Weekly Round-Up: October 25-31, 2015

This “victory lap” of the final week before Halloween turned out pretty interesting. Typically I save the universally acclaimed masterpieces of horror (The ExorcistThe HauntingRosemary’s Baby to name a few) for this key period – due to unexpected time constraints plus wanting to just see more new movies, I ended up with a unique assortment. (Am I the only person who’s ever seen Haxan and Escape to Witch Mountain back-to-back?)

  • Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015) – This marks the sixth movie that follows the same infrastructure, but this saga can’t stop being entertaining, compelling, and remorselessly scary. In this (supposedly) final entry, once the terror starts going it doesn’t stop. Without spoiling too much, for a final film, it really does wrap up the mythology of the series and explain why these events transpire (even going back to the very first film). I know these movies don’t work for everybody, so I’d say RECOMMENDED to the casual viewer and REQUIRED for fans of the Paranormal Activity saga.
  • Alien: Resurrection (1997) – The premise of the fourth and (currently) final of the Ripley Alien films feels straight out of fanfiction (dead Ripley is cloned and is a super-Ripley, who maintains some but not all of her memories from the first three movies). Unfortunately the storyline feels like a rehash of what we’ve already seen, though there are new elements to broaden the complexity of the Alien species, and actually tie into Prometheus (the prequel most people are mixed on, but I personally love) pretty well. NOT RECOMMENDED unless you’re an Alien completist.
  • Mulholland Drive (2001) – Possibly my favorite movie of the 2000s, and certainly swirling in my list of top movies. David Lynch’s neo-noir thriller is both hauntingly familiar and wholly original. Even if the (incredibly rich) narrative doesn’t quite click upon first viewing, the emotional journey supercedes the logical one. This is the rare film that challenges your mind as much as it moves your heart. REQUIRED.
  • Häxan (1922) – This movie was only on my radar due to its inclusion in the Criterion Collection and on their list of “Scary Movies” (which the previous film is on, too). A very odd, silent, pseudo-documentary on witchcraft, sweeping across history recreating scenes of rituals, the Inquisition, even nuns gone wild. This is a movie where the sum of its parts feels greater than the whole, with specific vignettes & images standing out while the overall journey is less riveting. RECOMMENDED (for the film buff only).
  • Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) – This was actually my first time seeing Disney’s wacky 1970s sci-fi mystery. Two (very likable) kids with mysterious powers are pursued by Ray Milland and the lousy psychiatrist from Halloween, and many cool special effects ensue. RECOMMENDED.
  • The Others (2001) – Genuinely emotional horror film about one mother protecting her children from the new presence invading her home. This feels like the tragic ghost story film Guillermo del Toro keeps getting close to making, but The Others takes the cake. (Tidbit: I only saw this movie when it came out because, at the time, I had a crush on Nicole Kidman.) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – This masterpiece speaks for itself. Top-notch family entertainment in every way, boasting a wildly imaginative cast of characters, superb score by Danny Elfman, and wonderfully clever premise. Another landmark film in the era of the Disney Renaissance. REQUIRED.

What did you see last week to celebrate Halloween?