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Halloween / Dia de muertos 2021 Day 2: Howling Village (2019), The Spore (2021), and Black as Night (2021)





Day 2 was a far better viewing experience. Two of the films were better and scarier. And one had potential to be really good but failed to deliver. I will explain why.



 



Howling Village a.k.a. Inunaki mura (2019)




After the disappointing viewing experience yesterday I really felt some good old Asian creepiness. Who better to turn to than horror master Takashi Shimizu, the man behind The Grudge franchise.

And while Howling Village might not be as intense it certainly delivered all the horror goodness I was craving for. Mind you there are some decisions I thought were a little too much. Still they did help amp up the fear so in hindsight you won't hear me complain about them. The most compelling element of Howling Village is that it is based on a real urban legend concerning the Inunaki Tunnel where people have been killed or burnt and now is sealed by concrete blocks. And yes apparently people really die here. 

Old Inunaki Tunnel


A young girl and her boyfriend venture out in the tunnel and right away start to experiencing strange things. The girl is rather nonchalant and quite annoying at first. But you start to worry about her since of what happens to her. It's incredibly tragic and devastating. It's at this moment when events are starting to get weirder and more dangerous. Now, it's not like Insidious or The Conjuring where every two minutes you get a jump scare. No, Howling Village is more about creating creepiness and dread through atmosphere and being subtle about the supernatural elements. Until the reveal. It's weird and completely over the top but like I said something I embraced at the end. Since it's here where your patience is rewarded with some truly delicious horror.

Howling Village might take a little long to take you to the reveal, in hindsight, it's the only way to do the urban legend and story justice. While certain elements are a little too convoluted and ambitious they do help in generating uneasiness and terror only Takashi Shimizu can. Let me put it this way. If this is the last film you have seen and you are planning to go to bed right after. I suggest to take a moment to hug your pet or teddybear or watch a funny animal video on youtube you calm your nerves.






The Spore (2021)



One of the reasons why I picked up The Spore was because of the fact how similar it was to the premise of The Last of Us. It also features a parasitic fungus that slowly but surely is mutating and killing people left and right. 

And to be honest, atmosphere and tension wise The Spore is quite good. Even the special effects and cinematography is excellent. However there is one huge and very fatal flaw. It's the acting. I don't mind unknown names since it can lead to making certain events seem more real. Here all of the actors are terrible. How terrible? I think Tommy Wiseau would have done a better job. Or at least make everything more bearable. For whatever reason the actors are incapable of expressing fear. They are either far too calm or too focused on saying their lines monotonously. And it's not like I truly have high expectations. Just pretend that the monster that is coming at you is one of the most scariest things ever. It's not that hard.  

The Spore points out that even when you are on your top of your game for the most part you will fail due to bad acting. Real shame!







Black as Night (2021)



Black as Night offers a return to good old vampires who aren't emo and don't glitter in the starlight. 

But like many contemporary films can't help to infuse political correctness and certain political views. Take the character Pedro for example. He is played by Fabrizio Guido (famous for sitcom Mr. Iglesias). He is Latino and gay. Very gay. Mannerisms and all. Why? Couldn't he just be a little or not be gay at all. It is possible you know to be friends on a merely platonic level. Naturally that is not why they opted for this. Nope, it's all about the inclusion and representation. How am I so sure that this is the case? At one point Shawna (Asjha Cooper) goes to Granya to find out about vampires and how to defeat them. In case you hadn't guessed it, she is a white girl. If her role had been significant and memorable then I would not have been so critical about this. But her role could have been played by anyone and it would not have mattered one bit. 

While it really is a trend that needs to stop I do have to point out that it's very tolerable since at the same time the fun factor is high. Believe me I would have demolished this film had it been anything but fun. I can't say how refreshing it is to have old school vampires in a film that follow the old rules. Well, for the most part. Could be a retcon of some sorts not to offend certain religions. But the good old Christian cross is not being used as a weapon. Something that always had been trivial and iconic simply is left out. 

What I also could appreciate is that despite the lighter Buffy the Vampire slayer approach the film is serious when it needs to be. The film does lose steam towards the end because it then becomes clear the plot is thin. They could have remedied this by deepening the characters or maybe go in more detail about Shawna's mother and how the Katrina disaster had such a profound effect on her. I mean her mother being a junkie because of that is pretty tragic and sad. Especially for Shawna to have her mother be in that state.

I do think that Keith David is underused. I will never understand producers and directors hiring big names and not make the most of them. That being said Black as Night might not do anything new it does entertain. These days that counts for something!







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