Shocking Saturday: Welcome To The Jungle

This weeks Shocking Saturday is once again a hand-held camera horror film – I really just can’t get enough of them – which very largely mirrors the 1980 controversial Cannibal Holocaust, only with a lot less gore and more developed characters.jungleWe begin by being introduced to the two leading ladies, Mandi and Bijou who eventually meet up with Mandi’s boyfriend Colby and his friend Mikey. They have come up with the idea to go on a search for Michael Rockefeller, who disappeared in 1961 in Papua New Guinea. The legend is that he is either living with a cannibal tribe or was captured and eaten by them. Wanting to know the truth, the group go on an expedition into the jungle to find answers, and along the way uncover clues which show that Rockefeller had been in that area at some point. But nerves begin to run high and the group are split. Carrying on separately, they soon find out why nobody has gone searching in these hills before.

Although there is a cannibal story line, the film does not focus primarily on the gore and violence of the film – even though it is top-notch when present, no Welcome To The Jungle gets us more in touch with the characters in the film. Making us aware of their goals and what makes them tick.

This film is another which does not need to show too much to get the fear across, although it does show a lot more than say ‘The Blair Witch Project‘. It plays more on, as many do, the suspense and creepiness of the unknown in what they will uncover. Being sort of divided into two halves; the first half developing the characters and having the feeling of isolation set into them – fighting between each other, and the second having the cannibals and gore present as the gang realise what they have got themselves in for – fighting against the enemy.

As the jungle gets to our four weary protagonists, tempers begin to flair and split the group in half. Yes the cannibals are seen as the villains of the film, but the true antagonists of the story are the characters themselves, as the plan falls apart and they are responsible for their own grisly demise.

Tag Line: Don’t Get Eaten.

Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O) (:-O)

Star Rating:

Shocking Saturday: Atrocious

This Shocking Saturday is another hand-held camera horror film, because quite frankly, I just can’t get enough of them. Here we have a lovely European horror from Spain, which definitely could be known as the Spanish equivalent of The Blair Witch Project. In other words, the film uses the audience’s imagination and the threat of suspense to bring the fear, as oppose to using as much blood, guts and gore as possible.atrocious_xlgThe Story followers a brother and a sister – Cristian and July – who in their spare time, research and film various urban legends. Their family goes to a remote house for their Easter holiday, and the duo decide to look into the legend of ‘Melinda’. A girl who supposedly got lost – or fell down a well – in 1940, amongst the labyrinth of woods surrounding the house. The tale goes that if you get lost in the woods at night, Melinda will appear and show you the way out, doesn’t sound too bad does it? Well apparently there are various versions of the story and some are more sinister than others. As the pair of rookie film makers begin to film, strange occurrences start to happen, leading them to venture into the woods after dark. Is it the ghost of the long dead girl playing tricks with them, or something more frightening altogether.

What makes this film really stand out, is something that is not generally seen so much in horror films, and definitely not in hand-held horror films. I am talking about connecting with the characters. Although it might seem like a slow start – due to the majority of the horror taking place near the end of the film – the first half of the film gets you more in touch with the personalities of the characters. Also giving the actors a chance to show that they are talented and have not just been put into a horror film to be used as cannon fodder. Even though the first half of the movie was used for this reason, it did not shy away from gripping you to the story, as it showed the siblings search the surrounding maze of trees which in some ways gave you a little taster for what was coming next.

Once we were familiar with the mannerisms of the family, the film took a terrifying turn, portraying a night of terror for the family, and, although nail-biting the ending was only about 20 minutes long, those last minutes brought the entire film together. As we see the family frantically searching for one another and attempting to find out the assailant.

The amount of tension towards the end of the film is incredible, I never thought I could watch someone running around a maze in the dark with a hand-held camera for half of a film and enjoy it as much as I did. It’s like Alfred Hitchcock said; “There is no fear in the bang, only in the anticipation of it”. The lead actors, Cristian Valencia and Clara Moraleda, along with the creepy settings were really what made this film great, although not on par with Heather Donahue’s tearful speech in The Blair Witch Project, the two leads in Atrocious did a mighty fine job of portraying the frightened and hunted brother and sister.

With a running time of only 75 minutes, it would be easy to brush past this film. However I would put it up there with many other greats from this genre, perhaps being a shorter film was actually better because it did not drag out the story too much.

Fernando Barreda Luna did a good job of keeping the story line going all the way up to the nerve-racking ending, which finished the film off with a bang.

Tag Line: A Local Legend Becomes A Terrifying Reality.

Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O) (:-O)

Star Rating:

Shocking Saturday: The Blair Witch Project

This Shocking Saturday is a film which I, and I assume many others, have viewed several times. However, although I watched it for the first time many years ago, I felt that it deserved to be spoken about again, primarily because of what it created in the horror genre.

The hand-held camera band wagon has been driven into the ground in recent years, thanks to films, like Paranormal Activity 4, which offer cheap thrills and no gripping story line. Although the love for this genre has rapidly declined, back in the 90s the films were still shocking audiences and had a sense of individualism about them. One of the first was The Blair Witch Project, which brought all manner of things to the table, including giving viewers the impression that the story was true.blair_witch_project_ver3

The film follows three student film-makers – Michael, Joshua and Heather – who are making a documentary about the myth of the Blair Witch in Maryland. The trio interviewed residents of the nearby town who seem certain that there is a being which lives amongst the woods, and according to legend the witch tormented a man called Rustin Parr in the 1940s, and would only leave him alone if he took children out into the woods and murdered them. The students then embark on a journey into the woods, despite all the warnings from the locals, to try to find more evidence and information about the Blair Witch. However tempers run high as the gang get lost and can’t find the road with the map, eventually making them turn on each other. Starving to death is not the only thing they should be afraid of though, as children’s cries and unexplained noises seem to get closer every night, the very myth they were investigating could be true, and hunting them down.

What made The Blair Witch Project stand out at the time, is the fact that it is one of the first of its kind, and that, mixed together with the superb acting of the three people, made it a film which was hard to look away from, even if at times you thought the pillow was needed. What it presented, which is not used enough in horror cinema today, was the use of the audience’s imagination. The film didn’t need to use buckets of blood and tons of jump scares, it made you decide what you were afraid of, and didn’t let you know that it was something else. It was the sense of fear in the actor’s voices and facial expressions which really hit hard, this was one of the reasons why people believed the video to be actual genuine footage, and it was hard not to believe it with Heather Donahue’s tearful and fearful monologue to the camera in the dead of night. In which she explains that she is too “scared to close my eyes, I’m scared to open them”, and adding the finishing touch on her believable speech is her knowing of what is to come “I’m gonna die out here.”

The film was directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, who have both been involved in other horror flicks over the years such as Lovely Molly and The Objective. What they created ignited a spark which took over the horror genre, and hasn’t stopped since. Yes the believability of the films these days is nothing compared to the 90s, but we have still had some great editions to the hand-held genre such as REC, The Fourth Kind and (only the first) Paranormal Activity.

A truly, although some would disagree, remarkable film, which took your darkest fears and had you imagine three people being hunted by them. Whatever evil lurks inside your head, is the Blair Witch.

Tag Line: Scary As Hell

Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O) (:-O)

Star Rating: