Spooktober Week 4: Spook Encounters

I’m getting to the point in my movie marathon where I’m starting to look anxiously at the calendar. There’s not much time left in October and I still have so many more movies I want to watch. For the last week of the month, I will be taking every scrap of spare time to fill my brain with horror and burn my eyes from staring too long at screens. But for now, here are the spooks from Week 4!

Box Fort (2020): So simple, but so effective. This short film does a great job of building suspense and tension. I stumbled across the film’s Instagram page and thought I’d go ahead and click the YouTube link. Fifteen minutes later, I was uncomfortable in a good way. When a short is done well, it really packs a punch. I have so many questions about what was in the box fort, but I also know that to keep the tension and sense of discomfort, the story ended at the right place.

10 out of 10 Cardboard Boxes

The Tunnel (2011): I saw a TikTok where someone listed the films that messed them up the most, and this was on the list. So obviously I had to check it out. Also, I may or may not be in the process of writing a novel by the same name, so I had to make sure I haven’t accidentally been plagiarizing a movie I’ve never before heard of. Thankfully, the subject matter is not the same. It’s a great story but I had such a hard time watching this one. Given how nauseous I can get watching found footage films, I typically have to watch them while I’m doing something so that I don’t have to look directly at the screen. Given that it’s really hard to see what’s happening in this film to begin with, that shouldn’t have been an issue. But a lot of the scares involved sound, which means I missed out on some of this while I was cooking dinner because, well, it’s not exactly a quiet activity. I feel like I didn’t get the full effect of this one because I couldn’t give it my full attention while watching.

5 out of 10… What were those things anyway?

Grave Encounters (2011): I can honestly say that this is the only found footage film I’ve ever seen that I would gladly rewatch. This film had been recommended to me a while ago, but I decided to pass because it was a found footage film. But another recommendation from TikTok convinced me to give it a try. And I am so glad I finally watched this. The story was captivating, the jump scares were good, and the buildup of tension was phenomenal. There were just a few effects (and one death) that came across a little cheesy, but my only real complaint is that the film should have cut the last scene. After the camera is dropped and we hear Lance screaming, that’s when I expected the story to end. The shot of him signing off after his lobotomy is very in character, but I found it was an unnecessary moment as it detracted from the horror. The ending is scarier when we can only hear and imagine what is happening to Lance. We lose the magic of an uncertain ending when we see him and can see exactly what wounds he is sporting. Still, I loved this movie.

9 out of 10 Lobotomies

The Eternal (1998): This hot mess was a waste of time. I got excited when I saw Christopher Walken’s name on the cast list, but unfortunately, his presence in the film was not a lasting one and his Irish accent was questionable. The weak story was an hour and a half of watching alcoholics make bad choices while a rather uninteresting witch wreaked lackluster havoc. I almost regret watching this one.

2 out of 10 Bog Mummies

Incident in a Ghostland (2018): I found the first half of the film to be predictable an unoriginal. So I was absolutely blown away when the twist occurred halfway through the film. From then on, the story became much more interesting as the stakes were higher. The scenes with adult Beth still weren’t the strongest, but overall I really enjoyed how messed up this one got. However, as a horror author with dreams of my own, I felt personally attacked in some scenes.

7 out of 10 Broken Dolls

28 Days Haunted (2022): As a fan of the Conjuring cinematic universe, I was intrigued by the idea of the 28 day cycle the Warrens had hypothesized. And after watching so many real-life spooks and documentaries last week, I was looking forward to this one. Unfortunately, it didn’t hit as hard for me as the shows about cured objects. I guess for me, haunted items are scarier than haunted places. It didn’t help that some scenes felt just a bit too scripted for tv, so it was hard to take some of the paranormal activity seriously when it didn’t strike me as believable.

