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5 Contemporary Horror Films For Hallowe’en

Arguably, the best way to spend the Sunday before Hallowe’en is to watch horror films in bed. As you all know by now, I absolutely adore horror, but I often find new horror films predictable and unsatisfying. There are too many cheap jump scares and CGI isn’t really my thing. Using psychological tension or leaving things to the imagination is much more interesting than modern special effects. So, here are five great contemporary films that are more in the classic vein, though admittedly the first one is more cult than classic. Happy Hallowe’en, my lovelies!5 Contemporary Horror Films For Hallowe'en | The True Sea thetruesea.comMay
American psychological horror (2002)

May is a lonely young woman who works as a veterinary nurse and spends her time off with a porcelain doll in a glass display case gifted to her by her mother when she was little. She’s struggling to connect to people and yearns to find the perfect friend. So much so that it pushes her to literally make one. All-round great performances, particularly by Angela Bettis, Jeremy Sisto and Anna Faris. This was Lucky McKee’s directorial debut, who later went on to make the Suspiria (1977) homage The Woods (2006) and The Woman (2011). It’s categorised as a horror but really it refuses to be defined. It’s funny, disturbing, sad, romantic, happy and wonderfully morbid. This is one for the misfits, and I cannot recommend it enough.5 Contemporary Horror Films For Hallowe'en | The True Sea thetruesea.comThe House of the Devil
American horror (2009)

A young girl replies to an ad to babysit at a remote house during a night of a full lunar eclipse. She has a bad feeling about it and rightfully so as it turns out it’s not quite a normal babysitting job. The weird, old man who placed the ad offers her a lot of money and keeps pressing until she accepts. It’s very slow, building tension expertly, and it completely nails the feel and look of low-budget early 80s horror. This is perfect for when you want an atmospheric, low-action retro horror flick. It doesn’t appeal to everyone but if you, like me, enjoy the suspense more than the usually disappointing reveal, this one is for you.5 Contemporary Horror Films For Hallowe'en | The True Sea thetruesea.comHaute Tension (High Tension)
French horror (2003)

A young woman brings along her best friend to her parents’ farm house in the countryside. They arrive late at night and it doesn’t take long until there’s a home invasion. That’s all I’m going to say. I knew next to nothing about this film before watching it which is the best way to watch it. It’s brutal, gory and absolutely pitch black, like good old 70s Giallo horror. Director Alexandre Aja was accused of plagiarising Dean Koontz’s novel Intensity, but I can’t comment on the similarities as I haven’t read the book. Make sure you watch the original uncut version in French, not the English dubbed version.5 Contemporary Horror Films For Hallowe'en | The True Sea thetruesea.comThe Town That Dreaded Sundown
American slasher horror (2014)

65 years after Texarcana was terrorised by a masked serial killer nicknamed the Phantom Killer, it looks like he’s back. One young girl makes it her mission to uncover the murderer’s identity as well as the identity of the original Phantom. This film is beautifully shot using a saturated colour palette, and it plays with light and shadows in a really interesting way. The marvellous sound design keeps you on edge throughout. There are some scenes from the original film from 1976 and some recreated scenes from it too. This works because it’s not a remake or a straight-up sequel, but a meta-sequel made with love for its predecessor.5 Contemporary Horror Films For Hallowe'en | The True Sea thetruesea.comThe Invitation
American thriller horror (2015)

A man and his girlfriend are invited to a dinner party at his ex wife’s and her new husband’s house. A house which of course, used to be his. He hasn’t seen her or their mutual friends, also attending the party, for a long time and it’s soon revealed why. As the evening progresses, he becomes increasingly convinced that this isn’t just an innocent get-together, that there is in fact a sinister reason why they’re all there. You know that something is wrong right from the very beginning but exactly what it is creeps up on you slowly. This claustrophobic beauty was directed by Karyn Kusama. I love my one location films so maybe I’m biased, but I really enjoyed it.

How about you? What are you watching this Hallowe’en?

