Simon Alderwick watches and shares his thoughts on the gruesome pick and mix of horror movies available on Shudder and beyond. This week he looks at Impetigore, Midsommar, Satan’s Slaves and Noroi: The Curse.
Impetigore (2019) is one hell of a fine Indonesian horror from writer/director Joko Anwar. The opening scene sees a toll booth worker attacked by a stalker wielding a machete. Surviving the attack she delves into her family history, discovering a dark curse. What follows is an awesomely creepy and gruesome supernatural horror which pushes the boundaries of gore but does it well, embracing themes of superstition, black magik and the occult whilst not shying away from confronting modern fears head on. Guaranteed to get your heart racing and leave you buzzing long after the ironically mellow final credits.
Fairytale inspired with a Fargoesque opening sequence, Midsommar (2019) is a totally different beast to writer/director Ari Aster’s previous masterpiece Heredity.
To be honest, I only watched this film so I could enter a poem for The Daily Drunk’s Midsommar anthology (closing end of May) so I’ll save my best lines for the poem.
What I will say is I’m completely in love with this movie. It’s one of the best bad trips I’ve ever experienced (and I’ve had my fair share) and it’s a fine performance from Dani (played by Florence Pugh) and others in the film.
I don’t normally give ratings as I appreciate watching films is a subjective experience, but if I did Midsommar would get 100%. In my humble opinion this movie is perfect. Hereditary might be a more unsettling experience, but for storytelling, worldbuilding, character and subtext, I can’t think of a better movie in recent years than Midsommar.
I had to give it a second viewing, and it held up well 24 hours later. Worth a repeat visit to see how the entire story is laid out on the walls of the commune and how each character’s fate is foreshadowed throughout. The second viewing really cements this movie into my mind as one of my all time favourite films. Now I just need to write a poem worthy of it.
Reluctantly deciding against a third viewing of Midsommar, I instead opted for another Joko Anwar film (Joko Anwar being the writer/director of Impetigore). Satan’s Slaves (2017) is, I believe, the highest grossing horror film of all time in its home country, Indonesia. A loose remake/prequel of a cult 1980s film of the same name, the film stars Tara Basro (who also stars in Impetigore) alongside a mismatch of relatives and seemingly random acquaintances in a middle of the road haunted house/ghost story. Overly reliant on jump scares that don’t quite do the job, what story there is unfolds in a clumsy manner. It’s still an OK way to spend an afternoon or evening but after Impetigore I had high expectations which weren’t quite delivered.
Flying over to Japan for 2005 found footage film Noroi: The Curse. This is a film for fans of VHS and Windows 95. Plenty of late 90s nostalgia and shaky video footage compliment a bizarre mystery involving psychic kids, ectoplasmic worms and pigeons. I found this film too long and very repetitive and lost interest half way through as not enough discoveries were being made – just new confusion piled on top of earlier confusion – but stuck with it in the hope that the ending would be “burnt into my brain” like the good people on Rotten Tomatoes promise. The ending does have some punch but is totally predictable and, like the rest of the film, all over the place. If this movie had been edited down to about 90 minutes it could have been great. As it is, it’s definitely unique but felt dated and over explained.
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.