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Halloween Film Marathon 2023: Friday, 27th of October and Saturday, 28th of October 2023: Dark Harvest, May The Devil Take You 2, Pet Semetary: Bloodlines, Invaders from Mars, It lives Inside, Hatching, The Deep House and When Evil Lurks.

Halloween is upon us, which means I am holding my yearly tradition of watching as many horror films I can in a row (spanning over two days). I will be doing this with Mrs. P. She is known to be more critical of horror films, but at the same time also has surprised me to enjoy films I myself didn't. If possible, I will try to do full reviews of those. Otherwise, I will briefly share my thoughts.

Listed here are the titles I will be watching (very possible, the order of watching will change). It all demands on the mood and what these films will bring us.

- Dark Harvest (2023)
- May The Devil Take You (2020)
- Pet Sematary: Bloodlines (2023)
- Invaders from Mars (1986)
- When Evil Lurks (2023)
- The Deep House (2021)
- Hatching (2022)
- It lives Inside (2023)

27th of October 2023

The first film we watched was Dark Harvest.

- Dark Harvest (2023)

Dark Harvest has a very compelling opening and maintains a good balance between strong ambiance and suspense up until the ending. I think the acting is strong for the most part and does manage to keep you interested. I kind of figured out one vital plot element very early on. Although the rest of the mystery unfortunately I can only speculate about. You are left with a lot of questions that don't get answered. Overall, Dark Harvest delivers enough horror goodness (more than I had expected). So a pretty strong start for this marathon.

We followed Dark Harvest with May The Devil Take You 2.

- May The Devil Take You 2 a.k.a. Sebelum Iblis Menjemput: Ayat Dua (2020)

Why would I start with the sequel and not the original like most people? Well, I think I briefly looked at the ratings and saw that the sequel was considered the better of the two. However, after having seen this, I am definitely going to check the original soon enough.

Since this film is also produced by Rapi Films, I kind of knew what I was in for. I have seen several horror films which I still have to write reviews for, but most of them have been stellar since they offer the Asian horror experience, Japan and Korea excelled at, but for some odd reason don't deliver any more. This one starts out subtle, only very soon evolves into an uneven but wild and entertaining ride. In the same vein as The Conjuring films did. And while the makers of this film demonstrate that subtle and creepy is far more scary and effective, I can't deny that I had fun with some of the creative takes on old horror tropes.

This film is far from perfect and perhaps does get bogged down a little with its own ambition, but I can't honestly say that despite the many flaws, I was entertained throughout and had a lot of fun watching. 

Next in our marathon was Pet Sematary: Bloodlines.

Pet Sematary: Bloodlines (2023)

Pet Sematary: Bloodlines doesn't waste time to bring you creepiness. At the same time, doesn't really build up tension and suspense. And yet, I did feel this sense of dread, most likely because of my knowledge of the other films in the franchise. 

I do think it is expected of you to be familiar with the premise. New viewers might scratch their head and wonder what the big deal is. In that regard, it doesn't give you time to think about the events, which is its saving grace since these do get worse for the main characters you root for. The characters aren't really fleshed out enough, but I do have to commend the actors for being likeable and quick to act. However, some of the characters do act a little stupid, which at times could be considered comedic if you give it some thought. But there were some nice surprises thrown in to keep things compelling enough. David Duchovny, Pam Grier and Henry Thomas do add to the experience. Especially, Duchovny impresses as the hard-boiled farmer. But Samantha Mathis, who is barely recognizable, also does very little. She literally is windows dressing, why was she even in this film? 

Overall, this part in the franchise, doesn't really tell something new. I mean, why don't they cover up the cemetery with concrete or buildings? Like preventing people from being able to bury living organisms in the first place. However, it does bring that one horror element to the forefront that never gets tiring. Compared to the remake, this one is slightly better.

At this time, I was up for a classic, or at least a film that should be a classic. And that is, Invaders from Mars.

Invaders from Mars (1986)

This one, has a special place in my heart. I saw it when visiting my grandma and back then she would go to bed and I would watch films until I myself was exhausted, or my grandma would tell me to go to bed. I remember being totally engrossed and impressed with this, since to me, it was pretty creepy. 

