My cousin Maryanne and I used to enjoy a horror movie or two following our annual excursion to the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival or before one of my famous (or infamous) parties. We enjoyed the chance to share our favorites with each other (and play catch up on things we wanted to see but hadn’t yet) so much we decided to get together a couple of weekends a year and make films the focus.
Here’s what we’ve seen so far and what we thought…what will we watch this weekend? Time will tell. We tend to get a giant stack and pick according to mood.
We like this mostly because of its stunning atmosphere and realistic depiction of abandoned Pripyat. Maryanne notes it isn’t bad, but it isn’t on the favorites list. If you enjoy abandoned locations from your armchair or are from the generation which remembers the Chernobyl disaster, it’s a recommend. If not, you may want to skip it. Watched: January, 2013.
We LOVE this. No, we haven’t watched the original Thai version yet (together, anyway), but we’ll get there. For an American rendering, we think this is memorable. The last image is surprising (but justified) and leaves a strong impression. Recommend. Watched January 2013.
We were REALLY happy with this until the last quarter disintegrated into a demon possession movie, which just doesn’t fit. The concept of people being trapped in mirrors is brilliant, the character/conflict/crisis/change arc is there and solid, but — oh, that terrible ending! It’s as though the first three quarters of the film are separate from the last one. We suspect the focus groups who wanted this ending weren’t collectively very bright. Skip it. Watched January 2013.
We don’t think this is the strongest entry in the franchise, but we both agree there are a few genuinely creepy moments that are unsettling. If you’re into the franchise, then you might as well see it. If not? Skip it and watch the first three instead. Watched June 2013.
We went into this blind. We enjoyed it, but as more of a psychological thriller than a scare-fest. There is one moment at the end which is so unexpected and shocking we jumped! Recommend. Watched June 2013.
There is nothing like the original 1979 classic. Still fun, still scary! Recommend. Watched January 2014.
Here’s another one we pulled to watch because we love it. This 1984 classic is not to be missed! Recommend. Watched January 2014.
…and yet another. It appears the January 2014 get together was about a trip down memory lane! Recommend.
We didn’t expect this ghost story/mystery to be as good as it is. It has a few scary moments, but it is more a psychological tale involving the unreliable narrator than anything else, it’s a genuine slow burn — and its ending is open to interpretation. We nabbed this one on Netflix, but I’ll probably pick up the DVD since both of us want to watch it again for anything we may have missed the first time around. Recommend. Watched September 2014.
DAMNATIONLAND, if you’ve not heard of it, is an annual festival of horror shorts made by Maine filmmakers. My best friend from kindergarten picked the 2012 collection up for me because it had a story called “Carrying Place” she thought I’d love (and she couldn’t have been more correct)! Maryanne and I have a slightly different order for a 1-5 ranking, but my #1 pick is “Carrying Place” and hers is “Raw Footage.” “Merrow” gets love also. Recommend. Watched September 2014.
We both think this is terrifying. Strangely, the one image I have trouble getting out of my head is the least scary one for her (I won’t spoil it). This one’s a must. Recommend. Watched September 2014.
…and yet another trip down memory lane! We only watched the original, though. Recommend. Watched September 2014.
We weren’t expecting much from this Spanish (and yes, subtitled) film — and it turns out to be complex, intense, frightening, atmospheric, and above all NOT LIKE AN AMERICAN FILM WITH LOTS OF THIN THREADS AND HOLES. This is a deep one. We recommend it, but be prepared to think. If you don’t pay attention, you’ll miss something important. Again, recommend. Highly. Watched October 2014.
The only reason we knew this was a found footage outer space film (for some reason we had assumed it was a drama) was because it was featured in the trailers on the INSIDIOUS DVD (which we’d watched the month prior). We were so excited to order it for the following month! It got lots of bad reviews on Amazon, but we are officially refuting what’s up there. The recreation of 1970s found footage is pretty amazing, and we were both scracthing our heads thinking “how did they pull THAT off?” The story is genuinely suspenseful and tight, and yes, there are some frightening, unforgettable images. And serious points for awesome DVD extras with loads of deleted footage and an informative commentary. Recommend. Watched October 2014.
After watching HOLLOW we were glad we hadn’t taken the Amazon reviews seriously — this movie is only slow if you’re not interested in the true horror hidden in human relationships and you don’t care to think. The mythology built around this tree is complex and yet believable; the mood and atmosphere are magnificently rendered. And the last fifteen minutes are completely terrifying (because you don’t see a thing). We give this one a high recommend if you’re looking for something artsy and intelligent. Watched October 2014.
A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of both the New England Horror Writers and the Horror Writers Association. Follow her adventures at kristipetersenschoonover.com.