Wednesday, 24 October 2012


Smell the Movies
Smell the TV


Country of origin:USA
Director: Scott Derrickson
Genre:Scary, scary stuff
Starring:Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, James Ransone
IMDB link:
Tagline:Once you see him, nothing can save you.
Favourite line:"…he consumes the souls of human children…."

Found footage supernatural shocker with real power.

The plot:
Successful true crime writer Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), researching a new book, moves his family to a new town. Greeted with suspicion by the local police – Oswalt has been less than complimentary about the force in previous books – he fails to tell his wife that the house they now call home was in fact the scene of the very murders he is researching.
See, several months prior to their arrival, an entire family was hung in the backyard, and Oswalt suspects they were part of a ritualised string of serial killings.
Moving in, Oswalt discovers a box of home made videos, shot on Super 8, in the attic, and proceeds to play them discovering, to his horror, that the film contains footage of several murders, including the one that took place in his own home and, more unsettling still, each sequence appears to feature a sinister presence watching in the background as the killings take place.
Who is the watching figure?
Who made the recordings?
And just how safe is Oswalt’s own family?

Now, as ideas go, this is hardly the most inspired.
Family move into new house, find some creepy videos / an ancient artefact / a mysterious trapdoor / a book of incantations and, before you can say Joe Dante’s The Hole, weird shit starts to happen.
Been there, done that.
But there are a few factors that mark this out from the bunch, and project it head and shoulders to the front of the line.
In Ethan Hawke, we have a top quality actor, probably not as famous as he deserves to be, though this seems to be a deliberate move on his part, his preference for lower key, more indie orientated roles meaning he is automatically off a lot of people’s radar. And respect to him for that, incidentally. As a result of his presence, the level of performance is far above what would usually be expected from this type of film, and it really adds potency. Funny thing is, he doesn’t really get that much to say, much of the performance coming from reactions to extraordinary events, but he pulls it all off with real conviction. He’s fantastic, and is more than matched by newcomer Juliet Rylance as beleaguered wife Tracy, appalled by the decisions her husband has made. Indeed, the scenes they share in conflict just fucking crackle with dynamism.
Very impressive stuff.
The film kicks off with a statement of intent. Before any other action, and before the title is even displayed, we watch the found footage scene of the family in the garden then, shockingly, the same family with sacks over their heads, nooses around their necks, though still with feet on the floor then, as the grainy footage continues, a branch is deliberately snapped and, as it drops to the ground, the weight of it hoists the helpless family skyward by their necks and, worse still, they die slowly, as we watch on.
Then the title comes up, over a freeze frame.
It’s fucking horrible, and well and truly sets the mood: expect dread.
Imbued with a sense of menace and a pervading feeling of abject misery, this is a film with the power to genuinely unsettle to the point that, even when they fall back on the old quiet, quiet, BANG mechanism, to provoke a jump, it is easily forgiven, for the quality is so damned high.
Genuinely frightening from beginning to end, this is just about the scariest film I can remember seeing at the cinema since Candyman, way back in 1992.
A brilliant horror film.

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