JULY 20 ― As Spider-Man: Far From Home continues its impressive assault on the global box-office, and with the next Hollywood tentpole being The Lion King “live” action remake (which I haven't seen at the time of writing), I thought it'd be a good idea to catch up on some new horror flicks, especially after one just opened in Malaysian cinemas last week ― Crawl, by French horror auteur Alexandre Aja (the dude responsible for Haute Tension and the awesome Piranha remake).
The rest of the horror flicks I'll be writing about are unfortunately not in local cinemas, but if you're familiar with the new Video On Demand (VOD) distribution model, you should be able to track them down easily.
Physical home video releases of these titles are still a few months away, so the VOD platforms are the way to go to see them for now.
It's really good to see a decently budgeted B movie like this given a chance to compete in the normally tentpole-heavy summer marketplace.
With the success of The Shallows as a sort of sleeper hit in the summer of 2016, it's never a bad idea to give that formula (and release strategy) another spin, in the hopes of producing another sleeper hit this summer.
So let me just go out and say it now ― Crawl is pretty much a very legit 2019 version of The Shallows, just substitute the great white shark and open water with alligators and a basement and you've basically got the whole premise right there.
It's about a young woman who, in the middle of a hurricane warning, goes home in search of her father, and finds herself trapped in their basement; alligators roaming the basement are a result of the hurricane and floods.
So it's basically a series a creatively staged alligator attacks and survival manoeuvres, with bits of touching character building sandwiched in between.
I won't put it above The Shallows in terms of cinematic artistry because it lacks some of the transcendent visual passages that made The Shallows a bit more than just another creature feature, but in terms of expertly staged suspense and thrills, Alexandre Aja did more than enough to stand up to recent standouts like Don't Breathe and A Quiet Place.
So if you're up for some thrills, definitely don't miss out seeing this one on the big screen.
Horror anthology/omnibus films have been quite the rage in the last few years, beginning this current cycle with the success of the V/H/S and ABCs of Death films, and continuing through all sorts of highs and lows with films like Southbound, Hi-8, Minutes Past Midnight, Galaxy Of Horrors and lots more.
The latest entry into the genre, conceived by Mick Garris (who also conceived the highly successful Masters Of Horror series) collects an all-star line-up of genre auteurs, with Alejandro Brugues (Juan Of The Dead), Joe Dante (Gremlins, The 'Burbs), Ryuhei Kitamura (Versus, Midnight Meat Train), David Slade (Hard Candy, 30 Days Of Night) and Garris himself all directing a segment, with each one producing wildly different works that are nonetheless awesome to watch in their own unique ways.
My favourite is a toss-up between the opening segment “The Thing In The Woods” by Brugues, a glorious Evil Dead tribute that grows more original and unique as it goes along, Dante's chilling “Mirari”, about how horribly wrong plastic surgery can be or Kitamura's insane and blood-drenched “Mashit”, a Catholic school horror flick with plenty of transgressive imagery to remind people of the low-brow origins of horror and forget the gentrification that's slowly happening to the genre with “elevated” and respected films like The Witch, Hereditary, Get Out and the likes.
This is one nightmare that I think many horror fans would love to repeat, again and again.
The Field Guide To Evil
This is another horror anthology/omnibus film, but with a more serious tone that's more high-brow compared to the more low-brow pleasures of Nightmare Cinema.
Gathering some of the world's leading young horror auteurs, the film boasts the directing talents of Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala (Goodnight Mommy), Peter Strickland (The Duke Of Burgundy, Berberian Sound Studio), Agnieszka Smoczysnka (The Lure), Katrin Gebbe (Nothing Bad Can Happen), Can Evrenol (Baskin), Calvin Reeder (The Oregonian), Ashim Ahluwalia (Miss Lovely) and Yannis Veslemes (Norway).
The pitch? Since the directors are from all corners of the world, this film acts like a window to their cultures through the prism of local folk tales and nightmares.
Hence we get stories about djinns, goblins, melonheads, drudes and all sorts of exotic monsters. Just don't expect a rollicking and entertaining ride though.
Most of these directors come from a more measured, arthouse background, which is therefore reflected in their storytelling and visual styles, which are more deliberate, artful and oblique.
My personal picks would be Ahluwalia's exquisitely photographed black and white segment and Strickland's classy horror silent movie tribute. If you're looking for something classy, this one's for you.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.
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