Oh horror, you can't beat it, so many people have different ideas of what horror is and what makes a good horror film. Here's a selection of recent examples I've watched but what strikes me is how diverse horror can be especially in style, content, rating and budget...
The Last Exorcism (2010)
A Reverend takes a crew of two to Louisiana to film him carry out an exorcism.
Director Daniel Stamm gives a polished and perfected hand-held camera POV film. However, Eli Roth's name has been used heavily in publicising the film and his producer touches are few and far between. As a fan of Hostel The Last Exorcism is disappointing.
Many elements are reminiscent of many old and new horror films and the ending comes as no shock or surprise. The acting is average and is not as naturalist as you'd expect from the realistic setting. That said, Ashley Bell is creepy enough as the possessed girl, who's fine performance is further enhanced by the great sound design and score.
Overall, the take on the trodden subject matter is just not clever enough to standout, especially when compared to the traditionally filmed House of the Devil (2009) and p.o.v films for example REC (2007) & 2 (2009), which have delivered more thrills with less effort.
The Last Exorcism is in no way a bad film, but this style of filming making has become competitive, common place and this Exorcism appears mediocre and unauthentic in the crowd.
The Human Centipede (2009)
A warped mad Dr. Heiter experiments on humans and animals to create the perfect pet centipede, this involves stitching mouths to rectums.
If you are shocked by the previous sentence don't even consider watching director Tom Six's Human Centipede. It's horrific, but not hofficially bad. The film given it's subject matter is very well-made with a clinical stylised look.
Lead Dieter Laser without a doubt is a fine actor and gives an excellent performance as he kidnaps, drugs, experiments and kills his way through the film, he is truly creepy The supporting cast are a diverse mix and are more than adequate in the supporting roles.
Nevertheless, the film goes beyond recent torture films a-la-Saw, Hostel and oozes more grossness than 80's flick Society. That said, there's problem with Six's horror and that is it isn't horror, it appears to be made for shocks sake and bad taste. It may not have been Six's intention but oddly, as good as the settings, music and acting is you can't get lost in the film. At times you may feel like an unwilling voyeur, dragged into one man's mind. However, in this case it's the writer/directors sordid fantasy and you're watching him play out a desire and not the character of Dr. Heiter.
Overall, it's one film a selective few will get off on and give others something to talk about down the pub.If the aim was to get the writers/directors name out, it works, but for most viewers wanting a satisfying horror flick it fails for all the right reasons.
Season of the Witch (2011)
Discredited 14th-century knights transport a suspected witch to a monastery as her powers could be the source of the Black Plague. It's possibly fitting to describe Season of the Witch as a Hollywoodised version of Blackdeath, and In the Name of the Rose mixed with a dash of the opening of The Kingdom of Heaven.
Bragi F. Schut's story delivers everything you'd expect from a supernatural action adventure. Director Dominic Sena delivers a fantastic looking film with good sound design and lighting. Over elaborate set ups aside the film is entertaining, the opening scene truly eerie. It has a Gothic feel reminiscent of Sleepy Hollow and The Wolfman.
Nicolas Cage (sporting his suited Sorcerers Apprentice style hair) is on form and Ron Perlman is a joy to watch as usual. However, oddly between the engaging dialogue there's some forced jokes that are ill-fitting at times and borderline cringe worthy. Maybe due to rewrites or an uneven script, either way this injection of humour slightly mars the overall tone of the film. The supporting cast are first-rate including Stephen Campbell Moore, Stephen Graham, Ulrich Thomsen, Claire Foy,Robert Sheehan and Christopher Lee as the Cardinal.It has great costumes, sets and eerie pious music. Despite the aforementioned problem there's wolves, witches, demons, exorcism, possession, brooding fog, castles, dark forests, swordplay and everything you'd expect from an atmospheric fantasy period piece. Recommend.