5. The Lodge
Directed and written by the Austrian directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz, “The Lodge” is a horror with a chilling atmosphere and a gripping story.
With a dark mood, insecure characters, and a suicide to open the story, “The Lodge” offers the perfect setting for dark and sinister twists. Fortunately, it also succeeds in keeping the suspense throughout the film.
The plot follows Grace (played by Riley Keough), a young woman who goes with her fiance and his children to spend the holidays at a winter cabin. After he needs to leave for work, Grace remains with the children and a blizzard leaves them isolated. But the blizzard is not the unhappy circumstance that offers the horror in the film; it is just the event that opens the possibility for her total isolation. Grace is also secluded with the children, who dislike her and blame her for their mother’s suicide, and by the fact that she is out of the medication that helps her deal with her traumatized past. With all of these circumstances working against her wellness, creepier events start happening in the isolated winter cabin.
Cult references, spooky dollhouses, and the design of the cabin all work together to keep the suspense and tension in the film, while the plot slowly unfolds with little dialogue. Creepy and mysterious from all perspectives, “The Lodge” is a great slow-burn horror.
4. Boyz in the Wood
“Boyz in the Wood,” the first film directed by Ninian Doff, is a bizarre blend of comedy and horror, very smartly done in the style of a coming-of-age film.
The action takes place in the Scottish Highlands, where Dean, DJ Beatroot, Duncan and Ian compete for the Duke of Edinburgh Award. With the exception of Ian, who is interested in the prize for his university application, the rest of the gang is more interested in smoking weed and having fun. The main characters are presented as failures, forced to take the trip to prove they can at least survive wildernesses. Their adventure, which gets extra excitement from hallucinogenic drugs, becomes a struggle for survival when they notice they are being hunted by someone disguised as the Duke of Edinburgh.
The teenagers’ reaction to danger and their abilities to defend themselves, as well as the Scottish authorities’ capacity to protect its citizens, are both scary and funny at the same time. “Boyz in the Wood” is, after all, a social satire and one with some disturbing scary elements.
Although it is Ninian Dodd’s first film, her experience as a music video director is visible. The choice of music in the film is very good and brings a fresh vibe to the horror genre.
“Boyz in the Wood” is a film that not many can enjoy, with too many elements mixed together and a chaotic plot, but its originality and intensity make it one of the best British horrors of the last years.
3. I See You
“I See You,” directed by Adam Randall, is one of the most surprising films of the thriller/horror genre from 2019. With amazing twists and a very well-crafted screenplay, “I See You” is a film that manages to avoid with great skill almost all the clichés of the horror genre.
The film starts slow, as a thriller following the disappearance of a young boy in a quiet American town. After he goes missing, strange things start happening in the home and family of the lead detective, Greg Harper.
There are multiple storylines intermingled in the film, but all of them are essential for the film’s message. One of the best things about “I See You” is the way it connects the stories. The film’s ingenuity is seen in the way it keeps raising questions and the amazing way in which all of them are answered in the second half of the film.
Intense, clever and surprising, Randall’s “I See You” is one of the most original films of the last few years, and one of the creepiest and most exciting horrors of 2019.
2. Ready or Not
A balanced combination of horror and comedy, “Ready or Not” is one of the best productions of the genre, with a smart plot, great acting, and a perfect setting.
Written by Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy, “Ready or Not” tells the story of a bride, Grace (played by Samara Weaving), who on her wedding night needs to play a game in order to be fully accepted in the wealthy and powerful family of her husband. The game of the night, after the bride draws a card from a mysterious box, is hide-and-seek. The game turns out to be very dangerous and with potential fatal consequences, and Grace’s wedding night becomes a struggle for survival in a house of lunatics.
“Ready or Not” could have simply been a horror about a messed-up family obsessed with games and a potential new victim caught in their dangerous play. The cherry on top of the cake is brought by the funny and clumsy characters and the overall satirical tone of the story. The protagonists’ development throughout the film was not predictable, and the avoidance of cheesy replies and scenes added to the originality of the film.
With this combination of funny and spookiness, “Ready or Not” is both a great comedy and a great horror and one of the few films in which this combination is done almost to perfection.
1. In Fabric
Peter Strickland’s latest film, “In Fabric,” relies on extraordinary cinematography to tell the strange story of a cursed dress that torments those who wear it.
“In Fabric” starts with Sheila Woodchapel, a divorced woman with an unsatisfying family and professional life, who is convinced by the persuasive Miss Luckmore from Dentley and Soper to buy a beautiful red dress. As soon as she wears the dress, Sheila’s life becomes haunted by strange happenings, while the dress seems to have its own life. The dress eventually ends up in the hands of a washing machine repairman, who soon becomes another victim of the the fabric’s mysterious effects. But this story, defined by mystery and curses, is strong due to the distinctive style of Peter Strickland’s filmmaking.
The plot is neither complete, nor engaging, but the cinematography behind it is brilliant, evoking the mood of Italian ‘80s horror and maintaining a feeling of insecurity and nightmarish horror throughout the film. This feeling of bizarreness, sharpened by the extraordinary choice of sound, can be captured in every scene, while certain moments in the film are strangely disturbing. A mannequin on its period, sex scenes with terrifying twists, and the overall bloody and peculiar sensuality of the film are the elements that describe “In Fabric” more than the plot itself.
Whether “In Fabric” is trying to be a critique against consumerism or it is just a weird story without a hidden message, there is for surely room for interpretation, but Strickland’s retro mystery succeeds in what it essentially tries to do: it is provoking, disturbing, and definitely spooky.