After watching Joe Dante's late career horror film, I remembered that Sam Raimi had done the same thing: Drag Me to Hell (2009). I wasn't sure how scary it was, but had heard something bad happens to a kitten - that makes it pretty bad in my book.
Alison Lohman plays a farm girl who has moved to LA to make a new life. She is working on her hick accident, she has a rich, smart boyfriend (Justin Long) and she is trying to get ahead at the bank she works at. She is trying to get a promotion and has to prove she is tough, so she turns down a mortgage extension for an old gypsy woman. That bad move earns her a curse.
It starts with a few flies and some creepy non-diegetic noises. She starts to lose it at work and with Justin Long's snooty parents. She looks to storefront psychic Dileep Rao for help, but he's a bit out of his depth.
Now, this movie is pretty scary - the old gypsy, with her clouded eye and snaggled, removable teeth is horrifying. But kind of funny too, like when she gets her teeth knocked out and tries to gum Lohman's face off. You know, a Sam Raimi movie. The only thing missing is a Bruce Campbell cameo. So I survived pretty well, but:
- I was kind of hoping Justin Long would get done in
- I'm still upset about the kitten
The story mixes the horrors of war and the horror of ancient myths. Del Toro is equally at home with both. His monsters and fairies are scary, his soldiers and rebels more so. The movie is full of little tricks, symbols and mirrors: gears, labyrinths, keys, feasts and so on. It also had a number of odd references back to Drag Me to Hell, like insects, cloudy eyes and coats in a particular shade of blue. Coincidence, I am sure.
For Sunday, we wanted to go a little more sophisticated, so we picked the Thai ghost story, Uncle Boonmee Who Recalls Past Lives (2010). A woman and her son visit his uncle in the Thai countryside. His kidney is failing and the spirit world is coming closer to him. The ghost of his dead wife drops by for dinner, and no one seems too shocked (although Uncle Boonme is embarrassed because she is still young and he has aged). His son drops in as well, but he has become a ghost monkey, a yeti-like creature with glowing red eyes. And so on.
This is presented in long, slow, uneventful takes. The camera lingers on an empty room, or an ox, or a few people sitting quietly - lingers for a long time. This can be beautiful and meditative, and it is also annoying and self-indulgent. There is some humor, some wonder, some beauty, also a bit of boredom. Not scary at all.
So, one horror-comedy, one horror-fairy tale, and one unscary art house film. I need to try harder before Halloween.