Film Challenge: 31 Days of Horror 2016

On my Letterboxd account this month I have partaken in the film challenge, 31 Days of Horror. This month, I watched a horror film every day in celebration of Halloween.

Here’s a list of what films I watched:

Film 1 – What Lies Beneath (2000) –

I thought I had seen this film before, but it turns out it was The Gift that I was thinking of. Much more of a thriller than a horror, Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer are what make this watchable.

Film 2 – Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) –

I understand why films like this have quiet dialogue and then really loud “scary bits”, but it’s incredibly annoying! I barely heard a word of any of the conversations. Yes, that makes all of the scarier bits more jumpy, but there were only a few of those in this one.

Film 3 – The Amityville Horror (1979) –

I like the recent remake so I wanted to give the original a watch. It isn’t that scary and lacks any suspense, but it’s a very influential classic horror.

Film 4 – Case 39 (2009) –

Renée Zellweger puts in a good effort but the story is predictable and not written very well, occasionally jumping to conclusions before they are properly developed. It’s a decent enough film but it could have been a lot scarier.

Film 5 – The Haunting (1999) –

A horribly cheesy horror that’s largely unforgettable. I was expecting a lot more from a film that 1) stars Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Owen Wilson and 2) is based on the 1959 novel, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

I know that the book is a lot different to the Netflix series, which I absolutely loved, as I am currently reading it, so I wasn’t expecting something on the same level of quality as that, but it doesn’t capture Jackson’s eerie atmosphere nearly as well, either.

Film 6 – Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015) –

Some interesting connections to the first two films being a prequel, filled with some quite intensely disturbing scenes with the demon hanging around so much. And as always, there’s a quick flash of an ending to creep you out for the rest of the night.

Film 7 – Emelie (2015) –

Some great acting but I just found that the plot was taken to some really weird places. The ending was a bit naff but, more than anything, I found Emelie’s character to be too far-fetched. A good concept, twisting the usual horror premise, but mostly unlikeable.

Film 8 – The Hills Have Eyes (2006) –

I remember the first time I watched this film. I was about 12 years old, and I was at a sleepover with a group of girls in my friend’s attic. That’s enough to make any film instantly scarier, so I’ve always had bad memories of this film.

On a rewatch, it’s still a great remake of the original, mostly because it dares to go further in how creepy the premise is. The suspense is high throughout, and the violence is justifiable.

Film 9 – The Omen (2006) –

No remake is ever going to live up to a classic such as The Omen, but for people who haven’t seen the original, I don’t think this is a bad film. The cast is decent, and many of the terrifying scenes from the original work just as well.

Film 10 – Friday the 13th 4: The Final Chapter (1984) –

“The Final Chapter”, that is nowhere near the final chapter…

Hopefully, the premise of the following films start to change somewhat, because I’m a little bored of teens having sex and dying, although their deaths were all pretty good. And this one does have a little Corey Feldman.

Film 11 – Pet Sematary (1989) –

Aside from the constant annoying crying from the young girl in this film, Pet Sematary is a decent horror that’s not too scary but that still keeps you interested in the story. I found the little boy far too cute, though, so it didn’t creep me out enough.

Film 12 – Circle (2015) –

A great concept but so underdeveloped. This could have been amazing; it could have been tense and gory and gut-wrenchingly good. But instead, it just became too repetitive and horribly rushed. The ending was completely unnecessary too; no explanation or context was needed if it was going to be that bad.

Film 13 – Lights Out (2016) –

The beginning of this film is terrifying; if you’re scared of the dark too, then this will really hit a nerve with you as well. Sadly, the story around how this demon came into being is pretty lame, quickly making it unbelievable and weak. The one thing that the film has going for it, therefore, doesn’t last very long, as Lights Out ends up being just like every other horror film.

Film 14 – Misery (1990) –

A brilliant story by Stephen King that has been adapted really well with two fantastic lead performances, especially with a psycho Kathy Bates. It’s full of suspense despite its very mundane setting and has you constantly on edge.

Film 15 – No One Lives (2012) –

A brilliant twist on a horror premise we’ve seen far too many times before. With some really gory moments, this film could have gone a lot further in the second half, but Luke Evans leads it brilliantly.

Film 16 – Stage Fright (2014) –

If only there was more Minnie Driver! From the first few minutes, I thought this was going to be pretty hilarious, but the comedy disappears pretty quickly. If it took the piss a little more, then it the second half of the film would have been a lot better than what we’re left with. Unfortunately, overall, it’s pretty mediocre and the twist is far too obvious.

