to make you reflect upon it for a while.

Killing ground 2Killing Ground is a film that tells a story we’ve seen tons of time, but it does it including an unconventional form of storytelling and clever twists every here and there, proving that a movie can be (incredibly) good without overturning schemes.

With Killing Ground, Australia proves once again to be a fertile ground (sorry about the pan!) for great horror entertainment. I honestly can’t wait to see what Damien Power will come up with next. Meanwhile, I strongly recommend to watch this film, one of the best I’ve seen the whole year. Cheers!

Jordan Peele’s debut is a breathlessly clever, original and entertaining mixed bag. Get Out – movie review

 

Get Out is written and directed by the renown comedian Jordan Peele at his directorial debut.

 

The movie tells the story of the black photographer, Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), who goes for a weekend trip with his wasp (no, not the bug) girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to meet her parents, who have no idea Chris is black.

 

However, the interracial relationship is not a big deal for them, nor for any of the other family member who chat with Chris in the most “liberal-racist” way, if this definition makes any sense. Everybody is complimenting him and claiming to be big fan of Obama, Tiger Woods and a bunch of other famous black people.

 

get-out-keith-stanfieldNevertheless, this awkward behaviour develops alongside with an unsettling feeling which makes Chris feel increasingly uneasy throughout the movie, partly because of the excessive attention he gets, partly in regards to the weird attitude of the servants – black workers who seemingly come from another era.

 

I am deeply pleased to say this movie is an absolute blast, a mixed bag – in the most positive way possible – of true suspense, thrills and comedy. Yes, because Get Out is the definition of entertainment in modern cinema, being able to combine different genres subtly and successfully.

 

Speaking of comedy, Rod Williams (Lil Rel Howery) – Chris’ best friend and TSA Officer – steals the entire show every time he’s on screen. As a comic relief, his performance is hands down one of the best I’ve seen the whole year.

 

get-out-trailer-2In addition, Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington is fantastic, being able to carry the story on his own shoulders. Fun fact: Mr. Kaluuya is a Londoner whose accent in the film was perfectly American. You nailed it my friend.

 

untitledHonestly, one of the greatest strengths of Get Out revolves around the cast: nearly everyone was perfectly picked and gave a compelling performance. Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener) as Rose’s parents simply knocked it out of the park by combining a tender appearance with a dreadful vibe. Rose herself (Allison Williams) was perfect for her role, as well as “the blind man” – whom I can’t talk about because I don’t want to spoil anything.

 

Perhaps, the only character I haven’t bought into was Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones), whose acting is unnecessarily over-the-top and annoying beyond the limits.

 

Other than his performance, I only have a couple of tiny issues with Get Out, the first one being the soundtrack, which is very eerie and unsettling but also generic and formulaic.

 

Moreover, there are a couple of jump-scares (well-crafted ones, in all fairness) which serve no purpose other than startle the audience, without moving the story forward.

 

Nonetheless, I believe Peele has included them in his film to appeal to the mass audience that is used to conventional scares and shivers. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not necessarily a negative, since thanks to this stopgap Get Out will probably be appreciated by everybody.

 

Peele has also proven himself as an interesting visual director, being able to use long, wide takes to expand the scenes. For instance, to my knowledge the opening scene has been realised with only one take, no cuts or editing. Gotta appreciate that!

 

What I also found positively surprising is the subtleness utilised to introduce to sub-layer of racism. This is not the kind of film where the bad guys are disgusting racist douchebags, nor the John Carpenter’s They Live type of deal. On the contrary, the racism Peele is referring to is the one that hides deep inside the consciousness of liberal people, those who are willing to say anything to prove themselves as everything but racist.

 

Also, the ending is fulfilling and flawless, mostly thanks to the cleverness and strength of our main character Chris, who’s miles away from your average horror movies’ hero.

 

In conclusion, Get Out is a great, fast-paced thriller surrounded by horror elements and a very well-executed social commentary, enriched by comic elements lighting up the darkness of the story. Highly recommended, guys! Give it a chance. Cheers!

 

Skull deer get outEXTRA: the trailer for this movie is something I really wanted to talk about. I usually don’t consider trailers; I try to avoid them as much as possible instead. However, I have a kind of love/hate relationship with the one of Get Out. On one hand, indeed, nearly every scene in the trailer happens within the first 20 minutes of the movie or so, which is a great market strategy. On the other hand, though, there is a brief appearance of a deer skeleton in the trailer that has no room in the movie and I hate this kind of choices, because it’s basically cheating on the audience’s expectations.

