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Friday, September 17, 2010

The Horror, The Horror (Movies)

Previously, I blogged about how the placebo effect is at work when you watch a horror movie. As part of my... research for this post I watched quite a lot of them. Here are my thoughts on some recent ones. Roughly in order of best to worst. Some minor spoilers, but nothing worse than you'd get from the trailer.
  • The Last Exorcism - Very scary, and full of surprises. The trailer makes it look like a shameless clone of The Exorcist; it isn't. Gets Neuroskeptic bonus points for the opening bit where the hero, a preacher who's lost his faith, talks about how he keeps doing "exorcisms" because it's psychologically helpful i.e. a placebo effect.
  • The Broken - Inventive, intelligent and creepy. A woman starts seeing her own doppelgänger after a car crash. Neuroskeptic bonus points for mentioning Capgras syndrome, a classic neurological disorder. Well worth watching.
  • The Signal - A mysterious TV glitch sends people crazy. But who's actually affected, and who's just been sent crazy by the fact that everyone else is going crazy around them? A clever twist on the zombie apocalypse genre, and manages to be both frightening and funny.
  • Carriers - An airborne Ebola virus wipes out almost everyone. Four teens try to escape. The characters and acting are pretty blah, but the concept is good, and it's well produced.
  • Dread - Student film-makers decide to make a documentary about people's worst fears, but one of them is a psychopath, so they end up making a Saw movie. Good, if a bit predictable.
  • The House of the Devil - An attempt at the kind of anticipation-horror that I talked about in my past post - nothing really happens, but the build-up is tense. Up to a point. Then it goes on for another half hour and gets tedious. Missable.
  • Tell Tale - Pretty standard slasher, except that the serial killer... is an internal organ! Actually not all that bad, but nothing special.
  • Mutants - Zombies attack survivors holed up in a hospital. In France. Extremely generic, there is no point in watching this if you've seen, well, any other zombie movie from the past 5 years.
  • Mulberry Street - "They're rat people, they're f-king rat people!" Some virus strikes New York, turning people into rat people. Who are also psychopaths. More funny than scary, unintentionally. Apparently this was done on basically zero budget: what's disappointing is that it comes across as quite polished despite that - the budget isn't the problem, the script is.

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