Archive for June, 2011

“Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside…” A Review of “Brighton Rock” (2010)

Posted in Old Non Horror Reviews on June 24, 2011 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Being British, I love British films and I also love gangster movies; in the sense of fantasy the concept of the “gangster underworld” appeals to me; the idea of power, greed and anarchy, being feared by all, and the idea of getting anything you want by any means is something I think deep down a lot of people would aspire to be like, just in the fantasy sense of course, because committing crime and murder is wrong kids!! I have always been fascinated by the Krays and people like that, “The Krays” (1990) and “Goodfellas” (1990) are two of my favourite films regarding the themes of gangster culture and the crime genre. Therefore, through having a love for British and gangster films, “Brighton Rock” (2010) is definitely the perfect choice for me, culminating the two.

Firstly I am going to discuss the background of “Brighton Rock”. Initially “Brighton Rock” began as a novel written by Graham Greene back in 1938, depicted as a “murder, thriller” it was obviously set in the sea side town of Brighton during the 1930’s. The story is focused on the character of Pinkie Brown, an up and coming teenage gangster, he is a sociopath, the protagonist of the story as well as being the anti-hero. The novel was then adapted into a film in 1947, directed by Jon Boulting and starring Richard Attenborough as the main character. The film looked at the criminal activities of an underworld gang led by Pinkie evidently taken place in an inter-war Brighton. One of the main themes in both the novel and film is the question of morality in regards to murder. While the 1947 version was considered to be one of the most gripping examples of film noir, the most recent film adaptation directed by Rowan Joffe, in which I am going to review changed the era of the film to 1964, focusing on the conflict between the two subculture gangs of the 1960’s, the mods and rockers; this definitely works in terms of fitting in with themes of moral panics, youth and knife crime, which in many ways is still applicable to the issues we face in today’s day and age in relation to knife and gun crime amongst gang youths commonly in London and most cities.

 During 1960’s Britain outbreaks of violence would take place between the gangs particularly in a number of  seaside resorts including Brighton during the Whitsun of 1964. Many were arrested and youths were hospitalised due to knife wounds. The difference in appearance between the gangs consisted of the rockers riding motorcycles, wearing leather jackets, the mods which Pinkie’s (played by Sam Riley) character represented in the film, tended to wear suits and rode scooters. In terms of music the rockers were distinguished from the mods by listening to 1950’s rock n’ roll such as Elvis Presley, whereas the mods listened to 1960’s soul, SKA and r n’ b as well as British groups like The Kinks and The Who. The conflict between these two gangs resulted in the sociologist Stanley Cohen to coin the term “moral panic” in order to describe the going on’s. The British media had depicted the conflict extremely negatively and placed it within the status of deviant behaviour, causing fear among the British public. Derogatory terms were given to the gangs, they were labelled as “louts” and “vermin”. Papers reported them to be an “internal enemy” within the UK and disrespecting law and order.  The media hysteria blew the whole conflict into bigger proportions, similarly as they do today, you cannot wear a hoodie without being stereotyped as a “thug” and for the mods and rockers in was the same back then. It has been said that the media would go as far as faking interviews with “mods” and “rockers” and try and make something out of incidents that had no relation to mod/rocker crime whatsoever. Once the media no longer had any actual mod/rocker violence to report about they resorted to associating any controversial social issue such as contraception, teenage pregnancy, any sort of violence and drugs to them…

…and there’s my history lesson for the review. I now want to focus on the recent film adaptation in which if I had to describe it in a couple of words I would use “intense” and “gripping”. I have a vague recollection of the 1947 version therefore watching “Brighton Rock” (2010) was like watching something fresh and new. As I have previously stated I think the change in era it is set in works and most definitely updates the story to an extent. Pinkie Brown remains to be a very complex character, he is young and ambitious, he aspires to be powerful and feared, the perfect comment on the fear of youth, Sam Riley gives a terrifying and powerful performance. I liked how the protagonist of the piece is also the villain, its not very common in films and for me personally I didn’t want to relate to his character, his screen presence made me feel uncomfortable and on edge much like the behaviour of the character of his girlfriend Rose (played by Andrea Riseborough), she is fearful and timid but is evidently attracted to him and through hope and naivety she genuinely believes he loves and cares for her, resulting in her disregarding his criminal behaviour; without revealing too much I thought the twist at the ending where she plays his record was both sad and clever from an audience perspective’; the scene made me wonder if its sometimes better to live in delusion rather than know the truth, no matter how brutal it might be. I thought the film had elements of a Shakespearean tragedy, much like “Romeo and Juliet”, there’s feuding gangs and a twisted love story in the midst of it, there was also elements of “Bonnie and Clyde”, we see hints that Rose would go to any lengths even threaten people who care about her e.g. Ida (played by Helen Mirren); perhaps the prospect of being with Pinkie gives her a sense of escapism and purpose, more than it would by working in a tea room. The shots of Brighton’s coast and the cliffs were breathtaking, making the climax of the film much more spectacular and haunting.

