Goodnight Mommy ‘Ich seh, Ich seh’ (2014)
Directors: Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz
Once seen never forgotten, Austrian horror masterpiece Goodnight Mommy not only follows in the footsteps of director Michael Haneke (Funny Games) but also pays homage to the complexity of Carrie. Providing us with a film that plays with our notions of innocence, family and paternal love. Ultimately creating a film where your sympathies are torn in every direction. While you descend down a rabbit hole of pure psychological and physical terror.
Directors and writers Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz create a stunning atmosphere of sterility and silence. Coupled with cinematography that pulls the viewer into claustrophobic and visceral horror. Playing with the bonds between child and mother, while deconstructing the safety of the family.
The Innocents (1961)
Director: Jack Clayton
Based on the Henry James 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw. British director Jack Clayton’s 1961 film still reigns supreme as the best screen adaptation of the Henry James book.
Clayton builds tension from the first scene to last, while never seeking to fully answer the ghostly themes at the heart of the story. Meanwhile, Deborah Kerr’s emotionally repressed Miss Giddens slowly descends into a cave of mystery and lies. The children she cares for embodying her greatest religious and spiritual fears.
More importantly, cinematographer Freddie Francis cleverly uses a black-and-white CinemaScope frame to its full. Bathing each scene with gothic darkness and vibrant white light. Ultimately drawing the viewer into a world of childhood innocence versus adult fear; that still sends a shudder down the spine of viewers 58 years after its release.
Much more than purely a horror, Clayton’s The Innocents is a hauntingly beautiful film, that wraps you in its mystery and never let’s go.
Don’t Look Now (1973)
Director: Nicolas Roeg
Based on the novel by Daphne Du Maurier. Don’t Look Now remains one of the most beautiful explorations of parental grief ever brought to the screen. The safety and security of family, home and companionship subverted into a dystopian nightmare of parenthood. While vivid red cuts through the film like a hot knife through butter. Its sublime cinematography creating a relentless feeling of apprehension and unease. A true masterclass of horror filmmaking that has never been surpassed in its ability to crawl under your skin.
The Fly (1986)
Director: David Cronenberg
Paying homage to the classic monster movies of the 1950s, while embodying the darkness of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The Fly plays with the interface between man and beast, science and nature and discovery and disaster. While asking how far an intelligent scientist would go in achieving a scientific goal. As the doctor slowly becomes the monster in a delicious mix between Frankenstein and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. However, this aesthetic is also coupled with a trademark Cronenberg love of human psychology and fear. The slow descent from man to fly wrapped in paranoia, anger and fear.
The Thing (1982)
Director: John Carpenter
John Carpenters relentless science fiction horror pays homage to the atmosphere of Ridley Scott’s 1979 Alien. While transferring the action to Earth. Its antarctic base delivering the same claustrophobia and suspense as a ship sailing through the darkest reaches of space. The mysterious alien at its heart seeping through the base, always present but never fully seen. However, there are also interesting links to classic TV science fiction. The initial action echoing the Tom Baker Doctor Who story ‘The Seeds of Doom‘. But that aside The Thing is classic B-Movie science fiction mixed with the horror of Alien.
The Thing is ice cold and ruthless in atmosphere weaving classic science fiction with nerve-shredding horror. Playing homage to the power of science fiction and the vulnerability of humans in the face of the unknown.