Jordanne Jones recommends two old school and two current horror films, with the goal of changing the perception of the genre and encouraging some spooky viewing this Halloween…
*Includes subtle spoilers[restrict]
A lot of people don’t like horror, and some people even think the genre is distasteful. But, hopefully with my love for horror and these titles I’m about to review, you might find a new perspective – and if not, hey, I’ll try again next year…
The older horrors I’ll feature are Evil Dead 2 (1987), Friday 13th 4: The Final Chapter, (1984), and the more modern horrors, Hole in the Ground (2019) and Malignant (2021).
Starting us off is the brilliant and beloved Evil Dead 2, first filmed as a college assignment with close to no budget and then remade with more money to make their vision translate better onto the screen, which as a film student is so inspirational and gives me hope for my own ideas even when I won’t always have the money and things wont always go well the first time around. The story follows the devastatingly handsome and likeable Ash, played by Bruce Campbell. Ash is a brilliant character who evolves into a total bad-ass icon. He first arrives at an abandoned cottage with his partner, but it doesn’t take long before Ash is engulfed by the psychological torture and madness the haunted house inflicts on him. But he’s no quitter.
The endless fun and possibilities of horror can be seen in the practical effects and design featured from start to finish in Evil Dead 2. I recommend this to those that are easily frightened, because although it packs a good scare from time to time, it’s more of an 80s cheese fest. It can be extremely goofy and includes lots of slapstick comedy. However, within these commonly used goofy narrative tools and style, there are tons of new, experimental, and just incredible shots that pull you into the film.
For only €2.99 on YouTube you can rent Evil Dead 2, and get action-packed cinematography, scenes of unsettling stop-motion animation, fever-dream-ish moments and times when you as the viewer won’t know what the heck is going on to really empathise with Ash as he slowly loses his mind. It also follows the horror trope of Ancient Evil wanting to conquer in the face of a ‘chosen one’, which I love and is always an added layer to a story done in other incredible horrors like Cabin in the Woods.
Still in the 80s, we’re going to jump into a slasher, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, which is the fourth movie of the franchise. It has an enjoyable, well-structured narrative that follows favoured tropes but really shines with its creative, practical kills, similarly to Evil Dead. It’s a scary camp story that comes to life, which gives it that cosy frightening feeling. It follows a group of teenagers down to Camp Crystal Lake where they bump into a loving family who live there. It’s packed with teenage fun; skinny-dipping, romance, sex, and ‘pot’, until everything turns sour for those mistakenly visiting Camp Crystal Lake, where believed-to-be-dead-legend Jason lurks. Again, it’s very 80s, so can come across goofy but it teases you with fake-out scares, and the sheer size and force of the famous killer Jason is petrifying. With practical horror in the fore of my mind and the joy it brings me, ever since the first time I saw the werewolf transition in American Werewolf, I can’t help but notice a reference to this element of horror being represented through the character of young Tommy, played by Corey Feldman.
You can find Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter on YouTube to rent, again for only €2.99, a bargain for great cinema, really.
Now, to take a look at modern horror. To my sadness, it doesn’t always include the charm or practical effects we see in the 80s classics, but we have still gotten lucky with some great ones. I wasn’t sure what to think of 2021’s Malignant, and I even hated it at first. It felt exploitive of the trauma of a woman. In fact, I’m stamping a big trigger warning on this one for domestic abuse and miscarriage story lines. This went on for far too long for me, leaving me annoyed and frustrated, not feeding on any of the fun I love in horror. However, this camp film takes a drastic, gruesome, experimental, unique, action-packed twist nobody is prepared for in the third act, which I think I loved.
Malignant follows Madison’s life – Madison is psychologically connected to the villain of the film, who can take many forms and has a brilliantly dark, almost metal matrix look. To me this was more gruesome than scary, although it does have its scares, and if you’re not enjoying it to begin with, hang tight for the insane third act which brings it to life and is something I’ve never seen done before, with huge It potential. It also includes great transitional shots that we can thank modern CGI for.
For a higher price based on its new release, you can rent Malignant on YouTube for €17.99. Be wary with this one, it’s intense.
Lastly, new Irish horror Hole in the Ground, starring actress Seana Kerslake. I really enjoyed this film, and for the sake of this Irish season in cinema I encourage you all to give this horror a chance. It follows mother, Sarah, and her son Chris into their new home in the countryside, until one day Chris doesn’t seem like Chris anymore. This plot device is one of my favourites because of its evolution on screen and the eeriness of it all and it is done here fantastically. They represent the uncanny valley in some very clever shots that do pack a scare and it overall resonates with the viewer because of how it’s within the home and coming from someone familiar. The cinematography often covers great scale of intimidating shots alongside beautiful scenery which is a wonderful contrast between evil and beauty unfolded on screen.
Hole in the Ground can’t be found on YouTube but for only €3 it can be rented from Google Play.
I know people will write horrors off because they can’t hack the scare, but I just wanted to provide a reminder of what else horror offers cinema, and the fun that we forget can be so prominent in the genre. So this Halloween… I dare you to watch one, if not all, of these horrors for a cosy night of fright.