Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My years in horror: 2007

Holy crap. There are eight (8) legitimate contenders for the best of 2007. We had the double-feature Grindhouse, Rob Zombie's Halloween remake, Sweeney Todd (I love horror musicals), one of the top punch in the gut ending ever in The Mist, a great anthology film Trick 'r Treat, REC from Spain, the highly underrated spookfest 1408, and the potentially superior sequel 28 Weeks Later. (The original cut of Paranormal Activity hit the festival circuit in 2007, but didn't reach a wide audience until two years later.) Pick any one of these and you could have my vote. For now, I do have to pick one and I'm taking 1408.

 How good is John Cusack in this film? He's beyond good. He channels every manic weirdo he's ever played and uses their stress to bring a character whose fate we actually care about, who isn't entirely a jerk, and who is indeed a mutuality-faceted person.

1408 is based on a short-story by Stephen King. In the story, Mike Enslin is failed poet who turned to writing stories of "true hauntings" in order to survive. That's really about it. King gives us enough to worry about Enslin the person but not necessarily Enslin the cosmic being. Director Mikael Hafstrom and his writers did what many of the best King adaptations do: they kept everything that was important, tossed what wasn't, and added their own twist. The twist happens to be the overriding presence (in memory and maybe even reality) of Enslin's young daughter who died of cancer.

This was hard enough for me to watch when the movie came out. I'm a dad now and a wanna-be novelist who has had to write things I didn't care about for money. I can just imagine trying to watch this now, with my son playing on the floor or sleeping in his room and absolutely losing my shit. (I'm also trying really hard not to think about the ending of The Mist right now, too.)

This is a well-made film that may not push you over the edge with fright, but certainly will make you question the nature of hauntings and how they effect different people.

The sad part is that I'm at work right now and will have to wait until I get home to hug my son.

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