Tag: Martyrs

Movie Review: Entrance

There’s something about a horror film that I find comforting. I’ll watch any horror movie and generally know what I’m getting myself into. There’s the spooky introduction to the setting and main characters, maybe a good first death or two. Then our innocent hero(ine) gets introduced and we watch as they try to figure out what’s happening. They either do or they don’t and then the end. Scares happen in between, sometimes. Horror films are my comfort movies, as silly as that might sound.

So when a movie comes along that isn’t just one of those typical scarers I like it and am doubly frightened by it. This has happened before with movies like Funny Games, Martyrs, and Repulsion. These films hold nothing back. Nothing is sacred. You don’t know what’s going to happen and you don’t know why it’s happening. This isn’t The Woman in Black (a pretty good movie that is super generic). Entrance is the first film by the directing duo of Dallas Richard Hallam and Patrick Horvath and it shows at times. You can see some camera shadows and sometimes it seems to get a little out of control. But they do a pretty damn good job of setting up something shocking. The first hour or so of this movie is kind of standard mumblecore. We have a young woman (played quite nicely by Suziey Block) transplanted from Minnesota to LA, struggling to find something worth caring about outside her dog. She has her daily routine and we get lulled watching her. Sometimes some strange things happen. A guy yells at her on the street, a car follows her on her way back home. She hears strange sounds in the middle of the night. It’s all so creepy because it is so very real. The point of the mumblecore genre is to present real people acting in a real way, and that works to up the tension of the things that are just slightly off. Then, in the last 20 minutes or so, shit gets crazy.

I’m not going to ruin what happens for you, because I think the film is worth a watch and it’d be mean to rob you of the excitement. There are some things that I can say, though. The last shot of the film lasts about 15 minutes and is quite scary. The camera shows little, just enough to give us a sense of what’s happening. Our heroine is terrified and so was I. Sticking with her perspective (if not her exact point of view) keeps us feeling like we’re out of control. And we are, that’s the point. The movie is about alienation, how being alone is the scariest thing you can be. Even surrounded by friends we aren’t safe. Who are they, anyways? They can’t protect us and we can’t protect them. If things are going to happen you’re just going to have to watch. That’s all we can do.


Buy or rent Entrance on iTunes or Amazon.

Movie Review: Repulsion

I must get this crack mended

I saw Rosemary’s Baby two years ago around Halloween time because it was a horror film I hadn’t seen before and it came highly recommended. I liked it fine, but I didn’t get many scares out of it. In fact, there are only two scenes I remember from the film, the rape scene and the final scene. So I was kind of hesitant to seek out more Roman Polanski directed horror films, believing that they’d be similarly, well, unscary. Turns out I’m a huge idiot. Repulsion is one of the scariest films I have ever seen. It’s intense and paranoid, like the rest of Polanski’s films, and it’s got that little bit extra to make it super great.

Catherine Deneuve is a young Parisian woman who lives with her sister. When her sister goes away for the weekend she slowly goes insane. That’s it. There’s a murder or two and a gross rotting rabbit and some interesting architecture. And what must be the scariest thing I’ve seen in a while, a man that appears mysteriously and rapes Deneuve. The guy is just there. The idea is, I think, that her attractiveness makes her daily life a trial. She keeps it all bottled up and relies on her relationship with her sister to keep sane but when she leaves Deneuve just can’t handle the attention. She walks around the city staring blankly ahead, not taking in any external stimuli. She has too much going on inside of her to take any notice of the outside world. When we finally start to experience her delusions alongside her halfway through the film it is both jarring and unsurprising. There’s clearly something wrong with her. The last hour or so of the film is a masterpiece of increasing tension.

Recently the podcast Battleship Pretension had a show about the difference between horror and suspense. Repulsion was the final film in my Shocktober month and, along with Martyrs and The Wicker Man, one of a few films that were actually good. BP defined suspense as the building of tension and horror as the release of that tension. This is, of course, a gross oversimplification of their points and you should really listen to that show to get a full understanding, but I think Repulsion is a perfect example of a movie that does both the suspense and the horror aspect perfectly. There’s nothing horrifying about the first hour of the film. It is, however, very suspenseful. We keep getting hints that she’s not quite right. We’re waiting for her to break. When she does break the film shifts into pure horror mode. There’re shocking images and ideas all over the place. What makes this movie masterful, though, is the way the horrors tie into her personal problems. She manifests a rapists that enters her apartment each night (Martyrs takes a bit of this), her walls literally crack around her, and hands reach out from the wall to grope at her. It’s all so terrifying.

The movie is a predecessor to a few of my favorite films. It does the woman having a nervous breakdown thing that Black Swan does. That film also borrows the close-following camera while the character walks around the streets. I already mentioned the way that Martyrs takes an aspect of the characters personality and makes them bodily real. The final aspect I noticed was the couple of times Deneuve scratched at her face, a move that William Friedkin gave to Ashley Judd in his under-seen gem Bug. It’s telling that all of these films have the same basic idea going on at their core. Repulsion is the best of them because it does all of these things so well. It’s a perfectly crafted film. It does everything right. You can’t ask for much more.