Tag Archives: horror

Movie Review: Evil Eye (2020)

Evil Eye (dir. Elan and Rajeev Dassani, 2020) – Usha Khatri becomes convinced that her daughter’s new boyfriend may be connected to her own past.

3/5

It is a common belief among Asian parents that one should form a family first and that love will come in time. Second-generation Indian-American Pallavi (Sunita Mani) does not believe in that. She chooses to wait for true romance, unmoved by the attempts of her mother Usha (Sarita Choudhury) to play matchmaker.

Everything seems to fall into place for her when Pallavi finds the man of her dreams in Sandeep (Omar Maskati). She believes that her mother would be pleased. But as it were, this is far from a romantic comedy. Usha instead becomes fearful at the sight of Sandeep. She starts to warn her daughter of a family curse, convinced that the man may be the reincarnation of her abusive ex-boyfriend. 

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“Welcome to the Blumhouse” Films – Ranked

Think Blumhouse, and you might think of poltergeists and flickering lights. The studio is after all known for backing big names in horror like James Wan, Oren Peli and Jordan Peele. It is easy to forget that they have also financed several ghoul-less dramas, including the acclaimed Whiplash and The Normal Heart.

Welcome to the Blumhouse finds the neat balance between the two seemingly opposite genres. Leveraging the studio’s name, the anthology shines a light on four very different films by relatively unknown filmmakers. Some lean towards dramatic storytelling while others launch straight into the supernatural, serving up the best of both Blumhouse worlds.

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Book Reviews: October 2020 (Spooky) Reads

October wasn’t just about the films. I managed to finish some books, including last month’s read I Am The Messenger, which delivered some much needed optimism in tougher times.

Of course, the Halloween season couldn’t end without some horror novels in the mix. Here are my library picks of the month.

I Am The Messenger (Markus Zusak, 2006)
4/5

Why can’t the world hear? I ask myself. Within a few moments I ask it many times. Because it doesn’t care, I finally answer, and I know I’m right. It’s like I’ve been chosen. But chosen for what? I ask.

Ed Kennedy is a 19-year-old cab driver without much hope and thought for his future. That is until playing cards arrive at his doorstep. On the cards are cryptic cyphers that reveal to him names and addresses, only to leave him to figure out what his mission is with them.

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30 Days of Night (2007) – Hearts of Darkness

30 Days of Night (dir. David Slade, 2007) – A tribe of bloodthirsty creatures attacks an Alaskan town during its month of darkness.

4/5

This post is part of Preamble to Halloween, an October marathon of horror features before the dawn of All Hallows’ Eve.

Barrow seats at the northern tip of Alaska, earning renown for being quite literally the top of the world. Because of its very location, the town experiences a polar night every year, plunging into 2 whole months of cold darkness. 30 Days of Night halves that number for a title with a nice ring to it. The shortened duration doesn’t lessen the terror of homicidal vampires having the upper hand over a mere 4000-strong population.

Gruesome fates soon befall the unsuspecting good folk of Barrow. Blood spills from torn throats and cracked skulls, but it isn’t just visceral violence that evokes fear. The absence of daylight in the middle of the wintry storm makes the air all the more suffocating. A new-to-town Stranger (Ben Foster) helps things along by cutting off all communications to the outside world, leaving no clear path to escape.

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Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari (1920) – A Masterclass on Horror Visual Storytelling

Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari (dir. Robert Wiene, 1920) – A hypnotist and a somnambulist come under suspicion for murder, following their bizarre town fair act.

5/5

This post is part of Preamble to Halloween, an October marathon of horror features before the dawn of All Hallows’ Eve.

Shrill screams and the crimson of blood have become so intrinsically tied to horror cinema, it is hard to imagine a film of the genre without either. But so it is with Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari, a 1920 German silent film that relied almost entirely on what is seen in black and white.

The strange tale is related by Francis (Friedrich Fehér) in his extensive flashback. To a stranger, he tells of his visit to the town fair with his friend Alan (Hans Heinrich von Twardowski). There, they witness the sideshow of hypnotist Dr Caligari (Werner Krauss), who wakes his somnambulist Cesare (Conrad Veidt) from a deep sleep.

Cesare opens his haunting eyes. Staring ahead, he tells the futures of curious onlookers, including Alan’s death that very night. It happens, just as foretold. A grieving Francis sets his heart on investigating his friend’s murder – and the curious two-men act who predicted it.

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The Maid (2005) – A Chinese Ghost Story Through Foreign Eyes

The Maid (dir. Kelvin Tong, 2005) – A Filipino domestic worker arrives in Singapore during the seventh lunar month and soon begins to experience inexplicable sightings.

4/5

This post is part of Preamble to Halloween, an October marathon of horror features before the dawn of All Hallows’ Eve.

Those living outside of East Asia may not have heard of The Maid, not to be confused with the 2020 Thai haunted tale of the same name. This work of horror belongs to Singapore, one of the first mainstream releases of the genre in my country. It features familiar traditions and habits that are quintessentially local. But as films like Shutter and Ringu have proven, scares can transcend borders.

Set in the seventh lunar month, the film takes place during the Hungry Ghost Festival. The month signifies when the spirits of deceased ancestors return to the mortal realm. Contrary to likely first impressions, the festival has little to do with the terror of the supernatural. Rather, it is about remembrance and honouring the deceased. Even so, the alleged presence of the spirits still stokes fear to any child who spent their early years in the city state.

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