Archive for goodnight mommy

Smucky’s Best Horror Films of 2015

Posted in Best Of, Films That Haunt Me with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2015 by smuckyproductions

The madness that was 2015 has come to a conclusion. Looking back, there is so much to celebrate in horror – a veritable resurgence of this wondrous genre. Now Smucky’s Grave reflects on the favorite horror films that graced the screens this year.

THE HALLOW

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Creature feature, body horror, and possession drama – all in one outrageously fun movie. Born and bred in Ireland, which is full of untapped spook stories, this indie effort shows that monster movies can still be scary. It’s gross and imaginative, but it also has a heart beating at its center.

CREEP

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Found footage is generally the worst. But leave it up to Mark Duplass and the Blumhouse folks to come up with a hilarious, subtle, and ultimately horrific meta-film about loneliness and madness. This quirky piece of terror might be too weird for some folks, but for those who are weird already, it speaks volumes. I wanted to take a shower after the ending.

WE ARE STILL HERE

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Dark Sky Films does it again with a wonderfully creepy homage to Lovecraft and Fulci. The fact that those two names show up together is enough to send horror nerds flailing in excitement. What begins as a spooky haunted house flick soon descends into gore-soaked cosmic horror, all while being legitimately scary. A ball of bloody fun, this one.

CRIMSON PEAK

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It’s too much to hope for that not one, but TWO, films reference Italian directors. Guillermo del Toro’s lush, stunning love letter to Gothic romance is dripping with Bava-esque visuals and intense passion that most of Hollywood has effectively killed. While not exactly horror, this film embodies the Gothic tradition so well, and makes for singularly spooky entertainment.

GOODNIGHT MOMMY

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It’s no accident that this film was Austria’s submission to the Oscars this year. Rarely has a film been able to sustain such unbearable tension, all by withholding information – until the brutal, bone-rattling end. This horrorshow seems like a Gothic chiller set in a cold modernist world, but by the conclusion, it becomes so much more. I still shiver when I think of the images here. Not for the fainthearted.

IT FOLLOWS

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Sure, this film is over-discussed. But there’s a reason for it. In an age when most horror is either a remake or a spoof, this film manages to pay homage to the classics, tear them down, and rebuild them into something new. It’s honestly terrifying, surprisingly beautiful, and uncannily subtle in its presentation of nebulous millennial fears. We have witnessed the birth of a new genre icon here, and a testament to the power of indie cinema. What a way to celebrate cinema.

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There are quite a few films that Smucky’s Grave missed this year, including: “The Final Girls,” “Unfriended,” “Krampus,” “The Visit,” “Bone Tomahawk,” and “The Boy.” Here’s to hoping that 2016 allows for more time to explore these well-hyped films.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, GHOULS!

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GOODNIGHT MOMMY (2015) – Review

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2015 by smuckyproductions

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Anyone who is the tiniest bit tuned into the horror scene will, by now, have heard of Severin Fiala and Veronica Franz’s German horror film GOODNIGHT MOMMY. For all the buzz, the film kept its secrets well – we only knew that it dealt with creepy kids and a creepier mother, and that the ending was horrifying. Now, it has hit select theaters, and I was finally able to uncover its secrets. The film that unfolded was, to say the least, every bit as horrifying for me as the hype suggested.

For those who don’t know, “Goodnight Mommy” tells the story of two twin boys whose mother comes home from a facial reconstruction surgery… but is she really their mother? That’s what they try to discover over the next 100 minutes, forcing the audience to watch their endeavours to understand who has come to their home. I won’t give anything more than that away, plot-wise, because it’s best to go blind into this one. Let’s just say that I spent the last fifteen minutes grabbing my face in disbelief.

This film is gorgeously constructed. It paces itself with the patience of a hunting panther, slowly creeping toward its conclusion and never allowing the audience a moment’s respite from the tension. A lesson can be taken from here for other filmmakers – Fiala and Franz follow Hitchcock’s bomb-under-the-table rule of tension amazingly well, refusing to resolve the suspense with a shock or an outburst of violence until they’re damn well ready to do so. Because of this, the audience is constantly on edge, waiting for something awful to happen. And it does – all the more awful because of the tension that has constricted you. (I wish I could outline some of the best scenes here, but that would be a heinous betrayal of future audiences.)

From a purely cinematic perspective, this film was a masterwork as well – the imagery is both beautiful and eerie, with sublime shots of the primal forest contrasted with a shadowy, too-modern house in which the titular, bandaged Mommy lurks like an apparition. The children, for that matter, also lurk and creep. The scenes have an almost morbidly languid atmosphere around them – everyone is hushed and waiting. As Variety’s review of the film suggests, none of the characters behave as they seem they should. It’s a grotesque film in the most classic sense, where everything is just slightly off-kilter… or not so slightly. The events seem spectral, as if playing years after they occurred, haunting the audience with their recurring nightmare.

The attention to atmosphere and imagery elevates the film from what could have been a piece of nasty, but forgettable, horror. It is tautly and ingeniously constructed, tension always rising and scenes increasing slowly in their bizarre qualities. But there is also a deep-rooted theme – investigating the ever-sensitive and painful world of mothers and children – from which all the horror is drawn. By sealing itself within that theme, the film becomes all the more disturbing and profound. It is about things that every single person knows, and what happens on screen is something that many people must dread.

I can’t say much more without ruining the surprise – this isn’t a film that banks on a twist, but it is best to know as little of the plot as possible, due to the sheer impact of the events. It’s an absolute must for horror fans, and cinema fans in general, for its amazing knowledge of the craft. But be warned – if it does get you, it will not let you forget it.

“Goodnight Mommy” is playing in select theaters now, but let’s hope it gets a wider release. It’s a brilliant genre work and deserves all the attention it can get – though it will certainly polarize.

Upcoming Film – “Goodnight Mommy”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2015 by smuckyproductions

Fantastically excited for the release of Goodnight Mommy this Friday, at the IFC Center. I’ll be seeing it hopefully that day and posting a review following.

Rumor has it that, at its festival premiers, several audience members had to run out of the theater due to the extremity of the ending. That alone makes it tantalising – the trailer seals the deal, so to speak.

This film seems to be a part of a festival trend, discovering quality, original horror films and bringing them to the mainstream. It occurred last year with “It Follows” and “The Babadook,” arguably the best horror films to come out in this decade. This year we have “Goodnight Mommy” and “The Witch,” among others. I’m hoping this is a start of a trend, paying more attention to indie horror that has a brain (and a heart).

Anyone else excited for this? Leave a comment and let me know what films are on your 2015 list!