The season of ghosts and ghouls is here once again. As the film schedule is starting to take its usual turn towards horror and suspense, there are many promising ways to get your scare this year. With many great big budget projects coming to theaters, box-office successes coming to DVD, and even some amazing projects from local filmmakers, there are many opportunities to cozy up with a loved one and celebrate the season.
Probably one of this season’s biggest releases is the highly anticipated project from writer and director Guillermo del Torro, Crimson Peak. Having earned his fame in this genre with the release of 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth, and being bolstered by his work with Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, both of which being great films for a brisk autumn night, Crimson Peak is del Torro’s homecoming project. Being the mastermind behind films like the sci-fi action film Pacific Rim and writer for the recent Hobbit trilogy, he has spent a good amount of time away from the horror genre in which he originally made his name. This time, though, has only served to grow a hunger in his devoted fan base for a film displaying the aesthetic and ambience of terror that is unique to him. From early trailers it seems that Crimson Peak is going to deliver exactly this.
Being set in a gothic castle that displays the same kind of carefully designed, sets as Pan’s Labyrinth. The trailer shows this haunting castle, as spindly demonic shadows climb out of the walls. With a cast including Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska, Crimson Peak promises to be a great date night movie this fall, coming to theaters October 16.
If you would rather spend a night in, there are a number great horror films coming to DVD within the next month. One being Poltergeist, the remake of the cult classic from 1982, with fresh-faced director Gil Kenan. Having found a good balance between a new take on the plot and references to the original, this film will please both long-time fans of the genre, and those looking for something new to watch. With a plot based on a family moving into a house built on Native American burial grounds, this film gets moving fast. The film and the paranormal activity are all focused around little Madison, taking the place of Carol Anne from the original. It takes a somewhat technological approach to some of the typical horror tropes, so will be a hit for anyone who likes a more modern ghost story. Poltergeist is scheduled for release on DVD, September 29th.
Another horror film coming to DVD is the third chapter of the successful Insidious series. These three films are a great choice to marathon through on Halloween night. As the name states, these films are arranged as chapters, each continuing and building onto the other’s narrative. It is a truly unique series, breaking many stereotypes in the genre. If you are one to enjoy a puzzle, these films are enjoyable to watch, as you fit all of the pieces together. The third chapter however does somewhat disrupt this flow, being a prequel to the other two rather than a sequel. It does however build to the unique universe developed in this series. Chapter 3 is scheduled for release on DVD, October 6th with Chapter 2 being available on Netflix.
Local filmmaker, Brandon Carter, eloquently conveys all that this season means to him and how it became a big influence in his short film American Halloween. Carter spoke specifically of how he had enjoyed this holiday season growing up, watching movies on channels like Disney, which would have many different original movies showing around the clock. In an interview, he spoke of the feelings that he relates to this time of year, all of which he wrote into American Halloween. The film is based around a silent main character, a choice that Carter said was to allow for the viewer to put themselves in his place, who is not really into the festivities of Halloween. It follows him as he finds the beautiful side of the season. A sentiment that Carter says is the center of the film.
The way he speaks of Halloween is with language steeped in romanticism and mindfulness. This care can be seen throughout his work. His film is filled with nostalgia in both the imagery and plot line, and awakens a fondness similar to thinking back on a happy memory. Carter speaks of this feeling and familiarity in referencing what he loves about the horror genre.
“They are your friends,” Carter says, speaking of the characters that populate horror films, “what makes a horror film great are people that you like.” He emphasizes how important it is for you to be able to see yourself in the film, to be a part of the action. This is what he loves about the genre. It forces you to embrace the unknown while in an environment that feels eerily familiar, as if it was your own house in a suburb on a particularly dark weekend night. He likens the stories told on the screen to the moral tales that have existed in the oral tradition of many different cultures. The stories parents would tell their kids of the crying woman in the woods, kidnapping those still wandering around after dark. Like the stories shared over the flames of campfires, movies are a new format to convey these stories to a new generation.
“Horror offers a mirror to reflect society” Carter says “with the monsters being the problems that plague us.”
When asking about this upcoming fall Carter shares his excitement for the release of Crimson Peak, mentioned above, and notes the beautiful settings that have become expected from Guillermo Del Toro.
Though fall is sometimes defined by the horror industry and the overall setting of mystery, there is an endearing quality to it all. A quality captured by Carter’s film, American Halloween, which will have a showing this fall at the Alamo Draft house in Lubbock, Texas. It is a time to come inside and watch a scary movie with friends.