Round Table: Horror Queue

SHOTS/REVIEW
by Sandra Kuznetsova, Naya Guseva, Violetta Efimova,
Bella Kortel, Anastasia Odintsova, Varya Ushkarova
20.10.2020
On the eve of Halloween, our editorial staff gathered to evaluate popular and well-known horror films.
Sandra Kuznetsova

Hereditary (2018) by Ari Aster
Hereditary is a film written and directed by Ari Aster, his feature-length debut. The plot revolves around a family and the oddities that occur to them after the death of an older member of the family, grandmother Ellen, who was engaged in the occult. All this is creepy, disgusting, physically unpleasant and psychologically stressful. However, there is almost no explanation why this is happening. Maybe, in horror movies the semantic load is not as important as what the viewer feels. If you look from this side, this film meets all the canons of the good horror and is perfect to tickle your nerves or brighten up the evening. But if you start asking questions about the plot…
The film has another drawback – not quite correct use of the ninth demon Paimon from the grimoire The Lesser Key of Solomon also known as Lemegeton. I don't think such a powerful demon would be doing such a tosh like moving into people. It is clear that Paimon is used as an excuse for what is happening, but for esotericists it looks ignorant or at least ridiculous. The average viewer will certainly not notice the inconsistencies, so this is more of my personal quirk - such a fixation on the correct use of occult symbols and in general everything else specific in the movies.
Naya Guseva

Us (2019) by Jordan Peele


Jordan Peele, a comedian and sketch-show author, transformed into a budding director. His debut Get Out was just a breakdown of the pen in thriller and horror, and when Peelу confidently got back on his feet, he shot his next masterpiece Us. The number of references in this film is simply off the charts (take the title for an example), whether it be religious writings, works of cultural code or cinematic parallels. The whole film is a one big parallel between the real world and the underground, where our doppelgangers live. They are stronger, faster and more accurate in their efforts to topple humanity. Peele makes the point where the doubles may look and act like monsters, especially to theirs, they still have an unacknowledged humanity that brings them a kind of horrible pathos.
I was literally fascinated by this film with a constant sense of inevitability, because wherever the heroes run, they can't hide. Peele directs with a masterful collection of horror-movie tricks – jump scares that actually pay off, a cat-and-mouse game in an isolated place filled with bright lights and deep pools of impenetrable shadow, a throat-closing Michael Abels score full of intense drumming and choral chanting that elevates the action to operatic levels of drama. All the turns of the plot work like a whip, which spurs all the participants in this performance, and the struggle between good and evil turns into a struggle for justice and dominance. And, of course, the ending will blow your mind – thanks to Lupita Nyongo, the performer of the main role, for such an acting gift.
Violetta Efimova

Annabelle (2014) by John R. Leonetti


Directed by the American cinematographer John R. Lionetti, Annabelle is a notorious prequel of The Conjuring that was released a year before, in 2013. The latter, directed by the praised James Wan, is highly valued and has almost managed to reach the status of a classic horror film, but the same thing can't be said about its successor — even Wan being the producer of the second chapter didn't save the day.
The plot is impossibly ordinary: the main character, John Form, makes a present to his wife who's expecting their first child. The gift is a rare vintage porcelain doll that the couple decides to put in their daughter's nursery. After some weird events late at night in the house next door, a group of sectarians invades the Forms' property and the doll somehow becomes the object which embodies the devilish damnation. Everything that happens further is rather foreseeable, even for those who aren't fans of this kind of films.
The principal (and the most obvious) gauge of any movie is acting. The genre of horror long ago proved itself as more an exception than the rule — it's the fear that plays the leading role. In this regard, Annabelle does its best: the actors' performance is mediocre and doesn't evoke any sympathy with the characters. Yet to give the credit to the film, the doll itself is quite eerie (though, probably, experts on horror movies won't agree with this).
Bella Kortel

