Category Archives: Horror Film Reviews

Top 5 Horror Movies of 2016

2016 wasn’t the strongest year for horror in my opinion, and there weren’t a lot of movies I was dying to see.  Lots of feature debut directors in my list, it was nice to see some fresh blood!  Despite a lack lustre year, here are my Top 5 Horror Movies of 2016.  Here’s hoping 2017 steps up and delivers some new chills!

The Conjuring 2

The Conjuring 2. Photo property of New Line Cinema. Fair use courtesy of Wikipedia.

THE CONJURING 2: THE ENFIELD POLTERGEIST
I loved the first Conjuring, and even though I’m just as weary of sequels as the next horror fan, I had a good feeling about this one.  The Conjuring was such a fresh, stylized take on the supernatural subgenre, that I felt James Wan could deliver.  Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson reprise their roles as husband and wife paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren.  This time they travel to Brimsdown, England to assist a family who are being haunted by a poltergeist.  The result is another fun romp with the supernatural.
Directed by James Wan (Saw, Insidious, Dead Silence, The Conjuring)

The Witch

The Witch. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia. Fair use.

THE WITCH
Robert Eggers’ highly anticipated debut film that did not disappoint, The Witch takes the age old premise of devil sacrifice to a whole other level.  When a New England Puritan family is plagued by a series of strange and disturbing events, they suspect evil supernatural forces are at play from the surrounding forest.
Directed by Robert Eggers

10 Cloverfield Lane

10 Cloverfield Lane. Photo property of Paramount Pictures. Fair use courtesy of Wikipedia.

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE
Dan Trachtenberg’s directorial debut is a clever thriller about a woman who wakes up from a car accident and finds herself in a bunker with two men who claim the world is no longer safe.  This is a spin off of J.J. Abrams’ 2008 film Cloverfield and the premise is much more interesting.  I just squeezed in this film before the end of the year, so I will post my review in the New Year.  Also it’s great to see John Goodman back on screen!
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg (debut)

The Forest

The Forest. Property of Focus Features. Fair use courtesy of Wikipedia.

THE FOREST
Natalie Dormer (Games of Thrones, The Hunger Games) stars as a twin searching for her better half in the infamous Japanese “suicide forest”.  Survivalist films are always interesting and the premise for this film is particularly creepy.  Dormer brings us into this unsettled world where her character is trapped and being tormented by the unhappy souls who took their lives in these woods.
Directed by Jason Zada (debut)

Don't Breathe

Don’t Breathe. Photo property of Ghost House Pictures. Fair use courtesy of Wikipedia.

DON’T BREATHE
I was quite impressed with Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead remake and was curious to see what else he could do. This slasher film, about a bunch of teens who mess with a blind man with devastating results is just as fun and bloody.
Directed by Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead)

Basking in Turkey: “Baskin” & a Turkish Meal

Turkey was one of my favourite trips.  Not only was the trip the first one with my boyfriend, but it was filled with such variety: busy cities, historical ruins, relaxing days on the sea, and adventure.  I loved learning about Turkey’s many different cultures and religions, meeting so many nice people and of course, eating Turkish food!  When I look through this gallery, I still cannot get over the variety of food I ate on this trip – I don’t think I had the same meal twice!

We were so inspired by the food we had in Turkey that we made our own Turkish breakfast.

View from Hotel Bella, Selcuk, Turkey

Breakfast view from Hotel Bella, Selcuk, Turkey

While Turkey is beautiful, the country has a dark side too.  The country’s past is filled with many bloody conquests, wars and sieges as the land was overturned by various cultures and religions.  The powerful Ottoman empire ruled Turkey for the longest period from the 14th right up to (in various forms) the 20th century and it was during World War I that the Ottoman government committed ethnic cleansing against their Greek, Assyrian and Armenian citizens.  It wasn’t until 1922 after the Turkish War of Independence that monarchy was finally abolished, and the modern Republic of Turkey was established in 1923.  Since the formation of the modern State of Turkey, the Kurds have accused the Turkish government of suppressing their identity and mistreatment.  This has resulted in many revolts, uprisings and an ongoing Kurdish-Turkish conflict that is present to this day.  Political protests are common in Taksim Square in Istanbul, and along with Kurdish rights, groups have also protested for women’s rights, LGBT rights, freedom of the press, freedom from torture and other human rights violations.

Police brutality has been the subject of many recent protests, and is explored in the Turkish horror film Baskin, which I reviewed after seeing the movie at the Toronto Film Festival.

"Baskin" Property of Film Colony, Mo Film, XYZ Films

“Baskin” Property of Film Colony, Mo Film, XYZ Films

While the state of Turkish politics makes me really sad, I want to remember all the amazing experiences I had while visiting this fascinating country, and keep trying to make more delicious Turkish food at home.  More to come!

Baskin Film Review

"Baskin" Property of Film Colony, Mo Film, XYZ Films

“Baskin” Property of Film Colony, Mo Film, XYZ Films

I saw the Turkish horror film “Baskin” a few months ago at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival, but after traveling to Turkey I feel as though I understand the political context behind the film a bit better.

Baskin is a horror film by first time filmmaker Can Evrenol and is based on his 2013 short film by the same name.  The film is a surreal nightmare of hellish images in a gritty, bloody landscape and is a real treat for any one who is a fan of Hellraiser, HP Lovecraft and Nightmare on Elm Street – so, that would definitely be me!

The plot centers around a group of police officers at a restaurant who receive a distress call from a small town with a strange reputation.  Their van gets into an accident when an officer has a vision of a bloody figure and drives the van into a ditch.  Stranded, the officers continue on to the town where they come across an abandoned warehouse.  What they discover is a labyrinth of unthinkable horrors, and each of them is subjected to various nightmarish scenarios.  They soon realize they are trapped in Hell, and this version of Hell is run by a cannibalistic cult led by a super creepy, bald leader named The Father.

The film cuts back and forth between the police officers at the restaurant to the terror they now face, blurring the lines between reality as we are never quite sure which bizarre world is real.  While the story line isn’t the strongest, one can fully appreciate the film as an art house horror, with Dario Argento being an obvious influence.  The art direction and FX are pretty impressive for an independent film, with extensive torture set pieces and bloody gore dripping from every corner of the warehouse.  The cinematography is also reminiscent of Italian horror, highly stylized with sharp contrasts and rich blacks and reds.

The star of the show though is Mehmet Cerrahoglu who plays The Father.  During the Q&A at TIFF, we learned that this was the first time Mehmet had acted, and needless to say he’s found his calling.  His unique look and way of speaking makes him so engaging as the leader of the cult, and despite his short height, his presence is commanding and he steals every scene.

The political connotations behind the main characters make this film unique as well.  Subjecting the cops to such torture can for sure be seen as a commentary on the long history of police brutality in Turkey.  The police forces in Turkey have often been criticized for their excessive use of physical force, tear gas, pepper spray and water cannons on peaceful protestors.  The public response culminated to a police brutality protest in 2013, which was when the short was released.

“Baskin” isn’t out to scare you, the film just wants to give you a little taste of hell.  The visuals are so grotesquely beautiful though that you won’t want to look away, until it’s too late.

Did you see Baskin?  Let me know what you think!

Directed by Can Evrenol
Released: 2015
Starring: Mehmet Cerrahoglu, Gorkem Kasal, Ergun Kuyucu