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50. The Thing – Halloween 2017 (#165)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, a Halloween treat. John Carpenter’s The Thing.

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Non-Review Review: Let Us Prey

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015.

Let Us Prey marks the feature film debut of director Brian O’Malley.

O’Malley certainly knows his stuff. Let Us Prey is visually striking and very well-directed. It is rich and memorable, perfectly capturing the eighties exploitation vibe that O’Malley is striving for. It isn’t too difficult to imagine Let Us Prey as a lost horror film from the eighties, with its synth-heavy soundtrack and vague paranormal underpinnings. O’Malley draws from a wealth of sources, but Let Us Prey feels most obviously indebted to the work of John Carpenter, feeling like a curious blend between Prince of Darkness and Assault on Precinct 13.

letusprey1

Unfortunately, O’Malley confident direction can do little to conceal the obvious flaws in a clumsy script. While Let Us Prey has an obvious affection for classic schlock-fest horror films, the script feels more than a little lazy and generic. Horror films generally trade in tastelessness or tackiness – that’s a huge part of the fun – but there is no sense of technique in how Let Us Prey parades its own depravity. The “shock” elements feel cheap and half-hearted.

O’Malley is very much a director to watch, but Let Us Prey is saddled with a script that is far more horrifying than anything O’Malley can actually put on screen.

letusprey

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My 12 for ’14: The Guest and a Halloween Christmas Movie…

With 2014 coming to a close, we’re counting down our top twelve films of the year. Check back daily for the latest featured film.

2014 was a spectacular year for genre work. Perhaps emboldened by the success of genre fare (shared universes! talking apes! killer racoons!) in the summer movie season over the past number of years, it seemed like both major and minor studios were more willing to play with concepts that could easily seem absurd or throwaway.

’71 blended its historical real-world setting with the claustrophobia one might expect to find in horror thriller – a zombie movie set in seventies Belfast. The Babadook is a awards-caliber study of disillusioned parenthood that just happens to use the language of a supernatural horror. Birdman is a blistering Hollywood satire and character study driven by imagery and iconography more traditionally associated with fantasy. There has always been genre overlap, but it seemed particularly pronounced this year.

theguest

The Guest revels in its pulpy nature, offering a gleefully absurd intersection of a classic slasher movie with a more traditional holiday fare. The story of a mysterious visitor who moves in with the family of a deceased soldier, The Guest is wry and quick-witted, subversive and cheeky in equal measure. Anchored by a script from Simon Barrett that refuses to pull any punches, razor-sharp direction from Adam Wingard and a superb central performance from Dan Stevens, The Guest is a pure pulpy pleasure.

In many respects, The Guest feels like what would happen if you asked John Carpenter to make a Christmas movie. Only set at Halloween.

Flying the flag...

Flying the flag…

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Non-Review Review: The Guest

The Guest is a pulpy delight. It’s a glorious throwback to classic seventies horror, with writer Simon Barrett and director Adam Wingart perfectly channeling the mood and feel of classic seventies exploitation films. It’s affectionate and unapologetic. It is gleeful and grim. It is darkly hilarious and also brutally pulpy. The Guest is a film that knows exactly what it wants to be, and accomplishes that with great skill.

Seeing red...

Seeing red…

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Non-Review Review: Citadel

Citadel marks a promising feature-length directorial début from Ciaran Foy. It’s a very grimy and gritty horror, evoking the sort of trashy horror aesthetic of the seventies or eighties video scene. It’s unpleasant and nasty stuff, which is exactly what you’d expect from a horror film. On the other hand, it occasionally seems too nasty. Horror films, by virtue of their genre, often wind up feeling a little reactionary. Citadel is an urban horror film, reflecting the concerns and the nightmares of inner-city living, turning happy-slapping hoodies with ASBOs into literal monsters.

I got you, babe...

I got you, babe…

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Non-Review Review: The Thing (2011)

The reflexive reaction to a film like the 2011 version of The Thing is one of scepticism. There’s something very strange about seeing a movie that had been relatively unloved on initial release garnering the remake/prequel treatment, an attempt to cash in on its cult success by turning it into a franchise. And, to be fair, a lot of that cynicism is justified by The Thing. There are times when it seems like – despite the obvious affection for the original horror master piece held by the writers and the director – that nobody really has any idea why John Carpenter’s The Thing has become such an iconic piece of cinematic horror.

There are some nice touches here, and it seems like director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. is genuine in his love of the classic body horror. Unfortunately, it feels like the finished product is more the result of mechanical number-crunching than honest enthusiasm.

All fired up...

All fired up…

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Non-Review Review: Scream 4 (Scre4m)

Alright, Kirby, then it’s time for your last chance. Name the remake of the groundbreaking horror movie in which the vill…

Halloween, uh, Texas Chainsaw, Dawn of the Dead, The Hills Have Eyes, Amityville Horror, uh, Last House on the Left, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare On Elm Street, My Bloody Valentine, When A Stranger Calls, Prom Night, Black Christmas, House of Wax, The Fog, Piranha. It’s one of those, right? Right?

(beat)

I got it right. I was &@#!ing right.

– Ghostface and Kirby redefine the frame of reference

In many ways, Scream 4 feels like a fitting end to the Scream franchise. In fact, it feels like it has come something of a full circle from the first film, which was envisaged as something of an obituary for the dying slasher genre. In the years since, prompted in a large part by the success of the original Scream, the genre has been resurrected. Watching the grind of horror films released, it seems that Hollywood has been churning out nothing but empty roman-numeral-denoted sequels and hallow remakes, with very little thought or creativity. Scream 4 feels a like a reflection on the “success” that the first film wrought, and actually feelings like a fitting closing act.

It's going viral...

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