JWM SPOOKATHON 2020: Insidious (2010)

A family looks to prevent evil spirits from trapping their comatose child in a realm called The Further. (IMDb)

A spooky ghost story that eventually possesses the body of a more straight forward (though still supernatural) investigative thriller, with a third act that explains the scares and establishes a clear action-plan-plot leading to the climax. It’s a unique approach that works well, following up a solid first two acts filled with excellent jump scares and well-crafted atmosphere (the startling soundtrack and second act move are dreadfully effective, though the drab cinematography is less so).

7/10 (Good)

CREEPY QUOTE: It’s not the house that is haunted. It’s your son. – Elise Reiner

SPOOKY STILL:

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

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There is panic throughout the nation as the dead suddenly come back to life. The film follows a group of characters who barricade themselves in an old farmhouse in an attempt the remain safe from these flesh eating monsters. (IMDb)
Painful dialogue and performances and unlikable characters (see the hysterical Barbra and brash Ben who punches her out) amidst dumb drama (see the repetitive cellar debate) and lazy exposition (see the lengthy news reports) are redeemed to a remarkable extent by the delightfully deadly climax (featuring a grotesque zombie feast over a grating soundtrack) and despairing denouement marked by a poignantly unassuming note of dramatic irony dragged out in the unique still-shots ending credits.
6.5/10 (Alright)

It Follows (2014)

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A young woman is followed by an unknown supernatural force after a sexual encounter. (IMDb)
The style is more memorable than the substance (despite the uniquely discomforting premise rooted in teenage sexuality), but this speaks mostly to the incredible atmosphere created by the former through a simply superb spooky-synth score (listen especially to the walk to the pool) and a vaguely retro adult-less Americana suburb setting, gorgeously captured in striking colour, with plenty of creeper zooms and mesmerizing tracking shots that help craft the film’s brand of (literally) slow horror.
8/10 (Great)

The Babadook (2014)

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A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her. (IMDb)
The chilling mood created by startling sound effects and eerie visuals is amplified by stellar editing in both areas, as a wide and volatile volume spectrum along with quick scene cuts keep you on the edge of your seat. The truly spooky monster plot, meanwhile, is filled out nicely by the unsettling lead characters–a discomfortingly violent young boy and his tragic single mother (Davis is excellent). This is hard-working horror that relies on a well-crafted atmosphere instead of cheap scares.
7.5/10 (Really Good)