Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Three Films Make A Post: Your fate is in the cards.

Tarot (2024): Don’t screw around with tarot readings, kids, lest you be dragged into a terrible Final Destination rip-off (as if some of those sequels hadn’t been bad enough) where tarot/astrology crossover prophecies are turned into painfully literal murder set pieces.

The characters are as dull and generic as the actors are pretty, the direction by Spenser Cohen and Anna Halberg has never met a horror cliché it doesn’t want to regurgitate in the least creative way, and our old buddies mood, tension and suspense have taken the week off.

The tarot monster designs aren’t half bad, admittedly.

Baghead (2023): While it is far from being perfect, Alberto Corredor’s film is quite a bit more effective and interesting than Tarot. It is also a lot more ambitious, trying to handle the old horror one-two of grief and guilt by way of weird occult folklore (including a neat little fake occultist backstory). In a couple of scenes – mostly the early meetings with its very peculiar monster – there’s a genuine, delightful strangeness to the supernatural threat that only suffers from some thematic parallels to the brilliant Talk to Me the film at hand simply can’t beat at its own game.

Later, things become somewhat more generic – with not exactly unexpected hallucinations and fake-outs – but even in its less interesting moments, this is always at least a decent, character-driven horror film with a very neat monster, as well as a very respectable central performance by Freya Allan.

Infested aka Vermines (2023): There are certain parallels to Attack the Block in Sébastien Vanicek’s French apartment building horror film, mostly in its focus on young, working class, brown people surviving by sliding around the borders of legality, but how it focusses is as driven by its time and and country as that of Joe Cornish’s was – so the comparison is more caused by the fact that there are still very few horror films focussing on characters of comparable circumstance in the way these movies.

In any case, Vanicek’s film isn’t a dry exploration of poverty and the quieter tensions of racism but rather one where that exploration is made by way of a fantastic animal attack movie full of brilliant set pieces, bits of body horror and some of the most effective suspense scenes I’ve seen in quite some time. Because the film spends time and care on its characters, there’s a larger weight to the horrible things that happen to some (well, most) of them, which in turn makes the suspense as well as the film’s subtext about people having to cope in a society that doesn’t give a crap about them more potent.

No comments: