With this year’s cult Norwegian hit Trollhunter, sci-fi B movie Apollo 18 and the third installment of the Paranormal Activity franchise coming up, it looks like the shaky-cam/lost footage horror subgenre is well and truly here to stay. Long gone are the days of crude, low-budget experiments: now’s the time to get it right.
Back in the days of The Blair Witch Project, the concept of a documentary-style horror film shot mostly hand-held was still a new one and although it had been attempted before it came with a fresh snuff-movie aura to it which had audiences approach these films with a cautious curiosity. Soon enough, though, the novelty wore off. The Blair Witch itself proving too shaky for most on the big screen and with only really a couple of spooky scares throughout the whole film, the subgenre’s poster child itself couldn’t sustain the momentum. The deceptively very different sequel Book of Shadows acting as a temporary nail on the subgenre’s coffin.
Several B replicas later, further attempts were made to revive the subgenre with films like My Little Eye, trying a different approach to the whole idea. The latter going for more of a Blair Witch-meets-Big Brother type of style with the cameras not necessarily vibrating on someone’s shoulder non-stop but rather stuck in awkward angles much like security cams. This was an interesting take on the whole genre and the film did do well to create some tense moments. otherwise it was, once again, a wasted opportunity as it was big on build-ups and bad techno beats but low on actual scares.
And although many will stay unaffected by Paranormal Activity, it was a genuinely good attempt at creating something not only cleverly low-budget but actually genuinely creepy. Shaky-cam horror was back on track and Paranormal Activity 2, although not as effective as its predecessor, still did very well to generate tension and jumps here and there. in between a whole array of lost footage/security cam-style horrors popped up: big budget monster movie Cloverfield, dullest X-Files episode ever The Fourth Kind, very decent Spanish horror REC, The Last Exorcism, the list goes on. It was hit-and-miss to say the least. and 2011 was no exception.
Apollo 18 had the potential to be a genuinely unnerving and frightening watch. Imagine: 2001 a Space Odyssey crossed with Alien, Event Horizon and The Blair Witch Project…on the Moon! Pretty great. Sadly, a good build-up led to disappointingly generic developments and unlikely twists. besides, how those supposedly “found” tapes got to Earth is still a question I ask myself every so often. Keeping the audience believing in the fake reality the film is trying to establish is a tough one but it seems to be the key to making a successful shaky-cam horror movie. The Fourth Kind tries every trick in the book to keep you believing in its improbable alien abductions and barring one more-or-less effective scene, the film puts a foot wrong almost every time with an over-stylised look and below-B movie acting making the whole thing feel about as real as Thor. CGI being one of the biggest faux-pas in these types of films.
Then again, there are exceptions: cartoonish CGI trolls. Proving that shaky-cam horror movies don’t have to look 100% real to be effective whether it’s with scares or for laughs. a genuinely spooky Blair Witch-style build-up soon leads to purely tongue-in-cheek entertainment in the best shaky-cam spoof out there showing that both scares and laughs can be done right in any genre. whether the upcoming US remake will bring anything more than unnecessarily expensive CGI (and/or 3D?) only time will tell. I would suggest replacing Norwegian trolls with Californian Bigfoots though.
Paranormal Activity 3 is out on October 21st.
Each October, Halloween-lovin’ extroverts flock to hauntedhouses and costume parties and pumpkin patches. Introverts watchhorror movies.
There’s a surprising dearth of wide-release horror movies comingout this month, but between rentals, special event screenings, ondemand and streaming, there are a whole lot of ways to get yourhorror fix leading up to the 31st.
Here’s our list of suggestions, whether you’re staying at home,toughing it out at a midnight screening or looking to murder aFriday night with something on Netflix streaming.
The only wide-release horror movies out this month are “TheThing,” a prequel to John Carpenter’s 1982 classic of the samename, and “Paranormal Activity 3,” the latest (and not likelyfinal) entry in the popular series.
“The thing,” now in theaters, has been mostly panned by critics,but it has its defenders. it takes place at an Antarctic researchfacility, where scientists have discovered an alien in the ice. Thealien can assume the shape of any living organism and uses thisskill to kill off the humans slowly. like the 1982 version, this“Thing” splatters gooey gore galore.
