Ambush Bug counts down the best horror films covered on AICN HORROR since last Halloween – Number 28!!!
Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here. Happy Birthday to AICN HORROR which celebrates its second year in October! Always hoping to pass on new and exciting films for all of you ravenous readers in search of worthwhile horror, I decided to compile a list counting down to my favorite horror covered in AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS since October 1 of last year. Some of these films might be new to you since there isn’t a lot of horror in theaters these days that aren’t toothless remakes or watered down sequels. Theaters aren’t where the horror is at these days, I’m afraid. Some of these films have only seen the light of day on Video on Demand or simply go straight to DVD/BluRay. I’ve also compiled a few films I’ve seen advance screenings of at festivals and I’ll try to update you when you can see these films when I can.
As far as how I compiled this list? Well, I simply looked over my AICN HORROR columns over the last year and worked and reworked a list until I had 31. No real method to my madness. We’ll be counting down every day until Halloween toward my favorite horror film of the year. I’ll also provide a second film suggestion for those who can’t get enough horror that has something to do with the film I chose that day.
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let me know how you liked the film I chose, how right or wrong I am, and come up with your own list…let’s go!
Not all horrors have to be in your face and full of gore. Sometimes a little goes a long way. Case in point; THE MOTH DIARIES may not be your typical horror film, but it definitely offers up it’s own kind of scares. This film from AMERICAN PSYCHO director Mary Harron makes up for all of the dumbed down, hokey teenage attempts at horror that we’ve had to put up with recently. Below is my review of THE MOTH DIARIES from August of this year.
THE MOTH DIARIES (2011)Directed by Mary Harron
Written by Rachel Klein & Mary Harron
Starring Sarah Bolger, Sarah Gadon, Lily Cole, Judy Parfitt, Melissa Farman, Laurence Hamelin, Gia Sandhu, Valerie Tian, & Scott Speedman
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Mary Harron, director of AMERICAN PSYCHO, offers up another sublime horror film with THE MOTH DIARIES, which like AMERICAN PSYCHO takes its time to play out dreadful mood and heavy ambiance before sinking its teeth in the jugular of the viewer. Though much less based in our reality and less heavy on the social commentary on the culture of a specific era, Harron’s gothic teen girl romance is a thinking person’s teenage horror film—the kind of horror you would wish kids were into these days rather than vapid vamp flicks like TWILIGHT where emotions and feelings are fathoms more complex than choosing between the brooding vamp and the shirtless wolf.
The film is filled with fresh young faces, specifically best friends Rebecca (played by Sarah Bolger) and Lucy (Sarah Gadon) and new girl in school Ernessa (played by the ethereal Lily Cole). As their year in boarding school begins, Rebecca is delighted to see her best friend again after the long summer break and the two seem to be besties again without a pause until Ernessa arrives at the school. Immediately Ernessa takes interest in Lucy, which concerns Rebecca. I understand in this explanation, one might want to recheck the top of this column to see if it’s AICN SOAP OPERA rather than AICN HORROR, but I assure you, things get creepy pretty quick.
Harron’s story, adapted from a book by Rachel Klein deals with the real connection young girls have with one another as they reach womanhood in a sophisticated way. Yes, there are themes of lesbianism throughout as Rebecca’s suspicions about Ernessa’s motivations are written off as jealousy at first, but as faculty and students start having unfortunate accidents and Lucy becomes less and less interested in being friends with Rebecca, Rebecca begins to believe that something much darker than teen jealousy is afoot. The story is dark in tone and deathly serious. As we see the film through Rabecca’s eyes, we see Ernessa walk through walls and lustily nibbling at Lucy’s throat in the midnight hours. Harron is not very subtle with the fact that Ernessa may very well be a vampire early on as in all horror films set in a classroom, the readings that dreamboat literature teacher Scott Speedman is teaching from in class are CARMILLA and DRACULA. As with most horror films, this is a cautionary lesson and though the metaphor lacks subtlety by blatantly stating it in class, the vampire tale here is definitely an ambiguous one here as Ernessa doesn’t resemble what one typically thinks of when we think of a vampire.
