2011’s Halloween movie hopefuls

It’s just such a beautiful time of year, what with the leaves turning and the cider brewing and the blood collecting in pools on every movie screen. Which of this year’s horror films will send chills down your spine?

Halloween is weird, right? There’s this hearse that keeps driving around Church Hill, advertising the Halloween Haunt at King’s Dominion, and I spend a lot of time stuck behind it, wondering if it’s a real hearse that’s earning extra money as a mobile, morbid billboard.

Hollywood, as everyone knows, capitalizes on our cinematic bloodlust by releasing its best and baddest on or around the deadly date. This year, your options are pretty scary, but maybe not in the way you want them to be.

The Thing

Dir. Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.

This prequel to the classic 1982 John Carpenter film of the same name pits Antarctic researchers against an alien who inhabits the bodies of those it kills. Purists can’t decide whether to be enraged or excited, and I know this because it turns out everyone I know is a massive The Thing fan. Take heart, skeptics. Van Haijningen, Jr. is a Dutch director, and the Dutch make some creepy movies. And so what if the critics are panning it! You put on your parka and go decide for yourself, because honestly, if you loved the first one so much, you may not have the loftiest of expectations. Just sayin’.

Dream House

Dir. Jim Sheridan

Trailers for Jim Sheridan’s thriller are puzzling. First, there seems to be a giant twist in the plot of Dream House, in which Daniel Craig wonders why a dude killed his whole family in their new house, but the twist is revealed in the preview. OK, we can get around that, there’s gotta be something else going on to keep us hooked. Second, Jim Sheridan has made a shload of good movies (My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father, The Boxer…), so why move from DDL-anchored Oscar winners to a flat script with a lot of flat actors? (Not you, Craig, you dreamy thing.) I’ve seen this one, and let me spare you some time and money by just telling you that, no, there’s nothing else to keep you hooked. Avoid!

The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)

Dir. Tom Six

Remember that old saying I made up earlier about Dutch filmmakers? Well, ladies and gentlemen, I bring you The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)! I know, I know, it’s hard to believe that anything could bring the same amount of magic as The Human Centipede (First Sequence), but director Tom Six has promised that this one will blow the first one out of the water. Spoiler alert: THERE ARE MORE HUMANS IN THE CENTIPEDE. Further spoiler alert: HE PLANS TO MAKE A THIRD FILM. No word from Six yet on whether or not he plans to use my script, The Human Centipede III (Bad Conga Line).

Paranormal Activity 3

Dir. Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman

This family simply cannot catch a break! But luckily for us, they have the resources necessary to film every moment of their bad juju. This one goes even farther back into their history than the last one did, showing us the horrific experiences of sisters Katie and Kristi during their childhood. I’m on the fence about this one…the original made me stop sleeping, but the second one made me laugh. Kids are always creepy, so it has that going for it, but it’s going to have to do more than bang some things around this time to hold our interest. And any more than that wouldn’t really fit in with the story they’ve told us already. My money’s on Paranormal Activity 4, in which we see the demon content to play soccer all day with his demon pals until he gets a glimpse of two little girls in his Earth-O-Scope and feels compelled to torment them for life.

Bottom line, you’re better off steering clear of the movies this year and using the found time and money to take your Halloween costume to the next level.

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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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