#100DaysOfHorror 2020 Part 6
Watching 100 horror films for the first time in the 100 days leading up to Halloween, and now I’m into the second half of the challenge. One film from the nineties and the rest were either Grimmfest features or other fairly modern films. Still, only two female directors here; and neither of them was from festival screeners: still I’m aware that this isn’t a typical year for festival programming.
#50 The Cemetery Man AKA Dellamorte Dellamore (dir Michele Soavi, Italy/France/Germany, 1994)
There’s a lot to admire and enjoy about this oddity, a film made in Europe in the 1990s, but with English dialogue. Completely set within a graveyard, the film is all about a gorgeous young man who manages the facility, and also sends back to their graves any corpses who come back to life. The sumptuous production (including sex and gore) is worth a watch, but I found the pace a little on the slow side. Nevertheless, kept watching, not least because I love Rupert Everett’s voice.
#49 Becky (dir Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, USA, 2020)
This was great: fun, without being funny. Tough, gory, and brightly shot. Oh, and the absolute hero was an adolescent girl, Lulu Wilson, previously seen in comparatively fragile roles. Can’t wait to see Becky again. Read more in my full review.
#48 Black Lake (dir K/XI, UK, 2020)
Not a “traditional” horror film by any means, but captivating: a musical poem about pain and justice in the form of a beautiful horror film. Two people’s worlds come together, via a red scarf: an artist in Scotland, and a murdered woman in Pakistan, who haunts the scarf given to the artist. The central character is also portrayed by the director, who has used this film as an outlet for her anger about violence towards women (especially in Asia) and to give their stories a voice. Read more in my full review.
#47 Death of Me (dir Darren Lynn Bousman, USA, 2020)
Really, really freaky, at least at first. Then I start to pick up on xenophobia in the story and I’m made less comfortable by that than I am by the plot. It’s about an American couple at the end of their holiday on a Thai island, first confused about what happened on their last night, then stranded, and then gradually drawn into local “black magic” ways. I’ve got great admiration for the Saw films, where Bousman started, but the suggestion that westerners should be wary of people they meet overseas left me with a sour taste. Read more in my full review.
#46 Daddy’s Girl (dir Julian Richards, USA, 2018)
When I was offered this for review, I expected it to be bloody nasty. As it turned out, the twisted, co-dependent relationships had me squirming more than the violence. It’s about a young woman under the control of a sadistic man who hates women, but it does not glamorize or sexualize this dynamic. It’s impossible to guess how plausible the various characters’ reactions are, but the writing and acting were more than good enough to find it believable while viewing. Read more in my full review.
#45 The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw (dir Thomas Robert Lee, Canada, 2020)
Really, really mixed feelings about this film. It was wonderful seeing Catherine Walker again, whose part had been so strong in A Dark Song, and the young Jessica Reynolds was remarkable in her first role. The production, doom-laden atmosphere, and cast, in general, were all terrific, but I had several problems with the writing: some lack of clarity, an ambiguous message, and a strange choice of period setting for a start. Read more in my full review.
#44 The Dare (dir Giles Alderson, Bulgaria/USA/UK, 2019)
Right, this is one to watch if you like a splatter-style film and an interesting plot. Similar to the Saw model, The Dare opens with a man taken captive and joining others in a grimy dungeon, not knowing why they are there. We get some inevitable torture, and we also get some back story that mirrors the chosen tortures and explains each person’s journey to that dungeon, to one degree or another. None of the people (except perhaps the guy in the mask) are terribly sympathetic, and their histories are presented in such a way as to show how childhood events are carried with us as we grow up. There were major pacing problems, though, which prevented the film from being as exciting or tense as it could have been. Read more in my full review.
#43 When Animals Dream (dir Jonas Alexander Arnby, Denmark, 2014)
A rural coming-of-age story from Denmark, compared by many to Let the Right One In. This one isn’t about vampires, mind you: the suggestion is that the young woman in the story is developing into something like a werewolf. This is never explicitly stated, and the transformations we see don’t take this very far (I mean the final outcome could simply be a hairy, powerful human), but it’s not entirely about the “monster” she is becoming. It’s about alienation, and about women being treated badly. Beautifully made, mind you; and I’d love to see more featuring Sonia Suhl.
#42 Bumperkleef AKA Tailgate (dir Lodewijk Crijns, Netherlands, 2019)
#100DaysOfHorror 2020 Part 6 includes the third film with major road rage in the last few weeks (the others being Unhinged and Alone), and this one’s made me react the strongest so far, so I was thankful for the internet hiccups for a change, to interrupt my tension and let me breathe for a moment. For the first half-hour or so, it felt like this could be a tougher watch than the splatter film from two days ago, but I got kind of used to it (which wasn’t pleasant). A relentless, anxiety-inducing film that tries to tell us it’s best to comply with the angry man: bad message! Read more in my full review.
#41 Mass Hysteria (dir Arielle Cimino and Jeff Ryan, USA, 2019)
This may be a short film (only sixty-five minutes), but it didn’t feel like it: there was plenty of plot and canny writing packed in, as well as humor and a terrific sense of place. Read more in my full review, and about what lovely people they are in my interview with the team.
Alix has been writing for Ready Steady Cut since November 2017. They cover a wide variety, including genre festivals, and especially appreciates wit and representation on screen.