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Lights out review

Lights out is a recent feature film of a short film which became famous a few years before the feature films release, its success is probably what triggered the legendary horror film director, James Wan who directed the two greatest recent horror film the Conjuring 1 and 2, to produce this film. And his talent for creating actual good horror films shows.

Yes this film like most horror films features an entity or ghost or monster to give the audience a presence to fear something to look out for, in this case that thing is Diana but isn’t revealed as Diana until a quarter way through this identity for this thing wasn’t part of the short and I think was only included to make sense of why this thing is here and why it is attacking this family and while it is necessary i don’t feel its fleshed out enough and is kind of rushed however this doesn’t bring the film down a lot as there isn’t much story there so you don’t really care about it and it doesn’t affect how you feel about the characters either, as they seem like real people and smart ones too that make conscious decisions and not just stupid ones so they have an excuse to get killed which makes want them to live because they deserve to.

The main cast is limited to 4-5 characters so they all matter and can be fleshed out appropriately and you feel every character matters, Diana I wouldn’t class as a character as all we know about her is that she had a skin disease and could drive people mad other than that she’s just a silhouette with bad joints, but thats not the whole point behind that character as she can only appear or do anything when she’s in the dark, a fear of the dark is a primal thing for people its something we all have but we just grow out of it this film aims to reignite this fear and does so in excellent fashion with a constant flow of scenes with low key lighting that make you wish it was day time again and even then you’re wary of the shadows.

Another aspect of fear that lights out subtly brings to mind is that these children even though two of them can be considered adults they aren’t really they’re still immature and fresh out of home, so the only real adult is the mother who is mentally and physically unavailable throughout the film. Leaving the, what are practically kids alone to fight this monster especially the actual kid which Diana seems to focus on the most but the kid perseveres.

In terms of premise lights out is thin but original and using a primal fear or the dark to scare its victims rather than jump scares and a terrifying monster, lights out’s approach can only be described as subtle but effective. I would definitely recommend this horror to anyone who is looking for something a little different in their scares.

IT (2017) review

 

Stephen King book film adaptations are being pumped out left right and centre recently and IT, one of the more popular and well known of the legendary author’s stories in which the town of Derry is terrorised by an unknown entity every twenty seven years it is later revealed to us as Pennywise the dancing clown, a sadistic mastermind, who constructs its victims biggest fears in order to feed on them. In this latest remake of the popular novel and mini series it does not take the centre stage it is in fact the children that band together to fight this evil. Which makes this film less of a horror show and more of an under dog story.

Don’t get me wrong though as this is still a very disturbing film and doesn’t shy away from violence especially against the kids in the film which is typically avoided in modern horror film as the cast is typically made up of young adults in their early 20s and the characters they play are never fleshed out enough for you to actually care about or even miss them. When the words child actors is mentioned everyone is just wary of them as they don’t tend to shine but IT’s child cast does not fall short of flawless even though some of them aren’t as fleshed out as the others there are 7 characters not all of them will be focused on as much as the others for example Beverly and Billy who could essentially be considered the main protagonist’s.

The tone of the film is set during the first scene which is very iconic at this point and is instantly recognisable as it has made its way to pop culture status. The scene in question is the one in which Georgie the main protagonists brother, is lured to a storm drain after a paper boat made by his brother falls down it, and so enters Pennywise the dancing clown, expertly played by Bill Skarsgard playing a creepy and quirky portrayal of the character with a smile that would make the joker feel uncomfortable and piercing eyes that lock the audience in. One detail in particular that really stood out to me is the eye colour of Pennywise which starts off blue which is a colour that can be associated as safe and calming but once he’d convinced Georgie to reach for the boat his eyes turn a sinister yellow which is colour typically associated with fear which is IT’s main weapon I found this a clever use of effects.

Speaking of effects the CGI in this film is phenomenal it works so well to create the things that the kids fear most without it being so ridiculous and over done that it takes you out of the experience. Even though sometimes the effects are slightly cartoonish it still fits in as Pennywise is a cartoonish character.

Although advertised as a scary film and other reviews you may have read portray this film as the scariest they’ve seen in a long time or that its utterly terrifying but I felt this was inaccurate but that is purely down to how that person feels about horror, I myself aren’t easily scared by films so I feel thats why I didn’t find this film as scary as others but that doesn’t make it a bad film as I’ve seen other reviews state.

I would say IT is an amazing film that is both entertaining and incredibly disturbing, but the breaks between each of these disturbing scenes is too light and jokey to find the film scary but it doesn’t take away from the films critical success by making you care about the characters so you care if they die or look like they’re in danger. That the sign of excellent character development without distracting from the narrative. That is the main reason I am looking forward to the next chapters of this intriguing, heart felt and terrifying story.

It Follows Review

It follows is not your typical horror as it takes on a smarter approach when it comes to inciting fear into the audience. It has a simple premise in which an innocent girl is inflicted with a demonic STD of sorts in which a curse is passed through sexual intercourse kind of like the ring in which a curse that will eventually kill the afflicted person unless they pass it on to someone else. Considering that It follows is a low budget horror it must rely on more than just fancy visual effects and supernatural settings in order to create a sense of dread earning its place in the horror genre, instead It follows uses a slow build up and the fear of something that could look like anyone is slowly and unrelentingly walking towards you to kill you. This constant anxiety trick is what will leave the audience looking over their shoulder after leaving the movie theatre. Its this kind of unique approach towards the horror genre that allows It follows to stand out amongst its peers in this modern age of horror where jump scares reign supreme. It follows subtle take is refreshing rather than a step in the wrong direction.

Don’t get me wrong all the typical horror conventions are still present despite the unconventional take on the genre itself. You have all the usual character archetypes like the final girl, the nerd and the jock each hold main roles in the narrative. The main protagonist, Jay played by Maika Monroe isn’t the stereotypical female character in the horror she takes on the final girl character type meaning she’s smarter and more weary even the supporting cast fill out their roles well making the friendship between these characters feel believable especially when they stick together throughout the traumatic events when they encounter the demon that relentlessly stalks them.

In It follows like all horrors it heavily relies on its soundtrack to convey the tone of each scene especially when the antagonist is on screen and in pursuit of the protagonist a slow menacing beat to match its slow but intimidating pace as it step by step gets closer and closer to its victim, this approach to intimidating the audience through slow stalking pays homage to classic 70s-80s slashers like halloween and Friday the 13th only difference being the appearance of the antagonist rather than being a menacing freak of nature with an iconic weapon of choice in hand this particular adversary could be anyone the victim may or may not know the person the monster is masquerading as and this person may be Alive or dead making it a very real threat and not an obvious one requiring the group of friends to be more vigilant.

Themes of sex and friendship are in foreground of this film as intercourse is the way the curse is transmitted from one person to the next not only this but the monster itself it appears has a half naked person typically female representing some sort of sexual awakening in the main protagonist and these two themes intertwine when the solution to save their friend from this curse involves sleeping with her to pass the burden on to them and of course like any confrontation like this in any horror film really the jock is the obvious choice leaving the nerd character out in the cold especially since he has genuine feelings for the main protagonist but still sticks by her in the end anyway again making the characters seem more real and believable.

The ending is very unclear as to how the characters are coping and getting after the traumatic events that have recently taken place or even if they are coping the dilemma doesn’t feel resolved at least not to my satisfaction but that could just be part of the horror, to leave an uncertainty for the audience to keep them thinking is this thing still coming, has it stopped? As they will only know once it has finally caught up.

In conclusion It follows is a smarter and more refined horror than any that have come out in recent times and I would definitely recommend watching this film if standard blood soaked horrors aren’t really your thing.