Happy Halloween, everyone! I am sitting on my couch in longjohns (sexy and I know it), eating ramen noodles from a cup while the power cuts in and out. In other words, I am one of the lucky ones. To all our Unreality readers and contributors here on the east coast, I hope you are safe, warm, and dry. And not wanting for food, either. We have ice cream and beer if you want to come over.
While I was enduring the worst of Sandy’s wrath, I spent a lot of time trolling Netflix’s Watch Instantly options. I was lucky enough to have power most of the time, so I never really faced losing my laptop completely, which helped keep my movie marathon going. Here are five movies (among many) I watched as the wind howled around me, all available to stream on Netflix. Lucky for you, they’re all very Halloween appropriate.
1. The Tall Man
I’m almost positive this movie was pitched under another title which was later changed in order to capitalize on the Slender Man craze. Nonetheless, it’s a very decent psychological thriller starring a generally fantastic Jessica Biel. It’s written and directed by Pascal Laugier, famous around this and other sites for Martyrs.
There are a couple of horror movie tropes being bandied about: mainly the systematic abduction of children and the sinister secrets of a small town and its people. However, there’s a nice twist about three-quarters of the way through that wasn’t exactly shocking, but pleasantly satisfying. And The X-Files‘ Cancer Man is both in it and awesome.
2. The Shrine
This movie starts out as fairly typical B-movie horror with the typical B-movie acting accompanying it. Well, that’s a bit unfair since the the actors actually do manage to turn in good performances, but some of their motivations are for sh*t. I know from experience there’s only so much you can do in that situation. But like The Tall Man, The Shrine manages to bend our expectations in a pretty great way, and once it gets its legs, you will definitely want to see it through to the end.
One thing I thought was absolutely brilliant was the lack of subtitles for the Polish villagers, leaving us exactly as confused as our protagonists. There’s even a little sumthin’ sumthin’ for lovers of Doctor Who’s weeping angels.
3. The Moth Diaries
I’ve read and written extensively on vampires, going so far as to center my whole college thesis around them. For a second, I even thought I would become some kind of nerdy-cool vampire scholar. And then I graduated and was presented with my student loan bill. You can only imagine my excitement when I stumbled across this little gem in my “Top 10 for Sara” row. A modern retelling of Carmilla, The Moth Diaries centers around three students at an all-girls boarding school, one of whom may very well be a vampire.
One thing I dislike about much of modern vampire literature is the lack of subtlety when dealing with the inherent sexuality (or worse, the complete castration of the vampire a la Twilight). I’m a true-blue gothic vampire fan. I like the idea that the vampire awakens a deep desire, as opposed to trading in it like currency. So I enjoyed the hell out of this film. It takes place in present-day, it’s got some real sexytimes in it, and the main character (Sarah Bolger) does a great job “going crazy” from her newly aroused (see what I did there) feelings.
4. The Innkeepers
This is a charmingly old school haunted house tale from director Ti West, who also helmed the pretty wonderful House of the Devil. I almost put HoD on this list since I also watched it during the storm, but I actually enjoyed this a touch more. West is a master of the slow burn, and he’s also fantastic with character development. I loved almost everyone in the super small cast of The Innkeepers, and those I didn’t love escaped my affections simply by not having much screen time.
A lot of viewers complain that the ending is less than satisfactory, and I can certainly see their argument. However, the hubs and I thoroughly dissected this movie after we watched it, and he ended up kind of blowing my mind with his interpretation. And I realized even if he’s totally off the mark, there’s a lot to be gained upon further reflection of The Innkeepers, and that alone makes it worth catching in my book.
5. Apartment 143
This is a Paranormal Activity style movie about a family being haunted by a restless spirit. They hire a paranormal research group that includes a psychologist to try and figure things out. The acting in this is across-the-board fantastic, especially for a horror film. There are a few scares implied to come from causes outside the supernatural, which I thought was a unique and creative tactic.
The trailer actually doesn’t do it justice. Apartment 143 is less about scary jump shocks and more about the why and wherefore this family, and especially the patriarch, is being haunted. And it’s filled with characters that actually act fairly reasonably for a scary movie, which is a pretty great change of pace.
Just for grins, I thought I’d list the DVDs I’ve watched over the past three days, and a one-line review of each. If nothing else, it may give you insight into what makes Sara Clemens tick.
The Princess Bride: Mandy Patinkin is, was, and always will be a BAMF.
Kill Bill, Vol. 1 and 2: O-Ren Ishii is cooler than Bill or even The Bride. There I said it.
Horror of Dracula: Christopher Lee is the greatest Dracula of all time. There I said it.
The Sound of Music: Glad to see that’s still totally AWESOME.
From Hell: Grapes! Grapes! It’s all about the grapes!
The Neverending Story: Turn around, look at what you see-ee-he-ee-he-ee-he-ee. In her face, the mirror of your dree-ee-he-ee-he-ee-he-eams.