Each week Simon Alderwick watches and shares his thoughts on some of the best horror films ever made. This week he looks at The Haunting, Anything for Jackson and Host.
The Haunting (1963) is widely considered the godfather of the haunted house tale. Based on Shirley Jackson’s classic 1959 novel, The Haunting of Hill House, the movie is faithful to the novel (unlike the recent Netflix series which uses the house as primary location but creates new characters and a new story).
I would definitely recommend reading the novel (and also We Have Always Lived In The Castle, also by Shirley Jackson).
The film creates a slowly building tension rather than rely on jump scares or special effects. The fear is in your mind rather than anything you see, just as the horror occurs largely in the heads of the cast as the story develops.
By today’s standards I didn’t find the film particularly scary, but it is definitely of interest for all horror fans as both the novel and the movie have been massively influential on the genre.
Anything for Jackson (2020) is a terrifying reverse exorcism movie. A tender and softly spoken elderly couple kidnap a pregnant lady in order to bring their deceased grandson, Jackson, back from the dead. Handcuffed to the bed in a soundproofed attic, it soons transpires the victim can see the ghost of the grandkid (which the kidnappers take as a good omen) and things quickly go from bad to worse (in the best possible way for the audience). The elderly couple have fallen in with the local satanic church, have got hold of an ancient book of spells, and will stop at nothing to bring Jackson back. Unfortunately they soon find themselves way out of their depths as the movie spirals towards its horrifying finale. This movie is satanic, horrific and had me on the edge of my seat.
In the vein of a found footage film, Host (2020) is a Zoom meeting from hell. Only 56 minutes long, this film packs in more jumps and scares than most full length horror movies. A group of friends (5 girls and 1 guy) have logged into Zoom for an online seance. However, the call gets Zoombombed by some seriously nasty demons. This film is great fun and the tension does not let up. Highly recommended for anyone who has spent the pandemic Zooming and has asked themselves ‘could this get any worse?’ Well, watch this and count yourself lucky!
Simon Alderwick is a poet and songwriter from the UK. His work is featured or forthcoming in Whatever Keeps The Light On, Re-side and the Squiffy Gnu anthology, among others. Follow him on Twitter @SimonAlderwick.