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Director: Remi Weekes Starring: Wunmi Mosaku, Sope Dirisu, Matt Smith Running Time: 93 minutes


A war-torn nation. A fleeing family. A crammed boat. A daughter in the water.

Harrowing images flash across the screen as His House begins, traumas that haunt the subjects of English director Remi Weekes’ debut feature well before any ghosts get involved. Bol Majur (Gangs of London‘s Sope Dirisu) is racked by nightmares, as he and his wife Rial (Wunmi Mosaku of Lovecraft County) await asylum in a centre in England, having fled from South Sudan. The daughter of their flashbacks, Nyagak, is no longer with them. Newly distributed by Netflix, His House deals with deeply-rooted fears, the traditional ghost story used to frame a migrant experience, of what it  might cost to wrench yourself free of your home, and of the things carried over even as you try to start anew.

 

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A Halloween spent in lockdown is the perfect time to feast upon the quintessential horror classics that we all love to fear. Whether it’s the head spinning experience of re-watching The Exorcist or binge watching the good, the bad, and the very ugliest of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, we all know how to tell a safe bet from a dodgy Netflix choice just as well as we can tell a good piece of chocolate from an unwanted apple in a trick or treat bag.

 

But what about the films that have slipped through the cracks? There are many reasons why certain horror films haven’t received the attention they deserve. A lack of advertising, coming out at the wrong time of the year, or maybe because for lots of cinema goers one or two scary films a year is more than enough. For the films on this list however, the reason why you’ve probably never seen them has nothing to do with their quality. These are some of the lesser known but  better placed fright fests to satiate your Halloween sweet tooth on this spooky stay at home weekend. This list is not to be confused with an “underrated horror films” selection. That’s an interesting but separate discussion. The films on this list were generally well received critically, but they unfortunately just never seemed to get the reach that they deserved. So sit back, relax, and prepare to be bombarded with a universe of existential horror you probably haven’t yet heard about.

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The full schedule of films screening online for the IFI Horrorthon 2020 is now available. From October 22nd – 26th, a host of horrors will be made available online, with the Irish Film Institute keeping their annual ode to the genre alive.

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Director: McG Starring: Judah Lewis, Emily Alyn Lind, Jenna Ortega Running Time: 101 minutes


Released on Netflix in 2017, The Babysitter was a good example of what the streaming platform hopes for with a large amount of their ‘original’ films; fun, watchable, kind of disposable, and with a simple hook to lure viewers in: a murderous babysitter and a crew of high school clichés going after the kid who idolises her for a satanic ritual. It was a winking bit of playtime with horror tropes that new what it was and didn’t overstay it’s welcome, but what kicked it up a notch from ‘grand’ to ‘oh that was actually pretty good’ was Samara Weaving in the titular role, elevating proceedings through sheer force of charisma as she went on to do in Ready or Not and looks set to do in a fruitful career in Hollywood.

This sequel sees the return of some of the kids from the first film, as young Cole Johnson, now in high school, grapples with the events of the original. He’s a pariah in school and his parents doubt his mental health, nobody believing his side of the story. Weaving, now in high demand, is a shadow that hangs over Killer Queen, and while the film carries the same spirit of its predecessor quite well, it also serves as a strong indicator of the Aussie’s talent: it’s quality compared the first one is more or less proportional to the extent of her absence.

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In the latest episode of the Breakout Role Podcast, Luke and Jess look at a more recent success story, that, in a personal attack on Luke as he pushes 30, was also 9 years ago…It’s Attack the Block! Joe Cornish’s cult hit sci-fi story of a group of London kids taking on vicious aliens in their block of flats.

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Director: Neasa Hardiman  Starring: Hermione Corfield, Connie Nielsen, Dougray Scott Running Time: 89 minutes

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From the visceral threat of Jaws to the unnerving nightmares of H.P. Lovecraft, the sea has always been a fertile breeding ground for horror. To cast characters adrift into vast, unexplored and uncaring waters means that they are exposed to one essential real-life fears – the instinctual anxiety that kicks in when a human is fundamentally and literally not on their home turf. Start adding freaky monsters into the mix and you can really start turning the screw, just as Irish director Neasa Hardiman has done in Sea Fever. Set aboard a small Irish fishing boat that becomes infested with aquatic parasites, the isolated ship mates become their own vessels and are as much at risk from each other as they are the horrors of the deep. What the film lacks in originality, knowingly but practically taking inspiration from classics like Alien and The Thing, it has gained considerably in timeliness. Let’s hope we don’t start seeing every movie through an “of-the-moment” lens, but if the lifejacket fits…

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Director: Lorcan Finnegan Starring: Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Jonathan Aris Running Time: 97 minutes

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Even as news reports were starting to darken and arrive ever closer to our doors, while sitting in the sold out screening for the Opening Gala of VMDIFF 2020 it was difficult to imagine just how real Vivarium would become. Or how quickly the energy of a film premiere, glamorous stars ; a room packed full of people eagerly anticipating the uncertainty and possibilities of the immediate future, would feel like a bittersweet memory of oohhh, a billion years ago.

If Vivarium is a horror, it’s a horror about the domestic drudgery, a blunt jab at how social constructs can be so narrowly confined, widely expected and hellish to navigate that they can feel like a trap from which there is no escape. The fact that we all have to stay indoors right now with unknown and deadly consequences lurking ominously over us all the time has made the film’s blunt, exaggerated parody of suburbia very real in ways that director Lorcan Finnegan and writer Garret Shanley (who paired previously on Without Name) might never have anticipated when putting this story together, and it would be hard to blame the average viewer for running a mile from its ideas at the moment. The black joke has gotten a few shades darker, but the film is so committed to the bit, so giddily weird, it manages to pull off the delivery.

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Director: Leigh Whannell Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Oliver Jackson-Cohen Running Time: 124 minutes

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Leigh Whannell is in the director’s seat for this modern adaptation of the 1897 sci-fi horror tale by H.G Wells. Whannell has had plenty of horror experience on screen, as a long time collaborator with James Wan. He’s also dipped his feat into directing with some impressive results. Insidious 3 was arguably the second best film of the series, and 2018’s Upgrade was well received by critics.

 

At a time when Ireland has just seen its first conviction for coercive control handed down in February of this year, it would be an understatement to say that the timing is appropriate to clear up narrow misconceptions about domestic abuse. It’s not always about physical abuse, nor is it exclusively about sexual harassment. Often, it’s a sociopathic lust for control. This is an aspect that The Invisible Man attempts to tap into, with limited success.

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Founded in 2009 by Hannah Neurotica, Women In Horror Month is an international grassroots initiative that assists female genre artists in gaining opportunities, exposure, and education through various events, printed material, articles, interviews, and online support. The vision is a world wherein all individuals are equally given the opportunity to create, share, and exploit their concept of life, pain, and freedom of expression. Every February, WiHM supporters host events (blood drives, film screenings, art shows), write blogs and articles, conduct interviews, and create videos and podcasts for mass consumption, and over the last number of years has been a regular part of the calendar here in the fair city of film. Womxn in Horror Month Ireland are hosting a number of events this month.

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