31 Days of Horror: Strayed a.k.a Perdidos

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Dir. Diego Cohen  (2014)

Strayed also had some really great moments to it, and it came from a unique perspective with its lore, involving the lesser known mysticism of Mexican Judaism. The found footage tropes are all present, even being name checked in the dialog with a reference to the structure of Blair Witch Project. The ending was well done, but there were some choppy sequences that could’ve been ironed out for a smoother ride, but it was fun.

As mentioned before, this is one that I give a pass to because its main antagonistic force is based in Mexican Judaism, which is an active community in Mexico. They are not as active as they once were, but creating a means to trap the entity, a presumed dybbuk, adds to the already well established atmosphere of the movie. There is a level of self-reference that might turn some off, but I’m so used to it this point that it does not bother me at all. Better than it should have been.

 

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31 Days of Horror: Noroi: The Curse

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Dir. Koji Shiraishi (2005)

Another indie found footage horror film that is giving me a reason to believe again. This is J-Horror at its finest, and it twists some of the conventions of that specific genre and slowly sets the fuse for a powerful slow burn. I was genuinely unnerved at various points in this movie, and had I seen it in a theater I might have walked out because of the tension. So very well done. Cannot thank Shudder for bringing it for streaming, as it is notoriously difficult to find outside of Japan.

The use of folklore and religious aspects in Asian culture, as in South Korea’s The Wailing, is done quite effectively here as well. It’s a mix of horror and a quasi-police procedural type of investigative narrative and character. What’s also effective are all of the main and side characters. Usually, they are pop-ups and then missing. Not here – they are curious inclusions at first, disappear, and then play very interesting roles later in the story. Intricate plotting and effective use of atmosphere.

 

The Untenable Podcast, Mixtape #16: Existential Quantum Despair

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The one with mechanical quantums.

In this week’s mixtape episode, Mike and Jay revisit the mechanics of Quantum Leap, the value of both Mortal Kombat and Streetfighter  movie adaptations, and how time is portrayed in 11.22.63.

http://soundcloud.com/untenpod/the-untenable-podcast-mixtape-16-existential-quantum-despair

 

Intro song:  “On Me” – Lil Yachty, Young Thug

Song #2: “Falls on Me” – Fuel

Song #3: “Trouble” – Cage the Elephant

Outro song: “Despair [acoustic]” – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

 

Episodes mixed:

Ep. 79: Spoilers –  Kennedy Dies

Ep. 81: The Broadstrokes

31 Days of Horror: Hell House LLC

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Dir. Stephen Cognetti (2016)

Hell House LLC has helped to bring me back into the found footage fandom. Along with Phoenix ’97, which has its problems, is an example of indie horror doing its best to carry the torch that mainstream horror is not able to keep lit. So many tiny moments in this movie that I really enjoyed and had a visceral reaction to. It was the little things, like the camera turning away and an object is in a completely and obviously different location. There is a running gag with some creepy clown props that is very effectively done. And the twist, while not original in any way, was executed in such a way that the viewer, at least I was, completely shocked when the turn came. Such great execution.

What I also enjoy about this movie is that it is obviously a low budget, indie affair, it does not look “cheap.” Not by any stretch. They make such effective use of the space that they have to work with. And it looks like what I imagine an indie haunted house operation would be. And more importantly, the mockumentary element of the narrative looks like an investigative report would look like, and using the found footage to its best effect. The ending may initially feel like a cheat, but if you look back on the details, they all pay off.

31 Days of Horror: Ghostwatch

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Dir. Lesley Manning (1992)

I had heard a lot of mixed things about Ghostwatch, some good and some not so good. Luckily for me, I feel that it fell right down the middle. It was a clever set up of a “live” ghost hunting special on the BBC, with call-ins and an onsite specialist to help with the proceedings. There were some nice genre twists, and since it is a progenitor of the “found footage” genre and even the mockumentary, there was a lot of room for play. Some good narrative twists, and the revelation of what has happened, a sense of being duped on several levels, created a fun and somewhat unsettling ending. Pleasantly surprised.

What I really enjoy about this is that after the fact, I can enjoy the fact that this had a little bit of the “War of the Worlds Effect” in that so many people flooded the actual BBC call centers with concerns that Ghostwatch was (and may still be) banned by the BBC. There is a 20 plus year follow up retrospective actual documentary about the phenomenon that I would love to get my hands on. Because I have a not-so-veiled love for both the mockumentary and found footage genres, this one hit that sweetspot for me. This also has a fun tone that I enjoyed with another cult mockumentary, WNUF Halloween Special.

31 Days of Horror: Southbound

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Dir (s).: Radio Silence, Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, and Partick Horvath

I was very excited to see this movie, having heard so much great praise for this movie. I was not disappointed. So many great little moments of existential dread and all out gore that permeate this anthology. And I really love movies, sci fi or horror, that play with time and perception of time and self. The subtle supernatural flavor, while simultaneously drowning in “what the fuck?!” sense of narrative expression.

Anthology horror is very tricky to pull off, and this one is very adept and playing with conventions, going right through them, and then almost shaming you for expecting anything different. And some of the stories are downright confounding outside of general context, but once viewed in context to the anthological flow of the narrative, they hit all the right notes for me. Some unsettling imagery and even more unsettling implications throughout some of the stories. Can’t recommend enough.

31 Days of Horror: Get Out

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[image: https://mondotees.com/blogs/news/get-out-by-francesco-francavilla-and-jay-shaw]

Dir. Jordan Peele (2017)

Get Out is a fantastic example of properly executed satire and existential horror. There is an earnestness to the issue, but not the delivery. The delivery is direct, but also set upon by an uneasy tone, almost exaggerated to the point of ridiculous. However, the biggest victory for this movie, in my opinion is that it calls out the very people most inclined to support it. It calls out the supposed liberals who are overtly supportive and publicly decry racism and its evils, but will also resort to stereotypes when interacting with race. Because of this “biting the hand that feeds” mentality, it has a punk aesthetic that really doesn’t quite care if it offends white liberals, and asks any viewer to look beyond their superficial leanings and wonder if they are more of the problem than the solution. 

Another great element of this movie is its inversion of tropes involving suspects and plot point revelation. There are moments within the movie where it deviates, thankfully, from the obvious path to well worn tropes into a fresh take on said tropes. It is more willing to take risks and ask more questions than it is willing to provide. Some might see it as problematic when dealing with gender, but when contextualized properly, those gender elements might be better understood as par for the narrative course. Very well executed and warrants more viewings if possible.