Channel Zero: The Dream Door (2018)
Written by Nick Antosca, Alexandra Pechman, Lenore Zion, Lisa Long, Mallory Westfall, Isabella Gutierrez, Justin Boyd, and Angel Varak-Iglar
Directed by E.L. Katz
Jillian has just married her childhood sweetheart Tom, and they have moved into his family home with plans to renovate it. One day they discover a door in the basement that wasn’t there before and appears to be impossible to open. Using saws, sledgehammers, and even a shotgun they find the baby blue door won’t open. Finally, Jillian realizes she can open it without a key, it only responds to her touch. Hidden on the other side of the door is something from Jillian’s past, dredged up by her anxieties over her new marriage and questions of her husband’s faithfulness. A new neighbor is there to comfort her. Her psychiatrist is skeptical of her claims and tries to help her. However, this evil thing is awake, and it is leaving the basement.
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The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
Written by Mike Flanagan, Meredith Averill, Jeff Howard, Charise Castro Smith, Rebecca Klingel
Directed by Mike Flanagan
Hugh and Olivia Crain bought Hill House in the summer of 1992 with grand plans to renovate & flip the house as the final stepping stone on their way to building a dream home of their own. The Crains brought their five children to live with them and over the course of the next few months, their lives descended into a nightmare. Twenty-six years later the Crain children are dysfunctional and distant, each attempting to make his or her way through life with little hope. Steve is a famous horror author who lives in denial while Shirley runs a funeral home and always seems on the verge of exploding in anger. The rest don’t fare any better. An event occurs one night that forces them all back together, forces beyond their control as moving them towards a moment of confrontation with their family’s past and their horrors. It is time to come home.
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It’s October, so that means audiences seek out stories of horror both old and new. One common trope is the haunted place, typically a house but it can be any location where someone has died in an extremely violent or tragic manner. Here is a selection of films (and one tv series) that I think present hauntings in an exciting and sometimes very different way.
The Innocents (1961)
Written by William Archibald, Truman Capote, and John Mortimer
Directed by Jack Clayton
Based on the novella by Henry James, The Turn of the Screw, this adaptation tells the story of Miss Giddens, a governess who has just arrived at a remote estate in the countryside to care for a wealthy bachelor’s orphaned niece and nephew. The children’s behavior is extremely questionable, and Giddens finds herself attempting to uncover what is driving them to such bizarre extremes. Eventually, she learns of dark events that took place before her arrival between members of the staff and the specters that remain as a result. There are some deep psychological levels to this story beyond the ghosts and this masterfully written, and directed film will linger with you for a long time after viewing it.
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Written by Eskil Vogt & Joachim Trier
Directed by Joachim Trier
Thelma grew up in a fiercely sheltered and religious home. Now she’s eighteen and attending university, out on her own for the first time. Most of her days are spent trekking from class to class and then in her apartment alone, eating dinner. This changes when she meets Anja, a fellow student that has concerns for Thelma after witnessing one of her seizures. The women begin an intense friendship which suddenly takes a turn for the serious after some wishful thinking on the part of Thelma. Questions arise about what is causing Thelma’s headaches and seizures and what happened in her childhood home years prior. The revelation of these things will shake the foundation of this woman’s life forever.
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Castle Rock – Season 1 (2018)
Created by Sam Shaw & Dustin Thomason
Written by Sam Shaw, Dustin Thomason, Gina Welch, Scott Brown, Lila Byock, Vinnie Wilhelm, Marc Bernardin, and Mark Lafferty
Directed by Nicole Cassell
Henry Deaver is returning to his childhood home of Castle Rock, Maine for the first time in decades. His mother, Ruth, has slipped further into dementia and Henry feels an obligation to arrange accommodations for her. He finds Alan Pangborn, the retired sheriff living with his mother rekindling a love affair they had behind Henry’s father’s back. The late Reverend Matthew Deaver died under mysterious circumstances when Henry was a child, with his adopted son vanishing into the woods for some days before emerging with apparent amnesia. Even as an adult, Henry cannot remember what happened to him during that missing time. Around the same time Henry returns, a discovery is made at Shawshank Prison; a young man kept caged for years by the former warden. The one thing the man says, no matter the question is “Henry Deaver.”
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Written by Panos Cosmatos and Aaron Stewart-Ahn
Directed by Panos Cosmatos
In 1983, lumberjack Red Miller and his lady Nancy Bloom were living a peaceful life in the Shadow Mountains. Nancy is an artist, enamored with fantasy, heavy metal, and science fiction, all of which work their way into her paintings. Their lives are forever changed when the Children of the Dawn come into their life. This cult’s leader, Jeremiah Sand, glimpses Mandy and decides he must have her, no matter the cost. What follows is a trippy, psychedelic journey into the depths of horror and revenge. Red quickly loses his humanity to do whatever it takes to get back Mandy.
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They Remain (2017)
Written & Directed by Philip Gelatt
Keith and Jessica are sent for an extended research assignment to study nature. This isn’t your typical assignment because the plot of land they are visiting is the site of ritualized murders committed by a Manson-style cult decades before. The private interest backing the expedition wants to know if such acts of depravity and evil have left a mark on the environment. Keith goes out each day, placing cameras and gathering samples. Jessica stays in their geodesic dome headquarters processing samples, looking for some elusive unknown. Keith encounters a wild dog that seems to be leading him through the woods, and both researchers begin to experience hallucinations and dreams about the dark acts performed on this land. Something evil lurks in the darkness and is slowly luring two more victims to it.
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