When reports surfaced saying that the production company Focus Features was cancelling screenings of The Little Stranger, it would have been safe to bet that the haunted-house horror was dead on arrival. This, combined with its avoidance of the film festival circuit, made for a flaming red flag. But this, if anything, was an overreaction, especially when its only competition in the box-office is the pungent Happytime Murders. Based on a 2009 gothic novel of the same name,The Little Stranger is a slow-contorting, lackluster end to a summer booming with breakneck blockbusters.
When I first saw the trailer for Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare (2018), I was excited at the prospect of a horror film with a premise so laughably dumb that some sick enjoyment could be taken from it. Unfortunately, Truth or Dare is yet another embarrassing, pandering, and tone-deaf horror flick, suffering from mediocre characters, inconsistent logic, and a general lack of originality.
A Quiet Place is the type of movie you see in silence through the silhouette of your fingers as you cower in your seat. From the very first emotionally charged opening scene of director John Krasinski’s first foray into the horror genre, audiences will feel invested in the story of the Abbott family. In this post-apocalyptic world, Lee Abbott – played by Krasinksi – his wife, Evelyn Abbott – played by Emily Blunt – and their three children attempt to survive by living as quietly and unobtrusively as they can. Unnamed and deathly monsters lie in wait for the next loud sound to draw them out of hiding.
Films released in the first quarter of the year are known for ranging from passable to dreadful. With these low expectations in mind, Steven Soderbergh’s Unsane (2018) still manages to disappoint with its predictable story, messy structure, and generally unimpressive cinematic style.
On a rare occasion, the passage of time helps a film age like a fine wine. Such a rare example of this phenomenon is best observed in the case of Georges Franju’s French horror film, Eyes Without a Face (1960). Released the same year that Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) was criticized for its “vulgar” shot of a flushing toilet, Eyes Without a Face is a movie that phenomenally blends emotional turmoil with the grotesque into a simple story whose unnerving aura transcends time and language. With four screenings of the film scheduled for this week thanks to the Secret Celluloid Society, now is an opportune time to sit back and re-examine a classic that deserves more mainstream attention than it currently has.
To believers of the supernatural, the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California is the remnant of an unfortunately haunted widow, while skeptics see the mansion as a monument to the power of inherited guilt. After consulting with a medium who foretold that the spirits killed by Winchester branded rifles would haunt her until her death, Sarah Winchester’s mansion became legendary for having been under construction every day of her life. The end result was a beautifully ornate mansion that once stood seven stories tall, and was filled with over a hundred and fifty rooms, stairwells and doors that lead to nowhere, and had the chaotic floor-plan of a labyrinth. Knowing this, when I heard there were plans to make a film about Sarah Winchester and her interactions with a psychiatrist, I was genuinely excited by the prospect of a horror film that blurred the line between a genuine haunting and tragic psychological turmoil.
How foolish of me to anticipate a horror film released in February.
One of the greatest tragedies that can fall on a film is being forgotten in the shadow of a remake or a reinterpretation with a greater relevance in popular culture. Such a phenomenon happens equally with both great films and terrible films, such as John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) or Rupert Wainwright’s The Fog (2005) – both of which are remakes which have overshadowed their predecessors in mainstream consciousness. Such a fate may soon fall on Dario Argento’s unnerving and influential horror film, Suspiria (1977). With a remake slated for release this year, and a screening of the recently discovered uncut version of the film coming to the Coral Gables Art Cinema, now’s a better time than ever to examine why this film from the creator of 1978’s Dawn of the Dead has developed its persistent cult following.