Leatherface

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This movie features characters so overwhelmingly idiotic, so uncharacteristically infantile in their decision making, that you start to wonder whether it takes place in some alternate universe. One in which humanity never figured out the basics of the wheels.

D+

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The Devil’s Candy

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The Devil’s Candy is a maniacally disturbing horror movie in which the devil is literally in the details. An art gallery by the name of Belial, a t-shirt that reads “Master of Puppets”, a hostess in a smoking skin tight red dress.
By placing the action in an environment in which the demon seems to have total dominion over, the proceedings feel disturbing as hell up until the very last shot, in which the skies clear, light shines and Satan appears to retreat, at least until next time.

B+

Rosemary’s Baby

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Is God Dead?, Time`s cover reads.
Perhaps it’s not so much that he is dead, as that the devil has never been more alive.
Indeed, throughout 130 minutes we are presented with a scenario so disturbing and full of despair that it feels like every character that appears on screen is another servant of the lord of darkness himself. Without a doubt one of the most depressingly sinister horror films I have ever seen, Rosemary’s Baby is that rare picture that made me want to shut it off halfway, not because it was bad, but because there is absolutely no hope for good to triumph over evil. Like my favorite horror movie, the masterful We Are What We Are, this movie does not rely on jump scares, or even evil entities popping up every other scene. Instead, it creates an atmosphere of intense dread and builds such immense suspense that I wanted to jump out of bed and run far away from my bedroom as possible, until I gathered my thoughts and remembered that whereas satanists use tannis root necklaces to keep them safe, I have God, who thankfully is not dead after all.

A

Unfriended

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One of the most powerful and revealing moments in Alfonso Cuaron’s Y Tu Mama Tambien comes when life long best friends Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Tenoch (Diego Luna) reveal to one another that they’ve been sleeping with each others girlfriends. This insight  forces the viewer to reevaluate everything that preceded it, while at the same time turning the film from what was up until that point a funny road trip to a melancholy experience that will alter these two young men’s lives.

That a gimmicky horror film attempts to do that with a game of Never Have I Ever is formidable. That it mostly succeeds is memorable.

B

Knock Knock

knockknockI suppose in theory, the argument posed by the devilishly good looking and deviously conniving pair of females at the heart of Knock Knock holds up.
A cheater is a cheater, no matter under what circumstances the cheating might have occurred.

But what if you are ambushed in your own bathroom by two very nubile and very naked young ladies, like poor Evan (Keanu Reeves) was? Surely he should be given a pass, no matter how married he is. After all, the scene gives the impression of coercion rather than seduction.
Alas, that is not to be Genesis (Lorenza Izzo) and Bel’s (Ana de Armas) reasoning. Evan must pay for his infidelity.

It is all part of a twisted game to gauge a man’s morality, as the girls put it at one point, albeit a game that is rigged from the start. I wonder who among the male viewers would be able to actually emerge victorious from such competition.
And yet, it makes a certain sense. Temptation is not supposed to be fair. The reason why it is rare to encounter a person of true integrity is because all the others who claimed they did as well, gave in to their desires the minute their character was put on trial.

Throughout the movie, Evan keeps repeating what a good man and upstanding father he is, but he is not trying to convince his captors of it; he’s trying to convince himself.
Genesis and Bel are angels come to this world to unmask humanity’s failures and judge them for it. Is the punishment too excessive? That is for each viewer to decide.

Do the themes of morality and righteousness make this a good film? Not necessarily. Eli Roth’s decision to play this as both satire and psychological horror means the movie is always good at one thing but constantly failing at the other. Despite of its failings, it is clear to this writer, after having seen Roth’s entire oeuvre, that this is by far his most accomplished picture.
If the commitment displayed here, in which he manages not to chop anybody up for 90 minutes, is maintained, then perhaps his next endeavor might be worth a trip to the cinema after all.

C+

It Follows

it follows“It’s funny. We used to daydream about being old enough to go on dates and drive around with friends in their cars. I had this image of myself, holding hands with this really cute guy, listening to the radio, driving on some pretty road. Up North maybe. The trees starting to change colors. It was never about going anywhere really. It’s having some sort of freedom I guess.
Now that we’re old enough, where the hell do we go?”

Immediately after this is spoken, a man chloroforms Jay (Maika Monroe), ties her up in a wheelchair and explains how a murderous demon is going to haunt her every day unless she sleeps with someone else.

That juxtaposition is what makes It Follows so memorable.
It’s the pairing of the poetic, and the macabre.
The nostalgic, and the terrifying.

Consider the first and last minute of the film.

The opening scene is terror at its absolute finest. The camera pans 360 degrees as dread escalates by the second.
By contrast, the closing minutes are gentler, and would not be out of place in a romance. The camera follows the couple, slowly. We see them holding hands.
Cut to black.

There’s so much more going on here than pure horror.
The photography is beautiful, which augments the suspense, as you’re always expecting an evil entity to burst into a quiet scene and mess the whole thing up.

The best horror movie I have ever seen is Jim Mickle’s We Are What We Are, a brutal and tragic piece on religious fanaticism. But I found that more of a slow burn, more akin to a low-key drama than a full out scare fest.
With It Follows, there is no doubt. Two scenes in particular were so frightening, I had to cover my mouth so as to not wake the house up from all my screaming.

I have rarely, if ever, experienced so much apprehension watching a movie. The only other example might be The Conjuring, but that picture, scary as it was, had moments in which the threat seemed non existent.
Here, every single frame oozes suspense.

Will I be able to sleep at night tonight?
Yes.
The evil here is not a vicious monster that only pops in the dark.
It’s something more. Something unseen. Something that might not even be a “thing”. Something that is not necessarily scary, but it’s there.
Behind you.

A-