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HORROR

Scary Stories to tell in The Dark (2019)

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You don’t read the book.
The book reads you.

A few years ago there was already the movie “Goosebumps“, based on the stories of R.L. Stine, with the not so funny Jack Black. The only thing I can remember about this film is that an immense amount of figures from that book series were used to make life miserable for the protagonists. Fortunately the film “Scary stories to tell in the dark” doesn’t make the same mistake. This film is based on an iconic series of stories of the same name written by Alvin Schwartz. A series of three bundles, full of scary horror short stories about dark revenge and supernatural events. Books that caused a stir among concerned parents who felt that these stories (and especially the lurid illustrations) weren’t suitable for young children. Well, that’s something that arouses my curiosity.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Horror for beginners.

I myself was a big fan of television horror series such as “The Hitchhiker“, “Tales from the crypt” and “The Twilight Zone” in the 80s. Short stories with a sinister undertone and a scary story. In short, horror for beginners. The same kind of stories are being used in this film. The movie won’t scare a hardcore horror-fan though. It’s all too soft. It’s clear that they aimed at a slightly younger teenage audience. A perfect movie for adolescent boys to watch with their first girlfriend. Hoping that the lovely girl will be so scared to death that she’ll snuggle close to him seeking protection in his arms.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Biggest fan: Guillermo Del Toro.

A big name in the film world, Guillermo Del Toro, is a fan of the original “Scary Stories” stories as well and has therefore contributed to this film by working on the script. That means that my expectations were high. The result is a well-cared-for ghost story with a hugely successful 60s setting. Subtle horror with fragments of intense moments. You could clearly feel the influence of the grandmaster himself. Of course, it’s once again situated during the Halloween festivities. The cause of all the misery may not be called earth-shatteringly original. And the way in which the problem is solved is perhaps dull. That means that “Scary stories to tell in the dark” nestles itself in the range of horror films that don’t exceed the average. But that doesn’t mean that you should avoid this film. There are too many positive things to discover for that.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Youthful acting.

First the acting of the youthful cast. They didn’t do so bad. The gang of teenagers to which Stella (Zoe Margaret Coletti) belongs is as usual a collection of personalities with their own distinctive traits. First of all, you have Stella’s best friends. The phlegmatic Auggie (Gabriel Rush) and scatterbrain Chuck (Austin Zajur). Then you have Tommy (AustinPaper TownsAbrams) the chief bully of the village. A good-for-nothing guy who joins the army to fight in Vietnam and who’s actually the cause of the teenagers ending up in the haunted house where Sarah Bellows lived. The only people who accompany them as well are Ramon Morales (Michael Garza), a Mexican boy who tries to avoid something, and Chuck’s sister Ruth (Natalie Ganzhorn). These persons are the ones who, after Stella has discovered a lurid book full of horror stories, become victims of their own fears. Personally, I thought the acting performance of Zoe Margaret Coletti and Tommy Miller were the most successful.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

A well-told ghost story.

Like I said before, the horror moments aren’t terrifying. But “Harold” the scarecrow, “The Big Toe” and “Jangly Man” were the most amusing moments from the series of creeps that showed up. Really such figures that would fit perfectly in a Stephen King’s collection of short stories. And the way the stories manifest themselves in the book was also a nice touch. And finally, I thought the overall atmosphere this film bathed in, was wonderful to see. Oh well, maybe the fact that Stella is portrayed as a misfit and her personal torments about a mother who left the family, was a bit too corny. And in terms of shock effects, it also fell short. However, if you like an entertaining and well-told ghost story, then this “Scary Stories to tell in the dark” is perfect for you.

My rating 6/10
Links: IMDB

HORROR

Z: Its Presence Is Clearly Felt In Every Dark Grim Scene

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ZZ likes it dark.

 

Movies with creepy little boys. With “Z” you also have the feeling you are getting yet another horror in which such a demonic boy is in command. Only recently I saw “The Prodigy” where the son of the house slowly develops a deviating pattern of behavior. That movie was about reincarnation. In “Z” it’s about having an imaginary friend. When Joshua Parsons (Jett Klyne) introduces his friend “Z” to his parents, they don’t really worry at first. They think it’s probably just a phase their kid has to struggle through. They even think it’s cute, in a certain way. Until suddenly school friends don’t want anything to do with Josh anymore, Elizabeth (Keegan Connor Tracy) becomes aware of strange things and finally, Joshua is also suspended from school because of intolerable behavior. At that moment, Elizabeth starts to realize that this imaginary friend has a tremendous influence on her sweet son.

 

Z

 

Just an ordinary horror, I thought.