The Conjuring (2013) by James Wan


In the horror film genre, it is quite difficult to stand out with something fundamentally new. This film will not be some kind of magical discovery or condescension, but it can be a great example of a horror movie. The director – James Wang is an experienced player in this "horror story" business because he is the creator of some of the main horror franchises of our time Astral (2010) and Saw (2003). Therefore, you can expect from him a rather painstaking work and a frightening atmosphere as a result.
In this film, the director attracted the attention of the audience with several rather vivid details and notes that did not leave the majority indifferent. The modern clichés that work in this genre are still part of the film's success: it presents a ritual with the exorcism, the use of a camera to capture wickedness and, most importantly, a screaming inscription "based on real events." But this is not the main merit of the director.
Each character of the movie is worked out clearly and scrupulously, we understand the background behind the actions of all characters. That is why we are not so scared to see some kind of ghost or demon, but we worry about the heroes of the story, as if we are in their place and feel their fear. Very rarely in horror movies, unfortunately, creators think about the holistic representation of the heroes, but in The Conjuring, we seem to move with a cute family to a creepy house, find ourselves in captivity of the unknown and together with the Warren spouses, a medium and a priest, we try to unravel the essence of the devil and expel everything otherworldly. For the atmosphere of the quest and empathy for the heroes, we can safely rate it.
Anastasia Odintsova

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez

This movie is included in the list of the most iconic films of 1999, the best year in the history of cinema. Briefly about the plot. In October 1994, three students disappeared in the woods of Maryland while shooting a documentary. A year later their video footage was found. The documentary explored the local legend about the Blair Witch who tortured and killed everyone who strayed into her ownership. But as soon as the students went deep into the forest, they got hopelessly lost and a terrible evil surrounded them.
The idea of a film came to the minds of the movie's directors early in 1993 after watching Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991). They suddenly began to think about what had happened with the horrors. So, they decided to combine the genre of a fake documentary with a terrible horror like Jaws (1975). The casting was quite strange. The directors deliberately wanted to arrange an "obstacle course" in the forest for the future characters of the film, so that they would feel exhausted during the shooting. I think this is how they wanted to achieve as much naturalness as possible and to intimidate the viewer with a too realistic picture. It turned out to intimidate not only the audience but also the actors themselves. The "obstacle course" has become an improvisational torture in real time. The directors turned on the sounds of terrifying children's voices in the forest, hung mysterious figures similar to crosses on the trees and even disguised their friend as a ghost.

The film turned out to be low-budget, as it was shot on an amateur camera and didn't have special effects and musical accompaniment. But even without that the movie managed to have the proper effect on the audience. It was enthusiastically received by both critics and viewers. Some of the audience even left the cinema hall because of the overwhelming sense of anxiety and fear. The directors managed to achieve the level of a horror that they had long dreamed of.
Varya Ushkarova

Rosemary's Baby (1968) by Roman Polanski


This movie doesn't have any screamers, no horrible face scares you. Rosemary's baby isn't a classic horror. And after having watched this movie, I promise, you will be in the state of complete terror for a long time.
What the story's about… A childless couple, Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse, rents an apartment in Bramford, a large Gothic building in New York City. They meet eccentric neighbors, Minnie and Roman Castevet, who want to start a friendship. One day Rosemary has a strange vision: she is sailing on a yacht with Guy, who turns into a demon and rapes her. A few days later, the girl finds out that she is pregnant. A series of strange events leads Rosemary to guess that their neighbors are members of a satanic cult.
This is a story of a young woman, cornered and intimidated. She is protecting the child growing in her womb until her last breath. It is a tragedy that can happen in any neighboring apartment. This is why the film directed by Roman Polanski is scary. The story is too close to reality. And maybe you will be afraid of your neighbors.

Polanski is a master of the frame and a master of details. Every detail in the setting plays a role, adding up to the overall picture – light, color, long corridors and empty rooms. Well, the devil's in the details. Polanski filled his picture with a terrible despair. Briefly, this is a great drama about the lack of choice, and not because there is no choice, but because there is only one way out.
 
