Oct. 1: You're Next
This film's plot twists were terribly predictable, which made the whole thing pretty disappointing and left me wanting a lot more. The carnage was pretty standard (save a choice bit involving a blender and someone's still-thinking brains -- that was a little off the wall), and the tension and suspense was pretty lacking, as the villains simply aren't strong enough to make much impact. However, Sharni Vinson was badass as Erin and did a strong job carrying the movie on her own. Some of the dialogue and action was amusing, particularly regarding the ill-fated family dynamic. And the movie ends on a good note with an almost slapstick final scare.
Oct. 2: The Woman
Love this movie a lot -- it's definitely rewatchable. One of those psychosocial horror movies that asks the audience to question who the real monsters are (and the answer is man, obviously). Most of the characters are very well-acted, especially Lauren Ashley Carter as the melancholic Peggy. Pollyanna McIntosh absolutely smashes it as the titular Woman, and the film's resolution is amazing, exciting and gruesome in the best ways. Sean Spillane's soundtrack is also fantastic.
Oct. 3: V/H/S
The thing that is particularly great about this movie is the short story format: it is comprised of five completely unrelated horror vignettes of all styles ranging from the supernatural to typical slasher killers. Each individual story is interesting in its own way, and the time frame is just enough to make them captivating and creepy without going overboard and ruining it. I have a difficult time choosing a favorite, but I love the title of Joe Swanberg's offering, "The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger." The worst part of the film is the attempt at an overarching narrative to tie all of the stories together. The continuing storyline is uninteresting, distracting and unnecessary.
Oct. 4: The Loved Ones
This film does not take itself too seriously, and therefore errs on the more ridiculous side of the horror genre. Robin McLeavy has some delightful moments as the deranged Lola Stone, whose character only gets better as the story continues. The most disturbing -- and the best -- aspect of the movie is the relationship between Lola and her father. And Xavier Samuel is very attractive as Brent, if you're as into mentally unstable metalheads as I am. The movie is well-shot, and includes some great imagery (glitter confetti raining down on a pool of blood, etc.). Also interesting is the tangentially-related subplot that takes place at the school dance and offers further insight into the repercussions of Lola's lifestyle.
Oct. 5: Excision
Excision honestly didn't come across as much of a "horror movie," but it was visually striking, completely interesting and emotional. The film has an impeccable cast featuring some of Hollywood's greatest outsider artists (John Waters, Traci Lords, Ray Wise and Malcolm McDowell) as the strict, conservative townspeople they very much are not under normal circumstances. AnnaLynne McCord was great -- even relatable -- as the unavoidably weird and sociopathic high school student Pauline. There are some amazingly artful bloody dream sequences that are quite captivating and beautiful. By the end of the film, I not only sympathized with Pauline, but my heart really broke to see her struggle to function alongside her family and peers.
Oct. 6: The Theatre Bizarre
This was a big disappointment. The film is an anthology of six short stories tied together with a semi-interesting, somewhat-creepy overarching narrative. Only two of the six are at all tolerable: "I Love You" and "The Accident," although neither of which could be considered at all scary, and "The Accident" is certainly not horror. The rest of the poorly-written, poorly-acted stories seem to fight incredibly hard to be considered the worst of the bunch. In "Mother of Toads," a guy goes to an old French woman's house to read The Necronomicon because why not and then proceeds to have sex with a giant toad monster. What the fuck. "Vision Stains" was too preachy; "Sweets" tries way too hard to be esoteric; "Wet Dreams" was awfully boring, and considering there's a shot of a giant insect's pinchers protruding from a vagina, that's quite a feat.
Oct. 7: American Mary
Almost loved everything about this movie, but the ending seemed too abrupt and really didn't do any justice to the fantastic story that had been created. The cast, as a whole, is strong, though. The film's directors, the Soska Sisters, make an excellent cameo as underground celebrities of the extreme body modification community. Katharine Isabelle's well-rounded portrayal of Mary Mason is amazing, and it is a delight to watch her progression as a character as she becomes increasingly powerful and in control. Nor are the visuals anything to sneeze at -- each frame comes across very modern and cutting edge. It's enchanting to watch, and Mary is an incredibly awesome hero.
