Author Topic: Chiller Countdown: A Lookback at Horror  (Read 475 times)

Terrazine

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Re: Chiller Countdown: A Lookback at Horror
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2017, 12:57:55 PM »
The Descent (2005)
I remember seeing this film on DVD when I was young and couldn't remember much besides the bat-like creatures that appeared in it. I think I got the US copy of the film too, which was a shame, as I think the original British one (that I just watched) added a bit more context with its original ending, and is altogether more effective than what could have been a generic cheap jump scare.

The Descent feels like one of those overlooked cinema gems that you would either love it or hate it. It's not exactly mainstream cinema, it's rather novel with its setting (before spelunking imitators take over in later years), and its claustrophobic atmospheric horror does require some patience on the audience's part, a factor I can't guarantee for kids this generation. You gotta admire Neil Marshall's audacity in meticulously taking time to build up the atmosphere and characters (hearkening back to the slow crawl first-half of Ridley Scott's Alien) rather than straight-up go for the killings and mayhem immediately like most horror films. The character-building is especially crucial here (which can be said for any horror film), especially when certain relationships and affairs among them tie into a bigger overarching subplot later.

There are various symbolism littered through the film, namely the women's descent into primal instincts of survival, and of course, the more obvious one, the baptism in the pool of blood to show the frightful Sarah reborn and finally in control of her life. It's debatable whether it's truly a female empowerment film as the original British ending highlighted insanity after all the pain and misery. These women might be portrayed as strong characters fighting for survival, but the film makes it clear that even if they do make it out, they would be traumatized and broken. It almost makes me want to have a continuation of this just to see a deconstruction on the way survivors in horror films are idealized as more powerful versions of their former selves when it would've been a horrible ordeal to go through in real life.

And there was indeed a continuation, but nothing as interesting as PTSD issues. A "Descent Part 2" was made, but not directed by Neil Marshall (although he did provide supervision), and it turned out to be a more generic "kill'em all" gore-fest than the more meaningful first film. This is another reason why I prefer the British ending as it leaves little ambiguity to Sarah's ultimate fate, where she finds herself at a dead end hallucinating about her late daughter. It's a tragic end, but from her serene smile during the delusion, one could also say she's finally at peace with herself.

4/5

1SO

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Re: Chiller Countdown: A Lookback at Horror
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2017, 09:15:37 PM »
Nothing to add here. The Descent is one of my favorite horror films and I've written about it around here quite a bit.

Terrazine

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Re: Chiller Countdown: A Lookback at Horror
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2017, 05:49:04 PM »
Sorry I haven't updated in a while. Real life's been catching up to me, among other stuff. Will try to continue the marathon next week.

1SO

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Re: Chiller Countdown: A Lookback at Horror
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2017, 12:35:43 AM »
Everyone Marathons at their own pace. For most, once a week is swift.

Dave the Necrobumper

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Re: Chiller Countdown: A Lookback at Horror
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2017, 05:59:33 AM »
Reading along, nothing to add.

smirnoff

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Re: Chiller Countdown: A Lookback at Horror
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2017, 12:57:15 AM »
Whew there's a movie I'd watch at the drop of a hat. I can't even remember what ending I saw. Definitely one of the most thrilling, scary, anxiety-ridden movies I've ever seen though. Mad intense!

Terrazine

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Re: Chiller Countdown: A Lookback at Horror
« Reply #16 on: February 10, 2017, 01:21:51 PM »
Hostel (2005)
It's interesting that one of the most highly-acclaimed modern horror films (aka the previous marathon entry) was released in the same year as one of the most appalled. Eli Roth is not a very popular director, maybe even more so than Michael Bay, for good reasons. While Saw (2004) was the one that kick-started the torture film genre, many felt that it was Hostel that truly got the torture-boom going - and what a tasteless and superficial genre it is. It definitely marked the final nail in the coffin of the horror genre, an abomination that should've never been created.

That being said, it's hard to deny my guilty enjoyment of this film for what it is.

I watched a lot of horror films in my younger days, and Hostel was definitely not age-appropriate for me at the time. I was merely able to grasp the surface of the plot at the time, but for what I could remember, I found myself disturbed by the fact that underground crime rings of prostitution or worse are found in the real world... and on the other hand, as much as I hate to say it, there was just some level of fascination by the idea of somewhere you could fulfill your darkest and most twisted fantasies, if you could pay for it.

