Censor


Viewed – 02 October 2021 online rental

Enid, a woman working for a British censorship board in the early eighties discovers a movie that strongly resembles her own childhood memories of when her younger sister disappeared. So begins an investigation into the movie and it’s mysterious Director, as the boundaries between reality and the movie start to blur.

Video nasty…

This British horror has a great initial concept, and explores a time in the U.K. when many violent or gruesome movies were getting banned as well as occasionally linked to real life crimes. This explores that period, which delivered movies that went onto become classics such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. However the viewpoint here is one dimensional, with that era of horror being looked at as sleazy and only worthy of disdain. It generally works in the context of the story however with the mystery surrounding Enid’s sister is an interesting one.

Shame then that any mystery or investigation is soon discarded in favour of increasingly surreal imagery and a focus of Enid potentially losing her mind. Visually this echoes the likes of Dario Argento’s Suspiria, especially in the more nightmarish sequences, and is on a whole imaginatively filmed. Niamh Algar as Enid proved compelling with one bit towards the end particularly heart-breaking. Just a shame then the movie lacked closure, at times felt rushed and kind of disappeared up its own ass. Worth a look for its visuals and its lead actress, but ultimately disappointing.

Verdict: Poor

Candyman


Viewed – 31 August 2021 Cinema

I revisited the original Candyman a while back, and although I still liked it I did find some the acting a bit poor. Yet it’s concept was certainly ripe for a new instalment and this re-imagining-come-sequel, which dismisses the other sequels, follows a struggling artist who stumbles upon the urban legend. Deciding to base his new exhibition on the myth, the artist unwittingly summons the ghetto ghoul in the process.

Say my name…

Produced and co-written by Jordan Peele (Get Out), this new instalment stays faithful to the events of the first movie whilst adding plenty ideas of its own. I especially liked how it explores the idea that Candyman is not just one person but several who had all died in horrible ways, the latest being a victim of Police brutality. Yes, clearly there’s a Black Lives Matter message here as well as an exploration of racism from both sides. Direction is very atmospheric and at times quite creepy but not all that chilling, yet this is offset by several well-executed kills (including a particularly shocking school bathroom scene).

The fact that only white people get killed in this however, feels problematic, and despite exploring similar themes to the first movie, it does seem to have an axe to grind. It also never really goes for it in the gore department. However such things don’t ruin what is generally an effective and imaginative follow up that has enough personality and stand out sequences to be worthy of your time.

Verdict: Good

The Conjuring 3


Viewed – 26 May 2021 Cinema

The Devil Made Me Do It

The universe created for The Conjuring franchise, has in my opinion been (mostly) consistent, quality horror. This latest entry is based on the case of Arnie Johnson, who in 1981 was trialled for murder and as his defence, the lawyers said it was demonic possession.

Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson return as real-life paranormal investigators Ed & Lorraine Warren who are called in to aid the defence and prove Arnie was possessed. Along the way they stumble upon a satanic curse linked to other incidents. The central story was intriguing and held my interest and how the movie further explored the Warren’s relationship was welcome. Jump scares were plentiful and for the most part well done, and certain set pieces definitely got the hairs standing up on back of my neck (the morgue scene). Also, how Lorraine Warren’s psychic abilities are shown does get quite imaginative.

Franchise creator James Wan steps down from the directing chair, acting as a co-writer and producer and minus his skill at delivering carefully drawn out atmosphere and scares, this failed to get under one’s skin as much as the previous entries … but still retains high production values (with effective sound design) and strong performances. The weakest of the three movies then, but still well worth a watch.

Verdict: Good

Army of the Dead


Viewed – 25 May 2021 Netflix

Following a zombie outbreak on Las Vegas, a group of mercenaries are hired to venture into the quarantine zone to retrieve a stash of money hidden in an underground vault. Zack Snyder (Justice League) returns to the zombie genre he pretty much reinvented with his well received Dawn of the Dead remake, this time under the guise of a heist movie.

With the director’s brand of stylish visuals and frenetic action, whilst not breaking the mould … this proved a fun experience. Guardians of the Galaxy’s Dave Bautista heads a mostly unknown cast in this action horror, and proves a likeable lead. A subplot revolving around Bautista’s daughter, who tags along on the heist to rescue the mother of two children … felt a bit forced just to create a father/daughter bonding angle which only complicates an already dangerous mission. Also a sequence involving an army convoy at the beginning, is left unexplained. At 2 and a half hours, this also felt padded out, with needless sequences such as a long bit inside a building sneaking past sleeping zombies.

However the movie does deliver great action, the zombie tiger seen in the trailer is awesome, and as for gore, whilst infrequent, there’s some stand-out moments. The band of mercenaries are also entertaining and have good banter. Overall, not quite the evolution of the zombie flick it’s marketed as, and it does get very silly – but I still came away entertained.

Verdict: Good

Saint Maud


Viewed – 13 February 2021 online rental

A rather talked about British horror from newcomer Rose Glass that has been getting some good word of mouth lately. So of course I thought I’d check it out. This tells the story of Maud, a young woman who comes to work as a full time carer for retired former dancer Amanda (Jennifer Ehle) who is dying of cancer. It soon transpires that Maud is deeply religious and through caring for the woman, decides she may have finally found her ‘calling’.

Not your usual setup for a horror and initially I was wondering if I’d been sold the wrong movie. The portrayal of Maud and her beliefs is intriguing and as the story progresses, quite eye opening and unsettling. I personally am not religious although I believe in spirituality, and some of the things in this woman’s head are troubling. Such as how she self harms in an attempt to please God. Director Rose Glass transports is into Maud’s mind quite quickly and it’s a dark and disturbing place to be. She also fills the movie with a claustrophobic dread, using camera work, lighting and music effectively.

However, there’s only a hint of back story and the movie fails to even remotely explore why Maud is the way she is, which as her actions get crazier makes for a rather unsympathetic character. This is the movie’s main failing … it’s like we’re just getting a small part of the story, and I get it – a lot of what goes on is subjective. Yet performances are solid, especially Morfydd Clark as Maud and where the movie goes is quite shocking. Just a shame it’s mostly surface horror than anything deeper.

Verdict: Good