As usual, I’ve been watching many diabolical things, in an attempt to discover something that frightens me more than the prospect of Brexit, and my streaming service of choice is Netflix. Netflix has a lot to offer, but tends to lack a lot of key horror titles, but I’m here to take you through some of the best horrors I could find, and some that you’re better off avoiding.
The Invitation is what I will show anyone that tries to convince me that my policy of completely erasing exes from my life is self destructive. Our hero, Will arrives at his gorgeous former home with his new girlfriend, for dinner with his ex wife. It is quickly revealed that the pain of their young son’s death caused Will and his wife to divorce.
Of course, people handle things in different ways, and at different paces, and to the rest of the world, Will’s ex wife Eden seems to be moving forward in her life, but underneath her smile and equally smiley husband (a sure sign that something is wrong in horror, would be an abundance of smiling) lies a very dark truth to how Eden has recovered so well.
Without spoiling too much (I know, I always do that!), The Invitation really looks at the idea of whether we as people are every truly capable of knowing each other, and knowing the true capabilities of those around us, as well as giving a definitive answer to whether the past really should remain in the past (brief spoiler alert, it definitely should).
Now, some wouldn’t consider Black Mirror to be horror, but I personally would. Perhaps not all of it is horrific (San Junipero says hello, and I’m crying all over again), but there are many horror aspects, and so one could argue it is a horror anthology, and, well, I am.
One of the most frightening parts of Black Mirror is coming face to face with how truly awful we have the potential to be. Why fear ghosts and creatures when monsters are walking past us every day, right? Charlie Brooker has succeeded in showing the reality of every day life and human nature, and how it can lead to chaos, destruction, and unfortunate pig related incidents.
I’d personally say that my favourite episodes were “National Anthem” and “Playtest” but I’ve never finished an episode and felt unsatisfied, so I’m sure you’ll enjoy them all.
Now, I’ve been very vocal about how disappointing western remakes of eastern horror can be (Death Note, I’m looking at you), but Shutter is definitely one of the better ones.
As Ben and his new wife Jane travel to Tokyo to start their new life as a married couple, they think nothing could go wrong. This is a horror movie, and so, of course, they are wrong. The trouble begins when Jane hits a girl with their car, and the girl vanishes without a trace.
They try, as people in horror movies often do, to forget about the situation and move on with their lives, but of course, that just isn’t going to happen, as Ben’s photographs begin to show signs of spirit photography, leading Jane to begin unravelling the mystery of Megumi Tanaka, and the horrific truth of her connection to the newlyweds.
As mentioned, it is one of the better adaptations of an eastern horror, and will certainly deliver more scares with less lazy crossover writing than some of it’s peers.
With the recent release of It, many of us will be looking for something Stephen King related to continue the scares after watching, and The Mist is the perfect option. The movie adaptation is a favourite among many horror fans, for it’s terrifying visuals, and breathtakingly bleak ending, and the television series does a great job of continuing the universe of King’s original story.
I must admit, I was hesitant to begin watching the show, as The Mist genuinely troubled me when I watched it, many years ago, on Sky Movies, when my mum was out of the house and couldn’t stop me, but I’m very glad that I put my self inflicted childhood trauma aside and gave it a chance.
With an impressive cast, and the opportunity to delve further into the story than the movie adaptation, it is definitely an enjoyable show for fans of Stephen King, and honestly, anybody else.
Unfriended was an ambitious idea, and so I will give them credit for that. Focusing the entire audience perspective on social media is certainly original, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was the right step. I applaud the originality but I feel the movie relied on that gimmick too much, and didn’t give proper attention to character development.
One of the key things with horror, is creating characters that people care about. If you I don’t care about the characters, why should I care when they die, or get damned to hell, or eaten, or whatever you’re doing to them. One of the curses of modern horror is reliance on jump scares or quirky gimmicks, to cover up that a story doesn’t make sense, or the characters are poorly developed, and Unfriended is definitely guilty of that.
I suppose the message of “Don’t cyber bully” is nice to see in a mainstream movie, but I couldn’t really get past how weak the writing was, and so the message was lost, for me.
The Green Inferno
If you’re ready for more poorly developed, unlikable characters, then you may enjoy The Green Inferno.
Now, as many of you may know, I am not the biggest fan of Eli Roth (although, I did think Hostel was great), and so perhaps I’m being a bit harsh, but honestly, for someone who is hailed as one of the brightest stars in the horror genre, I expect better, and The Green Inferno was a massive disappointment.
I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the most annoying parts of The Green Inferno, for me, was the mess of messages for the audience. It was so difficult to pin down who I was supposed to sympathise with, or if I was even supposed to care at all. A lot of the time, it felt like it tried to emulate the message of Cannibal Holocaust (We think that indigenous people are savages, but WE are the savages), but they also shoved a whole bunch of 4chan worthy shit on top that it was lost. We get it, Eli, you’re really edgy. We get it.
One of my problems with The Green Inferno was that, while admittedly it was a homage to Italian cannibal movies, and so would naturally have similarities to many existing ones, including Roth’s blatant main muse, Cannibal Holocaust, it didn’t feel like Roth did anything new with the genre, or the resources available to him. It felt like the kind of thing kids would make on windows movie maker, for a GCSE media class, but with a bigger budget, rather than feeling like a movie made in tribute, but with original thoughts and ideas behind it, so the whole thing just came off as lazy.
The only interesting or slightly likeable characters turned out to be the tribe, and so I wasn’t too bothered as they picked off most of the characters I was meant to be rooting for.
Roth also got overly defensive, when accused by Survival International of continuing to give a platform to negative stereotypes about indigenous people, saying “The idea that a fictional movie about a fictional tribe could somehow hurt indigenous people when gas companies are tearing these villages apart on a daily basis is simply absurd.”
I get defending things you create, to a point, but this seems like a case of a creative never having had to face major criticism before, maybe because the entire genre they dominate keeps telling them how clever they are, and how special they are, and then getting defensive when confronted with genuine criticism, because it hurts their ego.
He went on to say “The fear that somehow a movie would give them ammunition to destroy a tribe all sounds like misdirected anger and frustration that the corporations are the ones controlling the fates of these uncontacted tribes.”
The fact is, dehumanisation of marginalised people is what keeps them marginalised, and this is partly done by the media and entertainment industry, so, yes, while the movie didn’t drive the whole world to attack uncontacted tribes, it is part of the fabric of their dehumanisation, and to say that these things don’t influence or vindicate prejudiced people, who kill people who stand in the way of profit, is naive at best, and ignorant at worst, because they are only able to kill those people, because they have been so dehumanised that they no longer see them as people. Attacks on indigenous people are still a reality and while I wouldn’t say writers and film makers should never touch on subjects like this, they should at least try and be responsible, and not act like people being offended by their bad treatment of sensitive topics is unfair.
Eli Roth is a grown man, a grown man of 45 fucking years old. If he’s grown enough to make his little cannibal movie, he should be grown enough to defend it without shouting down people’s opinions, and throwing a tantrum because people don’t “get” him, and actually confront his work with criticism.