Until halfway through the film it seems like an ordinary average horror. Including, something terrible happening to one of Joshua’s school friends (with or without Z’s collaboration) and Joshua revealing a horrible drawing in his bedroom. Believe me. Draw a black top hat on the head of this scary creature and you have the twin brother of “The Babadook” in front of you. Now is the time for Elizabeth to sound the alarm, while dad Kevin (Sean Rogerson) is still in a phase of denial and suffers from utter blindness, and get in touch with psychologist Dr. Seager (Stephen McHattie) to present the problem. The well-known tricks from the horror genre are being used in “Z” of course. So again the shady spots with scary sounds. Toys that come to life. And nocturnal wanderings through the semi-darkness (while every sensible person would turn on the light anyway) with a few jump-scares as a result. Even a creepy bath scene couldn’t fail to come.

 

Z

 

Hey, it turns out to be completely something different.

And yet the film cleverly changes the mood and shifts the focus from a scary invisible friend to a long-forgotten childhood trauma that set the whole mechanism in motion. And before you realize it, the creepy horror story has given way to a sort of psychological thriller. From here, Joshua is no longer central, but the story focuses on Elizabeth. And frankly, the way Keegan Connor Tracy gives shape to this character was of exceptionally high level. An obviously confused person who slowly but surely sinks further into complete madness as a tormented soul. The father’s character contrasts sharply with that of his family members. In the end, I found it a meaningless person and quite implausible as a father figure. On the one hand, he said nothing about the red notes from school that exposed Joshua’s misconduct. On the other hand, he’s blind with anger when hearing that his son has been prescribed medication without his knowledge. Ah, as always in horror movies, it’s usually the fathers who navigate through the story carefree and never notice anything suspicious. It’s usually the mother figure who experiences strange sensations and concludes that disaster is imminent.

 

Z

 

It’s not such a scary movie.

I can’t say the film “Z” was really scary. Maybe deliberately not depicting the phenomenon “Z” explicitly, does cause some tension. A cleverly applied gimmick so the viewer’s imagination has to do most of the work (with a terrifying wall drawing as inspiration). Ultimately, it’s mainly the mood that’s essential in this film. In hindsight, the film covers different topics. Youthful growing pains and parental concerns. Nightmarish phantoms and unresolved trauma. As a parent, you expect your offspring to inherit some of your character traits or personal qualities. However, in “Z” this legacy is not something you’d expect. And even though this delusion isn’t excessively visualized here, its presence is clearly felt in every dark, grim scene.

 

 

My rating 6/10
Links: IMDB

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HORROR

El Hoyo: A Bizarre Story That Leaves You With An Oppressive Feeling

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Don’t speak to the people below. Why?
Because they’re down below.
The people above won’t answer you. Why?
Because they’re above.
O
bviously!

 

El Hoyo” is not just a frightening movie. It’s a movie with a moral. A film that makes you think. Could you call it horror? You could have an extensive discussion about this. For some of the detainees who are locked up in the prison portrayed in this film, it’s indeed horror. It depends on which floor they end up after a month of extensive eating or a month of terrible hunger. The first thing that came to mind was “Hey, they designed a vertical “Snowpiercer”. Be warned though. It’s brutal. Confronting. And as I said before, a moral lurks beneath the symbolic surface.

 

El Hoyo

 

A platform filled with delicious food.

However, the set-up of the film is very simple. Take a sky-high building. A magically moving platform (hence the movie title). A group of convicts who are locked in groups of two on each floor. Finally, you establish a culinary department full of kitchen staff who all master the right culinary skills. And this department ensures that this platform is filled with delicacies every day with the same dose of enthusiasm, dedication, and love for their profession. From roasts, fruit bowls, and enormous chocolate cakes to haute cuisine with langoustines, lobster, and other gastronomically refined food. You can guess the outcome. As the platform sinks, the richly filled table turns into a desolate table full of empty dishes, pots, and smashed dinnerware, where you can’t even find a crumb on anymore.

 

El Hoyo

 

Can you break the system?

Despite the simple concept and the fact that the entire film is set in one location, the film remains fascinating until the end. The denouement, however, is rather disappointing. That’s the only thing that put a damper on this film. Not that everything is very clear in this film. Why this facility has been designed in this way, isn’t explained anywhere. Is it to talk a conscience into the viewers? Is it a psychologically justified experiment? Or was there just someone random who came up with this brilliant idea to design this alternative penal institution? Besides, it’s not only convicts who were admitted here. Take Goreng (Ivan Massagué). This person will receive a diploma (as a social worker?) after serving a 6-month prison sentence. Is it a form of an internship? Or self-flagellation? Even the mechanism behind the falling platform remained a mystery to me. But I got no problem with these unresolved questions. Unfortunately, the main question of how the system could be beaten is left unanswered. Or was it just the intention to leave everyone in the dark?