Film 17 – Goodnight Mommy (2014) –

Somebody showed me the trailer to this film a while back and I was so intrigued by it. It’s a beautifully shot film that is set up brilliantly with many odd moments that make you think that something messed up is going to happen. But things are made far too obvious and end up feeling too straightforward in the end, removing a lot of the mystery too early.

Film 18 – The Conjuring 2 (2016) –

I’m very sceptical about these “true stories”; having never witnessed any paranormal activity myself, I convince myself that it’s not real (I’m scared enough of the dark as it is, I don’t need to add ghosts and demons to that!). But The Conjuring films are about the only horror films that almost convince me otherwise, and are two of the best horror films to come from the past few years.

The Conjuring 2 feels a little misguided at times, feeling like The Babadook in places because of its use of fiction and animation, but the atmosphere is intensely creepy at the same time. I don’t know if those awful English accents can be forgiven or not, but they would have worked well for fans across the sea who saw this as “The English Amityville”.

Film 19 – Don’t Breathe (2016) –

You think you know what you’re going to get with a film like this, and then BAM!, out comes the turkey baster.

The beginning of this film has a great build-up and is terrifying enough with the use of (or lack of) sound. And then it flips everything on its head.

From a well-paced thriller, Don’t Breathe quickly becomes a disturbing and claustrophobic horror. You thought it was bad enough being trapped in a house with a blind man hunting you down, but then you realise who the real monster is and your stomach begins to knot… for reasons you would have never imagined.

Film 20 – The Devil’s Rejects (2005) –

House of 1000 Corpses was fucked up. This one, not so much. But still, all this southern-fried horror makes me feel more sick than on edge. You know what you’re getting into with a Rob Zombie film and it’s certainly not for everybody, but if you want sadistic psychopathic characters on a blood-fuelled journey, then look no further.

Film 21 – Burying The Ex (2014) –

A Joe Dante horror/comedy that you have to take with a pinch of salt, but it can be enjoyable if you just want a cheap laugh. If for nothing else, watch for Anton Yelchin, a brilliant actor who we didn’t get to see enough of.

Film 22 – Cujo (1983) –

The only reason I wanted to watch this film was because of Rachel’s reactions to it on Friends.

It takes a while to get into, but after around halfway through, Cujo is everything you would want a story about a demented, blood-thirsty dog to be about. I’ve not read the Stephen King book so I can’t comment on it being a bad adaptation (as I hear it is), but it is quite claustrophobic which works well. My only annoyance was that kid who wouldn’t stop screaming, which is the one thing I hate about most Stephen King adaptations.

Film 23 – White Noise 2: The Light (2007) –

I have a feeling that I’ve never actually seen the first White Noise, and that I’ve instead found myself rewatching this sequel almost 10 years later. Maybe I would appreciate it more having seen the first because, whilst it has a decent concept, it all felt quite mundane.

Film 24 – Underworld (2003) –

A great franchise for both the vampire and werewolf genres, excellently mixing gothic horror with action.

Film 25 – Poltergeist (2015) –

If Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt weren’t the parents in this film then it wouldn’t nearly be as good. But they make it an almost worthwhile remake and there are a few decent scares to keep you watching, although no film can compare to the classic original.

Film 26 – The Invitation (2015) –

With a great performance from Logan Marshall-Green and I really like Michiel Huisman, too. The Invitation is powerfully tense in all the right places and an enjoyable yet uncomfortable atmospheric thriller.

Film 27 – Paranormal Activity 4 (2012) –

Not even slightly jumpy. There are clever ideas to keep the franchise going, but they are getting less and less scary as they go on.

Film 28 – Dark Skies (2013) –

It’s like they cut bits of scripts from various different horror films and pasted them all together to make this obvious and un-scary supernatural horror.

Film 29 – Stigmata (1999) –

It’s aged badly, but Patricia Arquette is great.

Film 30 – Goosebumps (2015) –

Aside from Jack Black’s dodgy on-and-off accent, this is a decent adventure/horror comedy for families. It’s a lot of fun, even if not always funny.

Film 31 – Event Horizon (1997) –

Nearing on 20 years old, Event Horizon is a dated sci-fi, but it’s one of the best Netflix has to offer for the Halloween period.

About Charlie Morris

Proofreader and film blogger living in Cornwall.

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