Darling (2015, Mickey Keating)


When a suspicious elder lady (hey look it’s Sean Young) tells me that the last person she hired met a bad end, it would be enough to make me run the other way. Darling (Lauren Ashley Carter), a young woman, is desperate enough for cash that she ignores the warning and agrees to house sit a freaky house in New York City. Without that you don’t have a movie that is creepy, eerie, and full of surprises. All shot in glorious black and white, and featuring some freaky hallucinatory moments that add to the film.

I also like how tightly paced and well made Darling is, which works to it’s advantage. The film is also divided up into chapters, and manages to pay homage to Roman Polakski’s classic horror films and The Shining. It has a lot in common with a few others but those influences, which the director Mickey Keating builds upon, shape the film while also feature Keating putting his own stamp on the horror genre. The visions are scary and I almost waited until daylight to finish this one. I’m always glad to find a hidden gem during my Horrorfests, and this is one such film.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: The Conjuring (2013, James Wan)


Sporting a talented cast and channeling precious classic horror films The Conjuring is a near great film. James Wan seems to have a knack for horror, having also directed others such as Saw  and Insidious. Reportedly based on the cast files of a pair of psychic researchers named Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), this is a really freaky and entertaining movie. The 1970s setting is  a bonus, and I do like how this film answers the question of all haunting films: why don’t the people just leave? As in the good horror films the answer isn’t simple, and the solution may be unpleasant.

Having previously dealt with a creepy looking doll (interestingly the most eerie thing in the entire movie) called Annabelle, the Warrens seem content to rest and spend time with their daughter. However a Rhode Island couple named Roger and Carolyn Perron (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) approach them in a desperate bid to defeat the malevolent spirit that may be threatening them and their children. Naturally there are horror cliches such as the dog refusing to enter the house (dogs always sense the evil, don’t they?) and strange sounds echoing throughout the house. Wan uses plenty of slow burn and intense close up shots to make the audience feel as if they are in the house, and he actually doesn’t abuse jump scares or offer cheap moments, something that too many directors overuse in movies such as this one. Also it helps that the cast is all top notch, as Livingston and Wilson have also appeared in horror movies and Farmiga has a knack for playing both strong and vulnerable. However it is Taylor, who also starred in the remake of The Haunting, who is the main attraction of this movie. She has the difficult task of playing a woman that at first wonders if she is crazy, then slowly accepts what is going on, and in the end is forced to deal with the evil on a personal level.

Thanks to this movie I will never be able to think about a game of hide and seek again, not to mention whenever I hear multiple clapping. Plus I dug the scenes where the Warrens host question and answer sessions with local colleges, as they show footage of some of their encounters. The film even uses found footage style film making at one point with a valid reason to do so, which is cool too. Whether or not the actual incident in question ever happened I’m not sure, yet I am curious to learn more about the Warrens and I look forward to the planned sequel, which will feature both Wilson and Farmiga returning along with Wan, who is a promising young horror film maker in his own right. Also this film has a great original score, something that is worth mentioning as not too many modern horror films have exceptional original scores or original scores in general. This one does.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: The Innkeepers (2012, Ti West)


Even though I slightly prefer The House of The Devil, Ti West’s 2012 film The Innkeepers is a nice followup and was just as creepy. In fact this movie almost gave me a heart attack at times, especially with the freaky moments that kept lying just around the corner. The old inn that sarcastic Luke and naive Claire work at is an excellent place for a ghost story driven film, although granted most hotels, inns, motels and the like are usually perfect for horror movies. As The Shinning (1980) can attest to, and just like in that film the characters in this one are being affected by the place they are working at. The Yankee Pedlar Inn is an old place, and its finally being closed for business after over a century of being open. Luke and Claire are the two low wage employees tasked with overseeing the building while the master of the inn is away. Boredom sets in and they decide to investigate whether or not the inn is haunted by Madeline O’Malley, which leads to all kinds of trouble of course.

Really I love that Ti West specializes in quiet, atmospheric horror, which is why I’m not too surprised detractors of films like these call them “Boring.” Look there are actually jump scares in this one, yet I felt that West was mocking the use of such a device to frighten viewers. There is more humor in this movie than in The House of the Devil, and it works as a slight tension reliever while also lulling the viewers into a false sense of security. A couple scenes are downright spooky, particularly one where Claire and Luke are alone in a deep, black pitched basement, and another moment that I will only describe as being the material for nightmare fuel. Even so at times I found Claire’s character to be a tad annoying, where as Luke made a great foil for Claire and was the best element of the film.

Having Kelly McGillis play a psychic/alcoholic actress was a nice touch, and unlike some I didn’t mind the ending too much. While the last act does feature some questionable behavior I take it as the actions of someone who had become rather unstable, and its therefore a mixture of terrifying and tragic. Unfortunately Ti West’s The Roost is not available on Netflix, however his other works are and I look forward to seeing those as well. I would rather like it if he made a slasher movie for some reason, as West’s gift for making super creepy movies that get under you skin would serve him well there, I think.

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