Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What's happened to American horror?

I love movies, and there's nothing better on a late night, after everyone's gone to bed, than to turn off the lights and put in a movie that's going to scare the bejeepers out of me. Give me Dawn of the Dead or 28 Days Later, popcorn and a cold libation and I'm in undead, chase-your-girlfriend, eat-your-brains-out heaven.

But what the hell has happened to American horror? Have we forgotten how to make a good pee-in-your-pants scary movie? (For my conservative readers, now would be an excellent time to make a Michael Moore joke).

Has Hollywood horror gone the way of US Steel and American Motors? Because the best fright flicks I've seen lately have all been made somewhere else, and that's really frightening.

One of the best movies I've seen lately is Let The Right One In, a Swedish movie, for God's sake. The young actress who plays the love interest for a lonely 12-year-old boy is Lina Andersson and she turns in a performance that makes you believe her when she says she's 12, but she's been 12 for a very long time.

Yesterday at work, we started naming good scary movies we'd seen and every one I mentioned was from somewhere other than here. In no particular order, I've seen:

The Orphanage - A Spanish haunted house story with a good twist.

Shutter - An eepy-creepy from Thailand about a girl bent on revenge, even after she's dead. Do not be fooled into thinking the American remake of the same name is the same movie. It is not.

The Host - This is a monster movie/family drama from Korea. Great performance from the girl.

Funny Games - OK, I can't say I enjoyed this torture porn with the pretense of social commentary, but it was interesting, and German. I have not seen the American version and I won't because really, once is plenty.

Audition - Dear God, this Japanese movie started out like a Meg Ryan/Billy Crystal romantic comedy and turned into the most horrifying torture scene I've ever witnessed. I never want to see anything like this again, but goddam, they did it right.

The Ring - The Japanese version was better, as was The Grudge. Other American remakes you should pass up: The Strangers and Quarantine, known as REC in the original Spanish version.

Of all the horror flicks I've seen in the past couple of years, only one American film stands out and that's a comedy. If you haven't seen it, rent Slither.

Possibles I haven't seen, but will soon: The Midnight Meat Train, The Signal and Splinter. If these are any good, maybe there's hope for American horror yet. They've got to be better than House of Wax, where the scariest thing on screen was Paris Hilton's acting.

Anything I should see that I've missed? Go ahead. Scare me. I dare you.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Let the Right One in and The Orphange were two of the best movies, let alone horror movies I've seen in the last year. We have especially forgotten atmosphere which these were so filled with.

Milo said...

I haven't seen Audition, but I've heard enough about it to know it sounds 150% creepy.

norby said...

I have to confess that I want to see Audition, but everything I hear about it kind of scares me.

I'm seriously loving my Netflix subscription because I can get all of these great foreign movies. Let The Right One In is near the top of my list right now.

I would love to recommend a good horror film to you, but lately a friend and I have just been getting the cheesy stuff and laughing our asses off. It's better than being disappointed in a flick that's supposed to be 'scary'.

And you're right, Slither is awesome...

Anonymous said...

Dave, what about the work of M. Night Shyamalan?

Oh, you meant scary on purpose.


Rob Zombie?

Gerard Saylor said...

What about that Masters of Horror series? I think it was on Showtime. There was a John Carpenter episode, Cigarette Burns, that was well done.

Anonymous said...

It does seem that America horror is stuck on re-creating(and not well) asian horror flicks.
It's very sad. I hanven't had trouble sleeping from fearin a while now.
Good titles: Silk(asian film), one missed call(original jappanese one) are good. Not much elsethough....how sad....