Round Table: Horror Queue




SHOTS/REVIEW
by Sandra Kuznetsova, Naya
Guseva, Violetta Efimova,
Bella Kortel, Anastasia Odintsova,
Varya Ushkarova

20.10.2020
On the eve of Halloween, our editorial staff gathered to evaluate popular and well-known horror films.
Sandra Kuznetsova

Hereditary (2018)

by Ari Aster
Hereditary is a film written and directed by Ari Aster, his feature-length debut. The plot revolves around a family and the oddities that occur to them after the death of an older member of the family, grandmother Ellen, who was engaged in the occult. All this is creepy, disgusting, physically unpleasant and psychologically stressful. However, there is almost no explanation why this is happening. Maybe, in horror movies the semantic load is not as important as what the viewer feels. If you look from this side, this film meets all the canons of the good horror and is perfect to tickle your nerves or brighten up the evening. But if you start asking questions about the plot…

The film has another drawback – not quite correct use of the ninth demon Paimon from the grimoire The Lesser Key of Solomon also known as Lemegeton. I don't think such a powerful demon would be doing such a tosh like moving into people. It is clear that Paimon is used as an excuse for what is happening, but for esotericists it looks ignorant or at least ridiculous. The average viewer will certainly not notice the inconsistencies, so this is more of my personal quirk – such a fixation on the correct use of occult symbols and in general everything else specific in the movies.
Naya Guseva
Us (2019) by Jordan Peele
Jordan Peele, a comedian and sketch-show author, transformed into a budding director. His debut Get Out was just a breakdown of the pen in thriller and horror, and when Peelу confidently got back on his feet, he shot his next masterpiece Us. The number of references in this film is simply off the charts (take the title for an example), whether it be religious writings, works of cultural code or cinematic parallels. The whole film is a one big parallel between the real world and the underground, where our doppelgangers live. They are stronger, faster and more accurate in their efforts to topple humanity. Peele makes the point where the doubles may look and act like monsters, especially to theirs, they still have an unacknowledged humanity that brings them a kind of horrible pathos.

I was literally fascinated by this film with a constant sense of inevitability, because wherever the heroes run, they can't hide. Peele directs with a masterful collection of horror-movie tricks – jump scares that actually pay off, a cat-and-mouse game in an isolated place filled with bright lights and deep pools of impenetrable shadow, a throat-closing Michael Abels score full of intense drumming and choral chanting that elevates the action to operatic levels of drama. All the turns of the plot work like a whip, which spurs all the participants in this performance, and the struggle between good and evil turns into a struggle for justice and dominance. And, of course, the ending will blow your mind – thanks to Lupita Nyongo, the performer of the main role, for such an acting gift.
Violetta Efimova
Annabelle (2014)
by John R. Leonetti
Directed by the American cinematographer John R. Lionetti, Annabelle is a notorious prequel of The Conjuring that was released a year before, in 2013. The latter, directed by the praised James Wan, is highly valued and has almost managed to reach the status of a classic horror film, but the same thing can't be said about its successor — even Wan being the producer of the second chapter didn't save the day.
The plot is impossibly ordinary: the main character, John Form, makes a present to his wife who's expecting their first child. The gift is a rare vintage porcelain doll that the couple decides to put in their daughter's nursery. After some weird events late at night in the house next door, a group of sectarians invades the Forms' property and the doll somehow becomes the object which embodies the devilish damnation. Everything that happens further is rather foreseeable, even for those who aren't fans of this kind of films.

The principal (and the most obvious) gauge of any movie is acting. The genre of horror long ago proved itself as more an exception than the rule — it's the fear that plays the leading role. In this regard, Annabelle does its best: the actors' performance is mediocre and doesn't evoke any sympathy with the characters. Yet to give the credit to the film, the doll itself is quite eerie (though, probably, experts on horror movies won't agree with this).
Bella Kortel
by James Wan
In the horror film genre, it is quite difficult to stand out with something fundamentally new. This film will not be some kind of magical discovery or condescension, but it can be a great example of a horror movie. The director – James Wang is an experienced player in this "horror story" business because he is the creator of some of the main horror franchises of our time Astral (2010) and Saw (2003). Therefore, you can expect from him a rather painstaking work and a frightening atmosphere as a result.

