Week 9: My Choice
There's a 'fad' for mass suicides spreading through Japan, and no one knows why but there's a weird website that keeps totalling up the numbers of the dead (and the totals increase just before the suicides happen). This movie has one of the best starts to a horror flick that I've seen in a while - 54 cute Japanese schoolgirls linking hands at a train station and chanting "One - two - three!" as they jump under the speeding train. There's some neat (if rather black) satire in presenting the cheerful suicides as the new trend that all the kids are getting into, equating their deaths with poppish fannism (further emphasised by the fact that everyone is easily distracted from the growing death toll as soon as tweeny J-pop band Dessert comes on tv.)
The movie loses track of itself after a while (what the hell is the bowling alley bit about?) and doesn't really resolve satisfactorily - it's heavy on style and WTF, but very enjoyable nonetheless. A slick, weird Rocky Horror Horror Show.
The Loved Ones
Brent turns down Lola's invitation to the school dance, so she and her dad kidnap him and strap him to a chair, then torture him as they host their own "school dance" in their rural-Australian-drab lounge room. The Loved Ones is for the most part a torture movie, but like the first Saw film and unlike the dreadful Hostel, it's not completely mindless. The characters do have genuine motivations, there's a back story, and the performances are good: Lola especially is an enjoyably high-pitched psycho who actually has a personality (often in slasher flicks the antagonist is inhuman and blank-faced: think of Jason's hockey mask, Michael Myer's rubber one, and Leatherface's...leather face). There's quite a few deliberate nods to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre which made me smile, and the climax winds up with genuine tension. I think it's actually quite hard to make a watchable slasher film, and The Loved Ones definitely lives up to its reputation. Probably the best Australian horror movie since Wolf Creek (although it certainly doesn't take itself as seriously as that film). 98% of rotten tomatoes can't be wrong!
Who Can Kill A Child?
A young English couple go to stay on a remote Spanish island and discover the children have killed all the adults, which is a bit of a bummer for said young English couple. The start of this movie is actually quite hard-going: extended real historical footage of atrocities perpetrated against children through wars and famines. This gives a little idea of the metaphor or 'spirit' behind the supernatural murderousness of the children in the following film, but most of it is left ominously vague (as, as Tim said, in The Birds). The children are excellently creepy, and the violence eventually (and really, unavoidably) inflicted on them is still quite shocking.