“The Conjuring” cinematic universe kind of snuck up on the horror community over the years, prompting a series of movies that have been hit or miss. While I think “The Conjuring” cinematic universe has a ton of potential to be fantastic, at its current state, there’s still a lot for the studios to learn from the previous films. On its own, “The Nun” is a perfectly fine bit of gothic horror that’s sadly mostly half baked, and under developed. It’s saved by the small cast’s strong turns, and the dazzling imagery that successfully channels the old Hammer films. “The Nun” sets out to build a different energy from the rest of the movies in “The Conjuring” franchise, and for better and for worse, it accomplishes that.
To its credit, “The Taking of Deborah Logan” is a horror film that’s generally remained in the public consciousness mainly for its memorable imagery. As a horror movie it’s just an okay experience that probably would have been so much more effective as a filmed feature. In the end, it’s mainly an okay found footage horror movie that comes out pretty golden mainly for two or three really memorable moments that have become internet memes and are still widely circulated to this day.
Warning: Mild Spoilers to the Series Included.
Take a look at any and all supernatural tales, and you’ll find that they are deep down about three things: They’re either about family, about death, or about mental illness. From “The Babadook,” and “The Conjuring,” to “The Haunting” or “Rebecca,” every great ghost story deep down is about those core themes. “The Haunting of Hill House” is the most riveting ghost story and horror series I’ve seen all year, and I say that as someone who has seen the supernatural sub-genre reduced to nothing but a series of shocks and bumps on the wall when films like “The Ring” and “Grudge” were popularized in the early aughts. To their credit, they are fine ghost films, but I missed the more humanistic elements.
In 1953, “War of the Worlds” brought American audiences an alien foe that crash landed on Earth, and destroyed every inch of the world before it, before finally being defeated by irony. Don Siegel’s 1956 “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” has managed to garner as much influence, and some argue even more influence, mainly for creating an alien invader that’s so much more personal, private, and perverse. Not to mention so much cleverer than any human can outwit in the long run.
It’s been a very long time since Michael Myers was such an imposing or scary horror figure. After many years where he became a reality star getting his ass handed to him by a hip hop star, and being turned in to a hillbilly, it’s good to see Michael Myers once again return to the form he arrived in as “The Shape.” Directed by David Gordon Green, “Halloween” (or “H40,” if you want to get very technical) won’t be for everyone, as it is a mixed bag that makes a controversial decision with its narrative and the mythos. In the end, though, I had a great time, and would recommend it, especially for the horror base looking for a good return to the universe Carpenter specifically established.
It’s well documented that William Castle had aspirations to be Hitchcock, or in many ways rise to his level of filmmaking prowess. Speaking as someone who loves Castle as much as Hitchcock, I’d say they’re about neck and neck, but with different ideas of what constitutes a horror movie. Castle’s talent is theatrics, and with “Strait-Jacket” he takes what is essentially his own version of “Psycho” and stages it as a twisty, occasionally campy, and very cerebral murder mystery. Castle also goes a step forward, turning his killer on their victims with an axe that they use to lop their heads off.
Sheldon Wilson’s “The Hollow” or as I refer to it “Phantoms 2: Samhain Edition,” is one of the more incomplete feeling horror films I’ve seen in a long time. Although the movie isn’t the completely worst Halloween oriented horror entry I’ve ever seen, it definitely feels like it could have stood for twenty minutes of exposition. Even when it stops the movie in its tracks to drop exposition, it still feels like the screenwriters are working on an under cooked film that never finds its footing. So much of “The Hollow” is downright unpleasant and dull, and manages to squander a potentially really cool movie monster.
2014’s “Annabelle” should have been an easy win. Take one of the most frightening elements from 2012’s “The Conjuring” and give her her own spooky tale about where she comes from and you have another hit. Sadly, “Annabelle” was an ill conceived and silly movie that is given a second chance with another prequel “Creation.” This film goes even further back before “The Conjuring” to where the doll was merely a dormant spirit lying and waiting for fresh souls to exploit.