In this film, the director attracted the attention of the audience with several rather vivid details and notes that did not leave the majority indifferent. The modern clichés that work in this genre are still part of the film's success: it presents a ritual with the exorcism, the use of a camera to capture wickedness and, most importantly, a screaming inscription "based on real events". But this is not the main merit of the director.

Each character of the movie is worked out clearly and scrupulously, we understand the background behind the actions of all characters. That is why we are not so scared to see some kind of ghost or demon, but we worry about the heroes of the story, as if we are in their place and feel their fear. Very rarely in horror movies, unfortunately, creators think about the holistic representation of the heroes, but in The Conjuring, we seem to move with a cute family to a creepy house, find ourselves in captivity of the unknown and together with the Warren spouses, a medium and a priest, we try to unravel the essence of the devil and expel everything otherworldly. For the atmosphere of the quest and empathy for the heroes, we can safely rate it.
Anastasia Odintsova
by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez
This movie is included in the list of the most iconic films of 1999, the best year in the history of cinema. Briefly about the plot. In October 1994, three students disappeared in the woods of Maryland while shooting a documentary. A year later their video footage was found. The documentary explored the local legend about the Blair Witch who tortured and killed everyone who strayed into her ownership. But as soon as the students went deep into the forest, they got hopelessly lost and a terrible evil surrounded them.
The idea of a film came to the minds of the movie's directors early in 1993 after watching Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991). They suddenly began to think about what had happened with the horrors. So, they decided to combine the genre of a fake documentary with a terrible horror like Jaws (1975). The casting was quite strange. The directors deliberately wanted to arrange an "obstacle course" in the forest for the future characters of the film, so that they would feel exhausted during the shooting. I think this is how they wanted to achieve as much naturalness as possible and to intimidate the viewer with a too realistic picture. It turned out to intimidate not only the audience but also the actors themselves. The "obstacle course" has become an improvisational torture in real time. The directors turned on the sounds of terrifying children's voices in the forest, hung mysterious figures similar to crosses on the trees and even disguised their friend as a ghost.

The film turned out to be low-budget, as it was shot on an amateur camera and didn't have special effects and musical accompaniment. But even without that the movie managed to have the proper effect on the audience. It was enthusiastically received by both critics and viewers. Some of the audience even left the cinema hall because of the overwhelming sense of anxiety and fear. The directors managed to achieve the level of a horror that they had long dreamed of.
Varya Ushkarova
by Roman Polanski
This movie doesn't have any screamers, no horrible face scares you. Rosemary's baby isn't a classic horror. And after having watched this movie, I promise, you will be in the state of complete terror for a long time.

What the story's about… A childless couple, Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse, rents an apartment in Bramford, a large Gothic building in New York City. They meet eccentric neighbors, Minnie and Roman Castevet, who want to start a friendship. One day Rosemary has a strange vision: she is sailing on a yacht with Guy, who turns into a demon and rapes her. A few days later, the girl finds out that she is pregnant. A series of strange events leads Rosemary to guess that their neighbors are members of a satanic cult.

This is a story of a young woman, cornered and intimidated. She is protecting the child growing in her womb until her last breath. It is a tragedy that can happen in any neighboring apartment. This is why the film directed by Roman Polanski is scary. The story is too close to reality. And maybe you will be afraid of your neighbors.

Polanski is a master of the frame and a master of details. Every detail in the setting plays a role, adding up to the overall picture – light, color, long corridors and empty rooms. Well, the devil's in the details. Polanski filled his picture with a terrible despair. Briefly, this is a great drama about the lack of choice, and not because there is no choice, but because there is only one way out.
Made on
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