Mike Flanagan, Eli Roth & Wes Craven
For the longest time I've watched movies based on the genre or previews. You'd think after watching films for so long that I'd take an interest in knowing the directors behind such films, but alas I never spent too much time on it.
I would know Michael Bay from Transformers series and Alfred Hitchcock from a film class of having such a unique method of producing suspenseful films. However, there are many more directors than that and I want to focus on three in this blog.
First being Wes Craven.
My first remembered scary movie was Pulse, a 2006 film about when technology is discovered that is not friendly. It turns out it was written by Wes Craven, who really adapted it from the 2001 Japanese film Kairo. At the time I watched this, I had no idea Wes was involved.
Over the few years, I found myself watching:
- The Last House on the Left
- The Hills Have Eyes
- A Nightmare on Elm Street
- The Hills Have Eyes II
- The Ring
Now all of those except "The Ring" have Wes Craven involved. The pattern you see when you look at those is clearly slasher films. These films loved knives and hints of humor throughout each film. These might not be the type of films that most are interested in, but a slasher film is always on my list to watch.
At one point, I watched Cabin Fever and this film was just odd. It was less slasher and more just disgusting scenes of a flesh eating disease that made you squirm. All in all though, an interesting film that ended up causing many sequels.
From here, I stumbled upon:
- Hostel: Part II
- The Green Inferno
- Knock Knock
- Hemlock Grove
This might have been the first time I recognized seeing the phrase "From Eli Roth" in some of the trailers/movie cover art. It was a short name that kinda just stayed in my memory. Not to mention the buzz that was around Hostel. Common conversations when horror came up, usually went like, "but have you seen Hostel?". A film that is basically about capturing and torturing people in a gruesome way, so probably not a category that all are interested in.
These days, if you really search you can find movies that are levels above Hostel. Think about Martyrs (2008) or Salo (1975) which either film will mark your brain with images that'll be tough to forget. I'd include the cover art, but if anyone is behind you they might wonder what you are looking at. Though, this isn't a post about disturbing films, but the lesser strength horror films.
What I liked about Eli Roth films was always the envisioned viewpoint from the attackers in each film. In Hostel you learn the killers are part of some elite hunting club where enormous amounts of money are exchanged for the safe passage to kill/torture humans. The Green Inferno is about the dated rituals of some native tribe killing activist group captured by them.
With Netflix now, my source of horror films adapts nearly every week. Two films I watched were called Oculus (2013) & Hush (2016). I didn't know it at the time, but I was stumbling upon a director that made films that had some truly unique ideas.
With a cool Netflix feature, this was the first time I picked films from the director and not by the genre. Granted, the genre's are related here. I then set off to watch Gerald's Game & The Haunting of Hill House / Bly Manor.
I started to notice a pattern in these films that I recognized the actors/actresses a lot more. It might be a common thing for directors to use recurring collaborators, but I didn't really consider that. I also learned that the main character in some of the films was actually his wife - so that was another interesting find I had no idea about.
So now I've finished watching another Flanagan series, this time called Midnight Mass. Another miniseries on Netflix that was such a unique piece of art. I know critiques didn't appreciate the long monologues at time, but I very much appreciated the change of pace in the series.
Of all the films I've seen from Mike Flanagan, I'm continually surprised that there isn't a rush of jump scares or cheap tricks to up the ante of horror. There is actual character development that makes you understand the path these characters are on, which may even get gruesome, but helps tie each script together.
I remember during Gerald's Game, I was convinced this bone walker was a figment of her imagination, much like the movie led to believe. Turns out the person was real within the film, which completely caught me off guard. Just like when I realized what Father Paul was actually doing in Midnight Mass.
So now I will take looking at the filmography of each director I turn out enjoying, so I can find more series/films to watch. No more randomly watching 30 second previews of films on Netflix. I can now have a bit more research before I devote a few hours to some media.