“Paranormal Activity 3,” which opens Friday and will play atadvance 10 p.m. and midnight screenings Thursday at the Grand, is abetter bet if you’re looking for something scary. this one’s a1988-set prequel to the first two films, taking us back to whendoomed sisters Katie and Kristi were little girls and the evilentity that plagues them was just getting started. Early reviewsare solid. sure, it’s more of the same — but the same is prettyterrifying.
If you’re wanting something a little more retro, you could go toone of the Grand Theatre’s Fright Fest Film Series movies. Thehaunted house flick “The Amityville Horror” will play at 10 p.m.Thursday, and the “my doll’s a serial killer!” classic “Child’sPlay” will play at 10 p.m. Oct. 27.
The Grand also will screen “Ghostbusters” at 7 p.m. Thursday andOct. 27. It’s not strictly a horror movie, but those demon bearthings are pretty scary.
Even the Ross is getting into the season. the Mary Riepma RossMedia Arts Center and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln UniversityProgram Council will screen a double feature of George a. Romero’s1968 zombie movie, “Night of the Living Dead,” and the 1964 film“The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb” at 8 p.m. Wednesday. the doublefeature is free for UNL students and $5 for faculty, staff and thepublic.
And I’m sorry to mention this, but Omaha’s Dundee Theatre isholding Friday and Saturday night midnight screenings of “The HumanCentipede II.” Dundee tweeted that it’s “sure to be one of thenastiest films ever shown in this theater.”
The biggest horror movie released on DVD this month is KevinSmith’s “Red State,” a “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”-like story about agroup of fundamentalist Christians who kidnap, torture and killthose they consider to be wicked. It’s a funny, brutal, sometimesincredibly disturbing movie.
“Scream 4” also was released this month and might be more to thetaste of those wanting light and fluffy. the movie brings back thethree principal characters for more running, screaming andstabbing. It’s not very successful at being scary, witty orculturally relevant, but it certainly has its moments.
Those looking for some good ol’ low class couldn’t get muchlower than the new-to-Blu-ray movies “Basket Case” and “ManiacCop.” In 1982’s “Basket Case,” a guy carries around a mysteriouswicker basket that holds his disfigured and homicidal brother. In1987’s “Maniac Cop,” Bruce Campbell plays a rookie cop who findshimself marked for death by a murderous police officer.
For something more high-brow, you could try either of the newCriterion Collection releases of the classic horror films “Islandof Lost Souls” or “The Phantom Carriage.” “Lost Souls” (on DVD andBlu-ray Tuesday) is a tale of science run amok adapted from H.G.Wells’ “The Island of Dr. Moreau.” “Phantom Carriage” follows thelast person to die on new Year’s Eve, condemned to take the reinsof Death’s chariot and collect fresh souls.
You can order a few still-in-theaters movies on demand throughAmazon Instant, iTunes, Vudu or Time Warner’s on-demandservices.
One of them is “The Human Centipede II,” which, well, we’re notgoing to print the synopsis of in a family newspaper. the other is“Tucker and Dale vs. Evil,” a hilarious slasher goof about a coupleof friendly rednecks (Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk) on vacation intheir cabin in the woods who get mistaken for psycho killers by agroup of preppy college students. It’s a fresh send-up of a tiredgenre, and, if you’ve got the right sick sense of humor, you’lllaugh hysterically.
Netflix Instant has a hordes of horror movies streaming thismonth. These include “The thing,” “Scream,” “The Exorcist,” “TheLast Exorcism,” “Paranormal Activity” and “Paranormal Activity 2,”“Black Death,” “The Human Centipede” and even several old VincentPrice movies.
In addition to several ghost-hunting shows like SyFy’s“Paranormal Witness” and “Ghost Hunters,” cable TV has three bonafide horror series (not counting “The Vampire Diaries”).
“Supernatural,” now in its seventh season, is on Friday nightson the CW and is about two brothers who fight, well, supernaturalstuff.
“The Walking Dead,” now in its second season, is on Sundaynights on AMC; the series follows the survivors of the zombieapocalypse as they fight brain-eating shamblers (and oneanother).
Last and least is “American Horror Story,” a new show that playsWednesday nights on FX. From the creators of “Glee,” “AHS” is adreadful and stupid but not entirely unlikable series about afamily terrorized by ghosts and leather-clad gimps.
Reach Micah Mertes at 402-473-7395 firstname.lastname@example.org. you can follow Micah’s tweets attwitter.com/ljsmicahmertes.