Without even planning it, I watched three modern horror films in a row that all had messages about heaven, hell, and everything in between. But are they scary?
THE PRESENCE (2010)
What happened? How did Mira Sorvino go from making brilliant films like Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion to this? The Presence is a paranormal/spiritual romance about a woman with two ghosts playing the angel and devil on her shoulders.
Mira comes to an old family house by a lake to work and be alone—and for the first near 20 minutes, there is not a word spoken as she goes about her daily chores and a pasty white ghost watches her. Finally, her boyfriend comes to surprise her and she spends the rest of the movie treating him like shit because she has trust issues with men and because the dark ghost is whispering negative shit in her ear. Don’t be scared. That’s the good white ghost on the right in the pic.
There’s something mysterious that fucks with anyone who goes to the outhouse. There’s an article about an escaped criminal who drowned in the lake that seems to be telling viewers it bears some significance to the plot. There’s a dark history between Mira and her father. There’s a crawlspace beneath the house where the ghosts lure her boyfriend. Mira plays “knock once for yes, twice for no” with the spirit.
And there’s a less uplifting Ghost ending and us being left with tons of questions about who the hell all these ghosts, demons, and angels were.
FARM HOUSE (2008)
Farm House is a deceiving film that totally changes genres at the end if you’re not really paying attention all along. Which would explain why it gets so much heat. But damn. For a change I actually really liked what appears to be just another torture porn.
A man and woman decide to leave town and start a new life after the death of their baby. They crash on a desolate road and Steven Weber and his smokin’ hot wife Kelly Hu (who has a long movie and TV scream queen resume going all the way back to Friday the 13th Part VIII) put them up in their country home for the night. They seem so nice at first….
As we learn what really transpired between the troubled couple through flashbacks, it becomes apparent that everything is not normal with Steven and Kelly (who are both so good in this movie). And not long after that…the torture begins.
As if the waterboarding isn’t horrible enough, there’s a heinous eye removal scene and another sick eye scene involving a meat thermometer. However, I’ve had to turn away from a whole lot of horrible torture scenes in my horror career, but when Kelly whips out a cheese grater—holy fuck! I could not get through it.
Things get very frustrating when the couple has the chance to turn the tables, but the husband passes up every opportunity to stop the madness! You’ll be thinking he deserves to be tortured….
In the last five minutes of the movie, we are hit with a major twist, and it’s a whole good/bad, devil/angel, heaven/hell thing. That’s right! You sadistic fucks have been bamboozled into watching religious horror with a moral message!
People either love the emotional and spiritual turn or hate it. Some people like the concept but think it was poorly executed. Personally, I thought the devil was cheesy creepy cool. The entire ending of Farm House saved it from being another crappy Last House on the Left type of film.
FROM WITHIN (2008)
From Within delves into religion—and Satanism! Yay! Equality, dammit! While the movie borrows elements from numerous other horror flicks—The Ring, Final Destination, Fallen—it still manages to deliver a fairly creepy premise.
In a small, very religious town, Rumer Willis’s boyfriend shoots himself right in front of her…and before long she has committed suicide as well. This sets off a chain reaction of people committing suicide, and it’s all apparently part of some curse placed on the town by local devil lovers.
Generally what happens is that you see a sort of possessed version of yourself that coaxes you into killing yourself. Someone witnesses the suicide (or at least finds the body) and then commits suicide as well. But the rules of the curse start to get broken quickly. For instance, there are times when two or more people find the body and yet only one of them becomes the next victim.
That’s not even the biggest offender. At one point, a chick drives by a grassy area in which one of the suicide bodies happens to be lying. She doesn’t see the body, she just passes by the vicinity, and yet now her evil doppelganger is after her. And it gets worse. She accidentally drives into a tree out of sheer terror and her face barely misses getting impaled by a big branch. Final Destination kicks in, she can’t get the car door open, and apparently there’s a gas leak underneath, so the car blows up. Hey. It might not be suicide, but at least she’s dead.
Flaws aside, the movie is creepy, fast-paced, and keeps an element of mystery right up until the end. Plus, one of the stars is cutie Thomas Dekker. And the religious aspects are kind of interesting because while it seems to be about a bunch of wing nuts playing God, it’s undeniable that a bunch of Devil worshippers really did welcome evil into the town.
And finally, there are the twists. The ultimate one comes at the end and leads to a highly entertaining closing credits sequence. But there’s also another twist that you really do not see coming and will have you rewinding to see if you heard correctly. Because basically, gay sex is to blame for all the evil nonsense that takes place in From Within. Awesome.