Saturday, November 21, 2020

Three Films Make A Post: Do You Believe In Monsters?

Lost Child aka Tatterdemalion (2017): Sold as a horror film, this in really isn’t one, but rather a film using certain genre tropes of folk horror – as well as some from Appalachian/Ozarks noir – to tell a naturalistically minded story about a woman trying to cope with her past by returning home and the PTSD healing power of found family. This could be the sort of “heart-warming” approach to actual people’s problems and lives that tends to piss me off to no end, but director Ramaa Mosley does demonstrate you can make this sort of movie in a convincing manner. Part of the film’s effectiveness lies in Mosley’s control over the genre elements she uses: the folk horror bits are convincing as folk horror, the mountain noir elements are indeed told in the right tone, and their shift into the friendlier US version of the kitchen sink drama works on a craftsmanship level. That I’d rather have seen a real horror movie or noir is not the film’s fault.

Ritual of Evil (1970): This sequel to the first TV adventure of psychiatrist/occult detective David Sorell (Louis Jourdan) without the important behind the scenes talent of the first one makes it pretty obvious why there wasn’t the projected series following it: it’s pretty damn dreadful, replacing the clever mix of literary horror traditions and the then modern occult horror with loads of barely digestible early 70s psychobabble, characterization that’s the direct result of someone actually believing that nonsense and writing his characters accordingly, and plotting that goes nowhere interesting very, very tediously. The helpings of lifestyles of the rich and famous soap operatics don’t improve things either, nor does director Robert Day’s vehement inability to understand what makes a scene macabre, and what just stupid. Tragically, the man could do a decent scene, as the prologue proves whose proper horror mood blows the rest of the film completely out of the water.

Zombeavers (2014): Jordan Rubin’s little horror comedy that could goes to show that if you just commit completely to a bad joke, think through all of its possible permutations and treat it as if it were a good one for long enough, it might indeed, as if by magic, turn into a very funny one. It does help to find a handful of actresses and actors equally willing to play through the joke with as straight a face as possible, and here, too, Zombeavers wins.

And hell, if you ever wanted to learn practically every single joke about beavers you’d care to hear, the film’s got your back there too.

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