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The Wailing (2016, South Korea)

The Wailing (2016)

The Wailing offers images that appear in many a horror films: disembowelled livestock; creepy candlelit shrines plastered with odd photographs; curtains of blindingly heavy rain; a foul-mouthed, possessed child; blackened, rabid zombies lunging at stunned victims and blood-splattered murder scenes.

It’s unlikely however, that any horror aficionado has seen all these tropes thrown with such bravado into the same melting pot, producing such a rich and unsettling brew.

“You awoke something recently that you weren’t supposed to. You disturbed it.”

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A Cure for Wellness (2016, USA / Germany)

A Cure for Wellness (2016)

What a delightful coincidence that the young actress in Gore Verbinski’s latest feature A Cure for Wellness should be named Mia Goth. Never has an appellation been more appropriate.

A Cure for Wellness proves to be an audacious, intoxicating, feverish piece of cinema – administering copious doses of Freudian symbolism and classic Gothicism. If you’re not a fan of things Gothic, or if you suffer from ichthyophobia, this may not be the film for you…

“Do you know what the cure for the human condition is? Disease. Because that’s the only way one could hope for a cure.”

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The Eyes of My Mother (2016, USA)

The Eyes of My Mother (2016)

In The Eyes of My Mother director and writer Nicolas Pesce offers a disturbing examination of serious emotional dysfunction and disorientation.

We meet a little girl named Francisca (Olivia Bond) who lives on an isolated farm with her mother and father. She is unfazed by death from this early age because her mother, formerly a surgeon in Portugal, is educating her in a dispassionate and thorough understanding of human anatomy.

“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. And whether or not it is clear to you, the universe is unfolding as it should.”

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John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017, USA)

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

John Wick: Chapter 2 is a ride into hell, or, a hell of a ride – either way it’s going to drag you along with it, maybe gasping, maybe kicking and screaming, but either way, it’s an adrenalin rush. The John Wick movies are all about the momentum of action, with Wick moving so precisely, so speedily and yet so gracefully that it all becomes a mesmerising ballet of Grand Guignol.

A pre-credits action set-piece starts the movie as it means to go on, and cripes, if it isn’t an absolute corker!

“John Wick, you’re not very good at retiring.”

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Train to Busan (2016, South Korea)

Train to Busan (2016)

I usually have a bit of a problem with zombie movies – I find them dull. Yes, I know zombie fans will be throwing their Walking Dead box sets at my head (and those are some hefty tomes) but I find that, although they may be a popular horror monster, zombies are forced to rely heavily on the cheap, gross-out factor in order to distract from the fact that they have scanty horror mileage, no rich mythos to draw on and offer little scope for variation, tension or development. I am left to suppose that zombie fans are in it for the fashion statement. I am however, an Asian horror enthusiast.

“Life-or-death survival begins.”

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Rings (2017, USA)

Rings (2017)

In Rings we have the [second] long anticipated sequel to The Ring, the English language remake of the hugely successful Japanese horror Ringu. We also have a kind of Samara origin story, but this storyline seems to be less a labour of love, and instead, rather laboured.

Ringu, the celebrated Japanese horror movie that started it all, was released in 1998. We should remember that in the dark ages of the nineties, VHS tapes and creepy death-threat calls through landlines were not as yet, a form of ancient technology.

“First you watch it. Then you die.”

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Split (2016, USA)

Split (2016)

Few directors have experienced quite as public a fall from grace as M. Night Shyamalan. After his hugely popular debut The Sixth Sense, the director’s subsequent features appeared to be a series of close misses or shots that veered way off target.

I can’t say I have always wholeheartedly embraced his movies, but I have found that Mr. Shyamalan’s singular imagination usually comes up with an interesting and unusual premise.

“Kevin has 23 distinct personalities. The 24th is about to be unleashed.”

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The White King (2016, UK / Hungary)

The White King (2016)

In The White King, directors Alex Helfrecht and Jorg Tittel cleverly introduce the viewer to the world in which their tale is set by means of a beautiful animated exposition during the beginning credits. We then enter the film with some background knowledge of what we are dealing with – a harsh, rural, dystopian society, created by a mythical ‘hero’…

The White King is adapted from a series of short stories by the Romanian novelist György Dragomán.

“We make sacrifices today, for a greater tomorrow.”

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Spring (2014, USA)

Spring (2014) Theatrical Trailer

The most accomplished horror filmmakers aren’t really interested in delivering easy shocks or jump scares. What they try to do is chip away at the layers of defence we have created in order to protect our delicate psyches. To do this, they often try to tap into our most primal fears – conscious and unconscious. I will elaborate later on what these seem to be in the case of Spring. On first impression, Spring appears to be a form of ‘boy-meets-girl’ story, but the seemingly simple plot delves deeper into the impulses of love and commitment than the usual Hollywood product.

“Love is a monster.”

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Blair Witch (2016, USA)

Blair Witch (2016) Theatrical Poster

In 1999, the original Blair Witch Project first hit our screens. It seems like a long while ago – the Internet was in its infancy and mobile phones were a still a luxury item. At that point in time it appeared that the horror genre had nothing new to offer in terms of original scares. In 1996, Wes Craven’s Scream had mocked the genre’s stale conventions and spawned a spattering of meta-textual, postmodern imitations with their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks.

“There’s something evil hiding in the woods.”

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Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015, Canada / USA)

Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015) Theatrical Poster

‘If you love someone, set them free’ as the saying goes – if only the protagonists of these horror flicks would take that saying to heart, instead of selfishly trying to continue to pester their loved ones beyond the grave. If they could just leave their relations to rest in peace, it would really make everyone’s life, or afterlife, so much easier. Certainly Elise, Lyn Shale’s character in the Insidious movies, has found nothing but trouble having to trawl around ‘The Further’ for the relatives of the people who beseech her for help. Luckily for them, she’s a rather soft hearted and plucky type.

“The darkest chapter goes back to the beginning.”

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Anthropoid (2016, Czech Republic / UK / France)

Anthropoid (2016) Theatrical Poster

There are worse ways to spend an evening than in a darkened room with Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan, watching a movie. In this case we were watching the Premiere of the Sean Ellis WWII thriller Anthropoid in which they both star.

Ellis’s film is a labour of love – he produced, co-wrote and directed the movie and, as if wearing all those hats was not enough work, he was also his own cinematographer.

“Resistance Has a Code Name.”

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