Hauntings are one of the most integral aspects in the horror genre. Because, having something attached to your or your house / belongings is horrifying; the thought that no matter where you go or what you do – you'll never break free from it. Most people instantly think about haunted houses, but, as we'll see in this week’s streams, hauntings can happy in a number of different places.
Insidious Chapter 2 (2013) – Haunted Human(s)
James Wan knows his shit when it comes to hauntings. From Dead Silence to the original Insidious to last year’s Insidious Chapter 2 and the amazing, amazing The Conjuring, he knows what it takes to scare an audience and to do it in such a way that it’s effective on each subsequent viewing. Insidious Chapter 2 picks up where the first film left off; a family finds out that there son is being haunted by an evil presence, a presence that also haunted the father as a child. After what they thought was a successful cleansing at the end of the first film, they soon find out that the entity is back and may have never left in the first place. This film in no way reaches The Conjuring level of frights, but it’s a worthy sequel to Insidious and one that adds and builds on elements from the first film in a really innovative way. Also, the music alone is beyond frightening. Wan was quoted as saying that this would be his final genre film. Here’s hoping that one day he proves himself wrong; he’s too good to leave this early.
The Caller (2011) – Haunted Apartment
After a messy divorce, Mary Kee moves to an older apartment complex for a fresh start. The apartment may be old, but since it gets her away from her mentally and physically abusive ex-husband, she is nothing but positive about building a new home here. She begins getting strange phone calls from an old woman asking to speak to her son. Mary Kee assures the woman that, if her son did live there, he most assuredly does not anymore. As the woman begins getting angrier and angrier, Mary Kee’s life begins to take a strange turn for the worse and she realizes that this woman may be very dangerous. Like Insidious Chapter 2, this film merges elements of horror, science fiction and time travel in an incredibly cool way. The effects here are nothing spectacular as most of the scares are hinted at instead of violently in your face, but it works in this case. Rachelle Lefevre, as Mary Kee, does a wonderful job and, if you've seen last year’s first season of Under the Dome, you'll agree that she deserves to be in more genre films.
The Pact (2012) – Haunted House
The poster for The Pact is what kept me from watching it for the longest time. It shows a ghostly figure melting out of a panel of wallpaper. It just looked terribly cheesy and I didn't want to waste my time on any further cheesy haunted house films. Well, I'm seriously glad that I gave this one a chance because it’s a pretty badass way to incorporate the reason that the ghosts are hanging around. When her mother passes away and her sister disappears in their mother’s house shortly after, Annie must return to the house that she promised herself she never would in order to find out exactly what’s going on. At first the entity seems malevolent, but the longer she investigates and the more active the entity becomes she realizes that it may very well be trying to help her crack the case. I won’t spoil the ending because it’s what makes this film so rewarding, but I'll say this it’s a pretty great way to meld a haunted house film and a true-crime horror into one fun 90 minutes. On a side not, this film could have easily just been called “Cleavage” or “I Walk around a lot with Hardly Anything On.” It works and makes me kind of want to start watching the Arrow television show so that I can get some more Caity Lotz.
Spiderhole (2010) – Haunted Memories
Four young friends who all go to the same art school decide to become squatters (people who reside in abandoned homes to keep from paying rent) and they just choose the wrong damn address. I've included this in my list of hauntings because it sells itself as one via Netflix, including in its description the phrase, “…they're sharing the space with a deeply evil presence.” It turns out not to be so, but the killer’s reasoning is because he can’t let go of the past and that’s really what a haunting is in the first place: the inability to let go. Also, the laziness of this movie will most likely haunt me for years to come. The film steals so many aspects of other great horror films and rehashes them in the most mediocre way. The Collection and Hostel being the most prevalent, but, don’t worry, there’s a laundry list of thefts going on here. I’m not sure of any scenario in which I'd suggest watching this over any other streaming film. I guess if someone had a gun to your head and said watch it or die….I don't know; maybe not even then. Just start retelling the tale of Little Red Riding Hood and maybe you’d keep the attention of said attacker.
Matt, Signing Out