What I’ve watched lately: ‘I Trapped The Devil’, ‘A Tale of Two Sisters’, ‘The Autopsy of Jane Doe’, ‘A Ghost Story’, ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’, ‘The Innocents’

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Still from The Killing of a Sacred Deer (A24)

Let’s catch up: Behold a list of (mostly) fantastic films I have watched recently.  (Embarrassed to admit that many of these were a first time watch– SO late to the party.)  Regardless– even though each and every one of these deserves an individual, in-depth, analytical review– for the sake of time, I’ll sound off some quick thoughts about each film, and why you should catch up with these jewels (or yell at me because I hadn’t seen many of these until recently.)

I Trapped The Devil (2019)

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There are trappings of a great film here within Josh Lobo’s brand new, directorial debut film, I Trapped The Devil.  However, something is amiss here– and I can’t quite put my finger on why.  A man and his wife visit his estranged brother’s house, only to find him paranoid and insistent that he has trapped a man who, he claims, is Lucifer himself in his basement.  Beautiful cinematography incorporated into this Christmastime setting, filled with brightly colored lights and ominous usage of red lighting and shadows.  And a promising premise, but I think the issue here lies with the script: nothing wrong with taking an idea from an old The Twilight Zone episode, but the film slightly drags in its less-than-90-minute runtime, which is not great– I don’t feel there’s enough meat to this for a feature length film.  I Trapped The Devil does, however, end on a very haunting high note, and I still think it’s worth a chance.

A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

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I know, I know.  Me, of all people, had not seen the psychological modern masterpiece, South Korean horror film, A Tale of Two Sisters.  In a way though, I’m glad I waited until recently to catch this, because I don’t think I would have appreciated this as much when this film was first released 16 years ago.  This mindfuck follows two teenage sisters, one who has recently returned home from the insane asylum, who come home to their father and stepmother, the latter whom they do not get along with.  The confusing plot deserves multiple rewatches, as it is a whole lot of narrative to absorb, however, A Tale of Two Sisters is a rewarding, confounding, artistic experience that brings some scares, but, more importantly, is an effective, shocking reminder at how terrible people can be to both themselves and to others.  If you’ve only seen the American remake, 2009’s The Uninvited, change that ASAP and watch this superior (by far) original film.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

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Weirdly, I had only seen this widely-acclaimed-amongst-horror-fans film in fractions in the past, but that changed the other day, as I finally sat down to watch Andre Ovredal’s The Autopsy of Jane Doe in its entirety.  And I’m happy to say, yes, it is quite a spooky, supernatural horror film that definitely gave me the chills a few times.  When a father and son mortician duo receive a late night corpse of an unknown “Jane Doe,” her body wreaks havoc upon them, as they attempt to find the mysterious cause of her death.   Mindblowingly, an actress actually portrayed the (almost) entirely still corpse, which is a pretty impressive feat.  If you crave some scares and somehow missed this one, The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a quintessential watch.

A Ghost Story (2017)

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More of a drama/fantasy genre fare than straight horror, this slow-churning A24 film is a quiet, hauntingly tragic tale of a married man who passes away suddenly and returns to his home to look over his bereaved widow.  However, as she moves on with her life, his newly spectral state is stuck in an alternate time warp, as he experiences an existential search for the meaning of life and the afterlife.  A Ghost Story subverts the idea that, when our loved ones pass on, we are the ones that get left behind– instead, it suggests that maybe we are the ones who leave them behind in a spectral, alternate universe, and perhaps, they are even lonelier than we are.  If you need a moving, cathartic, good cry of a film, this will do it.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)

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Not everyone can stomach a Yorgos Lanthimos film.  His nihilistic, blunt, off-kilter outlook on human despicableness is counteracted by arthouse flair, which is never accessible to a mainstream audience.  And his 2017 film The Killing of a Sacred Deer is no different, but at least he manages to skip the animal cruelty in this one, which is a huge relief.  Instead, Lanthimos pins a manipulative young man against a surgeon and his family, to avenge a death that the young man blames the surgeon for, in this story about good ol’ fashioned, cold-hearted karma.  With an unnerving performance from Barry Keoghan and equally memorable turns from Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman, I won’t forget this film anytime soon.

The Innocents (1961)

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What is left to be said about this classic that hasn’t already been said?  Based on the story “The Turn of the Screw,” Jack Clayton’s black-and-white gem The Innocents uses a haunted house metaphor for a depiction of what we do in the shadows, both literally and figuratively.  When a governess starts to see apparitions within the grounds of the house in which she is caring for two orphans, we are never certain if what she sees is really there, or if these are manifestations of her sexual repression.  The visuals of Deborah Karr’s regal black velvet gown, bouncing down the staircase as she’s looking for a hiding spot for an innocent game of hide-and-seek with the children– right before one of the film’s scariest shots of a man making his way towards her outside the window– is iconic.  The Innocents is brilliant, and I was pleased to revisit it again.

Have you seen all of these films?  What have you watched or rewatched lately?  Feel free to comment below and let me know.~

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