The Nightmare

 

Confession time. I love love love horror movies. Actually, that might not come as such a surprise if you know that my masters was in Gothic Studies, or that my novel is in the supernatural genre. My love affair with all things spooky began when I was a young kid, and I loved to watch old Hammer Horror movies late at night (in secret – whoops, sorry mum!) and read ghost stories and Point Horror novels. The one problem was that I couldn’t quite stomach the gore, not excessive gore anyway. I can quite happily watch the majority of vampire movies and I love the Scream franchise, but anything labelled ‘torture porn’ is definitely not my cup of tea.

 

In light of this, when I’m searching for a new horror film to watch I tend to go onto the film’s profile on IMDB and head straight to the Parental Advisory section (much to the annoyance of my husband). If there is any kind of eyeball gore or anything really hideous then I’ll give it a miss).

 

The past year I didn’t actually see many films. I kept missing them at the cinema, and I rarely really sat down and watch television much, which is probably why I’m so behind on so many of my favourite shows.

 

However, there were a few films I managed to see, and here is my pick of the best:

 

It Follows

 

 

I think the primary reason I have for enjoying this movie was the ambiguity of the time it is set in. It feels very much like the slasher movies of the early eighties, in particular, Halloween. The cars, clothes and houses all lend themselves to that era but there are devices which some of the characters use which look like shell-shaped compact e-readers. This ambiguity adds to the creepiness factor, just as the changing appearance of ‘It’ scares the characters and viewers into guessing where and who it will appear as next.

You catch ‘It’ by sleeping with an ‘infected’ person, and once you’ve been infected you can never escape, much in the tradition of The Ring/Ringu films where anyone who watches the cursed videotape must die. There is a dread which runs through films like this and leaves you with more questions than answers. And I love films where I have to go off and make my own conclusions and read up on it, because yes, I’m a geek.

 

The Final Girls

 

 

This movie is so fun. It’s like an 80s slasher version of Pleasantville. It isn’t scary, probably because it’s rated PG-13 and is a comedy of sorts, but it’s fun to spot all the slasher clichés. When I was studying Gothic films at university I read quite a few seminal books on the final girl trope – the main female character – usually with a masculine name – who has to rise up against the mindless stalking serial killer and become the last character standing. Think Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode in Halloween and Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott in Scream. I was never a big fan of the 80s slasher genre (I loved Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street, but the sequels usually got sillier and gorier) but I was a huge fan of the slasher resurgence in the late 90s, films such as I Know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legend. Those films proudly carried on the final girl tradition. Another reason I like this particular film is that it has a big heart. The bond between the protagonist Max and her mother is one of the film’s strong points, and something often lacking in these types of films (although there’s no denying that Mrs Voorhees loved her son).

 

Crimson Peak

 

 

This film is simply put, gorgeous. It is a sumptuous period piece filled with gloomy darkness and vivid colours. It is gothic perfection with a cast of respected actors. For once, the ghosts look creepy (sorry Insidious et al but your ghosts are obviously just actors in bad makeup) and although I previously stated that I hate gore, just as the red clay beneath the manor Crimson Peak flows thick, this film flows with a torrent of blood. Beautiful, romantic and yes, creepy in places. Top marks to Guillermo del Toro.

 

Honorable Mention:

 

The Nightmare

 

 

Although flawed, this documentary is worth a mention because some of the reenactments of the sleep paralysis episodes are genuinely terrifying. Sure, some of the accounts are a bit hokey and odd (in particular one where a man speaks to higher beings in a forest, and it’s insinuated that he is not sleeping at this point but actually out with his girlfriend in a wood), and there are no scientific explanations as to why people suffer from sleep paralysis, but it is interesting how so many sufferers see these ‘shadow people’ and experience similar things. Perhaps it was all the more frightening for me because I have actually experienced sleep paralysis on several occasions and know just how disturbing it can be.

 

There are still films from last year that I hope to get through, as I know this list is pretty short. But I’m looking forward to what 2016 will offer, and I’ll look at some of those upcoming films in my next post.

 

 

 

 

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