We’re seven days into October, the weather has begun to turn and horror films have begun to fill our screens. Last Friday we provided a set of recommendations for horrors films within the subgenres of Time Travel, End of the World/Apocalypse, Hack & Slash, and Supernatural in our Part 1 recommendations list.
This week, EOM dives into World Invasion, Body Snatchers, Home Invasion, and Psychological films to assist you at any level of terror from “cute puppy” all the way to “I need a doctor”.
The World’s End
The third film in director Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy, The World’s End focuses on Gary King (Simon Pegg), a man whose entire life peaked in high school and believes that if he can recreate one night from his youth, his life will get back on track. Though coercion and trickery, he brings his old crew back to their home town, only to realize that everything is oddly the same. As if no time has passed at all. This dramedy utilizes the alien invasion to ask larger questions about adulthood, independence, and the struggle for control over our own lives. Though not the favorite film of EOM in the trilogy, The World’s End offers laughs, heart, homages to invasions of days past, and more pints than one person should drink.
Attack The Block
Written and directed by Joe Cornish, this 2011 action/horror film stars John Boyega (Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens), in his first feature film, as Moses, a street tough who finds himself stuck between gang bangers who want to kill him and black-as-night alien hell hounds who want to eat him. With only his wits and a small crew of kids who patrol their South London block, Moses has to figure out a way to keep himself, his crew, and the residents of their block alive. Attack the Block is completely unexpected in its style, special effects, and compelling narrative. Plus, it’s clear from Boyega’s performance that a star was born.
Monsters vs Aliens
For all the serious world-ending alien invasion films, there are a few that manage to successfully twist the genre in a way that both honors and reenergizes it. Directed by Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon, Monsters vs. Aliens focuses on Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon), a woman whose entire life (and size) changes when she’s struck by a meteorite on her wedding day. Quickly, the U.S. Government scoops her up and places her into a hidden military unit made up of creatures – a Blob named B.O.B, a cockroach/human hybrid named Dr. Cockroach, a reptilian creature named The Missing Link, and a giant grub named Insectosaurus – who are kept on reserve in case a deadly threat to the United States arrives. Though aimed at younger audiences, Monsters vs. Aliens offers adults plenty to keep them engaged and entertained. From references to other films Dr. Strangelove and Beverly Hills Cop, as well as characters voiced by the likes of Paul Rudd, Kiefer Sutherland, Hugh Laurie, Seth Rogan, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Ed Helms, and many many more – there is plenty to enjoy while the Earth waits to end.
Director John Carpenter brought to life terrifying stories like Halloween, They Live, The Fog, and Christine, but the one film that continues to be hotly debated is the 1982 classic, The Thing. Starring Kurt Russell as R. J. MacReady, a member of a research team based in Antarctica who finds itself under siege by an alien force that can alter itself to look like anything it touches. With no way to tell who’s on your side, let alone human, MacReady must do anything he can to save himself and his team. But if you’re located in a remote area in the bottom of the world, can safety be found?
Under The Skin
Adapted from the Michel Faber novel by Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast), Under the Skin features Scarlett Johansson as an unnamed female alien who kills and steals the flesh of a woman, so that she make move without suspicion on Earth. Her task is simple: bring men back to a mysterious room so that their bodies may be harvested. Things become complicated when the huntress begins to identify with her prey, causing her to undergo a journey of self-discovery that complicates her mission and sanity.
Honorable Mentions: Slither.
Michael Haneke’s 1997 Funny Games is the story of two young men who take a family hostage, forcing them to play out various “games” for the amusement of the captors. Though intended to be a commentary on society’s moral constitution as it relates to media violence, the horror community excitedly welcomed Funny Games for its horrific depictions of violence, the cool-calm preppy assailants, and the clever use of fourth wall breaking to make the audience conspirators to the grizzly undertakings.
The Last House On The Left
What would a list of terrifying films be without Wes Craven? The man whose name is synonymous with horror wrote and directed this 1972 film about two teenage girls trying to go out for a night of fun, who are kidnapped and violently tortured by a group of crazed convicts. The terror doesn’t remain in the woods, though, as one of the girls manages to make it back home with the convicts hot on her trail. It’s brutal and nausea-inducing, but what do you expect from Freddy Krueger’s creator?
When you think of horror, Denis Leary’s name rarely gets thought of, and this 1994 comedy definitely doesn’t belong on this list. But as you may have noticed, we at EOM try to offer alternatives within the categories that can be opened up to other audiences. In The Ref, Leary is Gus, a cat burglar who kidnaps a dysfunctional couple (Lloyd and Caroline Chasseur) on Christmas Eve in an attempt to get away from the cops. This is Leary at the height of his rapid fire comedic delivery going opposite Kevin Spacey (Se7en) at his most sardonic. It’s hilarious, captures the holiday spirit, but still manages to have a little bit of tension as the Chasseurs do their best not to get themselves, or their visiting family, killed.
On a stormy night, ten strangers at a motel find themselves being picked off, one-by-one, by a killer with a dark past and horrific agenda. Though this description seems like your generic slasher, director James Mangold manages to instill tension and terror into a film that is not what it appears to be. An added bonus is the exceptional cast of John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, John Hawkes, Alfred Molina, Clea DuVall, John C. McGinley and so many more that assist in elevating what should be a tired tale. This clever thriller will keep you guessing all the way to the heart wrenching end.
This under-seen gem from actor/director Bill Paxton (Weird Science/Edge of Tomorrow) is a story within a story as Adam Meiks (Matthew McConaughey) recounts to the FBI the many murders his father (Paxton) committed in an attempt to destroy the demons roaming the Earth. Every step of the way, you’ll wonder if Adam is telling the truth or is just an insane man who needs help. Paxton, McConaughey, and Powers Booth, as the FBI agent Wesley Doyle, bring their A-game to elevate this “who done it?” to a tense thriller.
Speaking of under-seen gems, 2013 saw the release of Coherence by writer/director James Ward Byrkit. What begins as a dinner party for friends, quickly devolves into a mayhem when a comet passes overhead causing all of the lights in the neighborhood to go out, but theirs. As the party guests become more and more on edge, tempers flare and truths are revealed. As if that wasn’t bad enough, those that venture out to look for lights don’t seem to come back exactly as they were. It’s a slow burn film that is absolutely worth the watch.
This may be the end of our recommendations, but Halloween season has just begun. Feel free to send us your recommendations or let us know which films we missed.