Gothic horror is truly for the drama-queens, the gossip-mongers, the real Lestadt du Lioncourts of the horror fan world, a group amongst which I certainly count myself. A good bit of gothic has formed the groundwork for some of the most popular horror films in recent years, from The Others to Crimson Peak, but there are plenty out there that deserve a little of your swoony, frilly-shirted time. Let’s talk about them!
Dig Two Graves
Another pet project of Larry Fessenden, who I will never escape at this point, I think, 2014’s Dig Two Graves is a gritty piece of Southern Gothic that properly simmers. As a young girl (Samantha Isler) blames herself for the untimely death of her brother, she’ll do anything to make it right – even if it means murder. Lush to look at and handsomely shot, it features a superb performance from Ted Levine, a sheriff trying to keep an increasingly-desperate situation getting entirely out of control, and the plot unfolds like an old, uneasy memory, lingering for long after the credits roll. When it comes to revenge, just forgive and forget, and watch Dig Two Graves instead.
Am I just including this in the list so I can talk about the fact that Wentworth Miller, yes, that Wentworth Miller, wrote the script? Maybe. But also because I think this is one of Park Chan-Wook’s most overlooked movies; proof that great Gothic doesn’t have to be supernatural, the masterful director turns his hand to this slow-burn story of forbidden desire, family trauma, and the great Gothic staple: horny uncles. Nicole Kidman commands as unstable family matriarch Evelyn, but Mia Wasikowska’s turn as her daughter India dives into a pure psycho-sexual nastiness than only Chan-Wook could make as watchable as this.
The Woman in Black
But ah, I hear you cry, I’ve already seen the movie version of Susan Hill’s all-timer horror novel! And to that, I say, not this one, you bloody haven’t (probably). The 2012 adaptation starring Daniel Radcliffe is a very solid Gothic horror in it’s own right, but the 1989 TV movie adaptation is, for my money, the best on-screen version of this story. Directed by the brilliant Herbert Wise, Adrian Rawlins (who, fun fact, plays Radcliffe’s Dad in the Harry Potter series) stars as solicitor Arthur Kidd, called away to the home of a reclusive widow to settle her estate after her death. This adaptation has an almost hypnotically unsettling atmosphere, and a pretty mean sense of morality that makes it far more impactful than the 2012 version. It’s sadly sort of been lost to time since the more recent adaptation (and the terrible sequel), but deserves to make a comeback.
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By Lou MacGregor
(header image via IMDB)
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