Halloween horror preview


October means a few things, first and foremost being Halloween. And that most spooky of holidays brings a few things along with it, such as candy corn — which inevitably goes stale before being finished — little kids (and college students) in costumes walking around town in search of free candy, buying a pumpkin to carve into a Jack-o’-lantern early enough to get a big one before the stores run out only for it to wind up desiccated and decayed on the night of, and the inevitable slew of horror movies. There are a few options for horror viewing this October.

The oh-so-clever title is a tip that this isn’t going to be one for the annals of horror history. According to IMDB, Ethan Hawke stars as a true-crime novelist who moves his family into a home in which a family was murdered a few decades ago. Found footage leads him to the family’s murderer: a supernatural being which lives in images of itself.

Ethan Hawke is a solid actor – especially in movies such as “Gattaca” or 2009′s “Daybreakers” – so the lead role should be solid. The plot, however, looks a little bland. While an evil creature that lives in images of itself is neat – it was a major plot point in a chilling 2010 “Doctor Who” serial – and preying on the souls of children is certainly terrifying to parents, it looks like a KISS reject. Heavy metal “corpse paint” can be wonderfully unsettling on a stage under colored lights, but there are better things director Scott Derrickson could have hidden in the bushes in suburbia.

Worse yet is the movie is massively spoiled by the trailer. Everyone knows the back story and the plot, as both are explicitly shown. Viewers see the antagonist and its agenda right there. Stephen King once described a good rule for horror: you don’t show the audience your monster until the last moment; whatever they can imagine is worse than anything you come up with.

The bottom line is while this looks a bit trite, Hawke is usually sold, and pre-viewers gave it a decent rating.

From bland title to bland subtitle, this one is a sequel to the 2006 film, which was based on the world established in the video game franchise. And because adapting a franchise is convoluted by decree of the invisible let’s-make-everything-bad council, while the first “Silent Hill” was not based on any of the games in particular, “Revelations” will be both a sequel and an adaptation of “Silent Hill 3.”

All else aside, “Silent Hill” was a decent horror movie. Maybe it wasn’t the best movie ever made, but it was unsettling, eerie, and viscerally uncomfortable, chock full of body horror, finished with ambiguity. Hardly an Oscar contender, but a fun watch, and Sean Bean and Radha Mitchell’s performances were eminently watchable.

This sequel will have just enough trappings from the games to really infuriate hardcore fans. The Internet will be aflame with complaints about how the monsters don’t make sense with the protagonists’ psychological flaws and core motivations or why iconic nightmare Pyramid Head should only be present in a “Silent Hill 2″ adaptation. Like the first, this one should be a fun watch if the viewer can get past a little bit of plot dullardry.

The bottom line is this one should be fun and creepy so long as it doesn’t linger too long trying to be clever.

For those who don’t feel like driving up to Albuquerque for dubious film fun, pick up a copy of “Cabin in the Woods.” It’s the best horror film to come out in years. This one deconstructs the entire horror genre and looks at why horror movies are structured the way they are. The acting is solid. Dialog-wise, it’s really clever. Everything about this movie is bloody brilliant and, thank small mercies, there’s not a chance of a cash-in sequel.