Tuesday, November 01, 2016

#jumpscarechallenge

During October I joined in with a '31 days of horror' event, posting a picture every day in answer to a question related to the genre. I thought it might be cool to post them here, too...

Click to enlarge!


1. Your first horror movie: I'm too old to remember my first. But here's one of my firsts, and recommended by my dad, so holds a special place in my heart. It's now a Christmas tradition to watch it! 
2. Last horror movie you watched: Just finished it and now writing a review! 
3. Favourite Universal Monster: Frankenstein's monster! I love the grisly beginnings and the tragedy of the tale. Classic. 
4. Favourite horror franchise: Despite the later ones from Romero zombie canon not being... great (I don't think I've even seen Survival) that *still* doesn't take away how immense this "holy trinity" is. As a zombie fan, I have to say the ...of the Dead franchise. 
5. Best ending in a horror film: This kind of question drives me crazy, but in general I like my horror to end on a massive fucking downer. The kind that hollows you out while the credits roll and it all sinks in. So, Eden Lake. 
6. Favourite horror remake: You gotta be fucking kidding! 
7. Most disturbing horror film: That I've seen? Probably Martyrs. And I think "disturbing" does it a disservice somewhat, as it's a powerful film with some really interesting themes. But I did also find it almost unbearably tense and brutal. 
8. Horror film that needs a reboot: I've never actually made it all the way through Braindead. Maybe if they made a new one I would?? 
9. Most anticipated horror film: I took a day off work and baked brain cupcakes for the cinema for this one. Romero's first zombie film since Day?! SUCH anticipation. And it was... okay. I'm probably due a rewatch. But getting so excited was fun. 


10. Favourite horror director: I chose two, just because. John Carpenter for his undeniable classics and contribution to the genre. Adam Wingard for what I've seen so far, and hope to see more of. 
11. Favourite horror character: I'm going with my gut, the first ones I thought of were MacReady from The Thing and Dawn from Teeth. 
12. Favourite horror soundtrack: It Follows. 
13. Best line in a horror movie: See above. It's EXACTLY what you'd say in that moment. Perfect.
14. Favourite zombie film: Dawn of the Dead (1978). A classic. Every time I rewatch to check I still love it as much, I definitely do. 
15. Favourite scream queen: Always and forever, Jamie Lee Curtis. 
16. Favourite foreign horror: So many to choose from! I'll settle for this one. Beautiful as well as bloody, a combo I really enjoy when it's done well. 
17. Best 70s horror film: The Exorcist. An absolute classic. 
18. Best 80s horror film: Best decade ever for horror you mean? I'm absolutely spoilt for choice here. But The Shining swung it just because the first time I saw it I had to turn it off, I was so scared. Honourable mentions to The Thing and Dead & Buried! 


19. Best 90s horror film: Candyman! From that chilling opening crawl onwards, this film is one of my very favourites. Honourable mentions to The Blair Witch Project, Tremors and Se7en! The 90s really weren't so bad! 
20. Best 00's horror film: I have to pick 28 Days Later. I went to see this on my own at night and came out of the cinema shaking. It's one of the best "horror in the cinema" experiences I've had. Intense, very English, and unapologetic. It's a fucking great film. 
21. (there was no 21!)
22. Best vampire film: From Dusk Till Dawn. I loved this the moment I first saw it. Gore, girls, comedy, horror, a Tom Savini cameo...! 
23. Best sequel in horror: Friday the 13th Part 2. It's all about the pillowcase. Way more scary than the hockey mask. 
24. Best slasher film: I'm cycling back to Black Christmas. It's just so good! Also this artwork is great. 
25. Best werewolf film: Could I choose any other? An American Werewolf In London. This film is as old as I am, and the effects are still pretty much everyone's favourite transformation. 
26. Best sci-fi horror: Under The Skin stayed with me for many days after watching it. Weird, sensual, sinister and heartbreaking. 
27. Best satanic film: Rosemary's Baby may have been one of the first horror films I saw, and probably one of the first that made me realise there didn't immediately need to be buckets of blood flying everywhere to be genuinely chilling. I also have a vague recollection of my dad telling me to watch it, so that's also a good thing! 
28. Best death scene: "CHOKE ON 'EM!!!".


29. Worst horror movie: I've watched some right old shit in my time, but this was one of the hardest to get through. It's effing terrible. That artwork should have been a hint. 
30. Your horror collection: It's spread across shelves, wallets, hard drives, books, action figures and 2 countries. There's no way I can get a pic. So have this as a representation 
31. Favourite horror film: This is another kind of impossible question for me. There are so many different ones that satisfy different moods. If I HAD to pick, then Dawn of the Dead. But my favourite ever film is Jaws, and that's considered horror, too. Then there's Blair Witch, that gave me my first genuinely terrified cinema experience. So many! 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Neon Demon (2016)



The Neon Demon is exactly what I was expecting. And this isn't necessarily a bad thing, although I wish it has surprised me just a little.

Much like Starry Eyes, this movie can be boiled down thus: the power of beauty, and how far people are willing to go, to get it. 

Or alternatively: the director of Drive does a horror film about models. Or, it's Showgirls meets Drive oozing through a filter of giallo? I could come up with these all night :)

Jesse is a sixteen year old newcomer model in LA. Despite her inexperience she definitely has the 'it' factor, and everyone who crosses her path can see that. As a result, she mostly glides through her days contending with fellow models, a sleazy motel landlord (Keanu Reeves!) and the unrequited affections of male and female acquaintances. As another character puts it, Jesse enters a room "and it's the middle of winter, and you are the sun".



We wonder how long this can last, however, as Jesse's success starts to taint her small town naivety and kindness. She feeds on the flashbulbs, the adoration, the fact she can "be the sun" without even trying... and she becomes something more powerful. With this ascension though, comes a greater threat of being overthrown.




Where Starry Eyes drained the colour from LA, The Neon Demon chooses the opposite approach. This film looks, appropriately, like an editorial shoot for a fashion magazine, and it feels distinctly otherworldly. It's slow and sensual, with the titular neon drenching much of its look.

This is another horror with yet another synth soundtrack... and yet I'm still not sick of them! Cliff Martinez creates sounds that perfectly match this glossy, alien world.



Most characters are fleshed out to a serviceable degree, with tropes like bitchy fellow models, cutthroat agent, clingy nice guy who discovered her, and absurdly artistic designers and photographers. Jesse herself, as well as the first "friend" she makes (a make-up artist played by Jena Malone, below left) give the viewer more to sink their teeth into - but barely. The latter in particular appears to be a story all to herself, though we are only ever given a small glimpse of it.



I don't mind a film leaving me with some questions - what a boring world it would be if everything made sense, right? - and this pill is definitely easier to swallow with the sugar coating of the stunning visual aspect. I can also see why a concentration on style over substance makes complete sense here. That said, this film would have blown my fucking mind if it had just grabbed some of those loose ends and worked a bit harder to tidy them up.

So I would warn anyone not open to a horror film heavy on the eye-candy and drowsy symbolism to avoid.

However, if like me you're a sucker for neon, high-fashion editorial visuals, synthy soundtracks and blood (so much blood) I would say get a hold of this and just let it all wash over you. I've a feeling it will benefit from a repeat viewing, too.