Helen Mirren’s character Ida is probably the most likeable character in the film, she is headstrong and fearless but I did find it hard to believe at times that she would go up against someone as dangerous as Pinkie, her character wants revenge for the murder of her lover, then again her character is a comment on feminism and female empowerment and its definitely nice to see a woman emerge as the hero of the piece. Admittedly, the scene in which Ida’s lover Hale (played by Sean Harris) is murdered is incredibly intense, I think what makes it all the more brutal and frightening is the fact it is committed in broad daylight, beneath the pier, with that there’s the contrast of viewing Brighton as a nice family day out by the seaside while there’s the dark stir of the underworld going on unknowingly, the scene happens close to the beginning of the film, with its build up and slow pace it most definitely sets the uncomfortable, dark tone for the rest of the film.

I really enjoyed this update of “Brighton Rock”, I liked how they had modernised the story and added in the mods and rockers as part of the setting, giving an interesting spin on the original. I have never actually been to Brighton but I think through the cinematography the town itself was portrayed beautifully and I would definitely want to visit. The film consisted of strong performance especially from Sam Riley and Helen Mirren and I enjoyed the various cameos from some terrific British actors e.g. John Hurt, Andy Serkis and Steve Evets. Overall, the film  gripped me from start to finish and the sinister portrayal of Pinkie will remain with me for a long time.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

“Two can keep a secret…if one of them is Dead!”…An analysis of “Pretty Little Liars”

Posted in Old Non Horror Reviews on June 19, 2011 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

I would describe ABC’s “Pretty Little Liars” (2010-present) as unique in comparison to the majority of TV shows I’ve actually watched, it is most definitely addictive and very intriguing. I came across the show purely on accident, simply wanted to watch something new and selected the first show that came up and I’m really glad it was this one, I do think its very underrated at the moment and hope more and more people will start watching it. “Pretty Little Liars” is based on a series of books written by Sara Shepard which I have yet to read, but must get round to. I love TV shows and films that reflect the themes of the dark side of Suburbia and things aren’t always what they seem, “Pretty Little Liars” consists of this as well as the look of the show being “glamorous” and “glossy”, meaning the look and the tone greatly contrast each other. The plot of the show revolves around four, middle class, “superficial-on-the surface” teenage girls, Aria (Lucy Hale), Spencer (Troian Bellisaro), Hanna (Ashley Benson) and Emily (Shay Mitchell), it could be argued that the main characters fit into the stereotype of bitchy, popular, prom Queen’s etc. that are found in films such as “Mean Girls” (2004) or how the character of Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) was initially introduced in “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003), however this is not the case, what I enjoyed about this show was it challenged my expectations and demonstrated that the characters have more to them than meets the eye and are not the shallow stereotype we assume they are, their characters have a conscience and appear as more human, if this element was taken out of the series it wouldn’t be so interesting; I’m going to discuss the character of Emily in this instance, for the first time in a television series that I can personally remember there hasn’t been a  character that challenges the lesbian stereotype to this degree, as previously stated, Emily is popular and attractive and meets these expectations, however at the beginning of the series she is struggling with her sexuality, this gives the character and the series much more depth; another example I would use is Hannah’s character, she wasn’t initially involved in the popular crowed but changed her appearance, through losing weight in order to fit in, throughout the series the insecurities of her past do come into light but she also doesn’t let her popularity get to her head as she befriends other characters such as Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) who would be considered far from the circle of wealth and social status that Hanna is part of, she displays acts of kindness towards him e.g. letting him stay at her house when it is discovered he is homeless “Je Suis Un Amie” (#1.16).

