IT Chapter Two (2019) Dir. Andrés Muschietti
I got my first taste of horror when I watched Stephen King’s Pet Sematary when I was eleven years old. Since then, I’ve become more desensitized with every scary novel and movie I watch. The novel It was the first book to send shivers up my spine and a sudden need to long-jump across the room into bed from my light switch.
The first adaptation for this novel was released in 1990 with Tim Curry as Pennywise. Along with most pre-2010 horror films, the special effects did not age well. The 2017 installation introduced Pennywise in high definition with a flashback to the 80’s. For those who are unfamiliar with the premise, Pennywise, the killer clown, comes back every 27 years and the creators of this new adaptation timed their release perfectly.
It Chapter Two is the story of the seven members of the Losers’ Club twenty-seven years after their last showdown with Pennywise. In the first film, they thought they had destroyed the monster and saved their town, but what horror movie allows the antagonist to stay dead? Pennywise dances his way back onto the screen and brings with him crawling eyeballs, ripped off limbs and decapitated children. Not only do the Losers’ Club have to fight the clown, they have to figure out which horrific moments are real and what is just their imagination fueled by fear.
The storyline stayed true to the novel, with insignificant cuts that made for more cinematically pleasing scenes. The film captures a mix of real-world terrors such as bigots and domestic violence along with imaginary scares like a twelve-foot insect version of Pennywise, which left me wanting to curl my shoulders into my hips out of discomfort. The scenes hardest to watch were not the ones involving insects, pools of blood or being buried alive —they were the ones where characters inflicted pain and cruelty onto one another. As the credits rolled, I cried along with the Losers’ Club as my favourite horror story came to a close. — Jayde Atchison
Hereditary (2018) Dir. Ari Aster
Death, grief and mental illness are all themes explored in the horrific masterpiece that is Hereditary, a 2018 film by Ari Astar that terrifies audiences with its graphic depiction of demonic powers as they clash with the mundane. This film follows Annie, a professional artist and mother of two, as she faces the death of her estranged mother and begins to find sinister signs of her mother’s mysterious past still haunting her family. These hauntings take the form of hallucinations, which eventually drive Annie to mimic the characteristics she hated most about her mother as she falls into the clutches of her mother’s cult that she unknowingly avoided most of her life. As the film continues, the demonic cult is revealed to be responsible for the culling of Annie’s family. Ultimately, Annie’s son Peter is chosen as the bodily vessel for Paimon, one of the eight kings of hell, who the cult hopes to resurrect into the physical world.
I was infatuated with this piece of work because of how horribly uncomfortable I felt after watching it. Throughout the film, I could feel the anxiety that follows Annie as she begins to dive deeper into her mother’s past life, just as I could feel her misery after the loss of her daughter. Because Aster depicts tragedy and death so unapologetically throughout the film, it’s easy to feel entranced with each character’s turmoil. Annie copes with the unsettling death of her daughter by spiralling into emotional agony, while Peter is consumed by the guilt of his sister’s death, causing him to become more isolated, depressed and dissociated. Meanwhile, Peter’s father is overcome with denial as the mental health of his family declines. I think many viewers can relate to the mechanisms in which grief is handled by each character; either in agony, isolation or denial. The film’s depictions of depression, grief and insanity left my skin crawling with discomfort. This is exactly how I think viewers should feel after watching Hereditary. Any film capable of conjuring such reactions should be celebrated. I’d recommend this film to anyone eager to explore the darker corners of today’s increasingly popular horror genre. Expect to finish the film a little more comfortable with the uncomfortable, or, at the very least, with a greater appreciation for the sinister and supernatural. — Kaileigh Bunting
Dark Souls II by FromSoftware (2014)
“Loss frightens me to no end. Loss of memory, loss of self. If I were told that by killing you, I would be freed of this curse…Then I would draw my sword without hesitation. I don’t want to die. I want to exist. I would sacrifice anything, anything at all for this. It shames me, but it is the truth. Sometimes, I feel obsessed with this insignificant thing called ‘self’. But even so, I am compelled to preserve it. Am I wrong to feel so? Surely, you’d do the same. Maybe we’re all cursed, from the moment we’re born.”
That was the last time I saw the bifurcated, somber face of Lucatiel of Mirrah. Her body pressed languishingly up against the cave walls in the Black Gultch, the eerie green cave light danced against the arms folded across her chest —and then that familiar mask covering the sunken, rotting corner of her eyes. Next time, she’ll be nothing but that mask in a disintegrating corner of Aldia’s Keep. That’s her curse —our curse. I didn’t want to leave her behind in that cave, alone and consumed by the diseased shadows on her skin, memories melting away from her mind like a candle left too close to a reckless bonfire.
Dark Souls II is a game about being left behind. It begins as we all do: human. Then, becoming undead, cursed to eternal life until eventually turned hollow—laid bare of all purpose or memory, alone in a ruined, abandoned world. Dark Souls is perhaps most frequently described as hard. Could that not be said of life? In other art like film, literature, or music, the idea of a work being difficult orients the discussion towards whether or not the audience can cope with it. Dark Souls embraces the language of challenge. Things are only difficult until they are understood. “The world began without knowledge, and without knowledge will it end,” croons the Locust Preacher in the Ringed City.
I found myself lost and alone in the desolate world of Drangleic at a time when I myself was going hollow. Aimlessly wandering through an unfamiliar city, trying to cope with the difficulty of meaning and meaningless pains. Then I met Lucatiel, slouched against the pier at No Man’s Wharf, and together we defeated a conjoined horror. With each successive horror I faced in that world, I began to find ways to overcome the horrors in my own. Two worlds intersected, allowing two ghosts to momentarily share a story. Memories are like ghost stories. Ultimately I was given a choice, to accept the challenge or abandon Lucatiel.
Every separation is a link. The self Lucatiel and I desperately clung to is only a shadow cast by obstructing that light of an inevitable bonfire. We carry our curse, and what was done to us, throughout the rest of our endless days. But maybe we’re all cursed, from the moment we’re born. I accept that challenge. —Sarah Rose
Killing Eve (2018 – Present) Dev. by Pheobe Waller-Bridge
Killing Eve is a visually stunning spy thriller that follows a game of cat and mouse between Eve Polestri (played by Sandra Oh), an MI6 agent with an increasingly unhealthy interest in female assassins; and Villanelle (played by Jodie Comer), an attention-seeking, high-fashion, psychopathic assassin. The two women chase each other across Europe as Villanelle plans out and executes over-the-top, attention-grabbing murders.
Eve is the character we’re supposed to relate to. At the start of the show, she leads a rather normal life, with a loving husband, a stable job, a nice house, and a good circle of friends. Within the first episode, we already begin to see how Eve’s boredom with her life leads her to fall deeper into her obsession with female assassins, which in turn gradually destroys the normal aspects of her life. Villanelle, an assassin who lacks any kind of remorse and wears exclusively designer clothes, is the furthest thing from normal. One of the first things we see her do is kill a man at his anniversary party by stabbing him through the eye with a hairpin.
Villanelle’s obsession with Eve is the premise of the show, and despite its creepy and predatory nature, her obsession is portrayed as a crush that’s almost cute. But this obsession is not one-sided: as the show progresses, Eve becomes increasingly impulsive and obsessed with Villanelle. The magnetism and chemistry between the two characters make viewers crave seeing them together. If you’re looking for a thriller to pull you in and make you fall in love with the villain, Killing Eve is the show for you. —Jaymie Marie Brennan