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Because you do know when you say, "Welp, I don't think I'll top this one in terms of "WTF"," people are going to try to give you suggestions to top it.





The House That Jack Built, 2018

During some sort of vague journey, Jack (Matt Dillon) regales his companion Verge (Bruno Ganz) with stories of his exploits as a serial killer. Through a series of disturbing incidents--supposedly a random sampling of his prolific career--we see Jack's methods and hear about his notion of murder as a kind of art form.

There's something just kind of exhausting about people who can only make intellectual arguments with a big smirk on their face. I'm sure we've all had arguments online with people like this: they fight tooth and nail about some pedantic point, and then the moment you bring up a counterpoint or poke a hole in their logic, all of a sudden they seem to go out of their way to make it clear that they were just debating for fun, that they aren't taking any of this seriously, etc. There's a kind of cowardice to it, and it makes it hard to want to invest any mental or emotional energy in someone who wants the shape and noise of a discussion but without any introspection.

This is how I mostly felt watching The House That Jack Built. While, yes, ostensibly a horror film about a compulsive serial killer, a lot of runtime is spent with Jack's musings about the nature of art, while Verge casually bats back at a few of the more obvious flaws in his argument.

The positive side of this film is certainly Dillon's performance. Dillon has an everyman charm about him, and as with most actors or actresses I think of as having "nice vibes", there's always a bit of a jolt to see them as someone villainous. He really walks the line between genuine menace and the dark comedy that the film is after. In one sequence where he tries to talk his way into a woman's house (a wonderfully poker-faced Siobhan Hogan), he flails between confidence, frustration, embarrassment, impatience, and slyness. As with many serial killer films with attractive, charismatic leads, it is kind of shocking how many dead bodies you can get through while still sensing some element of likability about a character.

I will also grant the film that a handful of moments are effective. And, actually, the very last sequence was probably the one where I felt the film made a good point. In the end
WARNING: spoilers below
Jack is trying to reach a mysterious door by scaling a steep rock wall. Despite all he's done, some part of me wanted him to succeed because I wanted to see what was behind the door. This scene---which I took to be allegorical about the way that we cheer for art/artists even at the expense of the pain and suffering of others because we want to see that brilliant unknown--felt like it made its point in an interesting way.


But a lot of the film . . . .meh. I'm not all that interested in trying to decide which elements of the film were intentionally annoying and which were unintentionally so. For example, two of the victims who are killed are over-the-top unlikable or stupid. The first victim, in particular, is unbelievably (and I mean that literally) awful. Is this meta commentary on the way that some horror films frame female victims so that we can feel okay about seeing them slaughtered? Don't know. In another sequence, Jack rails against the fact that women have an advantage because men are all "born guilty". Of course, the on-the-nose irony is that he's complaining about men being stereotyped as violent in the moments before he starts slicing open a woman he's tied up.

Overall I found the whole thing too winky to take at all seriously, which dulled the effect of the killings. At the same time, it wasn't clever enough in its examination of art and murder for me to engage with the points it was trying to make. Dillon's lead performance--and some really good supporting performances--carried me through the film, but it generally failed to make much of an impression.




The trick is not minding
WTF. I know I saw Witchfinder General was available on Shudder last week. Why would they remove it during peak viewing time?
Grrrrr……



WTF. I know I saw Witchfinder General was available on Shudder last week. Why would they remove it during peak viewing time?
Grrrrr……
Maybe another streaming service grabbed the rights?





Edge of the Axe, 1988

In a small town a spate of killings begins in which victims are chased down and killed by a masked figure wielding an axe. Gerald (Barton Faulks) is a computer fanatic, tentatively romancing Lillian (Christina Maria Lane). Also in the mix is Gerald's friend, Richard (Page Mosely) and his wife, Laura (Patty Shepard). As the bodies add up and the sheriff's explanation of accidents and suicides seem more and more dubious, suspicions begin to arise.

This was actually a pleasant little surprise. A lot of the film is filled with classic slasher tropes--you know, a character greeting someone else with "Oh, it's you. What are you doing here?".

But the lead performances and the range of characters adds a degree of unpredictability to the whole affair. These characters are, to put it plainly, pretty weird. Gerald is an oddball. Lillian is obsessed with an accidental injury she did to her cousin when they were children. Richard is a weird guy, married to an older woman and looking for excuses to flirt with other women. Throw in the sheriff, the coroner, and the local priest, and the film is teeming with could-be killers. I will admit that a few of the film's misdirections fooled me, and there were some reveals at the end that genuinely surprised me.

I wouldn't set your expectations too high here. This is a fine slasher but not top tier. There are elements that don't make sense and odd character choices. There are some slower sequences.

But overall, as I said, I was pleasantly surprised.




The trick is not minding
Maybe another streaming service grabbed the rights?
Yeah, I did a search using JustWatch and it appears to be streaming via AMC+ which is still a Prime channel I think? Which I don’t have access to, which is fine…plenty of others films available.
I’ll just watch In The Earth instead, since I’ve been eying that up since it appears at Warehouse Cinemas months back.





