Shocktober Day 18: Frailty

Frailty (2001)

Frailty is a peculiar film for a number of reasons. One being that it marks the first of only two feature directorial efforts by Bill Paxton. Another being that it doesn’t entirely fit nicely into your typical preconceived notions of a mid-budget horror-thriller. On one hand, it does have a somewhat ridiculous premise (I mean, how many movies have demons as a major plot point?) And yet, it treats it’s more biblical overtones with the utmost seriousness, and despite a few pulpier moments, it comes off as this kind of father-son morality tale. Continue reading

Shocktober Day 17: Battle Royale

Battle Royale (2000)

When you watch a horror movie, it’s really hard not to imagine yourself in whatever predicament the characters are facing. That’s part of what makes the genre scary; as you empathize, you start to experience the dread as if you were the person in danger. Of course, this is a double-edged sword, in that it can really hurt a movie if the protagonists continually make decisions that you would not, turning the experience into something more frustrating or comical than terrifying. But when it’s really good, like in Battle Royale, a horror movie can have your mind racing for a better solution for its entire duration.

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Shocktober Day 16: The Blair Witch Project

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The Blair Witch Project is a hard movie to review these days, based solely on its own merits, for a couple reasons. The first being that when it was released in 1999, it had the potency of feeling like a completely new kind of horror film, with its “found footage” aesthetic. Which would be repeated in countless other films, though only Paranormal Activity ten years later would manage to repeat the zeitgeist-y success of Blair Witch. Also, it’s hard to even judge that aesthetic when it’s one that has continued to permeate our day-to-day lives, considering we’re so used to watching shaky, substandard quality video recorded through people’s phones. So for those reasons alone, it makes The Blair Witch Project a film that’s easy to appreciate rather than flat-out enjoy. Continue reading

Shocktober Day 15: Pi

Pi (1998)

“When your mind becomes obsessed with anything, you will filter everything else out and find that thing everywhere.” These words spoken by Mark Margolis’ Sol echo through Pi, the feature debut of Darren Aronofsky. It is the story of Max Cohen (Sean Gullette), a mathematical genius who becomes obsessed with finding the numerical pattern that can explain everything. Unemployed and socially isolated, Max suffers through his daily life as he fights through terrible headaches and screams at his computer as he searches for that pattern in the stock market. Unfortunately for him, he might actually be getting close to finding the number at the center of everything, feeding his obsession and bringing a world of trouble.

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Shocktober Day 14: Single White Female

Single White Female (1992)

Look. There was a lot working against me finishing this review on time (which, I, of course, didn’t). The least of which was that they took Single White Female off of Shudder before I had time to watch it in time for this month celebrating this (supposedly) great streaming service. But feeling too lazy to switch Day 14 to another film from the same time period, I nevertheless went ahead and watched Single White Female anyways. And was it worth it? Well, considering it’s the kind of finely crafted pulp that one can only hope for in a trashy thriller, I’d say yes. Continue reading

Shocktober Day 13: Manhunter

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) Manhunter (1986)

In the August of 1975, a patrolman arrested an unusual man who had been cruising around the suburbs late at night. The man had removed the front seat of his car and he had a bunch of conspicuous items, like a ski mask and handcuffs. But the man had an explanation for everything. Thankfully, Detective Jerry Thompson remembered a similar suspect and vehicle were described in a different case, and even though the man was released, Thompson began working with police in five different states to put everything together. Eventually they had enough hard evidence to put together a case and arrest the man, convicting him of dozens of murders and other heinous crimes. That man would escape prison and kill again, and eventually he was sentenced to death. His name was Ted Bundy.

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Shocktober Day 12: Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead (1985)

I saw the first Night of the Living Dead in the Nineties, when I was just a kid, too young to understand any of the movie’s themes. I watched it with my family and mostly remember being excited about the second tape that came with the movie, the parody Night of the Living Bread. I didn’t see its sequel (and the remake of that) until I was in college. I watched a downloaded copy of Dawn of the Dead in my dorm room by myself and absolutely was all about its criticisms of consumer culture and message of hope beyond all reason. Now, all these years later, thanks to the advent of (arguably too many) streaming services, I have finally completed watching the three Living Dead movies that matter.

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