Day 21: ‘Sweden’
Day 21’s film comes from Sweden, a new prompt for this year as the horror journey for 2021 really branches out. Visitors (1988) is perhaps one of the better known Swedish horror films, a mix between Poltergeist (1982) and House (1986) as it tackles the haunted house genre in it’s own way. A story that isn’t the most original sees a family of four move into their dream house but very strange occurrences start happening and Frank (Kjell Bergqvist) the husband and father is the only one worried and starts to investigate the paranormal.
While on paper it may seem the old ‘been there done that’ but Visitors has a huge amount of charm to it, it plays out at first like a happy family all with laughs and good times. But soon enough the house and the haunting reflects what the family are going through as Frank is having work issues and money is tight, the cracks start to show. The reflection of the house/family drama is done quite effectively here and that element isn’t something that always comes across or works. There are many comedic parts in the film as it honestly does not take itself too seriously and it really adds to the charm. As the film progresses it does get quite silly, the paranormal investigator Allan (Johannes Brost) is a memorable character, very quirky and goofy. Sara (Lena Endre) the wife and mother is very uneven and the choices Sara makes are really truly awful but almost understandable given the situation and trauma.
There are some scares to be had and some really solid moments of terror as the third act hits, even as it does go insane and cheesy it’s still a fun ride to be on. The film may not be the most original or the best made out here, it does remain extremely enjoyable and the flaws it does have actually work in it’s favour. Visitors may not be the easiest film to track down but it is worth it as its a fun little horror film with a lot of heart.
Day 22: ‘South Korea’
Into The Mirror (2003)
South Korean horror may be amongst some of my favourites with A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003), Train To Busan (2016), Thirst (2009), Old Boy (2003) and I Saw The Devil (2010) to name a few. With South Korea being the prompt for Day 22 I wanted to check out a film I have had on my list to see for awhile but just haven’t gotten a chance to with Into The Mirror (2003), which was remade by Alexandre Aja with Mirrors (2008). That film wasn’t too bad, it had some creepy moments and showed a lot of potential but it didn’t quite get there. That remake changed the story, going into Into The Mirror having seen the remake first didn’t affect the viewing as the film makes for a great horror/mystery that keeps a creepy feel throughout.
The story is about a former cop turned security guard Woo Yeong-min (Yoo Ji-Tae) who has taken a job at his Uncle’s shopping centre that is ready to reopen after a fire the previous year. As the preparations begin for the stores opening, employees start to die and at first it looks like suicide but the evidence does not add up. More people begin to die and Woo Yeong-min starts an investigation of his own to find out what is really going on, while Detective Heo Hyeon-su (Myung-Min Kim) is also investigating and has a big problem with the young security guard going back to why Woo Yeong-min left the force. As the two pair clash a deep mystery begins to unveil itself with mirrors holding the key to what haunts the building.
As a mystery the film works, it is a slow burn piece and the pieces are revealed in due time to piece together and the scares come when they need to and leaves a very unsettling feeling. Mirrors themselves can be quite creepy, how many of us have seen something strange in the mirror even for just a second and then turn around to nothing being out of place? Most of us I would imagine! The use of the mirrors works effectively here and every time there is a reflection on screen it’s a jolt of panic as you can’t be sure if anything will be there looking out. The cast are all pretty good as well with Yoo Ji-Tae and Myung-Min Kim making for compelling leads to move the film along, their own complex relationship adds to the tension already present. The film wraps up with an ending that may not be for everyone and at times the pacing and plot points can be a little muddled, overall Into The Mirror is a compelling film and one I am happy I have finally gotten to check out.
Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea