Time to Remember
In my never-ending quest for cinematic chills, my latest review covers two stylistically divergent films that range from ho-hum to uh-oh. The latest release under the revived Hammer brand, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death (Currently Showing at theatres)is the unnecessary sequel to the 2012 post Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe vehicle. Obviously it made enough at the box-office to merit this sequel of sorts but minus any star power I suspect this outing will disappear quickly from local screens. The other film The Houses October Built is the latest entry into the much derided and overused found footage genre that uses that clichéd style to (mostly) good effect.
Woman In Black 2 takes place 40 years after the first film. London is being bombed during the Blitz of London . Eve Parkins is a schoolteacher who with the headmistress flee the city with their students, finding shelter in the abandoned Eel Marsh House where the titular ghost resides. The vengeful spirit has a penchant for picking off youngsters to add to her ghostly brood of previous victims, and it is up to Eve to fight for their lives. The film relies heavily on gray tones and dark shadows to create a foreboding sense of doom but fails to deliver on that promise. The creepiest moments are revealed in the trailer of the film, and I was disappointed that there wasn't anything more there.
The Houses October Built (Available on DVD, BlueRay, Amazon streaming and On Demand)on the other hand combines two of my favorite things: Halloween and Haunted Houses. Filmed in the style of a "Documentary", it visits real haunted houses and mixes in news reports and interviews with scare workers. In it, five friends trek between the backwoods of Texas and Louisiana in search for the ultimate in extreme haunted houses. Following a trail of clues on google and whispers of the scare workers, they hear about one called Blue Skeleton, a moveable haunt that has no fixed location that supposedly takes it to the next level. The band of friends (using their real names as their "Characters") are being followed by various creeps that they had seen at previous haunts on their journey in spite of the hundreds of miles traversed on their trek. At one point (it is assumed) a member of Blue Skeleton breaks into their RV to film them while they sleep, posting the video on the web. Their aggressors wear clown masks, bunny suits, and one a particularly disturbing doll-girl get up, all lending to the overall unsettling tone.
The interviews provide information that give me second thoughts about ever going to another haunted house. It is reported that no background checks are performed in employment of scare workers, many are hired through work-release programs from prison. One individual revealed that he would do anything short of murder to scare someone.
Call me officially leery of placing myself in that kind of situation.
The ending of the film fizzles a bit, but all in all it was one of the best scary flicks I have seen in a while.
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