Shocktober: Day 25

Them (2006)

Another last minute Shocktober pick, selected for the fact it’s only a couple minutes long. Okay, a little more than a couple minutes. Them—not to be confused with the movie about giant ants—runs a lean mean 74 minutes. At least an hour of this is spent running around a house from intruders and screaming and crying. Not really something I’d normally be interested in. There has to be hundreds of home invasion gone awry horror movies. What separates Them is its pure minimalism and deeply disturbing yet deeply satisfying twist.

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Shocktober: Day 24

Shutter (2004)

Before Shutter, I had never seen a Thai film. I’m not sure I could even tell you what one looked like. Ong-Bak, maybe? Does The Hangover Part II count? Ha, just kidding, I know it does. Though I had no idea what to expect from Shutter, which turned out to be great because it totally took me by surprise. I loved almost everything about this film. From the great gimmick of only seeing a ghost via a camera and photos, to the film’s mystery, right down to the decayed design of the spirit itself. Apart from maybe a few too many jump scares I don’t have issue with Shutter. This film is a unique and continually unnerving experience, just like The Hangover II.

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Shocktober: Day 23

A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003)

Since I can only go off the way John has described the kinds of early ’00s Asian horror films he’s been talking about in the last few entries (I haven’t seen any of them), I’d say South Korea’s A Tale Of Two Sisters probably falls into same category of horror movie as something like Dark Water or Ringu.  What we have here is a film that could be described as a dark psychological drama, and yet has an undercurrent of the macabre that gives its familial anguish an extra amount of punch.  And though I’m probably a tad bit more familiar with modern Korean cinema than horror movies from that part of the world (though that’s not saying much), A Tale Of Two Sisters‘ nimble mixture of elegance and ugliness has me wishing I wasn’t such a dummy when it comes to these kinds of movies. Continue reading

Shocktober: Day 22

Dark Water (2002)

If I have learned anything from this year’s Shocktober, it’s how underrated Asian horror cinema is in western culture. Most of us were aware of it in the 2000s due to The Ring and other American remakes, but I don’t think enough of us, even today, appreciate what those films accomplished. Films like Ju-On: The Grudge and Ringu are some of the best horror films of the last twenty years, and they did so by basically inventing a new genre. A slow and brooding genre, filled with emotional trauma—usually based around a family tragedy— and done on shoestring budgets. These films were dependent on character relationships more than any horror films that preceded them or came afterwards. Of course, like any genre, Asian horror (specifically Japanese-Horror) has its downfalls. Some might consider these films boring, more dark dramas than horror films. Whatever the case, they remain in a league of their own. So let’s dive into another one of these trailblazers with Dark Water.

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Pitching Tents 14: Scary (Featuring Paul Otteni!)

We interrupt your usual Shocktober coverage with… Well actually this fits in pretty well with those posts. Because after months, years, a lifetime of watching horror movies, us here at Mildly Pleased have a pretty good idea of what the market’s like, and what the market lacks. So come down into our deep, dusty dungeon for a delightful discussion of four freaky films that don’t exist yet, but someday could. What a disturbing thought!

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Shocktober: Day 21

Pulse (2001)

Am I allowed to phone in a Shocktober post?  I know John has often admitted to not entirely giving his best effort to an occasional Shocktober entry or two, which is totally understandable considering reviewing this many movies in such a short amount of time is quite a task.  Hell, even reviewing the amount of movies I have to review (which isn’t that many) can sometimes feel like a chore, and it especially does with a movie like Pulse.  Not because it’s especially bad by any means (it actually has some sequences that are quite arresting), but because it has a lot of things that didn’t hold my attention story-wise and a few things that are just plain silly.  Most of this silliness stems from the fact that a lot of this movie deals with the internet circa 2001, which of course is an inherently fun conceit, but at the same time there are actual moments in this movie that are genuinely well-executed.  So it’s this weird thing where the movie isn’t stupid enough to be fun, but also isn’t cohesive enough to actually be all that compelling. Continue reading

Shocktober: Day 20

The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

It’s really too bad Guillermo del Toro didn’t get to make those Hobbit movies. That’s kind of been the trajectory of his career lately, as he had to walk away from that big franchise, then his game was cancelled, then Pacific Rim 2 was put on the shelf and Hellboy 3 will still probably never happen. Apparently studios or executives or somebody doesn’t trust del Toro with big budgets anymore. This is tragic, because I can think of few other directors who have such respect and reverence for their material. And no one does a dark fairy tale better.
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