Well my repellent readers, after a horrific hiatus Culture War Reporter’s is back from the grave to fight for your faithful following. And we start with one of my personal favorites, our fourth annual Halloween movie recommendations! Now let us feast!
The Perfect Host
As a rule, I don’t consider “comedy horror” to be a legitimate subgenre of horror. Things are either scary or they’re funny and mashing ’em together in a movie usually makes sure that it’s neither. That said, 2010’s The Perfect Host may well change my mind about that. Imagine if Hannibal was a black comedy and you pretty much have this delightful hidden gem. We bear witness to an evening of strange events as a conman knocks on the wrong door and gets more than he bargains for. And since you’re wondering, yes, that is Niles from Fraiser. He actually makes a pretty compelling villain.
They Look Like People
This is, without a doubt, one of the single best movies I have ever seen.
I cannot sing its praises enough. I’d spend a whole blog post breaking down all the things that make it awesome, but I don’t want to give away a single second of it. Know only that a young man receives a surprise visit from a childhood friend. What follows is a slow-burning, subtle, and staggeringly realistic film in the vein of such masterpieces as Stoker and It Follows. Amazingly written, beautifully shot, and utterly compelling. If you watch literally nothing else on this list, watch this.
We Are What We Are
It’s about a family of cannibals. But you knew that. You’d know that from the trailers, from the first five minutes, or from having watched even an episode or two of X-Files. But fortunately, the folks behind We Are What We Are know that you know that, and spend their time making this film less about any cliched twist (though there is certainly an unexpected jolt at the end) and more about painting a vivid and haunting picture of American Gothic. Beautifully shot, amazingly acted, and with a much needed degree of self-awareness that raises this film head and shoulders above it’s just-for-the-fans brethren.
A great movie, as viscerally nasty in plot as it is beautiful in language. Seriously, this movie deserves to be mentioned on the basis of it’s accurate and eloquent dialogue alone, most of which was lifted directly from 17th texts. The love and research that went into this gut-puncher of a film show at every second, and this is almost certainly going to be a horror-flick classic. So join a lonely Puritan family in the desolate New England wilderness as something strange and sinister begins to creep out of the treeline…
2013’s Rigor Mortis marks the first non-Western horror flick we’ve recommended. And that fills with me with shame, because there’s honestly no good reason I didn’t see and recommend this movie sooner. We’re plunged headfirst into a dark and surreal (and incredibly high production value) apartment complex as a washed-up actor, a mysterious caretaker, and a sinister folk magician battle with the forces of evil in a crumbling apartment building.
Ever since The Blair Witch Project helped re-introduce the world to the found-footage genre, folks have been attempting to recreate the cult hit’s success. And not with much success, as found footage films tend to be more annoying and gimmicky than anything else. When I was faced with the prospect of watching a series of found footage films (within another found footage film), I didn’t exactly have high hopes.
Boy, was I pleasantly surprised.
V/H/S does the remarkable in creating a truly frightening and equally artful series of surreal horror flicks, each with a separate director and each bringing in their own unique brand of horror and finding compelling ways to tell their story. Found footage folks, this is how it’s done. Better yet, it’s available now on Netflix.
Before anyone asks, no, I still haven’t had a chance to watch Crimson Peak. I’ve been a bit busy becoming a published author of fiction, and you can view the efforts of my labors here.