Oct. 8: The Shrine
This movie was pretty terrible. I knew it was going to be pretty terrible when, one minute, we're all in the United States, and the next, the film is suddenly taking place in Poland with absolutely no interlude between the two settings. It's really pretty boring with run-of-the-mill, badly-acted American tourists wandering aimlessly through unfamiliar woods in an attempt to suss out a mystery. The only mildly interesting moment takes place more than halfway through the film, after the Americans have been captured by Satanic cultists and have escaped. And even these goofy special effects don't make the movie or its letdown of a "twist" conclusion worthwhile.
Oct. 9: The Jeffrey Dahmer Files
A documentary rather than a horror movie, but nonetheless horrible. However, this not a very well-filmed nor well-made movie. The dramatic reenactments are pretty goofy and unrealistic -- particularly a scene that depicts Dahmer carrying a set of mannequin legs out to the trunk of a taxi that was so silly I'm still unclear on its purpose. There are also a lot of inexplicable fade-to-black transitions that bothered me. But, aside from the filmmaking, there are some interesting aspects to this movie. The file footage is interesting, as is its unique focus. The documentary features interviews with only three people, providing a clear look into their lives and how they were impacted by the Dahmer case -- an unusual perspective that almost made up for many of the filmmaking missteps.
Oct. 10: V/H/S 2
Since I enjoyed the first V/H/S movie and love the horror anthology format, I was excited to give this sequel a try. However, it turned out to be a disappointment. Seemed promising at first: the overarching narrative this time follows a private investigator and his girlfriend who find a collection of creepy VHS tapes in a college student's apartment while on the job. This narrative is a lot stronger and more compelling than that of the first V/H/S movie. Where this one goes wrong, however, is with the ensuing short stories. More supernatural than the stories in the first film, these come off hokey and aren't scary. "Safe Haven," about an Indonesian cult, would have been a great story had it stuck to one idea, but it instead devolved into silliness when it revealed a demonic creature that just looked like a puppet on a stick. The only good story was "A Ride in the Park," which employed innovative filming techniques to tell of a zombie apocalypse from a unique perspective.
Oct. 11: Little Deaths
This UK horror anthology immediately starts off on the right foot by not attempting to tie its three unrelated stories together with an overall narrative. The pièce de résistance of the set is the third offering, "Bitch," because it features a sadistic woman with a pushover boyfriend, kinky sexual deviancy and a mysterious, creeping fear. I wasn't crazy about the ending, but I really appreciated the depravity. The other two stories were less impressive but pretty good nonetheless. The first, "House and Home," begins effectively menacingly, but it allows for a rather goofy twist ending. The second, "Mutant Tool," was quite interesting and if not a bit convoluted. Altogether, Little Deaths was a pretty solid anthology, and I wish there had been room for a few more stories.
Oct. 12: In Their Sleep
In Their Sleep is a French horror film that probably would have been better had the main narrative twist not been glaringly obvious from the beginning of the action. The film is constructed cleverly, with dream sequences slipped into the storyline, a nonlinear timeline and substantial flashbacks at opportune moments. Anne Parillaud succeeds at portraying Sarah as a sympathetic and emotionally vulnerable heroine, and Arthur Dupont is excellent as the twisted Arthur. The film has all the makings of an interesting addition to the horror canon, but it plays out exactly as it is expected to without taking risks or maintaining the suspense.
Oct. 16: Curse of Chucky
This movie was less cheesy than most of the previous installments in the Child's Play franchise, but I don't know why anyone would want that. The series reached its peak of cheesiness with 1998's Bride of Chucky, which is still definitely the best film of the bunch. As for the Curse of Chucky, there was too much spooky ambiance and too few Chucky one-liners. I am, however, so incredibly glad that this film was made rather than a reboot or remake of the original Child's Play, as was originally intended. I also appreciate that the film stars Fiona Dourif, the real-life daughter of Brad Dourif (Charles Lee Ray/the voice of Chucky). I was also pleasantly surprised that the movie focused on a female hero in a wheelchair and two lesbian/bisexual characters. I just didn't think there was enough Chucky silliness. But I do hope they continue making Child's Play movies for a long time coming.