CAMPING; part two

The Ritual 2017

Dir: David Bruckner 

Perhaps i’m a little biased, but Brits are definitely making the best horror movies at the minute.

Maybe not the best ever, (after extensive scientific research I’ve concluded that Koreans make the best ever), but we are getting considerably better. More importantly directors have stopped using stupid british stereotypes and taking the genre for one big fucking joke (and I promise this isnt a snide jab at Shaun of the Dead, even though i fucking hated it). 

Whilst Hollywood seems to keep churning out one jump scare/found footage/thoughtless remake disaster after another, Brit horror has started to finesse the underrated art of the slow burner.

Make no mistakes about this; if a film starts off slow you’re guaranteed an absolute treat. Blair Witch, for example, is an archetypal slow burner; horrifically dull to begin with, lures you into a false sense of total security, two hours later you’ve left the cinema hollow, afraid and bewildered. Other examples include The ExcoristRing, Eden Lake, The Loved Ones, even The Texas Chainsaw Massacre-all horror CLASSICS, and yet nothing actually happens for a while in pretty much all of them. 

As a self proclaimed horror connoisseur, I believe the best scares happen when you’re not sure when to expect them. The only issue with this logic is that we live in the instant gratification era of social media where the average attention span is 00.003 seconds. Getting people in 2017 to even SIT through a film like the 1999 Blair Witch is hard enough, so directors have had to resort to cliched watered down scripts and pantomime tactics to keep viewers engaged.
Every few years on this side of the pond, an absolutely underrated banger of a movie will be released which shows just how refined we are becoming at creating genuine fear. Whilst we may be crap at a lot of things (like voting for leaders, making eye contact or being direct) our levels of horrifying just keep getting better and better.

Based on a lads holiday gone exceptionally wrong, the story is totally doomed from the very start. 

*Spoilers ahead*

A lead character from the “group” is murdered during a robbery within minutes of the films opening. His unexpected murder leads to an undercurrent of resentment, blame and guilt, which remains ever present throughout. In many ways he becomes the film’s protagonist as his absence from the group is continually highlighted creating an uncomfortable dynamic between the other characters, who each seem to have their opinions about the circumstances surrounding his death. 

A largely unwanted hiking trip later ensues to honour his memory; this hike follows a long trail from Norway to Sweden, which they ultimately hope will result in getting very drunk at a lodge on the other side.

Obviously someone gets injured and they have to take the “shortcut”.

Luckily the director isn’t a douche, and doesn’t mock your intelligence, we all know what happens when you take a shortcut through the woods, including the characters themselves, who’s banter and laddish jokes indicate that they do too. 

Making remarks about how they’re going to end up dead, is definitely not far from the truth. The group finds themselves being hunted in a bizarre ritualistic fashion, which initially seems like witchcraft, but emerges as something much more terrifying.

Combining elements from classic horror, there is an level of predictability which David Bruckner playfully draws on to create said false sense of security with the viewer. Everything you think may happen you have to later rethink; the twist in plot is very smart and very original.

Definitely up there with The Descent and Creep; also further fuels my desire to stay in hotels whilst in rural regions. 

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Midnight Massacre

The Invitation

2016 

Dir: Karyn Kusama
*SPOILERS AHEAD*

We’ve all been there. That awkward scenario when an ex invites you to a dinner party; you don’t wanna go because that’s the house you used to live in, also because you think your former spouse is now in a cult, and you have a sneeking suspicion that this might be an initiation ceremony. 

But you go anyway.

And typically everyone gets drunk and shit goes down, and then there’s a massacre, plus a bit of bad mouthing and bringing up the past. Your friends just can’t handle their drinks anymore.

What Will should’ve done when his ex wife called him up and invited him round after a two year disappearence in Mexico, is cancel. Only Will (played by the very handsome Logan Marshal Green) let his curiousity get the better of him. So off he went dragging his jesus beard and his poor girlfriend Kira with him.

Everyone knows an Eden; usually wealthy, usually unfulfilled, usually in Planet Organic buying organic buckwheat and preparing to spend ten grand to visit a witchdoctor from the Tibeten footfills. Typically its those with more stuff, bigger houses, expensive built in kitchens, that seem to crave this need for something deeper and more authentic. “There is no darkness” states one the cult leaders who discreetly came to dinner to show everyone a recruitment video. 

To some degree, certainly in the developed world, which can often feel very soulless, there is a growing desire to feel “special”. I guess there’s an element of new age spirituality (sometimes unknowingly) in many of us; whether you’re actively attempting to reach higher conciousness, doing Kondalini or just drinking wheatgrass shots, this has trickled down in a variety of guises.

Whilst a lot of it can be constructive and turn rich douchebags into bohemian douchebags, there is a history of California dreamin that takes an ugly turn.

Watching the murders unfold in Eden’s home on the hollywood hills is an eery reference to the Manson murders which marked an abrupt and nasty end to the age of free love. There’s something about those hills, the land of dreams, that has a very dark undercurrent, which is made constantly present in the film.

Will knows from the second he arrives that hes not feeling the vibe. “Theres something not right here” he retorts, even before the screening of the video (which shows a woman dying btw-heavens gate anyone?), or the mention of that weird place in Mexico where Eden and David went (Spahn Ranch anyone?) So his spidey senses were very much in tune that night.

Of course the others had their suspicions, but everyone was being super apt at ignoring the elephant in the room. Will just winds up looking like the neurotic crazy guy with trust issues. There are points where you question why he doesn’t just take his girlfriend and leave, but then i guess that would make a shit ending, because if people did sensible shit, horror movies wouldnt exist. 

The pace is slow, so if you have issues with dialogue or sitting still, or metaphors, this might not be the film for you. There’s an underlying theme of loss which is very touching and sensitively executed, despite the massacre at the end, which was impressive. 

I like this movie

I like Logan

I like Edens dress