I don't know about anyone else, but I was pleasantly surprised with the number of horror releases slated for this year. Blumhouse, which is enjoying it's commercial success of Insidious, the Paranormal Activity franchise, and oddly enough the Oscar contending Whiplash. They continue to deliver movie goers good ol fashioned jump scares this year with Unfriended, Lazarus Effect, and the next installment in the Insidious series. They also recently released the teaser trailer for The Gallows in a very creepy, very dark and brief clip. Producer Sam Raimi is hoping to satisfy lovers of the original Poltergeist while terrifying a new generation later this summer. The film will be available to watch in 3D as well. We will even be able to add some sharkpoitation to the mix, with another killer shark hybrid. They are the apex predators of the sea, you know. Traci Lords stars in the upcoming Sharkansas Women's Prison Massacre. You have to check out the trailer, words just can't do it justice.
But some of my must sees I have been able to gladly check off on my list. The first one being the Drafthouse Films release of Spring. Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson continue their seemingly effortless collaboration on this. The two had their first foray filming together in 2012 with Tribeca Films, hauntingly realistic look at best friends and the fragile space left between them. Resolution focuses on the forced withdraw of drugs and alcohol leaves Michael, the sober one, left to piece together mysterious clues and leads which focus on isolated area Chris was squatting at. Both leads gave a solid performance, but Vinny Curran whom played the addicted friend was especially memorable. If you can, check out the special features on the Blu Ray. Particularly the outtakes. The Directors and Vinny are hilarious and even make a spoof trailer. It really seemed like the cast and crew connected and developed a fantastic working rapport. Vinny also appears in Spring as Mike, the drinking buddy to Evan. A young man whom recently lost his mother, and with her gone has nothing. Evan jets off to Italy, where he meets a beautiful, exotic young woman. But she is not what she seems, and suffers from a debilitating condition which alters her.....in ways.
I know the pacing and lack of kills were the reasons many disliked both of their films and debate if they were really horror films. And thats just BS. I'll touch on this later in this writing.
The next one I caught I was lucky enough to see it with the Director present to do a Q&A afterwards. It was Radius Films It Follows, by David Robert Mitchell. And in this, only his sophomore effort, Mitchell appears confident, Like maybe he found his own style, his own signature if you will. He knew exactly what he wanted for his first horror film suspense story he said to the crowd at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, TX. Right down to asking his buddy Disasterpeace to set the score to the film. Which, in my opinion, was spot on. It was really unnerving and the louder the theater had the volume the better.
Unfortunately, there was a surprising number of people that disapproved of this film. Again more kills and gore, but for It Follows, the ambiguous rules seemed to be a turnoff. Viewers demanded a set of structured, logical, and irreversible set of guidelines that "It" had to adhere to and just so you know, I'm here shaking my head in disagreement. I very much enjoyed this film and saw it multiple times ( which I suggest, you catch new things to tie things together ) I loved the room for interpretation I was able to have during and after watching. The score was epic and reminded me of old school Carpenter with a dash of Kubrick and a hint of the Electro Pop band Glass Candy. Despite the three pints I consumed I refused to go the bathroom during the movie. I was very anxious and completely engrossed with the characters and the Unseen Unknown entity stalking them. A well needed original venture into the realm of sexually transmitted demons.
Finally, I was left speechless after seeing Ana Lily Amirpours beautiful A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. I remember watching a trailer for it, seems like so long ago now, and asking, "what the hell exactly is this?" It was black and white, foreign, classic yet contemporary, mysterious, and .....whoa.....had vampires. Curious on the plot, director, country of origin, I began learning all I could regarding this movie that would eventually so profoundly resonate within myself. With this being her first crack at a feature film, I imagine it was difficult for Ana Lily. A female rookie filmmaker with her B&W, Iranian, Vampire, Spaghetti Western. Yep thats right. That is a pretty good summary and one that is used often to describe it. So who comes and saves the day? Frodo does of course. Elijah Wood was so fascinated with the story and the firm belief from Ana Lily that it had to be B&W, he stepped in and eventually became the Executive Producer.
Now all the films I mentioned are original. But AGWWHAAN sets a new standard. The special features and interviews I found solidified my belief that I recently witnessed a renaissance within film.
Amirpour grew up in Britain and the U.S. which fuelled her inner creator. American Pop Culture had a massive influence upon her and she took advantage of the fact she was free here and could pursue her passion.
And create she did. A Girl Walks.. isn't simply one film with a handful of intensely flawed but interesting characters in an unnamed place and time. On the contrary, when originally conceiving the idea of this film, Ana Lily made charts documenting a vast, detailed history of "Bad City" and it's inhabitants. Even making a timeline explaining the circumstances of how and when the girl was born into darkness, Its quite impressive and incredibly imaginative. Thankfully all that amazing back story wont just sit somewhere and collect dust. Radco and Ana Lily teamed up to create a stellar series of graphic novels, which shed more light on Bad City, the residents, and the deaths no one seems to be discussing amongst themselves.
The film itself is so beautifully shot, and the characters although not necessarily good people, were so easy to become invested in their stories. Magnificently portrayed.
Yet despite the individual achievements each film accomplished, I'm saddened to continually read that horror fans dislike these. I've listened to their reasons and I understand and realize personal preference varies. I honestly hold most peoples opinion as valid. But here we are, blessed with three wonderfully original and well crafted films. From young directors whom hopefully have long successful careers. An overwhelming number of fans expressed disapproval of ineffective reboots and lack of creativity and substance. And the need for a new breed. We literally got three in a row. For the love of cinema, give em a chance.