Saint Maud, 2019

Maud (Morfydd Clark) is a private nurse, having left her previous job in a hospital after a disturbing (yet undefined) incident. Assigned to care for the dying Amanda (Jennifer Ehle), Maud becomes obsessed with saving Amanda's soul. But when Amanda resists Maud's attempts at interference, this triggers a crisis in Maud.

Now this is what I'm talking about with an October horror challenge!

I really liked this film, and it's right up at the top of the films I've watched so far for this challenge.

To begin with, I really appreciated that this is one of those films where the horror operates on many different levels and from different perspectives. Of course we spend most of our time with Maud, coming to understand her emotional fragility and her need to achieve a pure religious experience. Maud is socially awkward and lonely (on top of some obvious mental health issues), and from the very beginning there's a prelude to desperate action that puts you on edge even as you sympathize with her.

But the film also lets you feel the situation from Amanda's point of view. Dying, she wants to live her last days on her own terms. This includes trysts with the younger Carol (Lily Frazer), something that sets off Maud. There is something frightening not only about the death that Amanda is facing--and as a former dancer her loss of mobility and physical ability stings all the more---but the idea that someone else might decide what's good for you and enforce their will over yours. Both Clark and Ehle do strong work in their lead roles, and despite them being in conflict it is possible to sympathize with both.

Another strength of the film is the simple-but-effective ambiguity in terms of what is actually happening to Maud. We see many things happen, often when Maud is alone, and we are often left to wonder just how much of it is real. Yes, there are hints here and there, but for the most part there's a delightful tension somewhere between "it's all in her head" and "God is speaking to her".

I was surprised by the middle third of the film, in which Maud essentially goes into a crisis of faith and begins spiraling. After a first act spent almost entirely in Amanda's house, we get to see Maud out in the real world. And it isn't pretty. Her social isolation is painful to witness, and her attempts at connection evoke responses from polite indifference to outright
WARNING: spoilers below
sexual assault
. As her misery deepens, her desire to look both within and without for a higher purpose makes more and more sense. Surely, there must be a point to all of this suffering, right? And to make things worse, a former colleague of Maud's does attempt to extend friendship, but Maud doesn't quite know how to navigate that dynamic. This potential helping hand only makes Maud's loneliness more stark.

The last act also manages to satisfy, with several memorable and unexpected moments and a final scene that ties everything together very nicely. I know that this one has gotten mixed reactions from other viewers. I thought it was pretty great. If you like this film, I would also recommend the horror Amulet.




I'm glad everyone here has the correct opinion about Saint Maud! It could even go up a half notch for me on a rewatch.

That middle sequence, which at once relieves the building tension in the house and yet thrusts you into something that manages to be both claustrophobic and agoraphobic, really interested me. And the way that the
WARNING: spoilers below
rape
went down, along with everything around it was just so quietly horrifying. You can see so many moments of missed connection and kindness, so many ways that things didn't have to go off of the rails.

And while I would have happily watched
WARNING: spoilers below
Maud set her rapist on fire or pull out his still-beating heart or whatever, I thought that the film's restraint built so much tension. I kept waiting for Maud to snap--especially when her nurse friend came over to her apartment---and I thought that the tension was incredibly effective.





Edge of the Axe, 1988

In a small town a spate of killings begins in which victims are chased down and killed by a masked figure wielding an axe. Gerald (Barton Faulks) is a computer fanatic, tentatively romancing Lillian (Christina Maria Lane). Also in the mix is Gerald's friend, Richard (Page Mosely) and his wife, Laura (Patty Shepard). As the bodies add up and the sheriff's explanation of accidents and suicides seem more and more dubious, suspicions begin to arise.

This was actually a pleasant little surprise. A lot of the film is filled with classic slasher tropes--you know, a character greeting someone else with "Oh, it's you. What are you doing here?".

But the lead performances and the range of characters adds a degree of unpredictability to the whole affair. These characters are, to put it plainly, pretty weird. Gerald is an oddball. Lillian is obsessed with an accidental injury she did to her cousin when they were children. Richard is a weird guy, married to an older woman and looking for excuses to flirt with other women. Throw in the sheriff, the coroner, and the local priest, and the film is teeming with could-be killers. I will admit that a few of the film's misdirections fooled me, and there were some reveals at the end that genuinely surprised me.

I wouldn't set your expectations too high here. This is a fine slasher but not top tier. There are elements that don't make sense and odd character choices. There are some slower sequences.

But overall, as I said, I was pleasantly surprised.

Interesting, I've been considering this a bit since it came up on whatever of the services I have.




Saint Maud, 2019

Another strength of the film is the simple-but-effective ambiguity in terms of what is actually happening to Maud. We see many things happen, often when Maud is alone, and we are often left to wonder just how much of it is real. Yes, there are hints here and there, but for the most part there's a delightful tension somewhere between "it's all in her head" and "God is speaking to her".