This was a very long time ago, but now watching it again, I am surprised how effective it still is. We can credit, director Tobe Hooper for this since he isn't afraid to be serious and scary without upsetting kids too much. Of course, at one point, the suspense is diminished, and the film becomes cartoony. I guess, it would have been too much if this went full horror. But honestly, I kind of want an adult version of this, where Tobe Hooper unleashes his skills as the horror master he was. The kid, David Gardner (played by Hunter Carson, is impressive as the lead. At first, it seemed like he was overacting a bit. Gradually, he shows a maturity you rarely see. Especially, when he is with Linda Magnusson (Karen Black) who in real life was his mother. She sadly passed away in 2013.

This one is very underrated if you ask me. It does more right than wrong, Louise Fletcher might not haven taken this film as serious as she should have. But even within her campiness, she plays an extremely unlikeable character. It's very satisfying to see her being dealt with.

Also check:

28th of October 2023

On the second day of the Halloween film marathon, we started with, It Lives Inside.

It Lives Inside (2023)

Writer / Director Bishal Dutta brings us Asian horror featuring American Hindus. As a Dutch Hindu, I can honestly say that it's about time we get to be represented in major Western features in this manner. While there were some things I didn't entirely agree with, I think it's important to note that the film is respectable of Hindu culture, and it's refreshing to emphasize the life of Indians, even if it's just scratching the surface. 

The horror elements were decent enough, you won't be scared. But that's OK, since the film is more focused on the relationships between daughter and mother and between old friends. Especially, the latter is a universal plot device most of us can relate to. I have hope more tales like this will get made as the Indian / Hindu culture is so rich and full. It's almost a mystery in itself why filmmakers haven't tapped into this more. 

The cast was pretty good. While I didn't know the majority of the actors, one I did recognize. Vik Sahay, most famous for his role in Chuck. In this film, he demonstrates he has the acting chops to play serious roles.

I enjoyed It Lives Inside, but not going to lie, it could have been a lot creepier and scarier. 

Immediately after, we decided to watch When Evil Lurks. This as replacement for Nefarious. The positive reviews of this title made me decide to watch this one instead. 

When Evil Lurks a.k.a. Cuando acecha la maldad(2023)

When Evil Lurks, doesn't waste a second to start the tension and dread. And basically, from that moment, the dread is ever present. But not to exhaust you, the film does give you moments to catch your breath, at least, that is what it seems like since then the terror grabs you by the throat. This film can be extremely disgusting and gory. But not only to shock you. It actually serves as an illustration towards epidemics and how they are handled. The film is quite intense, and I do suggest taking a little break to get back to your senses. A must-watch for sure!

I should have taken my own advice, as I didn't and watched Hatching right after.

Hatching (2022)

The Hatching is a slower film but make no mistake, Like When Evil Lurks has a constant sense of dread going on. Events will get weirder and more bizarre until the very end.

Tinja has a lot to deal with, and at times the world she lives in does seem surreal. But there is a very good explanation for it. It's her way of dealing with pressure and trauma. Nothing about her life appears to be as presented to outsiders. The ever smiling mother and the weak father who is barely a parent to her. I am not going into the details too much, since it's important to experience that for yourself without prejudice. But let's just say that if a family appears to be this happy, you know something is wrong. The Hatching is quite repulsive for many different reasons, but more so because I am sure as bizarre as some of the people in this film seem, it's not entirely far-fetched.

Definitely, one to check out!

After two quite intense films, we were really up for some lighter stuff. This was going to be The Deep House. The last film in this marathon. Unfortunately, the only dud of all the films we had seen this weekend.

The Deep House (2021)

The Deep House is a pretty conventional horror film with one original idea. It's basically a haunted house film but then underwater. 

And I have to give them credit, the concept is pretty compelling. But where it fails lies in the way the film is executed. There was some suspense at first and also when they finally dive under. But then you get confronted with a lot of jittery and shaky camera work. Since it's already hard to make out what is going on in the screen, the tension and atmosphere diminishes. I think, the film would have really benefitted had it been a tad slower and tried to capitalize on people's own imagination. The Deep House is not exactly subtle. Then the acting also seems off. Or at least the way the couple interact with each other. This should have been more convincing. Especially the dialogue towards the ending felt forced and fake.

Not super bad, but compared to better and more creepy films we have seen in this marathon The Deep House disappoints. Not one I can recommend!

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