The basic premise of “Pretty Little Liars” could be viewed as a statement linking in with today’s obsession with celebrity culture, the idea of constantly being watched. Aria, Spencer, Emily and Hanna are bound together because of one person, the enigma that is Alison. Alison is considered to be the leader of their clique she has however disappeared at the beginning of the pilot (#1.1), by the end of the episode we discover Alison’s body has been found and that she has indeed been murdered. During these events each of the girls receive text messages off an anonymous number, presenting themselves as simply “A”, the only person who knew all their secrets was Alison but so does the mystery caller, the question becomes who is “A”? how do they know their darkest secrets? and what really did happen to Alison? These questions set up the show’s intrigue. The programme is definitely modern and I like the clever use of these girls being stalked through texting and over the internet, depicting how we expose ourselves a lot more in society today with these tools and how gaining information on people is much simpler nowadays.

Alison played by Sasha Pieterse

I think its clever how “Pretty Little Liars” creates mystery and suspense in regards to its characters, the audience doesn’t know which character should be trusted and which ones should not. Things are not always what they seem, overly suspicious characters such as Toby (played by Keegan Allen) and Jenna (played by Tammin Sursok) seem to have solid motives for wanting to murder Alison and stalk the girls, especially as they all got away with causing Jenna’s blindness through a dangerous accident; however it is then suggested that these characters are thrown in as a red herring for the audience and become too obvious, Toby needs to be in the frame as a scapegoat for the real culprit. The character of the English teacher Ezra Fitz ( played by Ian Harding) is portrayed as less suspicious in comparison to Toby or Jenna, is is evident that he is the type of character who would take risks especially as he has continued an affair with his pupil Aria, there is always the concept that he is maybe doing this to get closer to the girls, this currently seems very unlikely though as his character motivations suggest otherwise. As the series progresses the audience discover more of the mystery regarding the girls relationships with Alison, shown through a series of flashbacks, which definitely highlight to the audience the manipulative and cruel nature of Alison. Spencer is the put-upon younger sister, she is forced to live up to her intelligent, successful sister Melissa (played by Torrey DeVito) on a constant basis, Spencer could be considered the less likeable character of the clique as she is very manipulative in order to get what she wants, she rebels by stealing her sister’s fiance’s not once but twice and also steals her sister’s essay and takes credit for it by winning an academic award, suggesting she is perhaps trying to become just like her deceased friend, but it could also be argued each of the girls have their own trait of Alison, e.g. with Hanna being the most like her in terms of appearance. Eventually Spencer does become prime suspect number one in Alison’s murder case in the episode “Someone to watch over me” (#1.20), if this were the case it would be an interesting plot twist to have one of the main protagonists to be the culprit. We learn that “A” and the killer are not necessarily the same person, the girls begin to suspect Ian (played by Ryan Merriman), Spencer’s sister’s husband, once its revealed that he had relations with Alison and is featured on a video of her death. This plot sets up the classic case of no one believes them, with only the audience on their side. By the last episode “For Whom the Bell tolls” (#1.22) it is revealed that Ian was Alison’s killer and in a strange twist of fate the mysterious “A” saves the girls and kills him, surprising the audience and then getting us to re-evaluate everything we thought we already knew, along with the girls remaining unsure as to whether it was really Ian that caused their friend’s death. “A” hasn’t given up on playing games though, by the end of the series, Ian’s body has vanished and “A” contacts them to inform them its not over yet, paving the way for a second season. While watching the final episode I made the assumption that everything was going to be revealed and it would only last for twenty-two episodes, so the fact that the show has been dragged out for another season just heightens the excitement and makes us wonder will we ever know the truth?

