Horror Nights 2015: Week One


Yes, I’m trying this again this year. Last year I made three weeks of posts but never actually made a final week post because I kind of failed the month. This year, my expectations are lower. I don’t expect to get 31 movies in this year. I will do what I can and try my best to see a movie a day, but some days it just won’t pan out. Anyways, every week I will do a round up of the movies I’ve seen and a little blurb about my feelings on them. Pretty simple stuff. So let us begin getting spoooooooky.

Life After Beth (2014)


I like the actors in this movie, and even though this movie ended up being exactly what I expected, I still enjoyed parts of it. Dane DeHaan, Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon bring a lot of life (no pun intended) to this zombie dramedy about a guy in mourning of his girlfriend’s passing that now has to deal with her having come back to life. If the movie didn’t devolve into typical zombie apocalypse garbage then I probably would have been more on board with it. Instead, performances are suffocated by predictable plot points and generic characters. There’s some fun to be had, but its minimal and not really worth the commitment.

Honeymoon (2014)


This was not really on my radar, but last year I was told I should watch this by a friend. I did not do that, and so this year I have righted a wrong. Boy am I glad to have done that. Honeymoon is the kind of film that is affecting because its final act doesn’t proceed until its successfully connected it with the main characters’ relationship with one another. Taking place on Bea (Rose Leslie) and Paul’s (Harry Treadaway) honeymoon (go figure), the film lets Paul discover what is going on with his new wife Bea, and while he’s doing that, the audience is doing the same. The introduction of a past relationship of Bea’s – well before she met Paul – adds a nice wrinkle to the film as Paul tries to wrestle with his wild imagination and the lack of realism.

Poltergeist (2015)


I’ve never seen the original Poltergeist. As I mentioned last year, there are a lot of classics I need to strike off my list and I’m slowly going through that process. That being said, I watched the 2015 remake and could somehow tell that I was watching a movie too preoccupied with trying to replicate the original movie. If it wasn’t for Sam Rockwell and Jared Harris being in this film, I’d probably not have made it all the way through. It’s not a bad movie, just a fairly boring one that contains all the horror tropes you’ve come to expect and nothing of real value. The closest thing to a satisfying moment that I got was some found footage bits that were kind of cool just because they worked contextually and made for slightly more tense situations. There’s also some nice visuals despite generally mediocre CG. As I said, not a bad movie, just one that doesn’t really offer anything to set itself apart.

Hotel Transylvania (2012)


I’m not going to watch Frankenweenie this year, but having come out in the same year as Hotel Transylvania and not starring Adam Sandler, I understand why this was my first time seeing the latter. Where Frankenweenie toys with and brings together monster homages in a clever way, Hotel Transylvania tends to just prop monsters up as jokes and do nothing with it. The film isn’t really about that, but at the same time, its all it seems to be about. Let’s forget Dracula’s daughter for several scenes and the notion of letting your child grow up – instead, let us spend several minutes watching a monster’s quirk get made fun of. I’ll admit though, I laughed several times at some jokes. I just wish they were a bit more creative than Frankenstein’s monster falling apart because he’s stitched together. Oh, and even by 2012 standards this was some crummy animation.

Sleepy Hollow (1999)


Sleepy Hollow is probably Tim Burton’s best work, though it does also maintain a lot of his style that he has crafted over the year. Sleepy Hollow had me hooked for most of its duration and I just really admired the atmosphere and violence of the world. This is also Emmanuel Lubezki getting some Burton time and the film greatly benefits from it. Danny Elfman contributes one of his best scores to Sleepy Hollow, as well. The best part of Sleepy Hollow though, is the image of a headless horseman riding out of the womb of the Tree of the Dead. That pretty much makes the movie for me. Oh, and Christopher Walken.

The Awakening (2011)


The Awakening is probably my pleasant surprise so far as I hadn’t really heard much about this film in terms of how good it was, but then watching it, I definitely feel like it’s a neat little ghost film. Rebecca Hall plays a professional skeptic (fitting with Sleepy Hollow, the night before) investigating a very real ghost. There are some nifty twists that in other movies would feel really dumb but I think they’re handled with a deftness that makes them work. It also helps that the movie doesn’t just stop at the twist, but actually adds a couple more to make you think until the end credits. Some may even be left pondering even afterwards, though I feel the ending is fairly definite.

Voila! Six movies done, and I’ll blame The Martian for being so long that it drained my interest in watching anything else that day. I’m still feeling up to the next week, with quite a few other movies in mind. I won’t share a list because I know it will be altered right up to the last minute. I also feel kind of bad because so far I have definitely not been watching films I expect to be particularly scary, mainly because I am not watching most of these alone. That’s my subtle way of justifying even watching Hotel Transylvania.


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