 

El Hoyo

 

Let’s make it a better place.

It’s crystal clear they tried to deliver a socially critical message. It’s broadly an allegorical representation of our contemporary society. A society with an unfair distribution of prosperity and richness. And the vast majority of those who own the most wealth in our society, are disinclined to share it with those of the lower classes. And the plea of ​​the less fortunate falls on deaf ears, so they are doomed to rely on less humane practices. And, of course, there are the world improvers among us and people thinking they are a newborn St. Martin, who make frantic efforts to convince others to participate in working on a better world and to call for solidarity. A fairer world. And mocking laughter and derision are usually the results of their efforts. The only difference with real life is that people change in the social ladder from month to month in this prison. Some in a positive, others in a negative way.

 

El Hoyo

 

Bizarre and repugnant.

“El Hoyo” is a bizarre story that leaves you with an oppressive feeling. As the film progresses you realize how awful it is for some in this gray, grim tower. And these abject conditions are also explicitly shown. Suffocatingly realistic. So expect some bloody and gory images full of excessive violence as well (not suitable for sensitive souls). For some, the sight of men eating food like animals (which reminded me a bit of “La Grande Bouffe”), it will be repugnant already. But otherwise, this original film is easy to digest (just to stay with the subject). And not only because of the splendid acting. It’s not without reason that the film is a great success on Netflix. So you can see that this film platform occasionally programs better movies.

 

 

My rating 7/10
Links: IMDB

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A Night of Horror : Nightmare Radio | There’s Something For Everyone

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Are you a fan of horror anthology films (such as “Tales from the crypt“, “Creepshow“, “Tales of Halloween”, “XX” or “Tale of Tales”)? Well, you might as well like this movie. Provided you are not an avid lover of short films and continuously seek for horror short films on YouTube or other channels. Because then it may well be that you’ve already seen a few of the films that are used in “A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio“. This anthology isn’t a collection of newly made short films. It’s a collection of pre-existing short films. And these are all connected through a central storyline with DJ Rod Wilson (James Wright) who broadcasts a night program on some local radio station. A program in which he (and also a few nightly callers) tries to delight listeners with some chilling and creepy ghostly stories. It’s not Halloween yet, but it would be a suitable movie for that period of the year.

 

A Night of Horror

 

“Post Mortem Mary” is an eye-opener (no pun intended).

Frankly, I thought the beginning of the film looked very promising and exciting. The first short (“In the Dark Dark Woods”, a sort of alternative version of “The Invisible Man”) and the introduction of the bearded, radio guy gave me a taste for more. And when the second short story (highlight of the whole movie and my absolute favorite) was over, I was already getting ready for even more of that. “Post Mortem Mary” isn’t only fantastic in terms of content. The handling of the camera, the way in which the story was portrayed and the ever-rising suspense in this excruciatingly exciting short story, produced a very successful end result. It’s the story of a mother and her young daughter Mary earning their living in Australia in 1840 as post-mortem photographers. The idea is to photograph the corpse as vividly as possible. Something Mary has yet to learn. It’s a fantastic short film that was well received at some festivals in 2017 and won some prizes worldwide.

 

A Night of Horror

 

More stories to come.

Unfortunately, none of the subsequent stories reached the same level as the previous short films. Not that they were awfully bad or of a sadly low level. But “Post Mortem Mary” is head and shoulders above the rest. “A little off the Top” is a bit of a sinister story that focuses on the insanity (Or craftiness. It’s just how you look at it) of a hairdresser. “Drops” demonstrates how a traumatic experience torments a Spanish young dancer. I thought “The Disappearance of Willie Bingham” was kind of successful. A somewhat different story about how a death penalty is converted into a more alternative punishment. In my view a fairly funny story. “The smiling man” undoubtedly deserves a place behind Mary’s story. Concise and terrifying at the same time. Without too much fuss. The final short films “Into the Mud” and “Vicius” were, in my opinion, the weakest ones.

 

A night of Horror

 

Diversity and Quality. What more do you want?

The fact is that by making a selection of existing short films in “A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio“, the quality level is very high. None of the stories gives you the feeling as if they were quickly produced, such that the intended playing time of the feature-length film could be reached. Another advantage is that the movie scores well in terms of diversity. There’s something for everyone. Only “Into the Mud” (a kind of mythologically oriented fantasy story) feels a little bit like the odd one out here. The only downside was the overarching story of the DJ himself. First of all, I didn’t think it was convincing enough. It even felt a bit boring. And the denouement was a bit of an anti-climax. Yet to my surprise, I enjoyed this movie more than I expected. So if you feel like hearing some scary, paranormal stories with a lurid touch, then you’ll be fine with this film.

 

 

My rating 7/10
Links: IMDB

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