 

My most anticipated horror movies of 2017

 

Whether it’s for the cast or the director, the making-process or the story, as per usual, also in 2017 I have a few titles I’m really looking forward to seeing. You might find your most anticipated horror films on this list, you might not. In fact, this is based on my personal opinion and I hope we can still be friends even if you don’t agree with me. Cheers!

 

World War Z 2 (?) – First of all, I didn’t like the first movie and I wouldn’t be excited to see the sequel, unless the rumours claiming David Fincher to be directing it turn out to be real. For the uncertainty surrounding the direction of this movie, I decided to play it safe and not to put it in the list. Let’s see what happens.

 

insidious-chapter-4-watch-free-online-full-hd-movie-download10. Insidious: Chapter 4 (October 20, 2017 (2017-10-20)) – Despite considering the first instalment of the franchise as one of the best cliché horror flick in the 2000s, the fact that James Wan is not directing the fourth chapter makes me a bit sceptical. I still hope that Adam Robitel won’t ruin this good franchise.

 

9. The Girl with All the Gifts (20 January, 2017) – it’s the latest 28 Days Later sort of deal. In addition, this British movie tells the story of a young girl living in a post-apocalyptic world who, despite having a normal appearance, has a disease which turns her into a crazy human-eating machine. A horror-zombie background, combined with a coming-of-age story and a drama. I’m really curious to see what direction it takes. girl-with-the-gifts

 

cure-for-wellness-18. A cure for wellness (February 17, 2017) – directed by Gregor Verbinski (I don’t know if it’s a good sign) and starring talented actors such as Dane DeHaan, Mia Goth and Jason Isaacs, the film’s synopsis looks incredibly interesting and, if the concept is handled well, we might end up dealing with a great claustrophobic and realistic horror movie.

 

saw-jigsaw7. Saw: Legacy (November, 2017?) – let’s get it straight: I loved the first Saw movie as much as I hated all the cash-grabbing, nothingness-filled sequels. What makes me want to watch the 7th instalment of the franchise, then? It’s directed by the Aussie Spierig brothers, who brought on screen Daybreakers (one of my all-time favourite horror films), Undead (a brilliant post-apocalyptic horror comedy about zombies) and the amazing, mesmerising Predestination. If someone can revitalise this tiresome franchise, it’s Michael and Peter Spierig.

 

la-et-hc-get-out-horror-peele-20161004-snap6. Get Out (February 24, 2017) – a small modern town where black people passing by go missing, Jordan Peele – the comedian – at his debut as director and a mysterious, creepy trailer. Yes, I’m excited to see if something good follows up the interesting premises.

 

split-1.gif5. Split (January 20, 2017) – the great M. Night Shyamalan’s comeback… or maybe not? To be honest, I’ve seen this movie already (review coming soon) and… well, it’s directed by M. Night; it stars James McAvoy as the psycho with 23 personalities within his mind and Anya Taylor-Joy from The Witch who, hands down, is the greatest young actress working today alongside with Maika Monroe (It Follows); it features Mike Gioulakis from It Follows as the director of photography. Do you need any further reason to watch Split?

 

it-movie-poster4. It (September 8, 2017 (2017-09-08)) – I am both excited and scared about this movie. The reboot of one of the greatest horror films ever made is doomed to be either a great motion picture or a total failure. Will Pennywise be back?

 

3. God Particle (October 27, 2017) – it’s the third instalment in the Cloverfield franchise. I loved the first found-footage movie, I loved even more 10 Cloverfield Lane. Apparently, the plot revolves around a team of astronauts aboard a space station who find themselves alone after a scientific experiment causes Earth to disappear. Sounds promising? I already have goosebumps thinking about the pattern this story could take.  

god-particle-2017-hd-movie

god-particle-2017-hd-movie (2017-05-19)

 

alien-prometheus2. Alien: Covenant (May 19, 2017 (2017-05-19)) – sequel of Prometheus and prequel to the Alien saga, Covenant is a must on a ‘most anticipated movies’ list. To be frank with you guys, I don’t know if it’s going to be an actual horror or a Sci-fi film. Either ways, I’m excited to see what Ridley Scott can accomplish with this movie.

 

And my number one pick is…

 

landscape-1449749280-dark-tower1. The Dark Tower (July 28, 2017) – a Sci-fi western horror film directed and co-written by Nikolaj Arcel, based on the series of novels by Stephen King and starring the one and only Matthew McConaughey, beyond the shadow of a doubt the best actor working today. Oh man, this movie is going to be twisted, weird and blooded. I would like to be in the summer time already to go watch it straight away.