6 out of 10 Demonologists

They Crawl Beneath (2022): I was expecting low budget Tremors (1990) from this one, but that is not at all what I got. This film lost me right from the start when the opening credits were filled with worms. And my attention continued to wane as the action grew stagnant. This was more of a “dark night of the soul” kind of movie, rather than a monster movie. Unfortunately, the acting needs to be good to pull of that kind of film when you don’t have a monster to consistently draw the attention of the audience. And the only thing scarier than the worms in the opening credits was the quality of the acting.

1 out of 10 Giant Worms

Jeepers Creepers: Reborn (2022): Another swing and a miss. Although I really enjoyed the original Jeepers Creepers (2001), I was not expecting to be blown away by this reboot. I had high hopes after watching the opening scene with classic scream queen Dee Wallace, but that’s where my enjoyment of the film ended. The Creeper looked great, but the sets, costumes, and overly obvious green screens looked beyond cheap. And the toxic relationship between the protagonists made me even more uncomfortable than the lackluster violence and gore.

3 out of 10 Peepers

Hellraiser (2022): I was so, so, so excited for this film as Hellraiser has been one of my favourite franchises since I first started getting into horror. This reboot put a new spin on the iconic puzzle box, adding an almost slasher element to this body horror film. Another upgrade came in the form of the cenobites who, although typically clad in black leather, were naked as if to better show their horrific body modifications. This movie was beautiful, disturbing, and brilliantly acted. On that note, casting trans woman Jamie Clayton as The Priest/Pinhead was a brilliant choice for so many reasons. I truly hope we get a sequel for this installment of the franchise.

10 out of 10 Lament Configurations

The Mortuary Collection (2020): This was a fun anthology horror film and, as always, Clancy Brown is a delight to watch. But the stand out for me was the second short story about the frat boys and unprotected sex. The ending caught me by surprise and the grossness of the body horror was exceptionally effective. The more horror I read and watch, the more I realize that the kind of body horror that makes me cringe the most is anything to do with pregnancy.

7 out of 10 Evil Undertakers

Pearl (2022): This prequel is so much stronger than X (2022). The best way that I can describe it is that it is beautifully unhinged, both visually and in terms of the story. Stylistically, it calls to mind films of that era while referencing key themes and motifs from X. But most importantly, Mia Goth is an absolute star in this. I enjoyed her performance in X, but Pearl blew me away. Although it is helpful to watch the two films in the order they were released, I now want to go back and rewatch X now that I know who Pearl truly is. I’m really excited to see what the third film in the franchise will bring to the story when it is released.

10 out of 10 Stars

Last Night in Soho (2021): I quickly fell in love with the star-studded cast and the intriguing story, but apart from having Elle be sensitive to spirits, I wasn’t sure how this film was going to fit into the horror genre. In fact, although I was enjoying it, I wasn’t even sure it belonged in my Spooktober lineup. But the last 45 minutes of the film were definitely more my style and brought the spooks and the scares. I appreciated that both the ghosts and the killer were presented as both villains and victims. The moral grey area made the characters more believable and more enjoyable.

7 out of 10 Flowy Dresses

The Last Thing Mary Saw (2022): If you’re going to watch this lesbian horror film, I recommend watching it in a dark room. The lighting in the film is so dark that when I watched it in my well-lit bathroom while I was in the tub, I had a hard time seeing everything that was going on. When I moved to a different room, it made viewing much easier. Yet another reason why all horror films should be watched in the dark. This period piece was subtly spooky and had great tension as a result. And the torment of the protagonists was much more disturbing than the ghostly scares when you stop to think that there were likely young girls at that time who experienced the exact same forms of punishment.

7 out of 10 Forbidden Books

Night of the Animated Dead (2021): I love the story and have watched the original film more than once, but I was disappointed with this remake. Although I am a fan of many of the cast members, not all of their performances were memorable. I think part of the problem is that the original is such a classic that it’s hard not to compare the two films. The animation style also threw me off. I am not a fan of the way the characters were drawn, and the movements felt choppy. Overall, it gave the film a cheap feel – and not in an entertaining B-movie kind of way. Honestly, I don’t see why this remake needed to happen. But then again, that’s Hollywood.

2 out of 10 Awkward Looking Sausage Fingers

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