Showing posts from 2024

The Soul Eater (2024)

Adapted from Alexis Laipsker’s novel, and written by Annelyse Batrel and Ludovic Lefebvre, The Soul Eater is the latest offering from Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, who burst onto the scene with the infamous Inside (2007), a major title in the New French Extremity wave at the turn of the 21st century. Their work since, including blistering titles such as Livid (2011), Among the Living (2014) and The Deep House (2021), has demonstrated their willingness to push boundaries and step outside of convention. Theirs is a wholly distinctive approach to genre. Part gripping police procedural, part Gallic Gothic shocker - with shadowy traces of Folk Horror present in some striking imagery - The Soul Eater follows two detectives who are sent to the sleepy French mountain town of Roquenoir. Elizabeth Guardiano (Virginie Ledoyen), an inspector in the National Police, is investigating a series of gruesome murder-suicides, and Franck de Rolan (Paul Hamy), a cop from the other French polic

The Deep Dark (2023)

Written and directed by Mathieu Turi, The Deep Dark may not be a direct adaptation of the work of HP Lovecraft, but it is certainly a love letter to him, and its narrative unfurls within a world in which the Cthulhu mythos exists (with nods to the Necronomicon, Cthulhu, the Great Old Ones and the ‘mad Arab’ Abdul Alhazred). Set in Northern France in the 1950s, it tells of a group of miners who are tasked with escorting a professor deep underground so he can collect data for his research. It soon becomes evident, however, that the professor has an ulterior motive, and the discovery of an ancient crypt unleashes a primordial evil... Many of Lovecraft's stories tell of the existential horror experienced by his characters whose discovery of forbidden knowledge reveals unspeakable, incomprehensible truths about human existence, throwing everything we thought we knew into question. Inter-dimensional doorways are conjured and all manner of unknowable cosmic horrors lumber/crawl/slither t

Wake Up (2023)

Directed by RKSS (Roadkill Superstars, aka trio François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell) and written by Alberto Marini, this merciless slasher features a cast of idealistic Gen Z activists who are violently picked off by a deranged security guard after they sneak into a huge furniture store to stage an environmental protest. While it touches on some very current social topics - environmental activism, nonviolent civil disobedience, social media, and arguably even corporate employee vetting processes - at heart, Wake Up is an old-school slasher, with a simple premise that is well executed (sorry!). Extraneous frills like characterisation, motivation and backstories are trimmed right down, leaving a lean, mean, cat-and-mouse narrative, with brutal violence and a certain sense of hopelessness running throughout. When the store closes in the evening, the gang come out of hiding to spray graffiti and deface displays with bags of blood procured from a butcher. They film eve

Lurking on the Bookshelves: Queer for Fear: Horror Film and the Queer Spectator

As a filmic genre, horror has always contained subtle Queer undertones and themes. Even before explicit representation was accepted, queerness was present in subtextual form. From the work of out gay filmmaker James Whale in the 1930s (including Frankenstein  [1931] and The Old Dark House [1932]) and the coded lesbian characters of Dracula's Daughter  (1936) and Cat People  (1942), through to the pansexuality of Dracula (1958), the internalised homophobia of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2  (1985) and the genderqueer Cenobites of Clive Barker's Hellraiser (1987), horror has always discreetly (and not so discreetly!) featured stories of the marginalised and the outsiders, vilified and rejected by society, 'othered' and rendered monstrous.  Published in September last year, Queer for Fear: Horror Film and the Queer Spectator is a ground-breaking academic study of the relationship Queer people have with horror films. Author Heather O. Petrocelli is an interdisciplinary schola

Faceless Men, Women in Black, and Crossroad Phantoms

Head over to YouTube to check out the latest instalment of Ghosts with Goblin , a series dedicated to the exploration of ghost stories and real life encounters with the paranormal and supernatural (selected and read from ). Written, presented and produced by my good friend Marie Robinson, each episode relates to a particular theme, and relevant aspects of science, folklore, psychology and parapsychology are discussed. This week's episode focuses on spooky encounters with apparitions without faces, spectral women in black, and various crossroad phantoms.