So good to see you again, my prized phobophiliacs. Let us once again examine the celluloid scares that await you in the streaming shadows of the world wide web. It appears the kids are up to no good again as they shake, slam, and spin their precious persnickety heads into the black holes we dread.
Let the Right One In (Amazon Prime)
One of the best vampire films in decades, Let the Right One In (a Swedish horror film) is an immaculate masterpiece. If you’ve experienced the American remake Let Me In (also brilliant from the source), it’s certainly time to taste the original. The film has a thrilling pulse that drives the plot into all kinds of sad and subtle places. To truly catch all the creepy nuances, you have to watch Let the Right One In more than once. Yep. And believe me, my fiendish friends, you’ll want to. You’ll lounge in the ambiance while you leisurely dissect every shocking scene, every insidious incident, and every single blood-soaked hint. There’s another darker plotline buried deep within the story, that when unearthed, is even scarier than the premise of the film. And that, kids, will haunt you for a lifetime.
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Screenplay: John Ajvide Lindqvist (based on his book)
Cast: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Ika Nord, Peter Carlberg
When Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), a sensitive, bullied 12-year-old boy living with his mother in suburban Sweden, meets his new neighbor, the mysterious and moody Eli (Lina Leandersson), they strike up a friendship. Initially reserved with each other, Oskar and Eli slowly form a close bond, but it soon becomes apparent that she is no ordinary young girl. Eventually, Eli shares her dark, macabre secret with Oskar, revealing her connection to a string of bloody local murders.
Insidious reminds me of yet another terrifying and a bit more epic film titled Poltergeist. In fact, there are even subtle nods to that classic throughout: check out the humorous ghost catcher’s banter or Lin Shaye’s (Insidious franchise) delicious monologue with shades of Beatrice Straight (Oscar-winner, Network). Nods, folks, not steals, because Insidious certainly stands on its own two menacing feet. Lots of brutal scares, seasoned performances, and flashing faces keep you quite en garde. If you haven’t yet witnessed this relentless horror happening, do it tonight. If you’ve already indulged, well, give it another go, just for the freakish fun of it.
Director: James Wan
Screenplay: Leigh Whannell
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, and Barbara Hershey
Parents (Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne) take drastic measures when it seems their new home is haunted and their comatose son (Ty Simpkins) is possessed by a malevolent entity.
The Exorcist (Amazon Prime)
The Exorcist still holds up, still traumatizes me, and still forces me to sleep with the lights on for a few days after viewing—it’s that savage. Don’t worry that it’s old-school (1973), it won’t matter one iota. The script, cinematography, direction, art direction, music, and acting are all off the charts. After all, it received 10 Academy-award nominations and won two. If it had been made today, I believe it would have won, as did Silence of the Lambs, every single nomination. The Exorcist is a bonafide masterpiece in horror. It also spawned a million imitations and for better and for worse, single-handedly created the possession film genre. Watch it tonight, alone in the dark, and then go to bed with the lights off. I double triple dare you.
Director: William Friedkin
Screenplay: William Peter Blatty(based on his book)
Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair, Lee J. Cobb, Jason Miller
One of the most profitable horror movies ever made, this tale of an exorcism is based loosely on actual events. When young Regan (Linda Blair) starts acting odd — levitating, speaking in tongues — her worried mother (Ellen Burstyn) seeks medical help, only to hit a dead end. A local priest (Jason Miller), however, thinks the girl may be seized by the devil. The priest makes a request to perform an exorcism, and the church sends in an expert (Max von Sydow) to help with the difficult job.