Again, here is why I do the Halloween marathon each and every year even though it too often entails sitting through too much awfulness than is healthy for a borderline manic-depressive, lol. Well, between this and The Strangers, I can safely say I had a great one this year (and I’m still technically halfway at this stage, hehe, continuing it today and through the weekend; in fact, repeat viewings of the classics will likely go on to mid-November, ROFL). I was apprehensive about watching this initially as it’s been a long time since I watched anything with subtitles. But the runtime of well under 90 minutes and my usual rule of, “ya know what? if it’s good, it’ll grab me,” forced me to put it on at the end of a long night when I could finally keep my eyes on the screen to read.
I needn’t have worried about that, really, for two reasons. One, this belongs to the great tradition of great foreign language movies – indeed, any language movies – where the dialogue really isn’t all that essential. Like Amélie or Life is Beautiful, you could easily watch this with the translations absent and still perhaps be just as terrified as I ultimately found myself. In fact, it might even help, so much is the fear here created by the feeling of being trapped in an unfamiliar location. Yes – did I mention? – this really is perhaps the scariest movie I have ever seen. That statement might be exhaggerated due to it being so long since I’ve been this terrified by a movie. But let’s just put it this way – these 80 odd minutes reminded me completely in the end of how I felt the first time I saw The Exorcist. This is coming from someone who has really been quite numbed by the sheer quantity of films of this genre that I’ve seen. I can’t speak highly enough of this movie, how overjoyed I was to realise I can still be made to feel this way in a darkened room for an hour and a half, lol.
There is clearly a Blair Witch-y influence going on here in the style, fake reality nightmare etc. The opening actually reminded me a lot of Hellraiser III though, too. It quickly becomes a kind of zombie movie more in the tradition of 28 Days Later, the sickness affecting people never really being defined entirely – George Romero’s latest installment in the “Dead” trilogy is another clear comparison and it must be said, I realise he really missed the boat having seen this. Then there’s the end of the movie, where it really enters Exorcist territory. I almost worried that this might ruin the movie for me, but it only terrified me more. When the religious side of things comes in here, and that creature stalking in shadow … I was literally staring at the screen, eyes wide, hand over my mouth, saying out loud, “WHAT … THE F*CK … IS IT?!!” It is simply a phenomenal production, incredible performances all around and a pace and tone that just never lets you go.