 This brings me to last Tuesday’s premiere season two episode “Its Alive” (#2.1). I will warn you now, this is an overview of the episode and spoilers are included. Immediately I liked how the episode picked up right from where the last one left off, rather then jumping ahead in time, here and now is where the action is and as an audience we need to get right back into it. This was a similar effect used with the film “Halloween 2” (1981) and I have noticed the rarity of this being used in a television series, there are normally time jumps used e.g. “One Tree Hill” (2003-present) has a fourteen month time gap between its sixth and seventh seasons. Ian is still not the main suspect as far as the police are concerned and the attention has turned to all four girls, it is believed by their parents that they are struggling to come to terms with Alison’s death and the fact they think that Ian did it is viewed as “obsession”. Aria is put on edge by the return of Noel Khan (played by Brant Daughetry) the popular jock she romantically rejected in favour of her affair with Ezra Fitz, Noel knows her secret and is prepared to give herself and Ezra hell for it, but it remains to be seen if he will reveal all to the school. Emily is struggling with the fact she has to move our of Rosewood for a whole year to be closer to her soldier father, this is not helped by a retailer invading her room literally asking her to erase all her memories on behalf of the new tenants. Spencer’s family is still extremely suspicious of her and are dealing with the fact Ian has gone “missing” without a trace, it is indicated through Melissa’s eyes how much blame she lays on Spencer, she is also forced to stay away from Toby, the only person who seems to understand her.  The girls are sent to a grief counsellor where they admit they are only bonded by Alison but remain cagey when the counsellor asks them why do they still appear as close friends, Aria is about to relieve their burden regarding “A” they are however interrupted and leave the session, they then come across a newspaper article suggesting Ian took money out of his bank account and his car was found by the train station; it is implied the girls fabricated a story as they knew he was leaving. Caleb has come back in order to make amends with Hanna, realising her so-called friend Mona (played by Janel Parrish) failed to give her the apologetic letter he had written for her, for Hanna it changes nothing, she is unable to forgive how he was spying on her on Jenna’s behalf from the beginning of their relationship. Hanna goes to confront Mona who admits she believed she was only protecting her from being hurt, Hanna dissolves their friendship at this moment saying it hurts more than what Caleb did, Mona is then seen to be on a date with Noel, and so the tangled web continues. Melissa starts to question Spencer’s allegations about Ian saying she does not believe the police’s theories. Ezra suggests he was still in love with his ex when he first started seeing Aria but gives her his confidence that he is on her side no matter what and like Melissa disregards the police’s theories. Aria is then startled as “A” texts her with an image of Ezra’s apartment with the question of “what’s missing?” she realises the key under his mat is no longer there. For Emily enough is enough and the girls contemplate telling the therapist what’s been going on in order to prevent another funeral occurring. As they are about to relieve their burden to the therapist they notice a certificate with Ezra Fitz’s name blatantly on it, adding yet another surprising twist, “A” stole it from Ezra’s apartment and is aware of their every move, including the safe haven of therapy. Aria’s parents inform her that the therapist doesn’t think its healthy or beneficial for the girls to remain friends at the moment and would be better if they spend time apart. Aria is completely livid, this however keeps the show interesting, leaving the audience wonder how they will cope without each other’s support and could this lead to much more being revealed? The episode climax’s with the therapist being followed and Spencer discovering a text on Melissa’s phone, potentially from Ian, is he still alive? and if so, how? The ending segment which has stuck to its season one formula shows who we presume is “A” viewing Emily’s house and deleting her laptop’s hard drive, removing evidence!

And there we have it, my analysis of “Pretty Little Liars”; I definitely recommend this clever, suspenseful teen drama, it places itself within several genres e.g. mystery, thriller, romance, it has something for everyone and I love how they are keeping the twists and turns interesting, maybe we will never discover who “A” is, hopefully not for a while because this is my new favourite American TV show of the moment and I don’t want it to end prematurely. Catch the second episode of Season Two “The Goodbye Look” (#2.2) on Tuesday on ABC, or on vureel.com (as I do through living in the UK), I can’t wait!

Hayley A. Roberts 😉

My Top 10 Horror Movies Of The Noughties- Part Two

Posted in Uncategorized on June 14, 2011 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

So far I have looked at some of my favourites and guilty pleasures in regards to horror films of the past decade, from urban legends to cherub masks to utter sadists to disfigured cannibals, but now I am going to countdown what I personally consider to be the best horror films to come out of my own generation, the noughties; this is where I go into a much scarier territory; because the best horror films are the ones that send chills down your spine, here goes…

