Chris Hornbostel and Bill Cunningham

The golden age of horror: You’re Next (2013)

Bill: Adam Wingard, Ti West, and Eli Roth are just a few of the names that are often lumped together and pointed to as the new wave of horror directors on review sites, and quite often in tones that infer they’re more savior than simple auteur. And to be honest, I somewhat agree with those who say such things. This fresh crop of directors have helped to usher in a new era in horror films. An era in which formulaic studio endeavors are losing box office receipts to smaller films with much better writing. A trend I hope continues to grow.

If I had to choose one of them as the standout for me, it would probably be Wingard. He doesn’t create anything revolutionary or genre defining, but he does create interesting characters which he then puts into situations that benefit from the amount of thought that goes into them. You’re Next is a perfect example of that skill. It’s not particularly original, nor is it particularly inventive with its mayhem (although there is a fantastic blender death). It is full of sly humor and populated with characters we don’t eventually come to view as just nameless victims.

After the Jump: piano wire: the chainsaw of the 21st Century Continue reading →

The golden age of horror: Triangle (2009)

Bill: I can’t possibly discuss the Australian film Triangle without bringing up Timecrimes, a Spanish sci fi/thriller made two years earlier in 2007. And that’s not only because of the similarity of their stories, but also because Timecrimes is a much better film overall. Triangle starts strong, sets up an interesting story, then falls down and spends the last hour of its run time trying to figure out what kind of film it wants to be. Timecrimes, on the other hand, knows what it is, knows what it needs to do, and does it with an eye towards detail that Triangle is frequently missing.

After the Jump: Carnival (Cruise) of Souls Continue reading →

The golden age of horror: Martyrs (2008)

Chris: You’re standing in line to ride an infamously crazy rollercoaster, apprehension building with each little bit you shuffle forward. You ask your friends who’ve already ridden it, “It’s probably not as bad as everyone else makes it sound, right?” You get nothing of the assurance you’re looking for. “No, it’s definitely going to shake you up like crazy. But it’s totally worth it. Trust us.” And thus I hop into my first encounter with the graphic violence and ultra gore of the New French Extremity movement in cinema.

After the jump, buckle up Continue reading →

The golden age of horror: Lake Mungo (2008)

Bill: Most ghostly tales employ themes of vengeance or just plain malevolence when trying to explain the reason for the hauntings that occur. Lake Mungo derives its impact almost entirely from its use of loss and grief as the source of any supernatural goings on. It’s a sad tale about the death of a loved one that just happens to have a ghostly twist.

After the Jump: Tragedy meets horror down the the lake Continue reading →

The golden age of horror: Shutter (2004)

Bill: The amount of exhausting labor that goes into haunting people in horror films is ridiculous. Hurling furniture across a room, tossing people around like sacks of laundry, waking up at 3am to pull the bed sheets off…seriously, that’s just too much damn work. If I were ever to become a ghost, I assure you that I would do the absolute minimum to qualify as such. If the phone was left near the couch, you might see it float in the air for a second or two before dropping to the floor when I realized South Park was back on; or you might find your bookmarks moved to different pages in a book every now and again. But good lord, expecting me to float alongside a car going over 60 mph on a highway is a level of commitment I’m just not prepared for. So the ghost in Shutter does get my grudging respect for not being as lazy as I am.

After the Jump: I just wish it starred in a better film Continue reading →

The golden age of horror: May (2003)

Bill: Lucky McKee’s solo directing debut is an odd little character study that slowly widens its lens over the course of 93 minutes to show the madness surrounding its main character. It’s often laugh out loud funny, sometimes even touching, but eventually ends on a bittersweet note that manages to be both sad and horrifying at the same time.

But one thing is perfectly clear after the first few minutes of this film: Angela Bettis is the biggest reason it succeeds.

After the jump: Why you should never trust a seamstress Continue reading →

The golden age of horror: Frailty (2002)

Chris: Frailty is a movie that feels as if it will be a stark and rather brutal rumination on faith. What do you believe? How much do you believe it? What are you willing (or unwilling) to do as part of that? As the movie’s star and first-time director Bill Paxton layer in the tension (in no small part due to Matthew McConaughey trying out his Rust Cohle persona as the narrator), we wonder–how close to a twisted Abraham and Isaac scenario will this go movie go?

After the jump, and then M. Night Shyamalan shows up Continue reading →

The golden age of horror: Audition (2000)

Bill: The first thing anyone new to the films of Japanese director Takashi Miike should do is visit his entry on IMDB. Just look at that headshot. He doesn’t look terribly interested in pleasing anyone, does he? Checking out his bio we find quotes that support that cursory observation. Miike says things like “I don’t think about the audience, I don’t think about what makes them happy, because there’s no way for me to know.”, and “I don’t make rules myself. I didn’t study enough to be able to make them. I’m too stupid.” This is a director who created an episode for a series called The Masters of Horror on Showtime that was deemed too graphically disturbing to air. The year prior to that he worked on the revival of the classic Japanese children’s show, Ultraman.

I guess what I’m saying is that when you sit down for a Miike film, you really don’t know what to expect from the man.

After the jump: Yup, not what I expected. Continue reading →