Another week, another Horror Movie Marathon. I had been doing a lot of random horror movies lately for these, so this week I decided to do three more well-known horror movies, that I want to talk about, but probably will not get a chance to otherwise. I wrote about IT, It Follows, and It Comes at Night. So I guess this week’s theme is movies with the word It in the title. This breaks my rule of these being movies I hadn’t seen before, but screw it, rule two of Fight Club is there are no rules, and we should all strive to live by the wisdom taught in Fight Club.
When this movie was announced, I had mixed emotions. On one hand, IT is my favorite Stephen King book. It is dark, funny, and genuinely scary. While reading the book I actually found myself uneasy, and I really admire that quality. But the original TV mini-series is not good. Tim Curry’s role is iconic, but the movie is very bad. And with this being a remake, it worried me.
But then trailers started to come out, and it looked so good. It really seemed to be striving to capture the tone of the book. The character of IT, also known as Pennywise, was terrifying in the trailers. People started to hype up Bill Skarsgaard’s performance. So I gave it a chance, and I am happy I did. While it has flaws, I enjoyed the movie a lot.
It was one of the first times in years I was actually scared during a horror movie. It didn’t just rely on jump scares to scare the audience. Pennywise could be on screen just talking, and be horrifying. One of the scariest scenes is when he comes out of the fridge. There is no forced jump scare in the scene, it builds up slowly, and we see his body twist and contort. And when they do jump scares, it mostly works. The fact they do not overdo them makes them worth all the more when they come up.
It really utilizes the fantastical horror elements well. They have a character capable of being anything to scare them, and they go for it. Even when he is not changing forms, they make Pennywise seem so unnatural that it is unsettling. It captured the spirit of the character from the book very well.
Bill Skarsgard gives a masterful performance as far as horror killers go. Id put him right up there with Robert Englund, and genuinely think his performance as Pennywise will go down as a classic horror performance. The child actors, are surprisingly good. The youngest kid, the one who plays Georgie, is fantastic, and actually scary in the basement scene.
I have talked about how great the projector scene was as well in my post about jump scares in horror movies. It is one of the scariest scenes in a movie in a long time, and they build up to it well and actually use the jump scare effectively as a payoff to a scene that was already horrifying.
The cinematography was surprisingly good. And I saw surprisingly because horror movies usually have crappy cinematography and camera work. But the camera angles are used very effectively here.
One problem I have is the soundtrack. There are times where the music feels like it is from a completely different movie. The song playing in the scene where they are cleaning the bathroom coated in blood is so jarring and out of place. And there are several other examples of that. The choice of music seems so cliche, boring, and off. Anytime a song started playing, I was taken out of the film and just started wondering why the director choose this song when it does not match the movie at all. There are also a couple times when they ruin a scary scene with an obnoxious jump scare cue. It doesn’t seem to happen too much though.
But overall I really liked it, and am looking forward to the sequel.
It Follows (2015)
Unlike It, I knew nothing about this movie before seeing it. I didn’t even see it in theaters. I had heard of it, and that it was good, but just never got around to seeing it. But then it came up for free on HBO, so I watched it. And I really enjoyed it.
For those who are unaware, the movie is about a supernatural entity, that’s chases after people after they have sex. To get the creature to stop following you, you must have sex with someone else, and it will start following them instead. But if it kills the person you slept with, it comes back for you, and so on down the line.
I am a firm believer that tone and atmosphere are the most important things in a horror movie. And those were the strongest parts of this movie. The movie is creepy as hell. The camera work really sells the creepiness with slow, methodical movement. Which works in two ways, because the monster of the movie also moves slowly. It’s proof that horror does not need to be in your face and loud. This movie can be scary just by having someone slowly walk towards the characters in the background.
The movie is effectively quiet when it has to be. Too many horror movies feel like they have to be loud, looking at you Quiet Place. It is a cheap way of scaring people. Make a scene quiet, and then jump to super loud. It is almost like a drop in dubstep, where the song goes from piano to forte fortissimo, meaning soft, to very very loud. It is jarring and obviously startling. And while it can be done effectively, it becomes a problem when it is all a movie does. This movie mostly avoids that trope. It doesn’t go for the cheap scare.
The soundtrack is awesome. The main theme is so effective in setting the mood. The track is called Title and is composed by Disasterpeace. It is heavy on the synth, and something about it is so creepy. And more importantly, they do not overuse it.
