Sometimes, you watch a horror film and you can’t help wonder, “Is this really a horror movie?” Sometimes you watch an intelligent horror film and think, “This intelligent horror film is an insult to my lack of horror intelligence.” And other times, you think, “Why not? It’s horror enough for me.”
And here are four films that triggered all those thoughts in me.
IN FEAR (2013)
In Fear can only sustain its suspense for so long before you start to get annoyed. This guy and girl heading to a music festival accidentally take a wrong turn and then keep going in circles for forty fucking minutes. I’m not kidding. They just keep driving and ending up back at the same place. It sort of reminds me of Wind Chill, only with them moving instead of sitting still.
The chick occasionally sees or feels someone or something and does a lot of screaming.
Is there something supernatural after them? Or are there some backwoods hillbillies fucking with them for something that happened back at a pub…a confrontation the pair keeps mentioning but we never saw. That’s right. A huge part of their fears are based on a situation that they never bother to let us in on. WTF?
Finally, they pick up some hurt dude on a deserted road in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night—right after the chick has been attacked by an unknown assailant only yards away. They fucking deserve it when the last part of the movie turns into The Hitcher.
KILL LIST (2011)
If you can stand sitting through over an hour of a mob movie to get to ten minutes of horror, then you might want to check out Kill List.
As two hitmen go around taking care of business (which at least supplies the movie with loads of painful gore), the one dude keeps encountering strangers who whisper mysterious messages to him. So you know eventually there’s going to be something more to this movie.
Finally, they witness a cult ritual sacrifice in the woods.
They are chased by people in robes and masks, more blood is shed, then there’s a big “shocker” twist to give the movie loads of depth. The end.
I SAW THE DEVIL (2010)
I Saw the Devil defies the genre of horror. Sure, it there’s a serial killer, torture porn, and a cannibal clan, but it’s also an exploitation action revenge flick with an almost surreal “superhero”—and super villain—angle.
After his fiancée is horribly murdered by an evil serial killer (in a fantastic opening scene), a man taps into his own devilish side to get revenge. And that man is scorching hot Byung-Hun Lee.
But he doesn’t simply catch the killer and murder him. Oh no. He fucks with this killer. He shows up whenever the killer (played incredibly by Min-sik Choi) is up to his awful tricks, beats the pulp out of him, tortures him…then lets him go free.
It’s perverse. It’s gruesome. It’s sadistic. And each man just keeps getting more and more psychotic—and both seem to be super human. Plus, there’s a sick sense of humor injected into the insanity.
The only problem with I Saw the Devil? It’s two and a half fricking hours long! That is just inexcusable. My limit is definitely an hour and a half because I started to shut down at that point. The movie sort of came to a pre-climax and I was quite okay with that. I forced myself to stick through the next hour, which I spent thinking, “This movie should have ended already.”
ATTACK OF THE MORNINGSIDE MONSTER (2014)
It’s a shame they changed the title of this movie from simply The Morningside Monster, because the campy 50s/60s sci-fi horror title doesn’t help it any.
Attack of the Morningside Monster is a really bizarre attempt to touch upon the devastation of cancer—through a slasher film. The sheriff is really cute. Tiffany Shepis plays a cop.
And fricking Xander from Buffy is the man who’s losing his wife to cancer. And yet nothing gels in this movie.
Performances are a combination of bad, bored, and overenthusiastic. And I think a lot of that has to do with loads of dialogue that just falls completely flat. The most natural performances here go to the man and woman playing a drug dealing couple. Sadly, their roles are minor—because the masked killer in the film is targeting druggy lowlifes, of which there are a bunch in this small town.
Then suddenly the rules change momentarily to bring us a horror cliché. There are kids at a campfire in the woods exchanging some bad dialogue. One couple goes off for sex and we are to presume they were killed because she screams.
Aside from meandering moments like that, the entire vibe of the film is off. The “here’s where we’re going to shoot this scene” settings give the film a cheap feel. Scene transitions are jarring. Sound levels are all over the place. Lighting is rough and hinders any horror and gore presented. “Fight/struggle” scenes are awkward and unrealistic. The kills (and weapons) look fake. There are no scares or atmosphere—although one scene of Xander being chased was kind of exciting.
And yet, despite Attack of the Morningside Monster being a mess, the final twist is kind of fricking awesome! Not that it makes the movie worth watching. It’s a great final reveal that deserves to be attached to a much better movie.