The horror genre is full of horrible beasts – demons, ghosts, killers, and occasionally tomatoes – while these monsters are scary on their own, it’s their motives that make them memorable. What would a slasher villain be, after all, without their idiot teenage victims? But what about the ghouls that prey on the most innocent of is all? The monsters that want you children.
The paternal horror has become a pretty popular genre in the last few years, with the rise of stuff like Hereditary and The Babadook, but there are a few brilliant, underrated classics of the baby-stealing genre that I want to talk about today. Louise has been having all the fun with these obnoxiously alliterative horror lists, and frankly, I want in on the action.
The Wind is a horror film too good to miss, but everyone missed it anyway, including me. Director Emma Tammi crafts a stirring debut film from genres that don’t usually go together. Watching The Wind, it feels shocking that horror and the Western are genres that don’t usually mix. Tanni’s masterstroke is focusing on the naturally-horrifying female experience of the old West: with both of it’s lead women experiencing isolation and paranoia which could be part of their living conditions, or demons haunting the land that they have settled on. Tammi makes the wide open spaces feel claustrophobic as the women’s psychosis or the demons torment them, and stalk their unborn children.
Still/Born has no right to be as good as it is. From the director of Grave Encounters 2 (the solid if unspectacular sequel to the underrated original), Still/Born feels like a known quantity. What makes it special in the “it wants your children” sub-genre is the central performance of Christie Burke as Mary. The film never really makes clear whether the threat against her infant is real or inside Mary’s head. Burke’s desperation and crumbling psyche at the thought of a demon taking her child is perfect because the behavior coming from this certainty would be just as frightening if she were suffering from postpartum psychosis. Still/Born is creepily effective, does a lot with a little, and showcases a brilliant performances from Burke to boot.
I’m going to shock you now. Prepare yourself. The director of The Nun is actually a good filmmaker. Please, don’t faint, concentrate on your breathing. In, out, in, out. It’s true, Corin Hardy is a capable and creative storyteller as evidenced by his directorial debut, The Hallow. Part creature feature, part dark fairytale, part body horror, part siege, The Hallow throws so much at the wall and it all sticks, The basic story follow horrible forest monsters (fairies, naturally) who want to steal a newborn baby, and the parents who try to protect their infant son from the invading forces. It’s a tense little film that underlines just how little effort Warner Brothers put into The Nun – because Hardy is clearly capable of making something great if given the chance, and yet, The Nun is such a dreadful wreck, focused on its connection to a wider franchise over its own potential. Anyway – The Hallow is a great reason to check out whatever Hardy does next; as long as it’s his.
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By Kevin Boyle
Featured Inage (Flickering Myth)