I do have some problems with the movie though. One, in particular, is a scene where we see the monster somehow got on the roof and is just watching them. But it makes no sense given the rules the movie set up for the creature. We are told it is always walking, and always toward its target. But, why would it go on a roof? Why did it stop walking, when in every other scene it is always moving towards the main character? I know the answer, it is because they thought it standing there on the roof would make for a creepy shot, but for me, it just distracted me. It made no sense.
The creature also seemed to just teleport at times. The character runs away and then looks back, and the creature has moved way further than it would have been able to if it were walking. So either it sprinted until she turned around, or it teleported.
Now maybe it can teleport, we do not learn very much at all about this creature. They intentionally keep it vague as a homage to many classic horror movies with the same dynamic of a killer creature that is unexplained. Alien never explained how the Xenomorph came to be, The Thing never explained how The Thing came to be. But even still gave us a full idea of what these creatures were, and how they worked. I feel like they were too vague with the creature in this movie. They give us simple rules, but that is all. Can it teleport? What would happen if she went overseas to escape it? I am fine with its motivations being unexplained. I do not need to know the creature’s origins. I would have just liked to have a tiny bit more information. Overall, I feel like the vagueness worked, but maybe just a bit too vague.
Also, there is a really random scene close to the end, where the protagonist starts swimming out to a boat with a couple guys on it, and it never goes anywhere. My assumption was that she was going out there, to offer to sleep with them so she could stop the creature from chasing her for at least a little bit. But it is never addressed and doesn’t seem to buy her any time. Did they reject her? I mean if some random chick just swam from the beach out to my boat and wanted to sleep with me, I would definitely reject her, because that is weird. I understand what they were going for, but the way it was delivered, just felt random and unneeded.
Overall though, it was very good, and the strengths outweighed the flaws. I will look forward to the directors next movie, which comes out this year, and is called Under the Silver Lake, and stars Andrew Garfield.
It Comes at Night (2017)
Now, this film is a bit controversial. I saw this in theaters, and people were literally walking out in the middle of the movie. The problem lies in how the movie was promoted. The above trailer is so misleading to what the actual movie is. Most people watched the trailer and assumed they were going into a movie about a creature that comes out at night. This is certainly what is implied by this trailer, and even the name of the movie.
But the movie has no creature. It is more thriller than horror. It is an art film about paranoia in a post-apocalyptic environment. About how the fear of getting sick turns this characters against each other. It is the type of film that is not designed for mass audiences but for film festivals. But, it branded itself as a horror movie, to get a wide release. And audiences who were never going to like it went to see it. The movie Mother had the same problem. Most people do not like Art films, and trying to pass off an Art film, as a straight-up horror film to get more people to see it, is going to lead to bad audience reviews because you are going to attract people who will not like the movie.
Misleading audiences aside, the film was great, nearly perfect. The acting is superb, without a single weak link. The writing is fantastic. I love how they hold back information from the audience, to suck us into the paranoia as well. We only know what the characters know, so we are just as unsure as them. So at the end, we do not know if the characters are acting reasonably when they are freaking out about whether or not the little kid is sick, or if it is just their paranoia getting the best of them.
The film is very vague about what happened, and what the sickness is. And I know I criticized It Follows a little bit for this, but I think it works better here. I am sure many people will be upset to how little answers this movie gives, and that is a valid reaction, but I personally enjoyed the way it was executed here.
The film is masterfully shot. The camera work is top notch. It adds so much to the atmosphere. The film craft, in general, was amazing. I do not really remember the score, but I remember liking it. The fact it was subtle, worked for the movie.
There are flaws. The glaring one being the misleading marketing. I loved this movie, but they essentially tricked people into seeing the movie, which is not okay. I know it is frustrating that audiences do not have interest in intelligent art movies, and would rather see a generic horror film, but I still do not think it is okay to lie to people about the movie.
As for the movie, I have one gripe with the plot. The main conflict stems from the door somehow being opened, and letting the dog who is sick back into the house. We do not know how the door was opened, and we are lead to believe either the little kid let him in, or the older son. The door was already opened when the characters got down there after hearing a noise, and the little kid presumable gets sick after this. But if it was the little kid, how did he open the door. We are outright told the one guy has the only key to this red door. There is no way anyone but him could have opened that door. It’s kind of a big plot hole. Not one that breaks the movie, but one that did annoy me. I am willing to admit I could have missed something that explains this, but to me it seemed like there was no way for that door to be opened unless the one character opened it, and we know it was not him.
Overall, it was a very good movie. Maybe not to my personal taste, but one I respect it the craft of filmmaking. I just wish the marketing was not so misleading.