10.29.2014

Three Underrated Horror Films



In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
I felt this way when I took the Greyhound to Pendleton once
John Carpenter made this little gem in the golden years of the horror boom. Sam Neill gives one of his typically strong turns here as an investigator exploring the impacts that a horror writer's books have on their audience. There are a number of genuinely unsettling moments in this film, but the greatest is that nighttime bicycle ride of that elderly woman. Shoot, friends. You'll get some chills there. I really love the sequence in the opening credits, with the huge printing press running off thousands of copies of Cane's books. That's a great example of using those integral first moments for audience orientation. 

That'll cut a toughness groove in the ol' gray matter...
Ravenous (1999)
I love Antonia Bird's film. The pacing, mise-en-scene, sound, and the acting are all fantastic. The setting, California's alpine country, is creepy as hell.

Oh, and this is a Wendigo story. A great Wendigo story.

Guy Pearce's turn as a late-to-the-party convert is precious, and his direct opposition with Robert Carlyle is super compelling. It's a slow build toward a terrifying third act, and I think it's not just a great horror film, but one of the best movies of the last two decades.

The Jacket (2005)
There's a sorrow that permeates this film that truly cuts to the core of what horror is: the loss of personal identity. I don't care if it's dementia in The Notebook or paranoia in Jacob's Ladder, but losing track of one's sense of self scares the crap out of me. 
No thanks...

Keira Knightly and Adrien Brody give phenomenal turns. We forget how talented Brody is sometimes, but he puts his full range of talents on display here as a Gulf War Veteran trying to deal with terrible post-war psychiatric abuse (this film shares a kinship with Jacob's Ladder, to be sure). 

The slow, deliberate blurring of reality and hallucination, coupled with our protagonist's descent into madness is moving. This isn't a film for the faint of heart or the distracted. It takes concentration and investment, but it's wholly worth the effort.

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