All posts tagged nightmares

It Follows: Sex and the Haunted Girl

Published April 4, 2015 by vfdpixie

It Follows

It Follows (2014, 1 hr 40 mins)

It Follows has been the critic’s favourite since late last year, said to be one of the scariest movies in a long time.  Comparisons to John Carpenter, The Ring and 80’s old school horror have been made, and I finally got a chance to draw my own conclusions about this indie horror darling.

Jamie, or Jay (Maika Monroe) is dating handsome Hugh (Jake Weary).  She finally decides to have sex with him and the act puts her in jeopardy as he reveals to her, in a creepy kidnapping, held-hostage kind of way, that he has passed on an evil, relentless entity to her; it will change its form to look like anyone, come after her with methodical determination for the kill, and the only way to get rid of it is by passing it to someone else through sex.  After the initial shock of this strange violation, Jamie enlists the help of her sister Kerry (Lili Sepe), and friends Paul (Kier Gilchrist), Yara (Olivia Luccardi), and Greg (Daniel Zovatto) to defeat this shape shifting, malignant force.

I want to say a lot about this film while trying not to write 5000 words on sex, death and female sexuality, so this will be difficult, but what I will say is that my initial reaction as the credits rolled was “I didn’t like it.”  I don’t know what scares me anymore, but this was definitely not the scariest film in a long time, and I think the sound bites used to promote the film does it a disservice by upping the weight of expectation.  After realizing my perception of the film may have been forming even before I saw it, I looked at it as objectively as I could, and what I saw was a hauntingly beautiful film with an unfinished mythology.

Visually, David Robert Mitchell delivers near perfect framing, deliberate moody lighting, and slow-paced camera work that aside from the slightly over-used 360 panning which made me a little nauseated, was exceptional to create a dream-like atmosphere.  That matched the origins of the film which reportedly came from Mitchell’s childhood nightmares, giving us a slow, dream-like pace as well.  The scoring by Disasterpeace (Rich Vreeland) was as good as everyone has said, creating tension with that 80’s synthesizer feel.  Using Detroit as the setting was probably a choice based on loyalty for the Michigan native, but it also could speak to the nature of the evil entity.  Was it responsible for the decay of the city, set in an indistinct, throwback era, or was it in its natural habitat and fed on condemned souls in what has become a real and unfortunate Hell for some?  Who knows, as the story left too much room for speculation.

The evil entity was really effective because of the lack of a set identity.  It could be anyone at any given time, and that aspect kept you on the edge of your seat, making it my favourite character.  Jay and company, on the other hand, could not hold my empathy for long.  The performances were great, especially Monroe’s, but for some reason I couldn’t get behind them.  Sure, I wanted them to escape the threat, but to what end?  I wanted to know more about them to invest emotionally.  I will say that it is nice to see Gilchrist on the screen again.  I worked key makeup on a short film he was in as a precocious child actor, and I am happy to see him as a young man showing his talent.  I think he has a great career ahead of him.

In terms of the sex equals death equation that everyone has been touching on, Mitchell does take it to another level, creating an interesting concept for a horror trope and making it more complex than what horror fans are used to:  a punishable act as well as a means to an end.  It’s a curse and a cautionary tale, and one can pull many interpretations from it in terms of female sexuality to moral judgements, which is a win for a low-budget horror film based on a nightmare, however some issues with the plot, like the entity’s origin, put me off of the film as a whole.

It Follows is a lesson in ambiguity.  Don’t expect answers, a defined era, pee-your-pants scares, or a linear storyline.  Think ouroboros, but like, caught in the middle.  If you want to see a film with great atmosphere that builds dread instead of terror, a couple of entertaining jump scares and a S.T.D. (sexually transmitted demon) you’ll want to see more of, check out the film, but don’t let the hype drive you to the theatre.

Face Off Season 7 Episode 9: Creepy Clowns!

Published September 24, 2014 by vfdpixie

The artists got a rude awakening this week.  In the middle of the night, a creepy, cackling voice woke them up and told them to head to the lab, where they were engulfed in darkness.  As they stumbled around in the dark, a screen came to life, revealing McKenzie’s evil twin.  She gave them their next Spotlight Challenge.  They had all done a survey asking what their childhood fears were.  Using the icon of a fun-loving clown, and in the same vein as films like It, Poltergeist, and Saw, they were to use their childhood fears as inspiration to create a creepy clown character.  And to make it more interesting, their makeups were going on professional clowns who were going to do a performance in their looks!  They were left in the dark to create their designs.  This challenge had a lot of potential for great creepy makeups!

