A little of everything here.
Left Bank: Artsy Belgian psychological suspense flick about an injured elite-class runner who starts to doubt her boyfriend’s motives. Slowly shifts into a very different horror genre. I often dislike those genre switches–in theory I approve of them but I often end up wishing I could just see the movie I thought this would be–but here I loved it. Spooky and weird, and it commits to its bizarre worldview. Strong sense of place; hints of misogyny-as-horror (aka men-as-horror…).
ETA: The main character’s athletic career was handled really well. It doesn’t become heavily symbolic, but she does face what might be a career-ending injury, and the film plays on the sudden new vulnerability of her strong body.
The Howling V: The Rebirth. So I really enjoyed The Howling (I’ve never seen a bad werewolf movie) and when I was a kid I loved leafing through the books in the Waldenbooks at the mall. Some commenter at Kindertrauma argued that #V is basically “the good sequel” and I was in the mood for late’80s scream queens of a winter night, so I settled in.
The Howling V is a really above-average back-row makeout movie. The Hungarian castle locations are gorgeous, the snow is very satisfying horror snow, the twist is surprisingly well-foreshadowed in both dialogue and action, and the kills are splashy and well-paced but not too realistic. The dialogue is sometimes clunky (although sometimes great, e.g. “I think he’s saying that the basis of the Christian church is fear.” “Oh, but not the American church!”) and the acting is noticeably wooden. Not that you’d care if you were the target audience here, since you’d be too busy making Millennials to notice.
Battle Royale: If you are a horror fan you know the premise already, yes? Forty Japanese ninth-graders are shipped to a deserted island and told to kill each other; only one can survive. Child-killin’ from stem to stern, plus implicit generation-gap social commentary.
And it is that, for sure. But it’s really unnecessarily well-made, from the doom-laden music (this would be great figure-skating music) to the beautiful shots of the island, the waves and the rain. The children are mostly compelling sketches; the ones who won’t fight were depicted especially well, I thought. Toward the end the movie starts breaking the rules it laid down at the beginning, which I never like, and I’m not sure this works as well in retrospect as it does when you’re watching it. But it does the most important thing, which is remembering that a movie of this kind should be sad and not just cruel.
ETA: I initially thought the social commentary here, the mutual fear of children and adults, was odd in a country with such a low birthrate. Those seem like Baby Boomer anxieties, right? If… and all that. But the emphasis on the strange smiles of the last girls left alive made me wonder if the more urgent social commentary is the depiction of humans’ longing for the social cohesion that comes through committing violence and/or facing death together–in this case, social cohesion found through social division. The search for an identity, found through the defeat of those who once were us. That strange, haunting smile….
Speaking of killer children… it’s The Shortening! February, the shortest month, is the time of the Deadly Doll’s annual series honoring small wonders of the horror world. Head over there throughout the month for killer kids, killer pets, killer dolls, and many more tiny terrors.