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Pumpkin Picks

Demons, curses and piano strings

It's spooky season. Just in time for Halloween, we'd like to introduce you to three films that couldn't be more different from each other and which demonstrate how versatile the horror genre can be.

Published on
Oct 27, 2022

Demons — Horror all’italiana

Ralf's demonic Pumpkin Pick

Going into my long-awaited first viewing of this film, I definitely had high hopes for what kind of a thrilling film this could be but I had no idea that someone, who I'd consider more of a working man kind of director rather than someone with a distinct fingerprint, like Lamberto Bava was capable of helming this kind of a stylish, full-on 80s barrage of undead entertainment with incredible lighting, a perfect pace and a great location to top it all off!

The film within a film that we get in the central cinema location is actually pretty well-done stuff and I really enjoyed the fact that Bava essentially lets that film take over to tell a story which then directly connects to what is happening in Demons itself. The latter also makes great use of its cinema location once the demonic side of things takes over and the lighting is out-of-this-world engaging and just makes everything look beautifully dark by accentuating only certain things on screen with primary-colored lights.

There's a case to be made here that this is style over substance done right because the substance is so basic — as in survive or die — that the style really pulls you into that survival mode along with the characters and it doesn't really matter that their name and their name only is about the extent of all that we learn about them.

© 2021 Arrow Film Distributors. All Rights Reserved.


Lei’s ghostly Pumpkin Pick

A great and captivating horror film. It uses the medium to make the audience part of the events. With a rational motive to solve a logical problem, it resolves questions that most mockumentaries cannot: ‘Why did the character film this?’ and ‘Why did the character continue filming after the danger appeared?’.

The protagonist of the film Li Ronan was cursed for breaking a religious taboo. Now she does everything she can to protect her daughter from the evils of the damnation. What is distinctive about the film is that it breaks through the invisible wall. Especially with horror films, we weigh ourselves with the thought that everything is just fiction—no matter how cruel or tragic the events. Director Kevin Ho takes this sense of safety away from the audience by setting up an interaction that the viewer has nothing to oppose, and which continues to haunt the viewer even after the last image of the film flickers across the screens.

What is ultimately impressive is the philosophical depiction that the portrayed face of Buddha is a huge emptiness.

© Netflix

Audition by Takashi Miike

Lonsi’s nightmarish Pumpkin Pick

Takashi Miike may be a name familiar to many because of his in part extreme cinema. With over 100 films in his filmography, titles like Ichi the Killer or his Dead or Alive trilogy are among the better known. I consider his masterpiece to be the 1999 horror film Audition. A year after The Ring by Hideo Nakata triggered a downright wave of long-haired ghost women, Audition is one of the few exceptions to the rule.

It’s better to read little about the film if you haven’t seen it yet. For that reason, I won’t reveal anything about the specific plot. What makes this film so special is the steady yet exceptionally understated build-up of terror. What starts out like a romantic drama becomes increasingly twisted into a terrifying nightmare. Audition is oppressive, at times almost unbearable, and creates a suction into a dark realm like hardly any other film.

Takashi Miike is a master of violence and it is apparent here in particular that the play of visuality, context and expectations is the determining element in how painfully we perceive violence.

After Audition, you will never see piano strings with the same eyes again.

© Arrow Film Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

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