Archive for the hallow

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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THE HALLOW (2015) – Review

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2015 by smuckyproductions

2015 has been one of the best years for horror in recent memory – between It Follows, Goodnight Mommy, Crimson Peak, and now THE HALLOW.

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Premiering alongside the much-anticipated The Witch at the 2015 Park City at Midnight, this film has generated a ton of buzz for several reasons – the director’s involvement in The Crow remake and the use of almost entirely practical effects being the most notable of them. While I will say that my expectations were high and were not met head-on, this film is nonetheless one of the best creature-features of the past ten years.

We’ve seen the plot before – urban family moves to rural area and pisses off something in the woods. Director Corin Hardy embraces the simplicity of his story and tells it with passion. He cares about each element – his characters, his monsters, his horror – so much that the film becomes earnest and fully realized through his intensity alone. Simple it may be, but The Hallow is full of hellish energy and intensity, anchored by two talented actors who convince you that they’re worth investing in.

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But the best part of this film is its creatures and the evil that they commit. Corin Hardy is a visual artist, and an avid horror fan, which comes through beautifully. The design is both aesthetically fascinating and disturbing. Any film featuring a killer fungus is a sure winner, too. It’s a lot of fun to see Irish folklore brought to life and milked for all the nasty stuff it contains. These ‘fairies’ are not Tinkerbell – but they aren’t purely abject, either, because Hardy gives them personality, and their design feels organic. To have them played by human beings, not computers, is also fabulous.

The scenes of horror are masterful for this reason. There’s both creature terror and classic body horror, with things invading and transforming in hideous ways. Hardy orchestrates the scary moments very well – the scene where everything kicks into high gear is just awesome, and the scene in the attic, good lord. And the gross-out effects aren’t only gross. There’s emotion behind the scares, which makes them resonate.

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Unfortunately, these elements also end up dragging the film down by its final act. I’ve only seen one creature feature that maintains the terror all the way through – that’s Alien – because it’s immensely difficult to keep something scary once you’ve seen it and know it can be defeated. The Hallow falls into this trap, losing its power of shock and showing too much. This isn’t all bad, of course – when the horror stops, the action begins, and the film maintains its entertainment value, just entering a different type of fun. I would have preferred the horror myself, but the genre switch does not sacrifice the film’s heart. I’ll leave it at that to avoid spoilers.

So, it is flawed, and doesn’t reach the level of terror that other recent offerings maintain. But it’s a terrific ride in its own right. This is a solidly effective and beautifully designed modern creature feature.

THE HALLOW – Official Trailer

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2015 by smuckyproductions

Here’s another exciting release coming soon from the ever-brilliant folks at IFC Midnight (who released 2014’s masterpiece “The Babadook”): THE HALLOW, directed by Corin Hardy.

This one garnered some impressive attention at this year’s Sundance, though it was up against this year’s most talked-about horror indie, “The Witch.” Most notably, it got Hardy the director’s chair on the upcoming remake of “The Crow.” Considering that news, the response from Sundance, and the fact that the creature effects are 100% practical, I’m placing this at the top of my list.

“The Hallow,” like the other rising star of 2015 “Krampus,” is based on folklore – the Irish legends of wicked, hideous fairies that steal children in the night. Judging from the trailer, these fairies are indeed quite horrifying. It looks like a sick mix between “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” and “The Evil Dead.” I’m beyond excited. Since 2004’s “The Descent,” it doesn’t seem like there’s been a creature feature like this, both gory and harrowingly close to home. Babies are always a touchy subject, after all.

What are your thoughts on the trailer, and how does it stack against the surplus of genre goodies that 2015 seems to be offering?