Nicholas Vince (Hellraiser, Night Breed, Mindless) aims for subtlety and hits the mark on directorial debut The Night Whispered. An old-fashioned chiller that plays out as a love letter to his early fondness for the M.R. James adaptations of the 60s and 70s, it’s a curious, impactful film that balances its mounting dread deftly against its moments of eccentricity.
After the denser and more abstract Lords of Salem divided opinion in 2013, Rob Zombie is back on riotously gory form with 31, the tale of five friends who are kidnapped on Halloween in 1976 to take part in a brutal twelve hour fight for survival.
The announcement of a direct sequel (let’s just go ahead and pretend Book of Shadows didn’t happen, just like the rest of the world) to 1999’s genre-redefining found-footage classic The Blair Witch Project came with a certain amount of imperviousness to the cynicism directed as standard to most horror remakes.
Few people have cleared a steeper hurdle with their feature debut as a director than Fede Alvarez. Having helmed 2013’s Evil Dead, he overcame the standard-issue swathes of remake/reboot cynicism to deliver one of the most convincing revivals the horror genre has ever seen. With follow-up Don’t Breathe, the gore takes a back seat in favour of suspense, and his growth as a director is self-evident.
Let’s get one thing straight from the off. Heir is uncomfortable viewing. The less you know going in, the better, but this none-more-dark examination of the nature of abuse and its perpetrators cuts seriously deep.
While couples or groups of friends taking seemingly innocent trips into the woods, only to be terrorised at night by unseen entities – be they human or inhuman – is a pretty well-worn trope in the horror genre at this point, the last few years have not been without evidence that there’s still life in this particular old dog.
Clocking in at fifteen minutes, Mark Logan’s Rats doesn’t feel its length – its tale of a literary historian (Nicholas Vince, Hellraiser, Mindless, Remnant) and his ill-advised visit to Montague Castle stays engaging in its slow-burning first half, and manages an all-important gear-shift as it races towards its end.
Director Cat Davies follows up FrightFest Glasgow hit KEEN-wah with Connie, an entertainingly original spin on “possessed puppet” mythology.
Chris Scheuerman’s Lost Solace begins like a romance: two lovers, peaceful in a large, opulent living room, admire their surroundings and discuss moving in together. Everything appears idyllic until the woman wakes up the next day to find her partner gone, and her prized possessions gone with him.
…or The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Senator Charlie Roan.