WARNING: spoilers below

The movie seemed to hint very strongly it was brain cancer/a brain tumor. The mismatched eye colors at the end, seemed like a slightly off, but really trying to hammer it home on that front*. Also the ending shot.
I saw this shortly after finally seeing The Conjuring, and I enjoyed it because it seemed to posit the, "what if the real horror is, the religious visions are supernatural and everyone doesn't do anything about it because they're too wrapped up in their own world to notice for one reason or another." At least, that's how I viewed it, and compared to a lot of films in the possession genre, that was nicely refreshing. Throw in callbacks to the history of masochism in Christianity (or at least Christian art).

*: David Bowie's mismatched eyes are due to ocular (or oculuar-nerve) damage causing one of his pupils to be larger than the other (not a brain tumor in his case). A sign optometrists and doctors are supposed to keep an eye out for are for signs of brain cancer are mismatched pupil sizes. Particularly if one remains dilated and isn't contracting when exposed to light. That's a warning sign that a tumor is damaging a nerve. I know this because I had a friend in college who had a pupil which was permanently dilated from a brain tumor in high school. I think there was even an opening scene where she's checking the patients pupils.



The trick is not minding
Just a quick update:

Part 1 (What's in a Name)
1. A horror film with 1 word
2. A horror film with 2 words
3. A horror film with 3 words
4. A horror film with 4 words
5. A horror film that is a complete sentence

Part 2 (All about the franchises)
6. An original franchise*
Horror of Dracula (finally!)
7. A sequel to a franchise (can be a different franchise)
8. A reboot, remake, or prequel to a horror film
9. A late sequel (past part four)
10. An obvious cheap ripoff of a major horror franchise

Part 3 (Trip to Europe)
11. A film from UK
12. A film from France
13. A film from Germany
14. A film from Italy
Kill Baby….Kill!
15. A film with someone traveling to a European country

Part 4 (where to find it)
16. A film on Netflix
17. A film on Amazon
18. A film on Hulu
19 A film on Shudder
20. A film on a different streaming site(Youtube, HBO MAX, Tubi, etc)
Alice, Sweet Alice

Part 5 (It's not the size of the horror)
21. A horror short film under 30 minutes
22. A classic B film that is just over an hour
Earth vs The Spider
23. A VHS era film that is around 90 minutes
New Years Evil
24. A major Hollywood horror release under 2 hours
25. A horror epic that is over 2 and half hours

Part 6

26. A horror film released in October of any year
27. A horror film that was economically the biggest one of the year
28. A horror film released in 2021
In The Earth
29. A horror film released in October 2021
30. A horror film that is on the Movieforum list.
31. A horror film on the Time Out top 100 horror film list
Black Sunday
https://www.flickchart.com/Charts.as...47&perpage=100



After just finishing In The Earth, I feel I must insist you guys watch it….like, now….

Hm. According to RoberEbert.com it is "ominous, brutal, pretentious and stirring." Sounds like my kind of jam.



The trick is not minding
Hm. According to RoberEbert.com it is "ominous, brutal, pretentious and stirring." Sounds like my kind of jam.
I can’t stress how much I quite enjoyed it. If you enjoy Ben Wheatley, I would highly recommend this.



A system of cells interlinked
Adding The Orphan to the list under A Horror with a Two Word Title.

I will try to post some thoughts on it when I get a few minutes.
__________________
"There’s absolutely no doubt you can be slightly better tomorrow than you are today." - JBP



WARNING: spoilers below

The movie seemed to hint very strongly it was brain cancer/a brain tumor. The mismatched eye colors at the end, seemed like a slightly off, but really trying to hammer it home on that front*. Also the ending shot.
I saw this shortly after finally seeing The Conjuring, and I enjoyed it because it seemed to posit the, "what if the real horror is, the religious visions are supernatural and everyone doesn't do anything about it because they're too wrapped up in their own world to notice for one reason or another." At least, that's how I viewed it, and compared to a lot of films in the possession genre, that was nicely refreshing. Throw in callbacks to the history of masochism in Christianity (or at least Christian art).

*: David Bowie's mismatched eyes are due to ocular (or oculuar-nerve) damage causing one of his pupils to be larger than the other (not a brain tumor in his case). A sign optometrists and doctors are supposed to keep an eye out for are for signs of brain cancer are mismatched pupil sizes. Particularly if one remains dilated and isn't contracting when exposed to light. That's a warning sign that a tumor is damaging a nerve. I know this because I had a friend in college who had a pupil which was permanently dilated from a brain tumor in high school. I think there was even an opening scene where she's checking the patients pupils.
That would possibly explain
WARNING: spoilers below
her change in personality. It's repeatedly implied that she used to be kind of a party person, always out at the bar. It could also explain her experiences as hallucinations.


Ultimately I think that it's a strength of the film that it works however you choose to interpret it.