The Night House may not be perfect, but it takes some chances and has a nice puzzle at its heart that makes sense the further you go into the movie. It fits nearly into that sub-genre of a genre, the giallo where a woman is either gaslighting herself, being gaslit or going slowly insane (for more, see Footprints on the Moon, The Perfume of the Lady in Black, The Psychic and Lizard In a Woman's Skin).
It also would work well within the seventies style of film — Let's Scare Jessica to Death is a high mark, but it shoots for it — where things happen slowly and then the end races you through the conclusion. Once the puzzle box is opened, things get wild in a hurry.
I first took notice of Rebecca Hall in Christine, a movie I didn't like but loved her in it. She anchors this movie and makes it work, often through the sheer determination of her commitment to the activities around her. Sure, she's dealing with the suicide death of her husband, but she's also pushing against the ridiculousness of it all, such as students pushing for better grades and fellow teachers wanting to know details but too ashamed to ask. Some of it becomes humor to her. And yet, so much more of it is horror, as a mirror house seems to exist in the woods by her home.
Her husband's phone keeps texting and calling her. Music randomly blares. Dreams are filled with his image and voice. And when she finds his phone, she finds pictures of women who are not her, but look exactly like she does.
The sound design is incredible. The editing is perfect. The effects and the way they work hand-in-hand with the cinematography is what others films should aspire to. And the plotting and the maze it leads you down can be forgiven when it loses its way sometimes, because unlike the glut of Blumhouse dreck, this movie will not overly explain itself to you. And that ending, as the two houses come together and time gets played backward? Wow.
The more I think about this movie, the more I like it. I'm used to being let down by endings and modern horror falling apart by the end. This one hits the landing and effortlessly brings in a very human story of grief without hammering home its point and remembering that at heart, this is a horror movie, and horror movies are supposed to scare us, not just preach at us.
Director David Bruckner is going to be making the new Hellraiser and if this is any indication, that movie is going to be interesting.
Jakob is a policeman in a village deep in the woods. Nothing ever happens, but then a wolf shows up, but it's really a transvestite samurai and if you can accept that plot twist, you're pretty much ready for whatever happens next.
The townspeople see Jakob as weak because he's so polite, mild and young, an outsider in their home and the bikers that regularly take advantage of the village think even less of him. So Jacob sits at home and makes his miniature village and then sometimes, he takes bloody meat into the woods to give the wolf a meal and he feels a bond growing.
But is the wolf real? Is the samurai the wolf? Is Jakob supposed to watch, help or stop the wolf? Are they all parts of Jakob's brain or are they all real? And most importantly, is this a slasher or a giallo?
Till Kleinert hasn't made a movie since this. I don't know if he ever has to again, because this is nearly perfect the first time out. But I sure hope he does.
Outside of the expected films like Psycho and Rear Window, Hitchcock has been a blindspot to me, despite my obsession with the krimini and giallo films that owe a debt to his work. Let's change that!
Based on the 1929 play of the same name by Patrick Hamilton, this movie was adapted by Hume Cronyn — yes, the actor and husband of Jessica Tandy — with a screenplay by Arthur Laurents.
After Lifeboat, this is the second in a series of Hitchcock's films that take place in limited settings. Plus, it takes place in real time and appears to be a series of single takes that are covered by some really clever editing by William Ziegler (who also worked on Strangers on a Train and Spellbound for Hitchcock).
Brandon Shaw (John Dall) and Phillip Morgan (Farley Granger) want to prove their intelligence by staging the perfect murder. And to do so, they don't just theoretically discuss it. No, instead, they strangle their old classmate David Kentley (Dick Hogan), hide his body in their apartment and then invite their friends over for a dinner party.
This whole scheme came from discussions they had back in college with their housemaster Rupert Cadell (James Stewart) about Nietzsche's Übermensch and De Quincey's theory that murder is a way of showing one's superiority over others. Yes, the same opium-loving De Quincey whose writing inspired Suspiria, Inferno and Mother of Tears. So he's a guest to take part in their artwork, as it were, as are several former classmates, friends and even the dead man's father.
The claustrophobia of this movie comes from not only the killers being unable to deal with the impact of their crime — it's one thing to calmly discuss a murder in the classroom and its another to actually get your hands dirty — as well as the fact that there's a dead body in a trunk the entire time that people are making merry.
If you're looking for a movie that pushes the limits of what could be done at the time, Rope is it. That's totally not claustrophobic, as Hitchcock was pushing for something that hadn't been done on film before. The long unbroken shots — which frustrated Stewart, who claimed that the experiment was worth taking but didn't work — were unlike anything in standard moviemaking at the time. And it led to really technical things needing to happen, as the entire set was on rollers and could silently be moved as parts come in and out of the scene. What you aren't seeing is a huge crew that were constantly moving heavy furniture and the huge Technicolor camera so as they wouldn't be seen on camera, as well as multiple sound and camera people so that everything could remain in constant motion.
Keep that in mind as you watch the acting in this movie, as there was also a series of cues that the talent had to follow as well as actually act in the movie. Of course, this also led to plenty of issues on set, as there was an incident when the camera dolly ran over and broke a cameraman's foot. In order to keep filming, he was gagged and dragged off the set. That take is in the movie.
Beyond that, this is shot on a stage with a gigantic cyclorama as the background — the largest one ever made — which had models of the New York skyline, as well as working chimneys and lights, a sunset that was artificially created as the movie's runtime moves along and even spun glass clouds that could change position and shape.
Hitchcock even shot a prequel to the film in the trailer, showing the world outside the apartment, showing that he implicitly understood how to sell one of his movies by telling the audience that this would be the last time that they'd see David Kentley alive.
This movie was pretty controversial at the time, as the implied relationship between the leads led it to be banned in some cities. Keep in mind that this movie is less than a century old when you complain out how people are so sensitive. This is where we've come from and it wasn't all that long ago.
This movie was unavailable for three decades because its rights were bought back by Hitchcock and left as part of his legacy to his daughter Patricia. The other four lost films were Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Trouble with Harry and Vertigo. They were finally re-released in theaters in 1984 after thirty-five years of not being seen. Again, we live in a different world where everything is available; it was not always this way.
You think you didn't get along with your siblings? Jonathan and his sister Lynn have a major issue: he was pranked by her boyfriend Alex, who was dressed like a slasher and accidentally killed him. And not that Halloween is here, it. turns out that that man is back from the grave in a new and much more horrible way. I mean, the dude makes people walk backward into drills and pumpkin carves out their faces, so there's that.
This movie was shot over two years and there wasn't much time to get everything that was in the script shot. But director and co-writer Robert Mann (whose co-writer was Sheldon Silverstein, not The Giving Tree author but the producer of The Erotic Adventures of Robinson Crusoe) did everything from voiceover work to making the props and parts of the Halloween costumes to get it done.
For metal dudes, this movie is worth watching because Nergal from Behemoth shows up.
Based on Casey Bishop and Betty Black's novel The Sisterhood — one of the alt titles along with Violated — this is the kind of movie that sets out to be a feminist film and then must climb the challenge of its own marketing, which led director Janey Greek ("Ricky" by Weird Al, Spellbinder) to use the name A.K. Allen and lead actress Karen Austin to complain about how New Line sold the movie by saying: "I think the way the film is being marketed is tacky."
You mean the tagline "Men who attack women have two big problems. The Ladies Club is about to remove them both." isn't classy enough for you?
Austin was on Night Court as he original romantic interest for Harry Stone for the first ten episodes and was John Candy's wife in Summer Rental. Here, she's LAPD officer Joan Taylor, who has been assaulted by three men who the system allows to get away with their crime. After meeting with a woman's support group, she and other members — like Constance Lewis (Christine Belford) and Lucy Bricker (Diana Scarwid, forever Christina) — to hunt down men who have attacked women and surgically castrate them.
That said, if you're expecting something fully sleazed out, this isn't it, no matter what the posters promise. I mean, it's not anything reputable either, but you know what I mean.
And you may ask, "Is this a slasher?" Ask all the dudes that the Ladies Club picked up in bars and had surgeons around to slice off their tallywhackers. I think they would definitely tell you that this is a slasher.