That said, the performances are absolutely fantastic in this one by the three lead girls. Bolger shows great range and maturity for her age as Rebecca; our eyes and ears of the story. But Cole is the standout though here as her porcelain doll face is otherworldly and lifeless throughout the entire film, looking more mannequin like as the story progresses. Though her look is distinct, it most definitely can be called beautiful in an absolutely horrifying manner in this film. Both girls are asked to do and feel a lot in this film and are able to deliver.
Though the more hardcore of the readers here at AICN HORROR will not really be into this film, which is more along the lines of THE LADY IN WHITE and also has the same sort of dark tone as Sofia Coppola’s THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, it definitely is a welcome change of pace from all of the torture porn, found footage, monster mayhem, and slasher flicks. Like a razor so sharp that you don’t know it has cut you until it is too late, THE MOTH DIARIES is dangerous in its delicacy; a modern Gothic tale that is more hauntingly beautiful than anything else.
THE MOTH DIARIES is available on DVD & BluRay now. Another film which goes for the more delicate scare is THE INNOCENTS, a beautiful, yet haunting ghost story that was heavily influential to modern fright fests like THE OTHERS. I reviewed THE INNOCENTS a year ago in a special haunted house column and couldn’t recommend it more for those who like their horror films filled with subtle, gothic chills.
The Countdown so far…#29: THE SLEEPER
#30: THE AGGRESSION SCALE
#31: SICK BOY
See ya tomorrow, folks, with number 27 of the best of the best covered in AICN HORROR since last year!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over ten years. He has written comics such as MUSCLES & FIGHTS, MUSCLES & FRIGHTS, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010 & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND & has co-written their first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in late 2012 as an 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark has just announced his new comic book miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment to be released March-August 2012. Also look for Mark's exciting arc on GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-80 which begins in August 2012.
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Oct. 4, 2012, 8:24 a.m. CST
great review. I'm definitely gonna check this one out. This looks to be as cinematic as American Psycho, which is one of the great strengths of that film.
Oct. 4, 2012, 8:36 a.m. CST
by Red Ned Lynch
...on either Netflix or Amazon (maybe both). Worth a watch, though I would say it was more down the Ginger Snaps road than Suicides. The big flaw is that it never creates any real tension. The big plus is nice atmosphere, an ambiguous ended that is in keeping with the tone of the film and the performances, which are good for this level of film.
Oct. 4, 2012, 8:37 a.m. CST
by Red Ned Lynch
...it's early in the morning and I have a tummy ache.
Oct. 4, 2012, 10:25 a.m. CST
Oct. 4, 2012, 10:27 a.m. CST
I was gonna say. Cause I couldn't tell, but the joke is pointless now. Face palm.
Oct. 4, 2012, 10:32 a.m. CST
You've been tearing it up in these Halloween columns. Out of sheer respect for you, I promise to watch Bloody Mallory this month.
Oct. 4, 2012, 10:39 a.m. CST
by Red Ned Lynch
...actually, I kind of like horroe. Sort of like dark fantasy, it gives the whole thing a somewhat more sophisticated air. And remember, Bloody Mallory is bad. I just happen to really, really love it. Seriously, at the end, she says something about the smell of roses, and I bust up crying every time. At the end of a French live-action anime version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer featuring a six year old telepath and a six foot tall transvestite with machine guns in her boots. I bust up crying. Like clockwork. This is why I try very hard not to harshly judge what other people like.
Oct. 4, 2012, 10:53 a.m. CST
I actually rented it from Amazon a few months ago, but fell asleep. Not because it was bad, but because it was late. It was right up my alley as abuffyfan and a connoisseur of low budget. I'll get back to it one day.
Oct. 4, 2012, 1:57 p.m. CST
Err, for your wonderful articles.
Oct. 4, 2012, 3:07 p.m. CST
by Red Ned Lynch
...for excellent columns and perceptive comments.
Oct. 5, 2012, 1:11 p.m. CST
It's just so moody. And it seems to get better every time I watch it.
Oct. 11, 2012, 4:35 p.m. CST
I don't know how you can endorse that mangled mess. A surprising failure by Harron.
Oct. 12, 2012, 11:05 a.m. CST
by Justin Lewis
I watched this yesterday (Netflix may have a lot of crappy horror movies, but they grab some of the good ones too) and I dug it. It's worth watching. I wouldn't call it a mess, though there were some plot devices that didn't play out (her teacher, for example...was that just to up her isolation level?)