5. Paranormal Activity (2007)

I remember literally clinging to my best friend in the cinema during the climax of this movie; I went in not expecting to be impressed, but I was seriously proved wrong! This movie is responsible for causing me sleep deprivation for a few weeks after viewing it. Considered to be “The Blair Witch Project” (1999) of the noughties, personally I think its less distracting compared as there’s not as many shaky hand-held camera shots. I think its clever how the film is placed in the context of a home-movie situation, you believe these characters are real people, and that the events are actually happening to them, its even made more personal when the actors real names Micah (Micah Sloat) and Katie (Katie Featherston) are used for their characters names. As I stated before when looking at “The Hitcher” (2007), the audience is put on an edge when the focus is on only two protagonists without a large supporting cast that will continually get killed off throughout the course of the film. I found this film truly chilling, it puts the audience in the position of what it would be like if the supernatural really existed, there’s no special CGI effects, and its incredibly creepy as we can’t actually see the entity; its true, all humans fear the unknown and what they can’t see. I felt put on edge constantly throughout the film, the build up was incredibly intense and slow paced, the terrifying moments in the film tend to happen around 3am so when the bedroom is being filmed in the middle of the night and the clock hits 3am we know something is about to happen, when these scenes first began I just laughed at the odd door slam, thinking that it was going be pretty lame, but they cleverly built up the tension and as the nights went on the occurrences got scarier and scarier. I think the parts that freaked me out the most have to be when Micah finds Katie sleepwalking and when he finds her childhood photo in their attic. I’m pretty sure I saw the theatrical ending in which Katie stares at Micah for at least three hours then sleepwalks down the stairs, eventually she screams his name and he runs down the stairs, the next thing the audience sees is Micah being flung towards the camera, then Katie crawls towards the camera and chillingly screams at the audience. That is probably one of the most disturbing cinematic moments in a horror film that will be imprinted on my mind forever! Weirdly enough I think I find slasher films as more of a horror comfort zone, any movie focusing on supernatural elements like ghosts etc. completely gets me again relating back to this idea of the fear of the unknown.

 

 

4. The Amityville Horror (2005)

 In my personal opinion I think this remake of the classic 1979 horror “The Amityville Horror” is actually better than the original, feel free to agree or disagree with me on this, but maybe its more a generation appreciation factor here; I was not terrified in the same way by the original film as I was with this one. This was the film that for me highlighted how versatile an actor Ryan Reynolds is, his performance is incredible as the possessed father George Lutz, making it a long stretch from his comedic portrayal of Van Wilder in “Van Wilder: Party Liaison” (2002), which by this point was the only film I’d seen him in. Allegedly the story of the Amityville haunting portrayed in this film is based on true events, personally I’m not a believer in anything regarding the supernatural, paranormal and religion etc. but I agree the whole concept of the events actually happening is very scary. I believe the house was allegedly built on an Indian burial ground and since that a man took a gun and murdered his whole family, leaving their spirits stuck in the house. What I enjoyed about the movie was that it was jumpy in all the right places, and that the audience is actually given a sense of empathy with the characters, resulting in caring about what happens to them, which is normally a rarity in horror films. The freakiest part of the film for me was the little ghost girl, I think the idea is enough to make you shudder, especially the scare tactic they used with her at the end of the film. What’s strange is I first watched this film alone and wasn’t actually disturbed by it in any way, however when re-watching it with other people I found it a lot more scarier, I think the opposite effect would have occurred if it had been “Paranormal Activity” (2007)! I think this film is definitely enjoyable, features excellent performances and does give some good scares.

 

 

3. House of Wax (2005)

Like most people, admittedly I only rented this film to see Paris (Hilton) die! I think that was even used as a promotional tagline for the film. I was pleasantly surprised to discover an enjoyable, twisted, modern slasher.  I don’t really consider this film to be a remake of the classic 1953 Vincent Price film of the same name, apart from the title and the plot involving wax models I think the films should be considered as separate texts. Very much like the slasher films of the late 90’s it marketed itself by consisting of a cast of the recent television stars including Jared Padalecki (known as Sam Winchester from the then lesser known “Supernatural” (2005-present), also he starred as Rory Gilmore’s long term boyfriend Dean for five years in “Gilmore Girls” (2000-2007) and Chad Michael Murray (known as Lucas Scott from the popular teen drama “One Tree Hill” (2003-present), Chad had also appeared in “Gilmore Girls”). The film did deliver the usual horror cliche’s of the 80’s, such as getting stranded and camping in the woods as a motivation in order to lure the characters to meet their demise. I thought that it was interesting that the protagonists Carly (Elisha Cuthbert) and Nick (Chad Michael Murray) were put on a parallel level with the killers Vincent and Bo (both played by Brian Van Holt) in regards to the theme of sibling rivalry, I also liked the nod to “Whatever happened to Baby Jane” (1962) when its shown in the cinema sequence. The film had the right mix of scary and gory, sometimes gore can be overdone resulting in a film losing its scariness but I think this film balanced them well; I have to say Wade’s (Jared Padalecki) was probably the most terrifying death scene, I find it uncomfortable viewing to this day, the poor guy is still alive when he’s being covered in wax! I think it was more disturbing than anything we have seen in something like “Hostel” (2005). “House of Wax” is a funny, intense  horror film and if you dislike Paris Hilton, its a bonus!

