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Photograph by Justin Sheely - used with permission.

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When I grow up...oh wait I'm already there :) 

Writer, Star Gazer, Adventure Seeker, Mischief Maker, Gamer 

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Guillermo Del Toro's: Mama - Horror Done Right

I was seven years old when I watched my very first horror film, John Carpenter's The Fog.

I was hooked. What wasn’t to love? The Fog is a creepy, very well told story that drew me in until I was on the edge of my seat and then over the edge and hiding under the sofa. The ideas and imagery have stuck with me my entire life and I never looked at fog the same way again. The Fog also captured my imagination as a storyteller. If you’ve never seen The Fog do yourself a favor, go right now and turn the lights off and watch what for me is one of the best scene’s in all of horror. No blood, no guts, so special effects or jump out boo, just a man sitting at a campfire telling a story to a group of children: (Actor John Houseman)

The problem with this genre is that it is flooded with absolute crap and well told horror stories don't come along very often. Hollywood can even take a well written horror story and re-craft it in to something miserable. Have you seen the re-makes of The Fog or The Wickerman? They were tragic.

In film horror often relies too heavily on the "jump out boo" factor, imagery and special effects, barely stringing together a sequence of events little lone a good story. If you've ever sat through a horror film and found yourself spending time thinking that the characters were stupid and questioning why they were making choices that no one you’ve ever met would make, then you have been the victim of bad horror. I sat through The Blair Witch Project so annoyed with characters that were too dumb to follow a river out of the woods that I didn’t care about what was happening to them. In Paranormal Activity I the boyfriend was such a tool that I was actually rooting for the evil entity to eat him. I find it impossible to care about fictional characters that are cardboard cutout idiots.

What I loved about Mama was that I was drawn in to the story and I didn’t have it all figured out in the first five minutes. If you have seen a single advertisement for the movie then you know what the story is about, but Del Toro does a very good job of muddying the waters around the story so that you aren’t exactly sure that it is what you think it is. Oh don’t worries there are plenty of creepy jump out boo moments too and they were a lot of fun. However, the win here for me is that beyond the special effects I was actually interested in the characters and the story. The characters were real and layered, the story had unexpected twists and best of all was the end. Endings in horror can make or break a film and this ending was excellent. I don’t want to give away anything about the ending but for me it was one of the better horror film endings I've seen in awhile. I loved Mama it was well worth the watch.

Horror is like junk food; everyone has their own opinions on what is good, what scares them, what works and what doesn't. As a frame of reference here is a list of films in this genre that I adore for a variety of reasons.

I’d love to hear about your favorite horror film or story. What are you looking for in  horror?

1408 2007
Alien 1979 & Aliens 1986
An American Werewolf In London 1981
Blade 1998
Cloverfield 2008
Constantine 2005
Dawn Of The Dead 2004
Dead End 2003
Dracula 2007
Event Horizon 1997
Insidious 2010
Jacob’s Ladder 1990
Jaws 1975
Jeepers Creepers 1 2002
Jeepers Creepers 2 2003
Let The Right One In 2008
Poltergeist 1982
Queen Of The Damned 2002
Rose Red 2002
Session 9 2001
Shaun Of The Dead 2004
Slither 2006
The Cabin In The Woods 2012
The Crazies 2010
The Descent 2005
The Exorcism Of Emily Rose
The Fog 1980
The Last Exorcism 2010
The Lost Boys 1987
The Others 2001
The Silence Of The Lambs 1990
The Strangers 2008
The Wickerman 1973
Trick R Treat 2007
Zombieland 2009