I got there. All in all, this was a successful Halloween for me. I got to be The Driver for Halloween (nailed it!), I made all 17 films work with my schedule this year, and I got to play the Thriller album in its entirety at work two days in a row.
This was a great HMF! Sure, there were some duds, but that’s always worth it to watch films like The Babadook, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, and The Haunting for the first time. I love doing this, my only hope is that I can get a rhythm back so that I can get the writing back to where it used to be.
Now I’m craving two things. 1. Doing ‘Another Day, Another Movie‘ with a genre other than horror, again. 2. Watching all of my favorites from previous HMF’s throughout the rest of 2015.
Night Fifteen: Crimson Peak
“I heard you the first time.”
I’m sad to say it, but I mostly didn’t enjoy Crimson Peak.
Based on the trailers, I was worried about this from one from the start. I’d liked the idea for the long period that it was being reported on by movie blogs and whatnot, and I was stoked about Hiddleston and Chastain in a GDT film. Yet, the trailers had me underwhelmed and I just held out hope because I really wanted the movie to be good.
The aim for the dialogue seemed to be flowery and Victorian, but the result was clunky and wooden. Several plot elements that were supposed to be shocking simply aren’t because of a few major stories everyone has talked about over the last several years. Nothing interesting or surprising ever happens, and there times that GDT’s trademark visual choices actually tipped over the edge into what felt like an homage to himself, which I think I would have actually come to terms with if the story had been as interesting visuals could be at times.
The music was also really misplaced. I wish del Toro had worked with Javier Navarrete again, as he did in Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth. I forgot to mention Navarrete earlier in HMF this year, as he also did the score for Byzantium. Three movies has to be a record for one composer in a single HMF. For my money, he’s the best at making sad, eery, beautiful scores for films like the three I’ve enjoyed recently.
Crimson Peak has some major plot holes that were just the right sort to be really distracting to me. This is where some people will make the tired old argument that I shouldn’t have a problem with plot holes because GHOSTS AREN’T REAL, I’m expecting too much if I want it all to make sense! You’ll especially hear writers and producers and actors say that sort of thing. Yet, there is still such a thing as internal logic in a story. I don’t need the ghosts to operate according to some rules I have decided on my own are how all ghosts in stories should act forever. However, I do need the characters in the story to act in ways that make sense, or else they aren’t characters but props.
It was still Guillermo, so the film was still beautiful to look at, but that wasn’t enough to save this one for me.
Will I Ever Watch It Again? Sadly, I doubt it.
Night Sixteen: The Blair Witch Project
“I love you mom, dad. I am so sorry. What is that? I’m scared to close my eyes, I’m scared to open them. We’re gonna die out here.”
So, spoilers, but that probably isn’t a thing in a film that has been such a major part of the cultural landscape.
We all know this one is about a malevolent and mysterious force which kills the world’s most incompetent film students (and don’t forget most incompetent hikers), saving us from what would have been the worst documentary of all time.
This was my first time watching this sub-genre spawning, classic, low-budget indie success story. It took me a while to get around to it, mostly because so many found footage films have followed in its wake and it’s tiring.
All in all, have finally seen it, I was really impressed by what they did and how they did it in The Blair Witch Project.
I thought the main characters were really annoying, but in this rare case that’s actually a good thing. If you watch unedited footage from some film students making a documentary, more often than not it is going to be annoying, especially if those film students are growing increasingly lost, terrified, and desperate. Annoying characters fit this story.
This film proves that you can be effectively scary without having a ridiculous CGI monster, or even without a well-designed practical effects monster for that matter. The film’s final moments were especially creepy and unsettling, including the end where our foreshadowing tells us what Mike was doing over in the corner. Creeeeepy.
Will I Ever Watch It Again? Probably not, fitting as they may have been, I don’t think I could spend another 80 minutes with these characters.
Night Fifteen: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
“You’re sad. You don’t remember what you want. You don’t remember wanting. It passed long ago. And nothing ever changes..”
Holy shit, yes! This movie is so good.
Called the first Iranian vampire western, it’s like Sergio Leone, Drive (which is already a neo-western, so I guess that’s redundant), and Let The Right One In had a beautiful Iranian-American baby together, and there was much rejoicing.
Watching Ana Lily Amirpour’s feature length debut felt just like when I saw Take Shelter. While not his debut, that was my first Jeff Nichols movie and I immediately wanted to see everything else he’d made and wait with bated breath for him to make more. That’s instantly how I feel about Amirpour. I just want her to make more movies as soon as possible! Her sure-handedness and textual literacy was on display everywhere in this film, and it just made me want to keep getting lost in her visuals and references and framing and sound choices.
Amirpour wrote the film in English and then translated that to Farsi phonetically, which would have been reason enough to have a quiet film dialogue-wise. Yet, this would have been a quiet film anyway. Amirpour has crafted this film so that every gesture, every prop in the background, every pause and beat is perfectly constructed for the movie. I know that’s how it is usually supposed to work, but this is what it looks like when a filmmaker actually succeeds at it.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night has style for days, paints its allusions with perfect balance for the tone of the film, has an amazing soundtrack, and just plain feels like the sort of movie that would crawl out of my own love for culture and genre and film.
This was a really great way to end Halloween Movie Fest 2015.
Will I Ever Watch It Again? I could watch this one on repeat.