 

 

2. SAW (2004)

 When I think about this movie I find it depressing that the cleverness and compelling nature of it has literally been massacred by a series of pointless sequels. “SAW” could be considered the modernisation of horror films, it took the genre to a whole other level and was an introduction to the “torture porn” sub-genre. For the first time that I can remember in a horror film, there was more empathy towards the killer than the actual victims, Jigsaw (played by Tobin Bell) has a twisted yet justifiable motive, he is cancer-riddled and feels an immense bitterness to those who don’t appreciate their lives, what is even more clever is that he does not kill his victims by his own hands, he sets a series of cruel traps in order to test their want to live. Even though the film is shocking and gory it does reach out on a psychological level, I like the limited isolated setting, we are presented with two complete strangers who wake up on the opposite side of a dirty, unfamiliar bathroom, chained to the pipes, in the middle of the bathroom there is a body, clutching a handgun in one hand and a tape recorder in the other; as the film progresses we learn more about these character’s purpose in this setting and the lengths they will go in order to survive. As clever as this film is I feel it can only be watched once to be truly appreciated as the twist at the end is gasp-worthy and once you are aware of the twist it doesn’t master the same effect. “SAW” was definitely something different that placed itself within the genre and as I previously stated I feel since the amount of ridiculous sequels, with pointless characters, plots and it has also become completely gore-focused has resulted in the original film losing its credibility; as the original did leave itself on a cliffhanger I was looking forward to a part two, which did not meet out my expectations, I gave up by part three, I went to see “SAW 3D” (2010) in the cinema and was disappointed in how it had become a parody of its former self. Jigaw could have been scary but these days I can take him as about as serious as Chucky!

 

 

…and now for what I consider to be the number one horror movie of the past decade…

1. Final Destination (2000)

 Next to the “Scream” franchise “Final Destination” has to be my second favourite. The first film in particular went beyond my expectations. Like other films such as “Paranormal Activity” (2007) its the concept of what we can’t see and what we don’t know that scares us the most and the notion of “Final Destination” does just that! It is the ultimate human fear. I picked up this film in the rental store, as I was an established slasher fan the cover implied to me that the plot was going to consist of a killer bumping off a group of youths, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The tone of the film begins creepy enough but its when the group board an air plane to take a school trip to France the action really kicks off. The moment the plane starts to crash is probably one of the most intense and horrifying scenes I have ever seen in a film, I think it highlights the natural apprehension people have of flying, there is then a sense of relief when the protagonist Alex (played by Devon Sawa) awakes to find it didn’t actually happen, however there are signs showing to be exactly like those in his nightmare and he panics, advising everyone to get off the plane as he knows its going to crash; ironically this film was released prior to the September 11th attacks in 2001, the scene is pretty harrowing to watch especially watching it now since the disaster. My first thought at this point in the film was it was some sort of conspiracy theory plot and perhaps Alex or another character had done something in order for disaster to strike and had a motive for wanting everyone to die. Once the majority of the group is off the plane it crashes for real and fingers are pointed at Alex, the audience is now in the position of questioning “how was he aware of this?” By the time the second death sequence of the film takes place it becomes apparent in the plot that its not some murderer in a mask, its not Freddy or Jason or Ghostface, the killer of “Final Destination” is pure and simple Death, itself. Death has a desgin, its the natural order of things, the plane was meant to crash, everyone was meant to die but Alex changed that causing a disruption in death’s design and now Death has returned to restore the natural order and kill each character off in the order they were meant to die on the plane. The concept was fresh and different for a slasher film, questioning mortality, even though we want to see the survival of our protagonists what is different here is we know they cannot fight the inevitable. So, why is “Final Destination” the best film of the noughties for me? its cleverly thought out, has interesting characters, it was also cool to see a male horror protagonist for a change and the female character placed second to him, and finally the killer is much scarier than in any other in film I can name, the original was genuinely scary but similarly to “SAW” the concept is now tired and done to the death! (excuse the pun!).

