Shocktober Weekly – Redrum Punch

For the month of October, I will be doing the Shocktober Weekly column once each week.  I will give a report on the horror movies I watch whether they be ones I’ve never seen before or ones I rewatch.  I’ll jot down a few thoughts and maybe I’ll save you from sitting through a terrible movie or inspire you to watch a good one!  Each week will have a different subtitle that I come up with that pokes fun at a movie or is a hint to one of the film’s that I watched (it’s usually kind of stupid but hey I’m in the mood for stupid fun this time of year!).  So be sure to watch some horror movies yourself and feel free to leave comments on what you’ll be watching this Halloween season!

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

“All the activity has led to this…”  That tagline implies something big and grandiose to be revealed in this new entry of the Paranormal Activity franchise.  What the tagline should be instead is “All the activity sometimes happens in this one and we don’t know what our story is…”  The biggest problem this fourth film has is that it doesn’t progress the mythology in any real manner.  This feels like a pit stop in the Paranormal Activity story where we hop off the proverbial bus, semi-creepy things happen and then we get back on the bus ready to continue on to more things.  We learn nothing new about the cult/demon that is the source of the terror from the first three films.

I will admit that Paranormal Activity 4 entertained me and provided just enough creepy to not make me dislike it outright even if it just felt like more of the same.  That being said, the producers of the franchise are going to have to develop something that will knock the socks off of me in part five if they expect me to want to keep dishing out money for their franchise.  The terrible (often really stupid) characters and the camera conceit this time around hurt the new film and the utter lack of story is dumbfounding.  The little tag at the end of the credits that supposedly teases the Latino spin-off film of the Paranormal Activity franchise provides absolutely no intrigue or even context and just adds to the lack of information given to us in the new film.  I’m not going to say give Paranormal Activity 4 a pass at the theater, but I certainly cannot endorse it.  I’ll simply say to watch it at your own risk.

Paranormal Activity 4 is currently playing at your local theater.

The Shining (1980)

The more I watch The Shining, the more it crawls up the list of my favorite horror films of all time.  I absolutely love what Kubrick did with Stephen King’s original story (King was pretty vocal of his dislike for the changes that Kubrick made) and the film is equally as captivating as it is horrifying.  It may not be a flashy or fast-paced scare-a-minute flick but it completely succeeds in getting under your skin as you watch Jack Torrance’s descent into madness.  Jack Nicholson plays the Torrance patriarch so convincingly with an unbalanced craziness that only Nicholson could have provided.  The long and smooth steadicam tracking shots through the Overlook hotel are astonishingly beautiful, acting as a perfect juxtaposition to the dark and deranged tone of the story.  The score of the film constantly keeps you on your toes as it instills a sense of unease and unpredictability.

The Shining definitely features my favorite performance from Jack Nicholson ever and is among my personal favorite films from director Stanley Kubrick.  The combination of visuals, sound and performance come together so beautifully in the film.  There are two visuals that always stick out in my head from The Shining, one being the waves of blood coming from the elevator doors, the second being the shots of Nicholson chopping away at the door in order to murder his wife.  I love how the camera follows the motion of the axe, it’s so simple but highly effective. The Shining is a must-see as far as I’m concerned, well, at least that’s what the little boy inside my mouth says.  Redrum!  Redrum!

The Shining is currently available on Blu-ray (it looks really beautiful in high-def) and DVD.

Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

Trick ‘r Treat is a modern horror classic.  It may have been swept under the rug by Warner Bros. with a direct-to-DVD release but don’t let that fool you, Trick ‘r Treat is really fun and chock full of Halloween goodness.  This is my third time watching the film and I love it even more every time I watch it.  I love its production design and it perfectly encapsulates Halloween atmosphere with its masses of jack o’lanterns and other holiday decor.  It also features one of the newest, and already among my favorite, horror icons, Sam.  This little pumpkin demon looks like an innocent kid in a costume but that won’t stop him from harming you if you break the rules of Halloween.  His jagged pumpkin-shaped lollipop and candy bar razor knife will draw the blood of any Halloween offender.

This anthology horror film tells its four stories by interweaving them together in non-linear fashion.  One of my favorite stories in in the film gives a little spin to the typical Red Riding Hood tale we’re all familiar with.  I love a good horror anthology and Trick ‘r Treat doesn’t disappoint.  I’d almost go so far as to suggest that Trick ‘r Treat may have jump-started a resurgence of interest in the horror anthology genre.  One that we are benefitting from with the current wave of film’s like Chillerama, V/H/S and The ABC’s of Death.  I hope Trick ‘r Treat continues to expand its audience and become a Halloween tradition for some.  It’s well deserving of that and I certainly hope that Warner Bros. sees the fanbase it has garnered and give us another film with Sam at the center of some more scary tales.

Trick ‘r Treat is currently available on Blu-ray and DVD.

Absentia (2011)

This is a title that I knew very little about and would have normally skipped over it if I hadn’t heard some good word of mouth in regards to this (very) low-budget indie horror film.  There is a bit of a stigma with below-the-radar low-budget genre films, and sometimes rightly so as I’ve come across some real dreck, but in order to find the little gems, you have to sift through the terrible ones.  Thankfully, Absentia is a film with something on its mind.  It does its best to develop characters, provide atmosphere and an intriguing story.  In fact, the story that develops over the course of the film left me wanting to know more and to explore the mythology behind its mysterious antagonist.  The acting is a little stiff at times but that comes with the territory.

While I doubt I’d add Absentia to my movie collection, I’m glad I saw it and would encourage others seeking out low-budget genre fare to check it out as well.  The film’s villain reminded me of something out of an older Guillermo del Toro film (i’m purposely being vague) which I found to be kind of cool and even features del Toro favorite Doug Jones in a very quick role as well.

Absentia is currently available on DVD and Netflix Instant.

by Ben McBride


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2 Comments on “Shocktober Weekly – Redrum Punch”

  1. Ben McBride October 24, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    Yea, those character play into the fourth film but there just isn’t any development with them.

  2. NICK October 24, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    Bummer about Paranormal Activity 4! Is there any mention of Heather or Hunter (I think that was the boy’s name? I don’t remember!) I’ll definitely pass in the theater! And Trick R Treat is one of my faves! What a great, great movie that should have gotten a proper release!

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