In honor of Valentine's Day, and in celebration of romance, the best friend (dubbed 'HoneyBaby' for the evening) and myself ('HoneyBear') convened at my platonic love nest to consume adult beverages and a horror movie marathon.
Somehow it began with the Return of the Pink Panther. I was about to start the programming when it was pointed out that HoneyBaby had never been introduced to Inspector Clouseau, which seems criminally negligent, hence the horror detour. We laughed, we chuckled, and we even found a little fright in his Quasimodo impersonation.
The scares began with Splinter. A well-written, evenly paced and minimally shot (by which I mean they didn't zoom in on the monster and ruin the tension) survival flick and creature feature. A boyfriend (PhD nerd) and girlfriend (outdoorsy tomboy) are carjacked and taken hostage by a felon (heart of gold) and his girlfriend (meth head with an expiration date) before they are attacked by a parasitic, growing, splinter creature and confined in a gas station.
The three main characters were fully realized from the first scenes, and their attempts at ingenuity and self-defense throughout the flick were believable. The science/backstory behind the creature was a bit flimsy at times, and I could certainly do without the hint that a nearby oil plant of some kind was responsible followed by a global warming comment, but in the end I think it was a successful piece of horror. The monster, as I said, was not shown fully which was a help to the mood, but the blood splatters and the death of the cop who comes to their aid were both a bit heavy handed. However, best improvised amputation scene ever. And not everybody died, which is a big factor for me when it comes to liking a scary movie.
The second one we consumed was Shutter, starring Joshua Jackson and a blonde chick. They move to Tokyo for his fashion photography job and realize they are being haunted by a Japanese girlghost who is unhappy. The emphasis on images and photography/visual scares is so overdone that you have reached a limit, or at least lost any suspension of belief, before the opening credits have ended. However it's pretty enough to maintain some interest and the blonde lady keeps moving around so you feel obligated to follow her.
There was a relatively good twist, and even though neither HoneyBaby nor HoneyBear turned out to be considerably talented at deducing clues or guessing endings (despite a solid amount of commentary, theory sharing, and the relief of stating the obvious, i.e. "That was terrifying.") it went a couple steps further than we would have expected. The end was slightly gruesome, but also appropriate, and mostly anti-climactic. The least favorite of the evening.
At this point, after a decent amount of $3 wine (truly, a respectable vintage) and the relative gentleness of Shutter, we felt bold and adventurous enough to tread into the critically acclaimed world of Korean Horror. Thus we embarked on Bloody Reunion (or To Sir, With Love) while thanking Free Movies on Demand for their unexpected selection. And thus we procured the purest moments of terror felt all evening. A group of old schoolmates reassemble in a beautiful house hidden between beach and forest to reconnect with their old and supposedly beloved teacher, now in a wheelchair and not far from death.
Slowly each of them reveal the sadistic actions of the teacher during their childhood that led to the individual ruination of their lives, as well as her own life story that involved the birth of a deformed monster child and her husband's suicide. In the meantime, a shadowy, ruthless figure in a bunny mask (supposed to be the grown up monster child) picks them off one by one, devising insanely painful and graphic tortures for them in the basement. In the end it turns out to be part horror, part beautiful nature shots, part dramatic character interplay and part mystery. The twist is prodigious if slightly obvious (again, mostly in retrospect) and when all stands revealed, the discomfort and fear of the story lingers.
In fact it was rather necessary for us both to sit with the lights on for a period of time, making each other laugh so as to ensure falling asleep was a successful and nightmareless process. (I also added a few pages of Aubrey/Maturin before passing out, just to put some friendlier thoughts in my brain before letting the subconscious take over.)
All in all, a successful V-Day celebration, chock full of adrenalin jolts, laughter, and rocking back and forth in the fetal position. My Horror Movie Rating Guide, informally assembled since college days and then abandoned, added a few more titles to its list, and inches closer to being presented on this blog for the edification of all.
Happy Valentine's Day.