Chris Hornbostel and Rob Morton

The golden age of horror: Resolution (2012)

Rob: What the hell is going on? That question ran through my mind countless times while watching Resolution, Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead’s 2012 experiment in indie meta-horror. What the hell is going on? It’s not necessarily a bad question to be asking as an audience member trying to piece things together and make sense of what’s going on. It’s fun being in the dark, especially when you’re sharing that experience with the main characters who also don’t understand the strange events happening all around. But how long can you sustain that? There’s a limit to patience and a thin line between intrigue and frustration. For better or worse, Resolution constantly had me walking that line, bouncing back and forth between intrigue and frustration. It never quite answered that question in a satisfying way. What the hell is going on?

After the jump, no, seriously. What the hell is going on? Continue reading →

The golden age of horror: Paranormal Activity (2009)

Chris: If we know our horror movies, then it should be pretty easy to avoid ever living in a haunted house. For instance, we know that a haunted house needs an old, drafty abandoned place. We know they require some horribly tragic event in their past to bring back the spirits of dead human beings. Finally, we know that if things with the ghosts get too unbearable, you can just leave the house. No problems, right?

After the jump, what happens when the rules change? Continue reading →

The golden age of horror: Let the Right One In (2008)

Chris: Being the new kid in the neighborhood is tough. Will there be many kids in your neighborhood? Will they play the same games as you? How long will it take before you fit in? Just before Halloween in the late 1970s when I was 12, my own family moved into a new subdivision across town. New school, new friends, new everything. I vividly remember my first afternoon there, meeting the neighbor kids over a game of kickball. It was the kind of halting and stumbling interaction you might expect, stressful for all parties.

After the jump, and all of that without the complication of being undead Continue reading →

The golden age of horror: The Orphanage (2008)

Rob: Why not cut to the chase? I think The Orphanage is the best horror film of the past two decades. Maybe more. It has all the ingredients I personally love most in a horror movie including a haunted house, a disfigured child, and a deliciously gory close-up. Director Juan Antonio Bayona is clearly inspired by some of my personal favorites like Rosemary’s Baby and Poltergeist, probably the single most formative scary movie I saw in my impressionable youth.

I think this film is an absolute master-class in how to build tension and create fear. It’s a fascinating, intricate, and rewarding mystery. And it’s a deeply moving tragedy about a desperate mother and her lost, little boy. And it all starts with a childrens’ game.

After the jump, one, two, three, knock on the wall. Continue reading →

The golden age of horror: The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Chris: You can see it in Mike’s eyes the morning after. They fully register that something weird happened outside the group’s tent that night. Not so with Heather, who we’ve come to realize is Ahab and this documentary her white whale. She’s driven to make her movie more than anything else and is upset she got nothing on film. For his part, Josh seems bemused. Smirking, he reminds everyone about what happened in Deliverance. Mike is different though. His eyes are wide and dancing. The disturbance the night before freaked him out. He can’t understand why the others aren’t more scared.

It’s a key moment for The Blair Witch Project, as much a turning point in the movie as the unexplained noises the night before. We begin to realize that this film won’t pull punches or wink at the audience. This is a different sort of horror movie. It is a film about very real, mounting fear.

After the jump, literally scared to death Continue reading →