Initially, I told myself that I’d limit this blog to discussions of good movies. I thought that would be more fun, and also more useful. You may have noticed that none of my reviews are less than 70/100. This is by design (mostly). While a “C-” isn’t great, it’s still better than the overwhelming majority of films that are pinched out under the gloopy heading of “horror.” So yes, while I really didn’t care for Sinister or Mama, they were still better than the zillion other horror films released in recent memory.
But in the past week or two I’ve watched–or tried to watch–a number of films, none of which I would have bothered reviewing at all, following the above logic. Unfortunately, that’s boring, and means I’m not posting as often as I’d like. In order to combat the unpredictable quality of films, I’ve decided to occasionally throw in a sort of “dishonorable mention” category. Fairly self-explanatory, I think. These films don’t get full reviews or even scores. It’s not that they’re irredeemably horrible; in fact, in most cases, the really frustrating thing is that there is something good about them, but they fail to live up to their potential in one way or another.
The first crop is below, in no particular order. Keep in mind that in many cases I couldn’t even finish the film. To be fair, you may need to watch (or attempt to watch) them yourself. But I wouldn’t recommend it.
Directed by Eduardo Sanchez, one of the creators of The Blair Witch Project, Lovely Molly is another POV film that fails to live up to its illustrious predecessor by a wide margin. The story follows newlyweds Tim and Molly, who move back into Molly’s childhood home following their wedding. Strange stuff happens, Molly’s behavior becomes erratic and ultimately dangerous, she spends a fair amount of time naked, and some people die. It’s revealed fairly early on that Molly is a recovering drug addict, and it seems at first as though the film will be a thinly-veiled anti-drug commentary. There’s disjointed frightening imagery, implications of a dark, occult past that are never fully explored, and absolutely nothing that struck me as frightening. Disturbing and unpleasant, surely, but not frightening.
The Skeptic is maddening because it could have been great. It could have fallen in with The Haunting and its ilk as one of the great rationalism-versus-supernatural films, of which I never tire (even though they always piss me off for constructing such simple binaries of belief). Obviously, it didn’t quite accomplish this. The problem this time is one of pacing and atmosphere. There’s no sense of urgency. The main character, a lawyer whose marriage is in trouble, moves back into his mother’s old house as part of a trial separation. Strange stuff starts happening, but the lawyer remains adamantly disbelieving until the last possible moment. There’s interesting discussion of belief, a surprisingly decent performance by Tom Arnold, and a fun, tough performance by the beautiful Zoe Saldana, but not much else.
This was another film that I was eagerly anticipating. A UK/Ireland production, Citadel grabbed my interest initially because of my focus on Ireland (where I do my research) and because a number of very good Irish horror films have been produced in the past five or ten years. It follows Tommy, a young man who watches a group of young ruffians attack his pregnant wife, who manages to deliver the baby, but ultimately dies of the wounds. Tommy is stricken with intense agoraphobia, and between cowering in his apartment and cowering in various other places, there’s a lot of cowering going on. The hoodlums, evidently, are in fact demons that feed on fear–but I could be wrong, because I didn’t finish it. It’s not bad. It’s just not particularly good, either.
This one annoyed me because it wasn’t what I thought it was. I like supernatural horror, and for some reason I assumed that’s what I was getting with Silent House. What I actually got was the lesser-known Olsen sister, a lot of running and screaming, and an overwhelming, oppressive sense of not caring one whit about who did or did not die. Didn’t finish it.
The Pact is absolutely representative of all the many, many supernatural horror movies that could have been fantastic and just weren’t. At all. It falls victim to poor pacing, ridiculous effects (including seeing a woman lifted bodily into the air by an invisible force–a vulgar display of power if ever I’ve seen one), and a trite storyline involving drug use, past abuse, and a surprising amount of Casper Van Dien. Didn’t finish it.