Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Films That Scare Me

Horror is one of the most overused and hard-to-do-well genres in film. Every year a slew of 'scary' films are pumped out into cinemas but very rarely are these films worth much, or even remotely scary. I know that everybody is scared by something different and peoples concepts of horror all vary, but I just wanted to celebrate Halloween by sharing some of the films that I find genuinely frightening. 

I've been watching horror films since I was very young and they definitely make up a hefty chunk of the films I watch for fun. While this list is nowhere near extensive these are the five films that come to me every time I try to compile a list of decent horror films. 

The Blair Witch Project
The film that made handheld cameras scary? I first watched this film when I was far too young (around 11) and thought it was boring as hell. I watched it a second time at 18 and it scared me senseless. I think  this films main problem is that viewers get bored, and somewhat understandably so, as nothing truly frightening happens for great portions of the film. For me, the scariest things in films are those that aren't seen, the horrors that I come up with in my head, and The Blair Witch Project delivers these by the bucket load.

Essentially if you don't pay attention to the documentary portion of the film at the start, the interviews particularly, the real horror will never come across to you or have any effect. That final shot of the film is one of the most horrifying I've experienced, and it is all thanks to the incredible build up created in those early sequences.

The Orphanage
I personally feel that some of the absolute best horror of recent years has come from Spain, and The Orphanage is top of the pile. This film is horrific, haunting and heart-wrenching all at once. The seemingly simple plot is actually quite complex and works on multiple levels that when fully comprehended create a wonderful story. There are scares a plenty and a great selection of creepy images to stay lodged in your head at night.

Two other highly recommended Spanish horrors are the infamous [REC] and lesser known Julia's Eyes

This film is on the list less for it's scariness, and more for the fact that it's a horror film that is heavily underrated. The Saw franchise has suffered a free-fall in quality ever since its first sequel, but the original is truly a masterpiece. It may be responsible for the mess that is the torture-porn sub-genre, but it is an incredibly clever film with genuinely some horrific imagery and one hell of a twist. I love this film, and I wish more people would appreciate it in spite of the slew of crappy sequels it's produced.

The Strangers
Another underrated gem is The Strangers. The plot is nothing groundbreaking and the acting is nothing to shout about, but first time director Bryan Bertino created some truly great horror moments in this film and some of the most effective jump scenes I've experienced. I would greatly urge people to get the extended version of the film if they can as it feels like a much more complete film, and it also features the intense silent shot of Liv Tyler being watched, which features in the trailer but oddly enough is not in the final film, and which will never stop creeping me out. 

A true contender for the marmite of horror film awards is Insidious, which seems to completely polarise it's viewers opinions. Personally, it scared the crap out of me and I actually went to see it a second time at the cinema in a hopeless attempt to shake off its impact. The second half of the film may well seem like a completely different story to the first, but this film clearly tries to deliver every kind of scare you could want from a horror film and in my opinion it succeeds. Creepy children, gas masks, haunted houses, seances, monsters and cheerful-but-terrifying music. Everything is present and helps make this film a fantastic horror film worth multiple viewings.

So there you go, I don't expect anyone to agree with this list or even necessarily find these films scary but I think it's always good to see what other people think is good or worth watching, particularly within a genre as vast as horror. 

What are your favourite horror films? Has anything you've watched really scared you recently?

A Nightmare on Chapel Street


Did i mention that I love this holiday?

Last Saturday myself and my housemates threw a Halloween party at our house for all of our friends. We (I) got extremely drunk and everyone had a great time. This was my first proper Halloween party and so I was understandably very excited. The build up consisted of buying loads of great decorations and carving six awesome pumpkins (my two can be seen below). 

Everyone made such a huge effort with costumes and I loved getting to celebrate such a fun holiday with a great bunch of people. So this is my way of sharing some of that Halloween fun with you lot, through a collection of pictures collated from mine, Rosie's and our friends Claire's cameras. 

I got my Peter Pan costume from here along with a pair of awesome ear tips that worked extremely well from Ebay.

What are your Halloween plans? 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Of Apples and Landmarks, Day 1

As anyone who knows me is probably sick of hearing, and as I've mentioned numerous times on this blog, this summer myself and my friend Rosita spent 10 days in New York. Admittedly I intended to relay the events of each day on here a lot sooner. But with moving into my new University house, and staring my final year of study I've found myself with a lot less time than I'd hoped for. So here I, belatedly, go.

The holiday got off to a delayed start when after being loaded onto a plane, we were told it was not suitable for flight then unloaded and given a delay and a food token as compensation. Considering I hadn't been on a plane for around 8 years I was a little apprehensive but the flight was fine, only a little bit of turbulence and some pretty awesome views from the window and I also got two films watched, The Lucky One and Wrath of the Titans as well as the first 20 minutes of The Avengers before I decided I could do something slightly more productive (it was my fifth viewing, and purely based upon the novelty of watching it in the sky). We arrived in the city at around 9pm, and so got a taxi to the hotel, got acquainted with said hotel and then went to sleep. Enter Day 1.

We kicked off our first day by visiting Ground Zero. I should mention that up until this point I had (perhaps semi-conciously) been unaware of the plans for the Ground Zero memorial site and so arrived completely unaware of what I was going to see. What architect Michael Arad has created is two stunning fountain/pool hybrids surrounded by bronze parapets into which are engraved the 2,983 names of the victims. Being at the site was unexplainably surreal, but so peaceful. The sound of the water, and even the smell, create an extremely calm and relaxing place to be, which was surprising considering it's being surrounded on all sides by the loud, busy city. I could have stayed there for hours, it really is a wonderful memorial.

After Ground Zero we spent some time simply soaking up the city and visiting shops, one of which was completely dedicated to Halloween. Now, as in a few posts time I'm sure you will find out, I bloody LOVE Halloween, and so to see a store  that all year round is dedicated to the holiday was great fun. The store also had disposable plates and similar party related cutlery in almost every colour known to man, a trend that Britain definitely needs to catch on to, small things small minds and all that! For lunch we headed to a great place called Pop's of Brooklyn, where I had an incredible Berry Chicken Salad with a side of the best onion rings I have had, ever. We then made our way back towards the hotel via the High Line. An old freight rail line converted to a public park, the High Line is a wonderfully scenic route which had a halfway point with great food and drink stands and featured numerous pieces of beautiful art on the walls of the surrounding buildings. To finish the day off we headed to the nearest cinema for a showing of Total Recall, where we sheepishly discovered that we had to purchase tickets from a box office outside of the main building and found that some Americans are fond of leaving the cinema before the trailers are even over.

It was a great first day surrounded by some beautiful scenery, topped off with amazing food and decent film.