Samuel Brace with 3 films to watch this Halloween…
Halloween isn’t my favourite time of year. Not for any particular reason, no trauma befell me on a past October 31st, but purely because I always thought it was just kind of lame. I do love film however, and I do love Horror, of all mediums. A lot of people tend to use Halloween as an excuse to indulge in a frightening movie, why one would need an excuse for such a thing is beyond me, but alas this excuse appears to be a valid one, and if this encourages you to watch some excellent cinema then that’s just swell. So here is a collection of three movies that fall under the horror umbrella, three films that are not just tinged with fright but also contain drama and components of romance; twisted romance but romance none the less. If you haven’t seen these particular films, I hope you enjoy them, if you have then this might be good chance to go back and watch them again, they really are quite good.
Deadgirl is an odd movie, well, actually all of these movies are odd in their own way, but Deadgirl, directed by Marcel Sarmiento & Gadi Harel, really takes the cake. I first watched Deadgirl in bed, late at night, during an Easter break from University if I recall. I went into this film not knowing a thing about it and this might be the absolute best way to consume this movie, but don’t let that stop you from reading the rest of this article.
Deadgirl tells the story of a young High School boy who explores an abandoned asylum when he really should be at school. I connected with this young man (played by Shilo Fernandez, played very well I might add), he was lost at school, he had a few friends but wasn’t particularly happy, he was disengaged in class not because he was dim but because he was bored, his attention was always somewhere else. I was with this kid, I was on his side from the start — I think most people would be. Things start to get twisted however soon after he and some friends discover a girl imprisoned within the bowls of the asylum, a girl that can’t die. Everything gets uncomfortable from here on out, all the boys involved with finding this girl become infatuated with her, to varying degrees. Shilo’s character remains the most pure in his affections, he falls for her, while his friends become ravaged with lust, lust that they fail not to act on.
Deadgirl isn’t the scariest film ever, not even close, but its insidious nature, incredibly unnerving atmosphere and narrative make this film undeniably frightening. You won’t be jumping out of your seat but you will find yourself fidgeting in your chair at what unfolds and judging the characters for the unscrupulous behaviour they indulge in. I think it’s safe to say this film will be divisive amongst you — a pattern all three movies might share — but if you let the film wash over you there is a lot to enjoy and an equal amount to disturb you. Its ending is also killer. It’s seriously good. I’ll always remember it.
Jack & Diane (2012)
Right off the bat, I have to tell you, I really love this film, I mean, I really do. I don’t just love it when thinking about horror movies I like but as a film in general that has quickly become a permanent source of my affection. Directed oh so gently by Bradley Rust Gray and written even more tenderly by the same person, Jack & Diane will catch you off guard, as it did for me early on last year.
Jack & Diane is about… well, it’s about a girl named Jack (played by Riley Keough) and a girl named Diane (played by Juno Temple — be still my beating heart). This is a love story more than anything, a story about Diane’s overwhelming feelings for Jack, feelings that reveal themselves to be far from her control. The film takes place one summer when Diane stays with a relative in the city. Diane soon meets Jack and this is when the horror begins, but its horror in the most delicate and romantic guise possible. This film is really all about control, not just over yourself but over those that you love, and how you go about dealing with an emotion that becomes all consuming. Diane suffers from nose bleeds throughout the movie, signifiers that something is not quite right with this young lady, a signifier that soon manifests into something else — which I won’t spoil here — but it’s truly frightening, no matter if you take what is happening literally or as more of a metaphor to the themes on display. There is some gruesome goings on here, but there is even more beauty to counteract it. What I love most about this film are the performances by the two leads combined with the awkward uber naturalistic dialogue given to them. This is an awkward couple made up of two people who don’t really know how to talk, constantly struggling with their words as they fall deeper into each other. It’s really wonderful to witness, it’s actually kind of sweet, but as the film goes on, Diane soon reveals herself to be an abyss, one that both Jack and the audience can’t help but get sucked into.
You might watch this film and wonder why it was included in a horror list, and you wouldn’t be completely wrong for thinking that. It is technically a horror movie but that really is the last of the three genres it falls into. I do however think it would be a perfect addition to your Halloween binge list, perfect when included in this very collection, but also a wonderful way to offset any hard horror movie you may have just partaken in. Give this one a chance, it’s really neat.
It Follows (2014)
This is the entry in the list that the majority should be on board with. It Follows, directed by David Robert Mitchell, is not only the newest film here but indisputably the most adored. There was a lot of hype surrounding this particular movie upon release, too much it turns out; it really had no chance of living up to such extraordinary heights, but this is an excellent film none the less. This is a film, like the two we’ve just discussed, that fits into this disturbed, horror, romance bracket, and also like Deadgirl and Jack & Diane, that emphasise silence over noise and atmosphere over jump scares. I picked these particular three films for a reason.
It Follows, again like the two others on this list, is about kids of high school age, kids that are perhaps slightly detached from those around them. The characters on display here (led by Maika Monroe) find themselves gripped by an unrelenting menace that seems impossibly to escape, a menace that is quite different from the usual horror threat. Maika’s character Jay is an attractive young lady that basically becomes infected with the worst STD one could possibly think of. After being attacked by her date she becomes the host of a supernatural curse that relentlessly pursues her until she passes it on to another. The only way of passing it on however is to have sex. So that’s a pretty rad and interesting premise, but the story and scares available here are not what make this film worthy of your time. It’s the energy or rather the patience afforded to telling it’s tale that sets it apart. It really takes its time in getting you from A to B, something many millennial might turn off at, but if you are willing to stick around you will most certainly be rewarded. This film revels in the quieter moments, the silent stares and one word answers. Knowing that the horror is out there, somewhere, makes these peaceful passages all the more creepy, and it’s executed fantastically.
Again, you won’t be screaming at the TV with fright, there isn’t an asinine amount of gore to be drenched in, but this is a damn good movie and a damn creepy one that offers intrigue to those that are open to it. It Follows isn’t the GREAT world beating horror flick that it was made out to be, but it is truly excellent and unequivocally worthy of your time this Halloween, or on any night before or after.
Between this, Deadgirl and Jack & Diane, those with the sensibilities required will be in for quite a treat, a few scares and will most likely come away with an appreciation for a different type of scary movie. Horror can be found in all kinds of places, these three films are no doubt evidence of that. So check these movies out, surprise your friends and loved ones with some different choices this year. And if you don’t like them, just yell at me in the comments for ruining your Halloween. I won’t be sorry though, and ultimately, I think don’t think you’ll be either.