The very best thing about reviewing festival films for FEARnet is seeing how the horror genre works in other countries. Most nations do not churn out as much horror fare as we do (the UK and Japan sure seem to) but lately I've noticed a rather impressive batting average from a country I've always admired: Ireland! It's not just the lovely landscapes and endlessly fascinating people ... it's also that Irish women are the most beautiful creatures on Earth. I'm pretty sure it's been proven with science.
So in honor of St. Patrick's Day, and as a service to those who are not presently inebriated, I thought it would make sense to combine my affection for Ireland with my obsession with horror flicks, and provide you with a little list of eerie Emerald Isle imports to keep in your rental queue. And while you should never drink and drive, there is no law about drinking and watching Irish horror movies at home. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
(P.S. If you click the title you'll see my review of the movie. Nothing like a little extra self-promotion on a holiday weekend!)
Dead Meat (2004) -- Who says the Irish can't take a crack at a basic but splattery zombie invasion? Not writer/director Conor McMahon, who takes ample inspiration from earlier/better zombie flicks, but simply delivers some enjoyable antics of his own. (U.S. distributor: Bedford / Fangoria Films)
Isolation (2005) -- The premise doesn't do Billy O'Brien's debut feature justice, but here goes: it's about an isolated farm on which a cow has been invaded by something ... gross. If cows could watch movies, this would be their Alien. Dark, goopy, fun stuff. (U.S. distributor: Millennium) BONUS! Available on Netflix Watch Instantly!
Outcast (2010) -- What do two troubled travelers, a mysterious monster, and a bunch of creepy Celtic lore have in common? Watch this slow-burn creeper to find out. Director Colm McCarthy balances quiet, pensive horror with a few moments of outright nastiness. (U.S. distributor: Indomina / Bloody Disgusting Selects)
Wake Wood (2011) -- The resurgence of Hammer was helped, if only quietly, by the quality of this sedate little creeper. It's about the parents of a recently-killed little girl who decide they want to spend just a few more days with her. Yup. Director David Keating strings out the tension just long enough -- and then delivers a few jolts worthy of the name Hammer. And from Ireland, yet. (U.S. distributor: MPI / Dark Sky Films) BONUS 2: Also on Instant Watch.
Grabbers (2012) -- Horror and comedy are a dicey mix, but it's not surprising to see the Irish pull it off mostly rather well in this amusing export. It's about a monster invasion in which the invaders hate alcohol. Now where are a bunch of Irish people supposed to find alcohol? Amiably funnier than it is aggressively violent, but director Jon Wright is clearly having fun with his homeland's own stereotypes. (U.S. distributor: IFC Midnight -- VOD coming soon!)
Citadel (2012) -- If you're unfortunate enough to live in an urban area in which thuggish youths virtually own the streets, you may find something worth relating to in this quiet but effective story. Writer/director Ciaran Foy delivers strong results with little flash. (U.S distributor: to be determined)
...and of course let's give a shout-out to the weird, sometimes stupid, outrageously violent yet somehow likable Rawhead Rex (1986). One of the first horror movies that ever made me realize how creepy Ireland can be. At night, anyway. It's really pretty in daylight.