Cig’s childhood fear was dark water. He had dreams of being pulled down into murky water by creepy skeletal creatures, in fact, he realized that all his designs on the show came from his childhood nightmares!  His concept was a skeletal clown that had drippy, waterlogged makeup.  Mr. Westmore advised him to test out his drippy makeup effect before applying it to avoid any mishaps and he did with successful results.  On application day, Cig had to stuff the head so that his performer could move without the head bobbing.  He had one chance to perfect the runny makeup look, and he succeeded!  His clown was super creepy and had a great seltzer prop to boot.  The judges thought the shapes were amazing, and Lois loved the drippy effect.  Neville thought it was horrific (in a good way), and Glenn loved the painting on the back of the clown’s head.  He said he would love to see that come out of his shop.  Cig was in the top looks.

Damien had a fear of spiders.  He designed Webbles the Clown that ate spiders and because they laid eggs in him, was being eaten alive.  He was in the mold room first, and worried his clown was too simple.  He needed to create little spiders to place all over the makeup, and was frustrated because nothing was working.  He ended up using wires, duct tape and black spray paint to get his creepy spiders.  He also had trouble with the mouth appliance sticking on his performer, so there was a bit of panic there.  The end result was a creepy looking clown, but the judges thought it was too joker-like and fairly commonplace.  They did not like the glued on spiders and thought it looked like a Halloween costume.  Neville like the definition in the paint, but couldn’t get past the Joker look.  He was in bottom looks.

Dina was afraid of tornadoes.  Her first concept was a clown with a tornado incorporated into his hair and face.  After Mr. Westmore told her the idea was as stretch, she revamped her clown so that he got caught in a tornado during a birthday party and had party favours imbedded into his face and body.  She used Kryolan Artex, a silicone product, to create musculature in the clown’s head.  Her clown had a windblown look and was gruesome and fun at the same time.  The judges said it was beautifully executed and she did a great job juxtaposing fantasy and reality.  Because it was so well painted and sculpted, they were starting to see a new tier of her talent.  She was in top looks.

Drew was also afraid of spiders.  His idea involved a weird pointy spider nose and spider eyes across his forehead.  Mr. Westmore told him to be careful with his paint job.  His large spider butt head had to be modified because he was thinking of his performer and their ability to move in the makeup.  In the end, he felt he didn’t add all the spider details that he wanted.  His spider nose thingy looked weird.  The judges felt the eyes should have been placed higher on the head and the incomplete nose confused Glenn.  He was in the bottoms looks with his busy design.

Sasha was afraid of old dolls, because of her grandmother’s collection.  She wanted a creepy porcelain doll with cracks, and was worried that she wasn’t a clown, but went with her gut.  Mr. Westmore told her to make sure the doll looked aged and not too white for a creepy effect.  She used pictures of cracks from the sidewalk as a reference, and recreated the hair plug look on the doll’s head to mimic an old doll.  The end result was a really pretty but creepy doll.  The judges loved the hair plug look, and Lois adored the cracks and highlights on the nose and lips.  The silhouette was strong, and they thought the fact that she went a different path was admirable.  She was in the top looks.

George was afraid of worms.  As he sculpted, he realized his wormy clown looked like a pile of poop, so he had to rework his design.  He came up with a wormy serial killer clown, and while he wore denim short shorts ( to the dismay of other artists), worked out his clown.  He used thread to create a segmented worm-like arms, and silicone to make a mess-free sheen.  He had to re-work his paint however, when he noticed the arms and face were not the same colour.  The face which was supposed to look like it was teaming with worms looked like a brain.  The judges liked the arms and noticed a slight variation with the paint colours, but he was safe this time.

Rachael was afraid of cockroaches as a child.  She created roach antennae and mandibles for her clown.  She was afraid it wasn’t clown enough at last looks.  Her finished clown was ok, but the judges didn’t think it came together.  Lucky for her she was safe.

Stella was afraid of monsters under the bed.  She wanted to create a clown that consisted of things you find under the bed, using a ball for his chin and bed sheets for his large clown pants.  She needed to cast a set of arms, so she used a mold of George’s arms, who was happy to oblige.  The outcome was a creepy clown with hands emerging from his clown hair.  I thought it was really creative, and while the judges liked elements of the design, like his sculpted lashes, they thought that some things didn’t make sense with the makeup.  Stella was safe despite this critique.

The professional clowns did a great performance in the makeup, flipping, turning and balancing on a giant ball, and all the artists were glad that nothing fell off.  The winner of this challenge was Sasha!  They loved that she took a big risk that delivered an outstanding makeup.  Glenn said this reminded them of why they saved her.  The person going home was Damien.  They expected more from him at this point of the competition, and wanted a more out of the box approach.  They judges hoped he left feeling encouraged because they really did like his work.  I was sad to see him go because I think he has great potential, but people have to be eliminated so we can get to the finale!




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