Horror movie list: Don’t play with occult things, honey!

Oh hey, look at that Ouija board/creepy doll/weirdly intricate old toy/old book with human leather binding, let’s totally fiddle with it, until really horrible not-good things are happening! < basically every character in the following movies.

Now, I will not add movies where people are deliberately using occult objects to seriously do occult stuff (like “Hellraiser”, for example) but only movies where people think it’s fun to play around with occult things.

Host (2020)

This one hour-Zoom-meeting is even worse than your worst work meetings, I promise. A couple of friends try to fight the Covid-boredom with an online seance and … well, we all know that this will end bad.

So, as usual, the horror genre is fashion forward with its choice of medium and topical themes, so we have here a movie that is shot entirely on Zoom and plays during Covid (we even see a face mask, it was exciting). As a fan of found footage-horror, this was right up my alley. The acting is great, the premise truly scary and even though I thought that the middle was a lot more creepy than the ending, I still think that this will be a big hit in the horror community.

Also: with a 60 minute run (just like a usual free Zoom session), this movie might also lead the way when it comes to getting rid of that weirdo 90minutes+ rule of movies, since that was somewhat the rule for movies to be released on DVD or even shown in cinemas but is worth nothing on streaming sites. I would welcome more love for shorter movies because it might open up more possibilities for up and coming horror artists who don’t have the budget for a full feature.

Evil Dead (2013)

A group of young attractive people are stuck in a cabin in the middle of the woods to help their friend go cold turkey. When they find a weird book in the basement, of course, they read the text in the unknown language out loud because WHY NOT? Hilarity ensues.

I love the remake, it’s well made, it’s super gritty/gory and it has humor, even though that’s buried deep within a lot of guts and torture and weird, sexually abusive roots. This movie is not for the casual “Oh, I like ‘The Others'”-horror movie fan, this really is disturbing and gross and close to the kind of movies I don’t enjoy but still, I like it.

Ouija II (2016)

A prequel that is better than the first movie is rarely a thing, especially in horror but “Ouija 2” is just that, thanks to an amazing special effects team and the amazing acting skills of Lulu Wilson. It also features Lin Shaye, so count me in!

The story is pretty by the numbers, as are all stories about Ouija boards, always and forever. In the late 60s, a widow and her two daughters run a scam business as mediums. After including an Ouija board in their act, things go bump in the night.

Because the movie is not really interested in the story (which will be delivered with a huge information dump at the end – as usual) but rather in its characters and the house they live in, there’s a lot of time spend on characterization and establishing the rooms, nooks and crannies which will eventually be full of terrors. I always feel that horror stories don’t need to be unique but the way that the terror/horror is portrayed, needs to be convincing and unusual, and if its only small things. “Ouija 2” manages these little and big scares quite well, which is also due to a very smart lighting and camera work, slowly going through rooms, following our protagonists and revealing the horror bit by bit, frame by frame.

I thought of this movie when I watched “The Haunting of Hill House” and lo and behold, Mike Flanagan who directed this movie also did the Netflix-show (I do prefer “Ouija 2” over “Haunting” but that’s for another blog entry).

Pyewacket (2018)

Leah and her mother move to a house close to a forest. Amidst family problems, the girl tries to channel her frustration in an occult game – which ends up being more than just a game.

I love this indie movie, the acting is absolutely amazing, so much in fact, that I gushed over Nicole Munoz’ performance in my “Best of 2019”-list. Especially when it comes to horror movies that have trauma at the core of their main characters as motivator, the acting is crucial. Munoz as well as Laurie Holden who plays the mother are so good with each other, that every stupid thing Leah does makes sense in the context of their fractured relationship.

The movie also is very amazing at creating tension, up until the end, there is hardly any gore but the story works with what we as audience expect to happen and plays with it in beautiful ways.

The Possession (2012)

This movie has so many tropes, that I would love to tear it to pieces but when it comes to the scares, it simply delivers some great moments, so here we go: after a horrible accident, an old woman’s things are being sold in a yard sale. A divorced dad visits it with his two daughters and one of his daughters gets a mysterious box that can’t be opened (cue: what’s in the box-jokes). When it does finally open, all hell breaks loose.

Look, we have a weirdly hip and tonally ill-fitting funny Rabbi, a horrible new partner of the wife who still feels so much for her ex, who is played by Grant Show who nails these kind of characters but who I also like so much that I hate him being such a smug dick all the time. We got the tortured dad who only wants the best for his family and who is so misunderstood and then also gets burdened with weird demons or whatever (it’s Negan Jeffrey Dean Morgan from The Walking Dead, proving that he indeed can play all sorts of daddy-characters, wink, wink). And then we get the young girl acting strangely because that’s what young girls do. It’s a lot (cue: “Master and Servants”-jokes).

BUT! Again, the actress who plays that young girl, Natasha Calis, is really good and nails the split between possession and innocence (I am not spoiling here, folks, look at the movie title). The whole design of the entity, from the box to the actual look, is gorgeous and horrifying and even though everything surrounding it feels like a Lifetime-movie, I still enjoy this movie a lot – maybe too much.

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