The Wicker Man
The Wicker Man is one of the best horror films ever made as director Robin Hardy is able to bring together everything that’s needed for a classic including a gripping story which is slowly unfolded to create a wonderfully eerie atmosphere and excellent performances.
Devout Christian police sergeant Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) is summoned to the remote pagan island of Summerisle by a strange letter asking him to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. Once there, he’s met with a frustrating wall of silence and mistrust which hints at the existence of a much darker secret.
While endings are often a bit of a let-down in horror, with so many relying on cheap twists or overplayed clichés, here Hardy delicately ramps up the creeping suspense to almost unbearable levels until it explodes in a terrifying and iconic crescendo that will stay with you long after the credits roll.
Big-screen adaptations of esteemed horror author Stephen King’s work seem to either be absolutely superb, The Shining and Carrie, or completely terrible, Firestarter and Pet Sematary, but luckily Andy Muschietti’s version of his 1,138-page novel falls into the former category.
The plot is a compelling mix of a sweet, funny 80s coming-of-age story and bone-chilling supernatural horror as Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgård) stalks the small town of Derry, Maine brutally killing and eating its children.
Skarsgård puts his own delightfully sinister, maniacal twist on King’s truly terrifying demonic force ensuring that he’s able to stand toe-to-toe with Tim Curry’s 1991 portrayal. The talented young cast are also fantastic, sharing a great chemistry with a well-written, refreshingly natural sounding script.
John Carpenter’s iconic 1970s slasher takes a very simple premise, gigantic and terrifyingly silent psychopath Michael Myers (Nick Castle) stalks and kills a group of teenage girls, and transforms it into something brilliantly creepy and suspenseful.
Hardly any gore is shown and instead Carpenter relies on fantastically unsettling camerawork and frame composition, the haunting glow of Myers’s bone white mask is often visible behind an oblivious character’s shoulder, disturbing imagery and that famous screeching score to tap into our fears about just what’s lurking in the dark.
Donald Pleasence is more than serviceable as Myers’s psychiatrist Dr Loomis, a role which occasionally feels like it’s only there to advance the plot, and the always great Jamie Lee Curtis makes for a very resourceful and likeable final girl who we actually want to see survive.
Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! might’ve been the most polarizing film of last year sharply dividing opinion between impressed critics and audiences who showered it with praise and those like CinemaScore who awarded it a lowly F, the bottom score given to only 19 other duds like Disaster Movie.
Those who do seek it out will find an incredibly original and claustrophobic film which, like The Wicker Man, possesses a creepy, unsettling sense of dread that’s cleverly built up into all-consuming chaos and one particularly horrifying scene.
The small cast is absolutely superb, particularly Michelle Pfeiffer as a troublesome unwanted guest and Jennifer Lawrence as the titular mother who’s tasked with carrying a lot of the film and does it exceedingly well, giving an almost uncomfortably intense performance.
This Canadian chiller has been described as a horror version of Greta Gerwig’s Oscar-nominated drama Ladybird, managing to perfectly balance well-crafted suspenseful scares with a genuinely thoughtful, emotional exploration of a mother-daughter relationship.
Troubled fifteen-year-old Leah (Nicole Muniz) impulsively decides to summon the titular demon after her grief-stricken, argumentative mother (Laurie Holden) moves them out to an isolated cabin in the woods in the wake of her father’s sudden death.
Pyewacket is a bit of a slow-burn but it’s absolutely worth sticking with it for the wonderfully haunting, paranoid atmosphere of the second half and first-rate performances which make the two leads feel nicely relatable even when they’re at their most unsympathetic.
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Sky Cinema customers will receive 11 brilliant film channels including Sky Cinema Premiere which features an exciting new line-up of films every single week and those like Sky Cinema Thriller and Sky Cinema Comedy which are dedicated to a particular genre.
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