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Final Scary Movie Impressions: The Hallow, and The Invitation

Posted by Rampant Coyote on November 1, 2016

the_hallowOkay — it may be late for this year’s Halloween season, but here’s a quick  take on two more scary(ish) films:

The Hallow – Ah, a film about Ireland and the fairy folk. Except, not. There’s a reason that old house the family moves into has iron bars across all of the windows, and it’s not to stop mortal burglars!

A conservationist, his wife, and baby boy (Finn) take on a new home and new job surrounded by a great forest, and proceed to ignore the warnings of the superstitious locals. And then, they learn the meaning of terror in a full-bore monster movie.

Overall, I liked it. It’s tense, has some interesting twists and unusual situations, and was appropriately stressful and freaky. It also gets bonus points for the flaming scythe! Somehow I imagine that was one of those images / scenes that was at the core of the idea for the entire movie… some dude standing in the dark woods with a flaming scythe, just like the poster to the right (which I hadn’t seen before watching the film).  That’s just rule-of-cool material there. So if you are looking for some pretty conventional low-budget monster-movie thrills, this is a decent choice. Not great, but didn’t suck.

the_invitationThe Invitation – Will and his girlfriend Kira receive a formal invitation to a dinner party from his ex-wife Eden whom he hasn’t seen in two years, following the death of their son. Eden and her new husband David live in Will’s old house in the Hollywood Hills, and they have invited many of Eden’s and Will’s old friends, as well as a couple of strangers (emphasis on strange) who are friends of Eden and David. Will has trouble dealing with the situation, haunted by memories of his son, and is suspicious of the motives of his ex-wife and her husband.

And… begin slow-moving dinner-party movie, full of tension, awkwardness, strangeness and potential threat.

Now, I’ve got enough introverted tendencies that as soon as things start getting uncomfortable for me at a social event, I’m looking an excuse to leave. So watching this movie, I was like, “Oops, things are getting awkward, time to go. Make up an excuse. Get outta there.”

Here, warning signals get ignored out of politeness. That’s kind of a new twist on the horror / thriller genre for me, where people usually ignore the warnings because they are stupid, skeptical, or overconfident. Here, there’s the whole group dynamic, the peer pressure, and nobody wanting to be the person who seems unreasonable or intolerant. Maybe I like that because it justifies my own tendencies, but the truth is… I’m the same way. We all are, to an extent. Predatory people prey on that.

I dock it a few points for being a little too slow and repetitive. It’s a solid hour of interesting characters and situations stretched into an hour and a half… virtually in real-time. However, things played out very believably, giving it a plausible realism all the way through. The payoff was solid, and surprised with its avoidance of certain overused tropes in favor of more of that realism which contrasted nicely with unreality of the situation.  While it’s saggy and could really have used tighter storytelling, the ending redeems it pretty well. It is a decent, disturbing film.

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