Halloween Movie Recommendations: Part 2 (2018 Edition)

More recommendations for horror films this Halloween. Link to Part 1 here:

Funny Games (2007)


The perfectly executed horror film.

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Funny Games is a psychological horror that follows two young men and their reign of terror on a poor family. Toying with them through torture and sadistic games, the film explores violence in cinema to harrowing heights. The result is quite the message.

In my view, Funny Games is a perfectly executed horror film from writer and director Michael Haneke. Not only is it horrifying; it’s also very intelligent and knows exactly what it’s trying to do. The film is essentially a vehicle for Haneke’s opinions on the audience’s fascination with violence in cinema. Perhaps this is why it is still polarising to some but to me, it elevates Funny Games as a horror masterpiece.

This is up there with the intelligence of A Cabin In The Woods, another great horror film.

Side note: whether you watch the original French or American remake, it won’t matter. Both are the same shot for shot and I enjoyed each equally.

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006) and Dead Alive (1992)


Explosive diarrhea and lawnmowers chopping people’s faces.

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Poultrygeist and Dead Alive are splatter horror comedy’s that I’m recommending to watch as a double bill. The latter being written and directed by New Zealand’s most famous export, Peter Jackson. Yes, before he was winning academy awards for epic films about hobbits, he was busy killing the undead with basic kitchenware items.

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Whereas Dead Alive follows the rise of the human undead, Poultrygeist bests it by introducing the rise of the chicken undead. These films won’t be for everyone but if you love intentionally bad dialogue and laughing your head off to the most ridiculous scenes of prop gore, then these films are for you.

May (2002)


A slow burn creepy classic.

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May follows the life of a young woman who struggles to connect with anyone. Her only true “friend” is a glass-encased doll; a gift from her mother. It was given to May with the adage “if you can’t find a friend, make one”.

The film cleverly builds on this phrase and slowly descends into a quiet madness. May might be the least heard of film on this list but it’s definitely the creepiest. This is one of those films something very bad is going to happen but you just don’t know what.

A large part of this is thanks to lead actress Angela Bettis. Her performance is great at getting you to sympathise for May while making her feel creepy. There’s a lot of awkward touches to her personality and overall I thought she did a great job.

Yes, it is low budget but if you don’t mind the slow burn nature of the plot, May is definitely a film for you. There’s one hell of a climax at the end and that sequence alone is worth a watch. Check it out.

“Amateur Night” segment from V/H/S (2012)


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This a bonus recommendation as it’s a short film segment that appears in the horror movie anthology known as V/H/S.

The film overall is a muddled collection of found footage films from different directors and is very hit and miss. However, the “Amateur Night” segment by writer/director David Bruckner is a big hit and I love it.

Bruckner cleverly solved the question I have with many found footage horrors which is “why are you still holding the camera?”. He does this by placing the camera inside the glasses of a character so we can see his point of view and the horrors he witnesses. This made “Amateur Night” incredibly immersive for me to watch and I had a blast. For those that are a fan of found footage horror films like The Blair Witch Project, this is a must watch to the list. But don’t look up anything for it online.

Happy End Movie Review

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See it. 8.5/10

One of the strangest and most dysfunctional families seen in film.

Happy End is yet another fine example of its accomplished and well-refined genius writer/director Michael Haneke, an Austrian master of film, who seems almost ageless with a growing portfolio that continues to impress in excellence. At this point in his career, I feel that Michael Haneke has refined exactly the way he wants to not only write a story but how to also shoot it. Which is the same feeling that I get whenever I watch the Coen brothers, who I also see have made making films into an almost exact science, with an equally stellar filmography to that of Michael Haneke. And with his latest film Happy End, I can safely say that this tradition of making great movies, is still the case.

Unlike the film’s title, which might indicate to you a level of happiness about this film, this story is anything but the feeling of being happy. Not to say that it is depressing or will make you sad from watching it, but rather from the fact that it deals with a family of characters who are largely not at all very happy. And there’s quite a few of them. Which is great to see as together they form this strangely functional but still totally disturbing family, who not only hide a lot of secrets from each other but also to the rest of the world. A family of individuals who might seem positive on the outside but deep down, Michael Haneke has worked some seriously confronting traits in them.

What I enjoyed most about seeing all this unfold, is Michael Haneke’s superb direction with various exchanges between the characters. I want to particularly highlight the use of the continuous but extreme longshots, which captures characters from afar interacting but whom you aren’t privy to what they are saying. It’s a style that I feel makes Michael Haneke very recognizable as a director, because I’ve seen him use the same technique in his other films Caché and Code Unknown, both of which really work well because of it. Not only does it put the characters in an environment to truly act with an extended amount of time, so that they can also pace their rhythm and actions in a scene, but it also adds a lot of mystery to it, which is fundamentally one of the most interesting concepts about this story to me.

This is also done through the writing and editing since the information Michael Haneke reveals to us comes often with little to no real clear indications until later on in the film. Instead, I’m left thinking more about the scene that I’m watching and wondering what could be going on, rather than having everything being told or forced onto me, which is an aspect I think so many other films stress upon and get so wrong. By allowing me to try and dispel the mystery behind the story as it goes on, I’m constantly engaged with what’s occurring and have no clue where it could lead to next. And the fact that those continuous extended longshots are implemented in all of this, it really does fit the story and works to further provide mystery. Because as the characters move further away from the camera, the less I hear what’s going on but the more I’m curious as to what is being said, and what Michael Haneke has specifically chosen not to reveal.

Having said why I believe the technical direction of this film is superb, I nevertheless feel that its story could have improvements. For the most part, it feels like a very long slow burn of a film and although I did find the characters very well written, I still wished it could have been paced quicker. A few scenes I didn’t think were necessary and could have been cut to make the runtime shorter. Some details of the narrative were also questionable, and I feel like would have ended differently in reality. And though I praised the choice to use the continuous longshots to add to the narrative presentation, there were still a couple of scenes that felt just a bit too long and ultimately added to slowing pace of the film, which altogether, made me lose my curiosity in those few moments.

I’d also say that compared to his previous films Amour and The White Ribbon, Happy End’s story can’t match those two said films. It’s still has a great and interesting plot, but Amour felt a lot more emotional and personal compared to Happy End. And The White Ribbon was just a feat of sheer mastery, that gave an interesting outlook prior to World War II and one that was accompanied by some outstanding cinematography and performances by child actors.

Removing those said qualms, the positives of Happy End still outweigh my few gripes with the film. It’s one of the more interesting slow burn type of drama’s that introduces you to quite the interesting but somewhat disturbing family and human themes. At times, it also might feel too sluggish with its pace, as I’ve mentioned already with how the plot does eventually unfold. But it’s technical skills and presentation by far are what make it a special example of one of the best directors of independent cinema today. And give an insight into the essence of how a master of filmmaking creates his craft, with the clever decisions and techniques Michael Haneke employs. See it if you can.