Rising from the tomb (seems to be a popular thing to do this time of year), I return with news of a handful of underrated horror films that it seems not everyone knows about. Not bad, eh? Didn’t even take me three days…
In all seriousness, I think these films are well worth watching, and are a hell of a lot better than people give them credit for. Now I could list a dozen films off the top of my head, but the editor would go mad if I submitted “The Next Thirty-Two Films You Need To See”, so we’re keeping it brief.
I think five is pretty standard, so brace yourself and get your search engines roaring so you can snag the DVD’s while they’re cheap.
There are two films with this name, and the one we’ll be doing a case study on here is the 2014 version from an American science fiction channel. It’s a creepy doll movie, with the underlying plot of ‘divorced mother moves into new home with disillusioned child’.
The kid happens to be around nine or ten years old and is an amazing actress for the role she’s cast in, and shows off her loud voice in a half-dozen scenes where she screeches like the harpies of old.
Now, the story follows said loud child Claire (Kylie Rogers), who finds a spooky doll in the grate of her new bedroom, with her name stitched on her boot. The fact that the doll’s name is Lillith doesn’t bother anyone, as the mother, Alyson (Jaime Pressly), takes the doll to toss in the washing machine. I know any decent mother would have looked over the grey-skinned thing for signs of danger, but apparently, Alyson doesn’t care.
So, she washes the doll and returns it to her daughter, whereupon the little girl begins having one-sided conversations with it. This eventually boils down into more of a possession/crazy child movie rather than a Child’s Play remake. Though the doll proves to be intelligent, and that it can communicate and kill, it doesn’t seem to do anything more than motivate Claire into doing terrible things.
You’ll only watch this movie once, as the child screaming is close to the nightmarish wails that were in the Babadook from Noah Wiseman’s freakishly powerful lungs. This one doesn’t have the same eardrum piercing quality, but man it delivers at least a dozen of these brain spikes. Other than that, nothing to complain about in this film.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
This film holds a special place in my heart as it was written by the same guy that penned Trollhunter, Andre Overdal. He was apparently lured into our favorite genre after watching The Conjuring, which had him calling his agent to request a good horror script to work on. Now, if you’ve seen Trollhunter, you’d understand that Mr Overdal is known best for making films with a slight horror edge, with bents of dark comedy throughout.
Nope… this film is pure darkness. The opening scene shows several corpses in an unassuming house, all of them torn apart or shredded. The final body, Jane Doe, is found half submerged in the basement floor, shovels and picks all around her. The father/son duo who operate the local coroner’s office receive the body, and are given a single night to find the cause of death on the unmarked woman.
Things become interesting as they discover her wrists and ankles broken, her tongue cut out, poison in her stomach, and a piece of cloth detailing how one is to deal with a witch.
Strange images begin flashing in the darkness as power goes out, plunging the basement level of the house into a hellish environment where both coroners are forced to face the recently departed they had in storage lockers. Illusions wrap around everyday people, prompting grisly murders that seem as if they were done in self-defense, while at other times they’re tricked by the images in to hurting themselves.
I think this is a great film, but it does contain some pretty graphic nudity, so don’t watch if that bothers you. The only downside for me is that the beginning is a little slow, but once everything falls into place, the whole movie flows like blood from a stuck pig. Sorry…
If you’re still with me I’m pleased, as now I get to introduce a film borne from one of my favourite ever short movies. I’m sure we’ve all seen V/H/S, the anthology film where several shorts are wrapped by the story of a few idiots who are also watching the freaky films that they found.
Siren is ripped from the second story, and tells the tale of a bachelor party where things grow intense when the monster — who carried off one able bodied man for a session of rough love — is introduced to another situation. This time featuring sexually charged people and alcohol.
A few twists, one major turn, some great special effects combined with believable acting makes this a great film to watch with the lights out. My only complaint is a few of the stereotypical actions taken by the people trying to evade the monster, and how easy it was for her to claim a few meals. There is some cookie-cutter acting as well, so be sure to just chuckle along to the same jokes that’ve been told over and over before, and just focus on the beast.
Because she is the queen of the night, and of nightmares
The Other Side of the Door
This one is a doozy, as I was lucky enough to see it at the cinema with surround-sound, so it might be hard to replicate that at home. But give it a go…
The main character is a mother who lost her son, when they tragically went over a bridge in their car about a year earlier. The boy drowned because he couldn’t get his seat belt to unbuckle, and as a result the mother tries to kill herself out of a depressive spiral.
As they are in India, and work as art dealers, they have a large airy home with some house servants, one of whom knows of a way for the mother to speak to her son.
There exists a door where, at the right moment, you can listen to the dead scratch from the other side and speak with them. The mother is warned that the only rule is not to open the door, lest she upset the natural order of things.
She goes to the village of this mysterious woman’s birth and walks to an old temple, stalked constantly by strangely dressed natives painted bone-white. She hears her son, apologizes to him and, then starts to hear his cries to be held once more. So, like any mother would do, she opens the door to find nothing but the outside world.
She returns home and the hauntings begin. By letting her son out from beyond the door, she’s allowed his soul to start to rot and turned him evil. An otherworldly agent is seeking him, with multiple arms allowing it to crawl along the ground as it attempts to tackle you… The strange cult of bone-men also lurk at the families residence, and cause quite a stir towards the climax of the film.
Do check this film out, as it shows us a different kind of ghost story. No real flows, though I can say it might have done better with some slow-burn suspense, instead of just showing our foe off the bat.
Before I Wake
This one is an interesting take on a story we’ve seen many times before: an orphan taken in with a curse attached to it. But this one has quite a whammy on him.
In this film, a married couple adopt an eight-year-old boy who has trouble sleeping. Assuming he’s just adjusting from going from home to home in the foster care system, they just play along and try to help him. Then they discover his gift.
His subconscious, the dreaming self, awakens at night and makes his thoughts into reality. They enjoy this at first, and play with him and tell him there is nothing he should be ashamed or worried about.
Then he has a nightmare.
About fifteen minutes of insanity is now spewed forth from what must be a very disturbed boys dreams, and results in the two adults agreeing that the problem is indeed one that needs to be solved. I can’t go any further without spoiling it, so have a look at the trailer.
Great movie with amazing acting, high rung effects, and an awesome script. Could it have been scarier? Yeah. Did it need to be? Not at all.
Perfect fit for a Saturday night horror movie marathon!
By Nicholas Paschall (@Nelfeshne)
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