2020 was literally a dose horribilis, not only for the tragic situation the world is experiencing but also for the cinema, with theaters still closed in many countries, including Italy. The healthiest horror, typically gendered horror, on the other hand, has seen the light in various productions of considerable interest, albeit limited in number compared to previous seasons.
We have therefore decided to report you five titles that reflect as many ways of approaching the trend, from zombie stories to updates of great classics up to very recent cult and original reinterpretations of contemporary dramas, in the hope that sooner or later the only horror we will see will be the one on the big or small screen.
The young Joon-woo, a hardened nerd, spends most of his time at home, in front of a computer screen. One morning he finds out how the whole city is the victim of an epidemic that affects most people, making them violent and hungry for human flesh: in other words, real zombies.
Alone at home and unable to get in touch with his family, the boy observes from his balcony the chaos that spreads through the streets and must also barricade himself to avoid possible intrusions from infected people.
After Train to Busan (2016), another pleasant undead themed title comes from South Korea. #Alive perfectly mixes an insightful irony, a dramatic tension at times oppressive and enjoyable action dynamics, embellished by the good number of extras and the effective make-up of the zombies.
Ninety minutes of healthy genre entertainment, with some narrative forcing largely covered by the solid performances of the two protagonists.
At the end of the nineteenth century the young Ephraim Winslow finds himself working, with the older sailor Thomas Wake, as a lighthouse keeper on a remote island off the New England coast.
While the relationship between the two is initially difficult, Winslow notices strange phenomena that occur on the spot and is often the victim of hallucinations. The mystery deepens as Wake prevents his more handsome colleague from visiting the top of the lighthouse, causing the boy further doubts and grudges.
The second proof behind Robert Eggers’ camera, after the cult debut The VVitch (2015), confirms the unconventional talent of a director in the constant search for a hard and pure authorialism, through which to re-read the schemes of “dark cinema”.
Shot in gorgeous black and white, The Lighthouse tells a story of personal ghosts and mysteries to unravel, focusing the entire narrative focus on the extreme relationship between the two protagonists, beautifully played by Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, for a film that reinterprets the myth of Proteus and Prometheus in a modern and original way.
A title in which the ancestral horror is inherent in every single frame, visible or invisible as it is.
Bol and Rial are two Sudanese refugees who landed in England later a tragic sea voyage that cost her daughter her life. The couple have applied for political asylum but now find themselves fighting the constraints of British democracy, which seems to not know what to do with them.
A year after their arrival in Her Majesty’s land, they were finally granted public housing, but their stay on national soil is closely linked to compliance with certain rules that demonstrate a proven attempt at integration and emotional stability.
The assigned house is a shack on the outskirts, but at least Bol and Rial can sleep under their own roof. It’s a pity that they are not alone and that those four walls are haunted by a frightening presence, which begins to haunt them.
The drama of immigration is exploited by director and screenwriter Remi Weeks to create a captivating hybrid, suspended between the tale of the tragedy of the survivors and supernatural horror dynamics.
His House is not your classic haunted house moviebut rather the metamorphic transposition in a spiritistic key of the catharsis of the protagonists, foreigners in a foreign land, forced to fight not only against the logic of the system but also against the ghosts of their past.
The result is a title that is scary in many ways, magnificently fulfilling the logic of the vein and giving a couple of twists that hurt.
The invisible man
Trapped in an abusive and manipulative relationship with a rich and brilliant scientist, Cecilia Kass escapes in the middle of the night making her lose track, with the help of his sister, a childhood friend of theirs, and the latter’s teenage daughter.
But when Cecilia’s violent ex commits suicide and bequeaths a large portion of his vast fortune, she suspects his death is just a show.
As a series of disturbing coincidences become lethal and threaten the lives of those he loves, Cecilia’s sanity begins to falter, in her desperate attempt to prove that she is being hunted by someone no one can see.
Leigh Whannel manages to bring a great classic like The invisible man (1933) and update HG Wells’ novel in the new millennium via the # movement effectMeToo, and therefore revised in a feminist perspective.
The woman is here only initially a victim but he soon becomes a combative protagonist of a nemesis that is not perceptible to the eye, which has also become a metaphor for the creeping undercover chauvinism that for decades has monopolized the world of cinema.
Gretel & Hansel
Long ago, in a distant and cursed land ravaged by war, young Gretel and her little brother Hansel they are forced by their family to leave home in search of food and work. Despite the help of a noble hunter, the two brothers end up lost in a dense and dark forest.
After a lot of wandering Gretel and Hansel come across a mysterious isolated house, inhabited by an apparently kind old woman, thus believing that he has finally found a safe haven. But inexplicable banquets without limits despite the famine, incomprehensible, frightening oddities and disturbing murmurs of children from the house, give Gretel the horrible doubt that the old mistress is hiding gruesome secrets.
Another reversal of roles already starting from the title, where the female figure comes before the male one, going against the tradition of the well-known tale of the Brothers Grimm.
A work that exploits the atmosphere and the terror of silence, always finding a way to disturb the viewer and surprise him with captivating solutions also from a stylistic point of view.
Director Oz Perkins – son of the great Anthony -, who had already proved his visionary talent in works such as February – The innocence of evil (2015) and the original Netflix I’m the beautiful creature that lives in this house (2016), here packs a visually magnificent work that knows how to conquer the target audience.