Welcome to The Last Horror Blog, a column dedicated to all things horror on film.
James Wan talks Insidious 2 – Filmmaker James Wan was at the New York Comic-Con to show off footage from his upcoming film The Conjuring, but while there he also revealed some thoughts about the highly anticipated sequel to Insidious.
Wan told STYD that he plans to stay more involved with the Insidious franchise as it spawns sequels than he did with Saw – which mutated rapidly after he departed.
“I think the sequel to Insidious is kind of my reaction to Saw where for my own reason I wasn’t as involved in the sequels, and so I felt with Insidious, think it would be good to shepherd it and keep it more in track to the version I had when I made the first film so that it doesn’t detour too far. So yeah, I’m kind of working with Leigh on the story and the script.”
He also added that he doesn’t generally plan a film with the thought of a sequel in mind, but that Insidious presented some unique opportunities.
“I never set out to make sequels to any of my films I direct. If they happen, that’s great because that means people out there love it and they want more of it, but I always felt with Insidious we created this really interesting world that we can explore more, and so even though we didn’t set out to make a sequel, I felt that there are stories still out there that could be told.”
We’re excited about both of Wan’s upcoming projects – expect updates on them in the weeks ahead. Until then, check out STYD’s interview with him from the NYCC.
New featurette takes us inside Silent Hill: Revelation 3D – With the sequel to Silent Hill set to hit theaters later this month, there’s no time like the present for a behind-the-scenes featurette on the new film. Check it out below.
Sinister director set to teach The Breathing Method – Scott Derrickson is reaping the benefits of having a hit Hollywood film and striking while the iron is hot. The Sinister helmer has already signed on for his next feature – an adaptation of Stephen King’s novella, The Breathing Method.
The story is the last tale from King’s 1982 collection Different Seasons to be adapted (others included Apt Pupil, Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption and The Body, which became Stand By Me) and will be based on a Scott Teems script. Here’s the plot breakdown:
“The Breathing Method focuses on an elderly physician named Dr. Emlyn McCarron who recounts an incident in his career of a patient who was determined to give birth to her illegitimate child, despite her financial difficulties and the social stigma in the 1930s. The patient turns to the doctor because of the book he has written about the Breathing Method, a system to help women through childbirth. She grows close with the doctor, who finds that she is so determined to have the child through the method that she lingers on even after a horrific accident on the way to the hospital.”
We’ll keep you updated on this one as more details emerge.
Looking for a horror flick to get you in the Halloween spirit? V/H/S will probably fill your needs.
If nothing else, you have to give V/H/S props for pushing the envelope when it comes to form – it’s not every day that we see a found-footage anthology film. Sure, everyone with an iPhone camera and a copy of iMovie is shooting their own found-footage horror flick these days, but the horror anthology isn’t nearly as popular as it was in the past. This is both the greatest strength and weakness of V/H/S.
The strength stems from the fact that we get five stories from five different directors (six and six if you count Adam Wingard’s framing tale) – so if one doesn’t resonate with you, just wait a few minutes and a new one will be along to try again. The weakness comes from the fact that with so many stories and such a wide variety of filmmakers, the quality tends to fluctuate pretty drastically.
V/H/S attempts to tie its series of tales together with a framing story. A group of Jackass-esque young men have to break into a house and steal a videocassette. They stage their robbery – only to discover that the house is filled with tapes, and that there’s a dead guy in the abode as well. The rest of the “found footage” is comprised of twisted recordings found on the various cassettes.
Unfortunately, this framing device doesn’t really work. Director Adam Wingard (who’s given us A Horrible Way to Die and the upcoming You’re Next) apparently drew the short straw when it came to segments. The framing story doesn’t ever really go anywhere and doesn’t feel like anything more than a ploy to get these characters to a place where they’d have a reason to watch these messed-up tapes. Luckily, this narrative conceit doesn’t hurt the film as a whole – but it’s still the weakest link in all of the stories V/H/S has to tell. It’s just not really connected with any of the other stories in a meaningful way.
