Posts Tagged ‘The Haunting’

“The Orphanage”: Frightening. Truly.

January 2, 2008

The Orphanage

This is the second year in a row I’ve broken the New Year in with a Guillermo del Toro produced film, I’d like to make it a tradition. The Orphanage (or El Orfanato) is probably the most frightening horror film I’ve seen this year and more frightening than anything I saw last year. It’s a ghost story, one that follows in the footsteps of some of the best; Poltergeist, The Innocents, The Haunting, The Shining, The Sixth Sense, The Devil’s Backbone and most recently The Others. Only it’s better than The Others and not as good as some of the others. It’s about a woman, Laura, who goes back to the orphanage she grew up in to start a home for the mentally disabled, only to find that there are children already living there. Cree-ee-py! But it’s not Laura, it’s her son, Simone, that sees what’s happening around them first. See, he has harmless invisible friends. So Laura and her husband think nothing of it when he meets a couple more. Simone has also been adopted and suffers from a disease that’s only hinted at in the beginning, but turns out to be surprising – something I wish the film had dealt a little more directly with as a theme, but the movie isn’t ambitious in that sense. In the end it could have been any life threatening disease or illness.

In every good ghost story there’s a reason for ghosts to exist. There’s a reason why certain people can see them. There’s always some theory about traces being left behind because of a murder or suicide. It’s the mystery, the unknown. A filmmakers way of doping it up for the audience. Something that’s become common because of the rise in Japanese horror films like The Ring – here it’s far more clever than most films. Is the ghost good or bad? What’s its motivation? What do we see and what’s implied? Is it really evil? The Director Juan Antonio Bayona and screenwriter Sergio G Sanchez, know when to hold their cards. They tease and poke and prod the audience and they do it well. The pacing swings like a pendulum, back and forth, every now and then the blade dropping suddenly closer to your gut. And you feel it as Laura becomes more encapsulated in this dark world. And it’s not only that you see it, you hear it. The camera moves along the halls like it did in The House on Haunted Hill. The sounds rattle and rumble from within. There’s a whole sequence in which we see nothing, but hear everything. How much is in their world and how much is in ours we wonder? It’s a question that has ramifications.

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Sam Raimi “Haunted” by his past, others influenced

August 27, 2006

We all know that in cinema there are those directors who are strongly influenced by films they grew up on… strongly, Tarantino is one of the biggest ones. He’s not genre busting, he’s a melting pot of genres that are important to him as a person. And he deals with all of it well. I love his movies, probably because I also love the movies that influenced them. Images from Lady Snowblood and Kill Bill; the Villains looking over their victims.
lady snowblood villianskill bill villians

Brian DePalma is another. It’s obvious that his work is strongly influenced by Hitchcock, even when his films are less than mediocre.

evil dead 2But then there are those Director’s who’s visions are unique … or are they? If one searches around enough one can find examples of where influences have been drawn from. Let’s look at Sam Raimi; director of the wonderful “Spider-Man” films and the brilliant “A Simple Plan”. “Evil Dead 2” was one of the first films that affected me as a youngster. It was viscerally so exciting and created a tangible world for me that existed outside of my own. That was the same night I saw “Bladerunner” for the first time ever. It was a good night in my childhood; and the world of cinema opened up to me. But I digress… Sam Raimi’s style has always felt so authentic to me, so entirely different from anything else out there. Until I saw something the other night – a movie.

The Haunting PosterThe original “The Haunting” from 1963; Black and white film, directed by Robert Wise, rated G. And it felt at times like Raimi was directing it. The camera tilting back and forth as sounds from other sides of walls are heard, dutch angles on doorways and mounted heads of animals, cameras flying at the faces of potential victims. I was watching it thinking to myself, Raimi saw this when he was 10. He had to have! “The Haunting” is worth checking out for any of you die hard horror Raimi fans.

And look what a little hunting got me… the truth.

http://mp.aol.com/video.index.adp?mode=2&pmmsid=1205128

The Innocents

The Others
Another one to see is “The Innocents” which basically became “The Others”. It’s funny because within the movie “The Innocents” the spirits are referred to on several occasions as the Others. It’s quite an obvious update. Both films very creepy and a little melodramatic towards the end, but very different at the same time. There’s even something that draws on familiarity between the posters! (more…)