Back track (2015)
Adrien Brody is a bereaved psychologist who is seeing things in this Australian horror, also starring Sam Neill. It’s beautifully shot, and Brody is suitably thin and haunted looking, with a subtle accent (thank God). Although flawed, the ghost story that takes the man back home to confront the thing he did in the past is eery and strange enough, with good twists that you probably won’t guess. I rather liked it.
Pay The Ghost (2015)
I couldn’t resist this Nic Cage face, but although he looks stupid, this film is only a bit daft. Cage discovers a conspiracy of Halloween kidnappings after he loses his own son under mysterious circumstances. On the anniversary of his son’s disappearance, he starts to se visions of his child and begins to understand that an evil spirit is taking children every year in penance for the sons that she lost when they were all burned at the stake as witches. (It’s not a spoiler, this is shown in the opening scenes). It has some great atmosphere and ideas, but it’s not the scariest thing I’ve ever seen. Good fun though.
The Devil’s Dolls (aka Worry Dolls) (2016)
The best thing about this film is probably the delight with which blood is splattered about like a Jackson Pollock painting, but my personal joy is in the way the actors all seem to be kind of bored with each others problems. No sympathy here. Anyway, this rather shakey plot involves a serial killer who told all his troubles to his worry dolls, and now they are on the loose and infecting people with violence and bad skin, after the child of the investigating officer helps herself to the evidence box. It doesn’t really work at any point, but the locations in the Southern States are quite atmospheric, and the deaths are inventive.
The Other Side Of The Door (2016)
A great premise, and some good jump scares, this film is about an American couple who live in India, and are struggling to cope following the death of their eldest child. Taking pity on the mother, their Indian housekeeper tells of a temple where she can speak one last time to her son and say goodbye, but she must promise not to open the door… Which she of course does, then lies to her husband about the haunting in their house, and responds aggressively to all attempts by local people to help her. The outstanding aspect of this film is how little the white family seem to relate to or care about the non-white characters. Classic example, when the servant points out that she once lost a child too, she is given not even a whisker of sympathy. But the jump scares are good fun, the whole thing is rather creepy and the stalking spirit who comes after them, pictured above, is really interesting.
Possibly the worst film I’ve seen in a while, this tells the story of a couple who move into a house to restore it, and find themselves biting off more than they can chew when the house is full of teddy bears (no joke), the basement is haunted and their neighbours are stalky AF. The best scene is a fight between the couple in which the stilted argument makes little sense and the husband amusingly labels himself “intense” rather than angry. It’s an awkward watch but sometimes that’s the fun part.
February or The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015)
My favourite on the list this month, this one managed to creep me out and get under my skin a bit. It follows three girls and their connection to a catholic boarding school, but what is really happening takes it’s time to unfold. It’s lyrical and strange, and oddly beautiful sometimes too. Two girls are left behind during the school holidays due to what appears to be parental mix ups, but both know things that they aren’t telling. A third girl seems to have escaped from a hospital and is on her way somewhere. But what does it all mean? I don’t want to tell you too much, because I liked how this one kept me guessing and trying to fit things together, but it’s nicely shot, weird, and spooky. The performances are all really solid too. Recommended.