…So there we have my personal countdown, did you agree or disagree?! Let me know what you think….

Hayley Alice Roberts

My Top 10 Horror Movies of the Noughties- Part One

Posted in Uncategorized on June 13, 2011 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Horror films have always been a guilty pleasure of mine, in all honesty it does take a lot to actually scare me; but even so I can’t get enough of the genre. With the recent release of “Scream 4” (2011) my love for the genre has been re-ignited and part of me is hoping that the film will have brought the genre back to life in the next 10 years, very much like it did back in the mid-90’s. I am aware there are so many classic horror films out there such as “The Exorcist” (1973), “The Shining” (1980) and “Halloween” (1978) that would definitely hit my all time favourites list, however I want to look at the films that defined my generation and that I personally enjoyed. It is true that these types of films did lose a lot of credibility during the latter part of the decade with endless remakes being churned out, some are admittedly awful but for me some did surpass their original. So here we go, the countdown of my personal favourite horror films of the noughties:

10. Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000)

Okay to kick off the countdown, this film to most isn’t particularly memorable or perhaps well-liked by horror fans, just your standard slasher sequel, similarly to the “Scream” or “I know what you did last summer” franchises but I actually enjoyed this film. The concept is un-original and its the sort of film where you know what you’re in for. I was a fan of the first film that came out in 1998 where evidently from the title its suggested that somebody is committing murders in the style of urban legends, we’re all familiar with stories such as a killer with a hook for a hand murdering teenage couples or the babysitter and the clown doll, and the many variations of these stories, this film however delivered what is probably my favourite and one of the sickest urban legends, the kidney heist! Despite being aware as an audience of what is going to happen the scene did come across as pretty disturbing and intense and it was definitely gory enough for my liking, especially when the killer aggravates her wound, its enough to make you squirm! The concept of waking up, discovering you’re missing an organ is both sick and freaky as hell, so for me it was the best scene in the movie. I also liked that the film was set on a film set and the plot centred around student film-making- something I can personally relate to! Without spoiling it too much I enjoyed the little homage at the end where we get a cameo from the original “Urban Legend” (1998) killer conversing with the killer of this film. I’m glad this part of the franchise ended with this sequel because I can’t see it remaining scary or interesting, I think its best I don’t comment on the non-canon third film that was made “Urban Legends: Bloody Mary” (2006)! For me this film is somewhat of a guilty pleasure, its enjoyable enough but don’t expect anything particularly ground-breaking!

9. Valentine (2001)

 “Valentine” (2001) continued the trend of the 90’s slasher genre back in the early noughties; it is partly predictable as the audience is aware of the killer’s identity from the beginning of the film. It centres on five girls who reject the stereotypical school “geek” at a valentine’s day themed dance and follows them into adulthood where they are now being stalked, receiving threatening cards and gifts off perhaps a “not-so-secret-admirer”. The identity of the rejected boy could be anyone in any of the main protagonists lives but they are unaware of this, so there is a slight build up of mystery for the audience in terms of guessing which character is out for revenge. I found the killer’s mask in this film pretty creepy, its that of a cherub and the fact that it is supposed to represent love and happiness makes it all that more ironic and sinister. The film did feature quite a few stars such as Denise Richards, David Boreanaz and Katherine Heigl. I found the killer’s reveal done more subtly than a lot of horror films, again not to spoil anything, when the cherub has murdered someone for some unknown reason his nose bleeds, at the end of the film the same happens to the unmasked killer. I thought the cards and gifts the girls were receiving were quite creative, notably when one of them is given a box of chocolates only to find they’re full of maggots! I’d recommend watching this film on or around valentine’s day, especially if you’re one of those people that thinks its an absolute consumerist waste of time and refuses to even acknowledge the day like myself! The film has its creepy moments but like “Urban Legend” and all the other similar films, don’t expect a master-piece of horror.

