Shocktober: Censor

Censor (2021)

If you’re a horror fan then you’re familiar with the “Video Nasties” movement of the 1980s. If not, let me take you across the pond. In the early ‘80s, VHS exploded. Anything and everything was coming out on videotape, but in the UK there was a loophole in film classification laws. Videos could bypass a review process and be sold regardless of content. Panic ensued.

In response, the British Board of Film Certification (BBFC) set out to not only censor films but outright ban titles. The “Video Nasties” was a list of 72 titles that were banned and deemed the most explicit. This list included some now classics like; The Evil Dead, Possession, Tenebrae, and pretty much any movie by Lucio Fulci or Joe D’Amato. Censor is a film that dives into the phenomenon.

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Shocktober: Raw

Shocktober: Raw (2016)

I chose this movie basically to see whether I would want to check out Titane, the other recently released Julia Ducournau film, before the end of the year. While I don’t regret seeing Raw, it pretty definitively gives me my verdict that I do not want to see Titane. Raw is a movie that is certainly effective and pushes your buttons in all sorts of ways, but it’s just not what I want out of a movie. I mentioned in my review of Goodnight Mommy that there was a specific scene in which I had to put my hands over my eyes, and I probably spent a quarter of Raw’s running time doing that. I know that’s a pretty pathetic thing for a grown man to be doing, but Jesus Christ this movie got under my sweet delicious skin. Continue reading

Shocktober: Saint Maud

Saint Maud (2020)

What year should I attribute Saint Maud to? It was an unusual COVID casualty, originally playing at TIFF in September 2019, where it was picked up by A24 and scheduled for an early 2020 release. That obviously didn’t happen, but A24 did optimistically postpone its release to July 2020, but… let me check my notes here… thing were still really bad then, so it was pulled entirely from their schedule. To add one additional wrinkle of complexity, it was released theatrically in the UK last October, but it didn’t come out here until late January. So you could make a case this is a 2019, 2020, or 2021 movie! I split the difference and went with the UK theatrical release, but don’t be surprised if I reconsider and make it a 2021 movie when list-making season comes. That is to say this whole preamble was just leading up to me admitting that I thought Saint Maud was quite good.

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Shocktober: Relic

Relic (2020)

Familial Horror has been a dominant force in the horror genre sinces the success of Hereditary. I watched The Lodge earlier this month, which shares similar themes and ideas with Hereditary as does today’s film. What ties these films together is they highlight the fact that we are all bound by blood to our families. Which in a way means we are trapped by our families. Because no matter what you do, or say, or think about your family, they are always your family.

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Shocktober: Goodnight Mommy

Goodnight Mommy (2014)

I really had no idea that we’d end up reviewing two movies this Shocktober by the directing team of Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, since when I picked to review Goodnight Mommy, I didn’t even know who they were. I also can’t even remember why I picked this movie, but it probably was because it was on the better-reviewed side of our options and it’s often fun to go into a movie knowing as little as possible about it. Well, unless it’s The Nightingale, which I’ve avoided seeing since it sounds like I knew a lot more about it than Sean did before watching it. Anyways, despite being an Austrian production that didn’t get a huge release in the States, Goodnight Mommy feels very akin to the types of arthouse horror movies put out by A24, as it starts out very slow and contemplative before it gradually gets more and more nuts, until you’re left wondering what the hell you just watched by its conclusion. Continue reading

Shocktober: The Nightingale

The Nightingale (2018)

I went into The Nightingale mostly just knowing that it was the second feature film from Jennifer Kent, the writer, director, and creator of queer icon The Babadook. On paper, a brief synopsis of The Nightingale almost sounds like an action movie; something akin to Kill Bill or John Wick. This is the story of Clare (Aisling Franciosi), an Irish convict who sets off to get her revenge against a British officer after he commits a horrible act against her and her family. But don’t get it twisted, there’s nothing fun or satisfying about this story. Had I known that this movie had a reputation for being unflinchingly brutal – to the point that it was a common occurrence for audiences to storm out of screenings – I might not have decided to dedicate one of my precious few reviews this Shocktober to it. But the whole idea of this genre is to push yourself out of your comfort zone and I do believe Jennifer Kent is an amazing talent, so I guess I don’t regret my ignorance. That said, if you haven’t seen this one yet, you should probably know what you’re getting into.

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Shocktober: The Lodge

The Lodge (2019)

I was on the fence about picking The Lodge for Shocktober. Even now I’m not sure if I should have gone with a different choice. I didn’t love the ending to this film but there is something special about it. I think a big part of that is the film’s directing/writing team Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala. The two films made thus far by this Austrian aunt/nephew duo have both felt unique in the stories they tell and the way they tell them. Both are isolated films that claw at the psyche and both leave behind a cold lingering sensation long after watching them.

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