But calling Hostel a mere wish-fulfillment movie cheapens its value. Eli Roth's execution is often unpolished even with his best work, Cabin Fever, but he has admirable creative intentions such as this case. A bunch of dumb Americans flaunting their egos around foreigners without regards for respect or courtesy, it's a bit of an inaccurate stereotype in this day and age, but it serves decently as a cautionary tale, and more appropriately so when you consider that most kids dealing in sex and booze are punished in horror films anyway.

Of course, it's hard to overlook the shallow shock value of the story, even with the above considered. I like that there's a lot of set-up in showing that these guys are acting like a bunch of dicks in another man's country/culture. The problem is that torturing kids for acting like dumb kids is a skewed concept. I get that teenagers often get killed in horror films for committing "sins" of sex and booze, but torture is a whole new level in touchy subjects you shouldn't flaunt around in filmmaking (just a few notches beneath using rape as drama), as it will otherwise become tasteless and superficial when you don't have a strong enough point to make.

This is where Eli's unpolished skills as a filmmaker comes in. I don't think I've seen a film of his that I could genuinely, unironically like without calling it a "guilty pleasure" or feeling uncomfortable about it. While Hostel is not nearly as terrible as the slew of torture porn to come in the following years, mostly due to it actually trying to say something considerably meaningful, it's still quite shallow in its stride and doesn't provide anything new that true horror masters of Hitchcock and Carpenter haven't already done. And unfortunately, seeing the state of The Green Inferno, it's not in Eli's nature to improve any time soon.

3.5/5
« Last Edit: February 10, 2017, 01:58:10 PM by Terrazine »

StarCarly

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Re: Chiller Countdown: A Lookback at Horror
« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2017, 01:49:34 PM »
I feel very similarly about Hostel. I, too, saw it at too young an age and it got me into a bit of a torture-porn obsession for a few years. It's a guilty pleasure for sure, just like Cabin Fever which they are inexplicably remaking.

For any Harry Potter fans - in Hostel Part II you get to see Viktor Krum's arm flayed and all his tendons and nerves and stuff.
"I've been very lonely in my isolated tower of indecipherable speech."

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Terrazine

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Re: Chiller Countdown: A Lookback at Horror
« Reply #18 on: March 04, 2017, 09:50:08 PM »
30 Days of Night (2007)
AKA - The Walking Dead: Vampire Edition.

30 Days of Night had a nice gimmick going for it. Vampires are afraid of sunlight, and here's a town without that source of weapon for a whole month. You could tell watching the film that it's based on a comic book, not only due to such a superficial gimmick, but also because of the corny dialogue and sappy drama mixed into the "survival horror". I laughed when one of the victims said, "Please, god, please," because I knew straight away that the megalomaniacal villain would retort with some anti-religious mockery. "God? No God."

It really doesn't help that the vampires were reduced to berserking zombie-like creatures from the cutting room of 28 Weeks Later, which was released earlier in the same year. The iconic thing about vampires was that they could blend in with any one of us and we wouldn't know it. Charismatic creatures of the night that come and go as they please. This "zombified" version of the mythios just doesn't suit my taste. And they don't even do anything new and interesting with this new variation of vampires, simply rehashing the whole "they live for centuries as immortals" lore, borrowing from the old material anyway! Yeesh!

That being said, the survival aspect of the story was decent, if not familiarly boring. The Walking Dead did it better (the comic was released one year after 30 Days' comic), and ironically, more successfully revived the dying zombie setting than 30 Days did with the vampire one. The cast of 30 Days did the best with the material, but with gimmicky graphic novel storylines that sell style over substance, this type of mediocrity can be expected when it's not done by Marvel or DC.

3/5

And yes, I just noticed that my post-count had hit 30. This was not intentional.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2017, 09:55:01 PM by Terrazine »

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Re: Chiller Countdown: A Lookback at Horror
« Reply #19 on: March 04, 2017, 10:55:21 PM »
It's one of those inspired ideas, but the writers show little creativity to match up with the initial spark of inspiration. The rest of the film is overly formulaic.

I wish John Carpenter was at the top of his game when this story came out. Seems like a great project for the director of Halloween, The Thing and The Fog.

 

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