Day 13: ‘In The Woods’
The Hallow (2015)
Horror that has an ‘in the woods’ setting really go hand in hand, in part thanks to films like The Evil Dead (1981) showing the madness and horror of that remote sort of location. The prompt seemed a natural fit for 31 Days Of Horror and the film that fits the brief for this day is The Hallow (2015) and this one blends that isolated setting with folk horror, in an intense and horrific experience. The story set up is simple, a family comprised of Adam (Joseph Mawle), Clare (Bojana Novakovic) and baby Finn have moved into a remote mill house in Ireland with Adam a conservationist who is surveying the area, but finds the woods that surround them have some unique features. Clare feels the hostility of the neighbours and town folk around them, with warnings that Adam needs to leave the woods alone. There is a secret in the woods and this family may very well unleash something they didn’t expect.
The Hallow has a lot going for it, an intriguing premise, a very dark and foreboding tone, spectacular effects and a top notch cast. The fairy tale or folk story within the film is simple, the woods are home to certain creatures and must be left alone, but in a more modern age perhaps that isn’t as easy as it once was. The family of three struggle with this different environment, living in a house that is coming part and never seems to show any light. Adam is persistent in his job, even as the deeper he digs, the stranger things get. The film does keep up a fairly strong tense pace as these characters deal with what’s around them, towns folk and the dangers of the woods. The performances especially from the two leads are excellent, they encounter a lot during the course of the film and each moment felt real with their delivery.
Where it does fall a little sort is the established characters suddenly make some very terrible decisions, something perhaps understandable in a traumatic situation but their actions as terrible as they are don’t feel natural and rather something for the plot to move forward. Despite the small issues, The Hallow is a very good and damn creepy horror film. Folk horror may not get talked about too often within the horror genre, it is an under appreciated subject and it’s always great to see a horror film embrace that aspect as much as anything else.
Day 14: ‘Evil’
As the half way mark for 31 Days Of Horror with Day 14, the prompt is ‘evil’ and a chance was taken to see something quite different and engage with more horror from Germany. Possession has been the subject of films within 31 Days Of Horror since pretty much starting this yearly tradition, some have been great watches and others not so much, generally though they do have a lot of similarities and there are times when as a fan of the sub-genre there’s a craving for something more. The Possession (2012) hit the right notes for the most part with being a possession film a little different from others, then along came Luz (2018) to completely rewrite the rule book and give a truly unique and fresh look of the subject matter.
A young taxi driver called Luz (Luana Velis) takes herself into a police station after possibly being in an accident, at the same time a woman named Nora (Julia Riedler) is engaged in a conversation with psychiatrist Dr. Rossini (Jan Bluthardt). Luz reacts very strangely to the police officers, all the while Nora tells Dr. Rossini about her old school friend Luz (the same one) and as this is happening he gets called in to speak to her Luz as he is the police psychiatrist. Something is not right with Luz or Nora, there is something dark that goes back to their days in school together and it will all unravel.
Giving too much away with Luz does the film a disservice, a first time watcher should check this out with knowing as little as possible going in and enjoying the wild and mind melting film. This is art house horror with a true 80’s European vibe, it has an amazing synth soundtrack, shot on 16mm it’s a visual experience of a film and there are many clever things hidden throughout to keep watch for. Performance wise it has a very small cast with a masterful performance from Luana Velis as Luz, who is especially incredible through the hypnosis part of the film. The strange way the film tells its story truly sets it apart from other possession films and gives such a different perspective with the genre that makes Luz one of the most memorable horror mind trips from the past decade.
Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea