Posts Tagged ‘actors’

You know, sometimes you come across movies in the weirdest ways. Sometimes they’re just on while flipping channels, or someone makes a reference to it and you want to know the interest. I heard about Down a Dark Hall because I heard AnnaSophia Robb (aka the kid from Because of Winn-Dixie) was in it. I remember she used to slay in anything I saw her in (especially The Reaping, another horror film she was in), and the fact that this was a horror film got me interested. I asked my local library to order it, they said yes, and I picked it up this weekend, not sure what I was going to get but looking forward to finding out.

This turned out to be a decent example of modern Gothic horror.

Based on the Gothic YA novel by Lois Duncan, Down a Dark Hall follows Kit, a troubled teenager whose mother sends her to an elite academy with the hopes of straightening her out. There with only four other similarly-troubled girls, Kit finds that the school’s very unique and focused program starts to have results. Weird results. Results that devolve into obsession, addiction, neurosis and trauma. On top of that, Kit has been seeing things in the hallways and in the dark. Faces, people, movement. All this collides to lead Kit to a terrifying realization about the school, and what its staff is doing to the students.

For starters, the actors in this film all do a very good job in their roles. AnnaSophia Robb as Kit slays again, inhabiting this very angry girl who slowly finds herself actually liking the school and then distrusting it as things get weird like a second skin or as if she’s done this a hundred times before. The same goes for Victoria Moroles as Veronica, who hides her own tragedies in a badass attitude. And Uma Thurman does a great job as the aristocratic and charismatic Madame Duret.

The film’s story is also very compelling. It checks all four of the boxes I mention in my article on Gothic fiction, all in a very pretty set, and you definitely find yourself caught up in the mystery of the story. Some of the most disturbing moments of the film are when you see these girls falling under the spell of the school, becoming obsessed with math or music or painting or whatever and how badly it affects them. And the special effects aren’t half bad either, more subtle than garish or distracting.

However, the film isn’t without its issues. I never felt very scared, and there wasn’t much of an atmosphere or sense of threat. Outside of the moments of obsession, that is. In addition, a few things in the film felt a little extraneous. There was a certain bald-headed and scarred ghost that really didn’t serve any purpose beyond a few extra scares, and the romantic tension between Kit and her music teacher was inserted, but nothing was really done with it. Seriously, the question of how to portray those relationships in fiction aside, either use it or cut it out and just show them as close student and teacher!

Finally, I also thought that the ending was wrapped up in too sweet a bow and maybe a few minutes too long. In some ways, it felt a little too hopeful compared to the rest of the film, which jars the viewer and takes away from the experience.

Still, Down a Dark Hall was a good Gothic horror film. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving it a 3.8. It’s no Kill Creek (which I highly recommend by the way, check out my review as to why), but if you turn off the lights in your living room and put this on the Blu-Ray player, you probably won’t regret it. Check it out and see for yourself.

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Only the worst of the worst get to hang out here.

Yesterday we took a look at my choices for #10-6 for my top villains list for 2014. Today we look at the Big Bads, the worst of the worst, the folks and creatures we should all fear in our sleep. These top 5 villains are the ones that have amazed, impressed, and/or terrified me the most.

And remember to click here if you’d like to compare #10-6 and #5-1 from last year. Here we go! Mwa-ha-ha!

5. Jennifer Blake (from Teen Wolf)

Once again we have another villain from Teen Wolf, this one from the first half of season three. At first, you think the only thing that the main characters have to worry about is a pack of Alpha werewolves, but then Jennifer Blake comes into the picture. At first just an innocent English teacher who becomes Derek Hale’s love interest after a close encounter, she is actually the Darach, a Druid gone bad, and she has all sorts of dangerous magic on her hands, which she enhances through elaborate human sacrifices. All in the name of revenge against t;he Alpha werewolves who betrayed her several years ago. Her devious tactics, her theatrical flare, and the lengths she’s willing to go are enough to put her above the wily Nogitsune, who was only out for some twisted laughs.

4. The Murder House (from American Horror Story)

I’ve always maintained that a setting can be as much a character as your other characters, and that especially goes for haunted houses. In this house in particular, we feel it as a character, a force with a devious and wily personality for drawing in the innocent and guilty alike, twisting their minds and then trapping their souls forever. All for a very dark purpose that isn’t revealed until the very end of the first season of the groundbreaking FX show. Trust me, you do not want to spend the night in this place. EVER!

3. Dr. Oliver Thresden/Bloody Face (from American Horror Story: Asylum)

Movie and TV serial killers are hard to make unique. A few even come out looking like carbon copies of Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. In AHS‘s second and much darker season, they not only give us a serial killer with character development, but with a soul. Dr. Thresden originally arrives at Briarcliff Manor to perform a psych evaluation on protagonist Kit, who is believed to be the infamous serial killer Bloody Face. Dr. Thresden ends up staying on to help update Briarcliff’s outdated methods to treating insanity. He takes a special interest in leading lady Lana Winters, a lesbian who, after some failed aversion therapy, he deems sane. After helping her to escape the asylum though, he reveals himself to be Bloody Face, and he is looking for a woman to be his mother, his real mother having abandoned him years ago. With an unhealthy preoccupation for human skin and for his mommy, Bloody Face may at first seem like a bad copy of Leatherface, but in reality he’s unique in so many ways. Played by actor Zachary Quinto, it’s no wonder this character was nominated for so may awards, and won a few as well.