8. The Hitcher (2007)

 Yes I am aware I have put a remake into my countdown, but we have been extremely limited with this decade to be fair! Admittedly, I have not actually seen the original “The Hitcher” (1986), and I know this remake version wasn’t well received by genre fans or critics, but I’m going in with an open mind here as I have no concept whatsoever of the original film. What I liked was that the cast is small, you grow attached to the protagonists played by Sophia Bush and Zachery Knighton, there is a sense of fear for them as unlike other horror films they haven’t got the security of a large cast to be bumped off one by one. Yes the film has its formulaic tendencies such as getting stuck in the rain and stopping at a deserted gas station, but from the moment we are introduced to the hitcher himself, played by Sean Bean the film for me became gripping and intense, his character is just pure evil. I found the film engaging especially when the police begin to believe the protagonists are responsible for the murders. There is definitely something scary about someone who can commit terrible crimes and then becomes untraceable. The film really puts the audience on edge especially when you have this sense of nobody is safe, meaning the protagonists, all I will say is only one of them survives so you do feel empathy for the remaining character but ultimately by the end the film is satisfying enough. Again its not particularly amazing or ground-breaking but it put me on the edge of my seat and gave me that similar feeling of intensity that the original “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974) did.

 

7. Wolf Creek (2005)

 “Wolf Creek” (2005) is slightly different to the previous films in my countdown. Immediately there is something extremely harrowing about a film, especially a horror, that is actually based on true events. Through this we aren’t given our a typical horror film and have to open our minds to the concept that anything can happen and a happy ending isn’t guaranteed. The film is slow to begin with but that only builds up the atmosphere and tension. It is set in Australia and focuses on tourists backpacking through the outback, these true events took place in 1999. The three backpackers, one male and two female encounter some difficulties when they discover a crater, all their watches have stopped and their car won’t start, this paves the way for them having no choice whatsoever apart from accepting help off a complete stranger, who appears nice and helpful enough; he lures them back to what looks like an abandoned mining site, he then drugs them with infected water, resulting in them falling unconscious. The scene after this really did freak me out, one of the female characters wakes up disillusioned in a shed, she then escapes and comes across her friend tied up along with being tortured and sexually abused by the man that had helped them, there was something so disturbingly real about this scene, to this day I get chills thinking about it, what makes it ultimately disturbing is next to the girl being tortured there is a decomposing body suggesting this isn’t the first time he has done this and that his new victim can see exactly what will happen to her, there is also that notion of feeling powerless and putting your own life at risk in order to save a friend. There was no sense of justice by the end of the film as the girls disappeared without a trace and the male victim becoming convicted for the crimes. Its terrifying holding the knowledge that the killer is still out there somewhere and possibly will never be found.

 

6. Wrong Turn (2003)

 “Wrong Turn” (2003) could be considered an update of “The Hills Have Eyes” (1977), again it lies within the slasher sub-genre of horror. The film is set in the West Virginia Woods, where a group of people find themselves hunted down by a bunch of inbred cannibals. In a sense this film lines itself between a slasher film and a monster movie as the killers look so disfigured, they appear less than human. Perhaps this film could be considered less scary in that respect as its not a normal looking man committing the murders therefore reverts itself from reality, as an audience we don’t believe this situation can happen to us as such. Eliza Dushku, in my opinion is a fantastic and diverse actress, I have been a fan of her’s since she portrayed the notorious Faith in “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003) therefore she was probably the biggest appeal for me to watch this film, her character isn’t your stereotypical female horror protagonist, she is strong and can look after herself and isn’t male-dependent. The film echoed towards older horror films such as “Friday 13th” (1980) and as I previously stated “The Hills Have Eyes” (1977), with the cliche of the abandoned woods setting. Ultimately I think “Wrong Turn” is your average horror film, its fun, its intense in parts and its gory, and it sets out to meet the expected slasher film conventions. The film also falls into another sub-genre known as “Outlaws” or “Crazies” where a group of people end up getting lost on the highway and terrorised by a group of sadists. Overall I would recommend this film, its a decent horror and that also has that old-school feel of the splatter films of the 1970’s and 1980’s to it.

 

…and there we have part one! Part Two will be posted soon, where I will countdown from number 5 to 1 of my top horror films of the past decade…

Hayley Alice Roberts.