By Darin Skaggs
Over the last few years I have gotten more into the horror genre. I did watch thirty-one movies last October. That, honestly, was a bit overboard and watching horror movies can be done at any time of the year because fear is an ever present force. So because the year is half over I am going to go through the horror films that I viewed from the current year, 2016.
The first horror film I saw from 2016 is Jason Zada’s The Forest. It is the stereotypical type of movie that comes out in January, bad. There is a thin plot, Sara (Natalie Dormer) goes to search for her twin sister that has traveled in the woods where most people go to commit suicide. The movie is not very scary, it has really cheap jump scares, one including an elderly woman that has absolutely nothing to do with any part of the story running at Sara and frightening her. Somehow in this dark, twisted story the movie finds room for a romance. Other basic horror clichés happen. There is a twist near the end of the movie that you could see coming a mile away. Clearly the script is the big problem here, the acting is fine and the film looks pretty.
Robert Eggers’ The Witch is clearly the greatest horror film in the year so far. It is in no way a conventional tale, but is one of the best because what it commits to. It is a period piece where the characters talk like they are actually from the 1630’s, the costumes are incredible and it really does commit to the concept of evil as well. The first action we see the witch do is disturbing and brave knowing that it will be hard to digest for the audience. The characters are very religious, or at least the parents are. It might be saying what is wrong about religion and the people who choose to be so. For me it’s a movie about straying away from the normal and embracing your weirdness.
William Brent Bell’s The Boy is stupid. It is about a woman, Greta (Lauren Cohan) who takes a babysitting job. When she gets to the house she finds a boy she is supposed to watch is some sort of doll. The parents leave and have their own crazy plotlines. The boy figure spends its time moving its head or ending up on the ground. The movie has some scary moments, but mostly it comes across as unintentionally funny. When the plot twist comes, it makes sense. I just think the problem with the movie is that some one thought of the idea in the first place.
THE CONJURING 2
James Wan’s The Conjuring 2 is the perfect example of the good use of jump scares. The movie does so much right, Wan builds the tension so well that when a scene begins in the daylight you feel a sense of relief knowing that the scary scenes are done for the moment. Then he flips that on its head by making one the more tense scenes take place while the sun is shining through the window. The ending falls apart as it becomes all too easy to take down the supernatural being. Other than that the movie is one of the best “jump scare movies” I have seen.
PRIDE + PREJUDICE + ZOMBIES
The movie has an interesting premise. The brain dead brain eaters are wandering around a period piece that is trying to tell a love story. It doesn’t try to do anything with that premise, it thinks that it could get by with its plot alone. It is a fairly uninteresting movie with equally bland performances. Even the violence is unimpressive as these girls go around slaying zombies in their fancy dresses. They zombies just fall over and even the classic blowing off of the head is a dull visual to witness.
Jaume Collet-Serra’s The Shallows is a horror movie. It is most of all a monster movie, the monster of course being a gigantic, hungry shark. The movie is at times totally wacky and at others times kind of stupid, but I loved it. There is no way that this movie, or any shark movie will surpass Jaws as the king of that subgenre. The great part about The Shallows is that they know they will never beat it and just let’s go and has fun with its premise. In the film our protagonist Nancy (Blake Lively) heads to a secret beach that her recently deceased mother went to when she was pregnant with her, and then she goes out surfing and finds a dying whale. After trying to swim away she is attacked by the shark. Eventually, she ends up on a rock that only appears in low tide. The film then has a bunch of crazy deaths, some moments of decent comedy and wants so bad to turn the hero into an action star. The worst part is the opening set that lets us know what our character is going through and why the shark is a huge metaphor for her troubles. Besides that The Shallows is so much fun as a survival tale.