The other five tales, however, do share some common bonds – mainly a reliance on “bro-dude” main characters (think obnoxious frat-boy types) and an interesting fascination with voyeurism (many of the stories make at least passing nods to the idea of homemade pornography). Each filmmaker crafts their own standalone tale of terror (with varying degrees of success), but some of them seem to link to others in very subtle, almost symbolic, ways. Let’s take a look at each of the tales.
V/H/S kicks off with the creepy Amateur Night. David Bruckner’s short follows a trio of young men (one armed with a hidden camera inside his glasses) as they go out to meet girls at a local bar. Things go off the tracks when they bring the ladies back to their room for some videotaped carnal pleasure, mostly because one of the women isn’t what she appears to be.
Amateur Night makes for an interesting opening segment, setting the tone for what we can expect both thematically and aesthetically for the rest of the film. The male characters aren’t particularly likable and the gore and sexuality is pretty in your face. The only real detriment to Bruckner’s entry is that it’s incredibly shaky in terms of filming. Found footage loves a good “shaky cam” effect to help with the illusion that it’s “real,” but Amateur Night takes the conceit too far. Fortunately, the herky-jerky movements calm down for the rest of the feature.
Next up is Ti West’s Second Honeymoon. I had really high hopes for this one, given that West has yet to make a bad film (and his House of the Devil was in my top 10 of 2009). A young couple traveling on their second honeymoon is being stalked by a mysterious stranger – that’s the whole premise. West gives us his traditional slow-burn buildup (and one great gore segment), but the ending of this one feels too abrupt and out of left field. The entry is entertaining, but falls short of being classic.
From there, it’s on to Glenn McQuaid’s Tuesday the 17th. McQuaid, who gave us the fun I Sell the Dead, offers up a new twist on classic slasher cinema in this outing. It doesn’t quite work – not because the story isn’t interesting, but because it really should have been a feature-length film. In the short running time, we wind up with more questions than answers – which is frustrating, because there are a lot of interesting ideas at work in this one.
After that, Joe Swanberg (who also stars in Ti West’s entry) brings us The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger. If you can get past the idea of someone putting Skype camera calls on a VHS tape (talk about weirdly anachronistic technology usage…), this entry works quite well. The whole thing is conducted via Skype chat, with the titular Emily talking to her out-of-town boyfriend as strange things start happening in her apartment. Swanberg misdirects the audience pretty handily, making the final reveal satisfyingly surprising. The only issue here is that this entry should have probably swapped places with Tuesday the 17th in order to really maximize V/H/S’s overall pacing. This is a slower entry between two fast ones – and it sort of bogs down the rising tension of the film as a whole. That’s not a condemnation of Swanberg’s film – just a thought on the overall placement of each story for maximum impact.
Luckily, the film saves the best for last – Radio Silence’s 10/31/98 is a fast, frantic, and fabulously satisfying take on the old-woman-in-white urban legends. More bro-dudes out for a Halloween party get way more than they bargained for when they wind up in a strange house. The FX and story in this one work really well – making it the strongest entry in the film and the perfect closing point for the film. This collective of filmmakers has a bright future ahead of them.
Of course, we could say that about the entire V/H/S collective – one of the film’s biggest selling points is that it’s an anthology featuring work for the next generation of horror masters. Everyone acquits themselves well here. There are issues with some of the individual stories and the whole of V/H/S, but the sum total of the experience is positive. This film won’t reinvent the genre or change the way anyone looks at found footage, but as an entry in your Halloween movie marathon, this one is far more treat than trick.
Horror on the Horizon
Lots and lots of good horror coming your way as we head into the Halloween homestretch.
October 19 sees the arrival of the fourth installment of the Paranormal Activity series as well as the limited release of Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes.
On October 25, horror fans in select markets will get a rare treat – the chance to see John Carpenter’s Halloween on the big screen. Check the official site for a full list of locations. You’re not going to want to miss this one.
The week of October 26 finishes off the month with Silent Hill: Revelation 3D. The second film set in Konami’s Silent Hill universe will look to prove that games can make for good movies.
Home Video Horror
Pickings are slimmer on the home video side as it appears as though most distributors released their titles earlier in the month.
Wrong Turn 5 and the decidedly non-horror Blade Runner 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition debut on October 23. October 30 brings us the Criterion Collection Rosemary’s Baby and two Dark Shadows discs.