2. Hannibal Lecter (from the books by Thomas Harris)

Our only returning villain from last year, Hannibal Lecter earns his spot for his incredible ability to continue to terrify and manipulate us on the NBC show Hannibal. Honestly, watching Mads Mikkelsen perform in the iconic role is a dark pleasure. In this previous season, he managed to keep the authorities dancing around him, even as some of them began to suspect that he was the Chesapeake Ripper. What’s most horrific is that he almost manages to get protagonist Will Graham to become just like him, a monster without a conscience who likes to see what happens on impulse. And the way he sets things in motion is like watching a Rube Goldberg machine in motion, only with people involved. Until the very last episode and the awesome twists and turns, you’ll be on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next I’m looking forward to season 3 next year. I hope they can keep up the fun!

1. The Weeping Angels (from Doctor Who)

Our winner this year for Top Villain is another creature from Doctor Who, but this one is slightly stranger and more sinister than the Daleks. The Weeping Angel is a strange being. It can only move when it isn’t seen, thus it keeps its hands over its eyes in case its working with one of its own kind. When they take their hands off though, they reveal monsters that are anything but angelic. And you literally can’t even blink in front of them, because they can move even between the opening and closing of your lids to get you. Once they do, they’ll send you back in time so that you die maybe hundreds or thousands of years before you were born, while they feed on the displaced time energy that results from your timeline into the future being erased. Created by show runner Steven Moffat, these are probably one of the Doctor’s most terrifying enemies, enough to make my sister scream in fright when they feature in an episode. If you ever watch the episode in which they debuted, Blink, you’ll know why.

 

That’s all for this yer. Join me in 2015 for another Top 10 list. Maybe making the list will be thesis deadlines, because that will be one of the scarier things I’ll have to deal with in this coming school year.

Anyway, hope you had fun reading my Top 10 Villains list. Have a good day, my Followers of Fear. And let me know what you think of the list. Who do you think should have gotten on? And was there anyone here you agreed or disagreed with? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I’ve been meaning to do this post for a while, but with Laura Horn still needing to be finished and everything…

Anyway, last year I did a countdown of my favorite villains from fiction (to read that contest, click here for #10-6 and here for #5-1). I’m doing it again this year to show case the awesome villains that have impressed and terrified me since that list last year. And a lot has happened over the last year: we’ve got only one person is returning to the list from last year, which just goes to show that Hollywood/New York/everyone else can come up with some really amazing villains sometimes. In fact, I’d like to announce our honorable mention now: Peter Pan from Once Upon a Time. The revisionist fairy tale show came up with a unique take on the classic character as a manipulative sociopath living in a magical Lord of the Flies kingdom who will go to any lengths to stay young, free, and powerful forever. Creepy!

Now let’s get this show started with the first half of the list!

10. The Daleks (from Doctor Who)

Despite their at-first rather ridiculous appearance, the Daleks are terrifying to behold. A genetically-engineered creature living inside a cyborg transport machine, the Daleks are a powerful metaphor for racism, particularly Nazi racism. That, their pure destructive force, their popularity with fans, and many other reasons is why they’ve continued to terrify children and adults since their debut in 1963, and are still part of DW lore and pop culture today. Honestly, even though I love Daleks, if one of them shouted “EXTERMINATE” near me, I might freak out myself.

9. Bughuul (from Sinister)

Sinister is probably one of the best horror films in the past ten years, and Bughuul, also known as Mr. Boogie, is one of the main reasons for that. Portrayed by Nick King, Bughuul is a reimagined boogeyman, a Babylonian god that causes children to murder their families and then feeds on their souls for centuries in his spirit world. Throughout the movie, Bughuul weaves a web of psychological terror around the main character and around the viewer, even up until the final moment of the film. It’s no wonder a sequel is in the works, and no wonder Bughuul deserves a place on this list.

8. The Headless Horseman (from the Sleepy Hollow TV series)

In this reimagining of the classic short story by Washington Irving, the Headless Horseman is one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, specifically Death, and he’s looking to find his head so he can continue with his mission to start the end of the world. Not only that, he is looking to gain his revenge on Ichabod Crane, whom he has a strange history with, and the revelation of that history just makes things that much more exciting in this awesome show. Also, it’s so cool to see the Headless Horseman riding down the street with an axe and automatic weapons. Total badassery right there.

7. William Lewis (from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit)

Portrayed by Pablo Schreiber, Lewis appeared in the finale of Season 14 and throughout Season 15 and is probably one of the worst villains ever to be on the show in its 16-year run. A monster who gets his kicks from terrorizing his victims and putting them in pain and agony, Lewis kidnapped Detective Benson and tortured her even as he was running from the cops who were looking for him. Even after he was caught, Lewis continued to find ways to harass Benson both in person and in her nightmares, and even escaped to cause more terror. Even after committing suicide, he nearly destroyed Benson and a few other people too. A man like that is the worst, and deserves his place on this list.

6. The Nogitsune (from Teen Wolf)

Season 3 of the hit MTV series was unique in several ways, particularly because it was literally two seasons in one, each half comprising of 12 episodes. The latter half of the season featured the Nogitsune, a fox spirit of chaos who causes murder and mayhem wherever he goes. And all for the sake of a few laughs. When he possesses one of the main characters, you know you have reason to be afraid. Especially when he starts out his day by telling his potential victims riddles.

 

That’s all for now. Tune in later this week when I list #5-1 of my top villain list. And let me know what you think of these villains. Like them? Hate them? Who do you think should have gone on the list? Let me know in the comments below.