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5 Films To Watch When You’re Having a Tough Day

Some days, all you want to do is snuggle up with some chocolate and watch a really good, light-hearted comedy. Or a deliciously dark comedy. Certain films just make you feel like everything is right in the world again. Others feel like seeing old friends because you’ve watched them so many times. Which leads me to one of my favourite films…5 Films To Watch When You're Having a Tough Day | The True Sea thetruesea.comThe Actors
Irish crime comedy (2003)

Two struggling stage actors come up with a con to steal money from a gangster using their acting skills. It’s a clever idea but things very rarely go the way we think they will. Dylan Moran and Michael Caine are superb and hilarious. Moran particularly, blew me away with his acting skills on first viewing. Story is by Neil Jordan who doesn’t seem to know how to make rubbish. I love this film. I’ve seen it so many times that I’ve lost count.5 Films To Watch When You're Having a Tough Day | The True Sea thetruesea.comSerial Lover
French crime comedy (1998)

The director of a crime fiction publishing house invites three men she’s in love with and her male best friend over for dinner on her 35th Birthday with the ulterior motive of deciding which one she wants to marry. Before everyone even sits down to eat, there’s an accident in the kitchen and things escalate quickly from there. This is a fabulous comedy with detective elements and a bit of gore thrown in for good measure. There’s a South Korean remake of it which I’m yet to see.5 Films To Watch When You're Having a Tough Day | The True Sea thetruesea.comBreakfast on Pluto
Irish comedy drama (2005)

Patrick “Kitten” Braden is a boy who wants to be a girl in 70s Ireland. One day, he decides to go to London to find his biological mother who left him on the church steps as a baby. We follow him on his weird and wonderful adventures. This film has everything you need. Laughter, joy, sequins, empathy, talking birds, honesty, love and a sassy narrator. Written by Neil Jordan, and Patrick McCabe who also wrote The Butcher Boy. Cillian Murphy is so convincing as Kitten that you almost forget that Liam Neeson, Brendan Gleeson, Stephen Rea and Bryan Ferry are there too.5 Films To Watch When You're Having a Tough Day | The True Sea thetruesea.comSisters
American comedy (2015)

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler play two sisters whose parents decide to sell the house they grew up in. They’ve got one weekend to go through and remove their old belongings from the house before the new owners move in. After reminiscing about their teenage years and as their parents aren’t around anyway, they figure they might as well throw one last epic party at the house. It’s the chemistry between Fey and Poehler that makes this film so good. Yes, it’s occasionally vulgar but it’s also heart-warming and very sweet.5 Films To Watch When You're Having a Tough Day | The True Sea thetruesea.comSightseers
British horror comedy (2012)

Chris and Tina is an odd couple to say the least. He’s a caravan obsessed writer and she’s a sheltered knitting freak. They go on a caravan holiday planning to visit various interesting sites such as the Keswick Pencil Museum, but things very quickly go horrifically wrong. It’s dark, violent, hilarious and at times, worryingly relatable. If you’re able to laugh at social awkwardness and the darkness of the human soul, this film is for you. However, if you are of a delicate nature, give Sightseers, and probably Serial Lover too, a miss. Have a look at my Film Musings: Feel-Good Edition post instead for some more none gory flicks.

How about you? What are your go-to feel-good films?


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5 Spine-Tingling Contemporary Films

5 Spine-Tingling Contemporary Films | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comMusarañas (Shrew’s Nest)
Spanish horror thriller (2014)

Montse is a religious seamstress who suffers from severe agoraphobia. She lives with her younger sister who she spent her youth raising. One day, a neighbour falls downs the stairs and drags himself to their door. Someone has entered the shrew’s nest and he may never leave. Macarena Gómez is perfectly cast as Montse in this perverse, claustrophobic shocker set in the 50s.5 Spine-Tingling Contemporary Films | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comCoherence
American science fiction thriller (2013)

A group of friends gather for a dinner party on an evening when a comet happens to be passing overhead. They begin the evening by talking about how the comet might cause technology to malfunction. Soon, very strange things begin to happen. Coherence undoubtedly has its flaws but if left over-analysed, it’s an enjoyable mind-bending ride. Films featuring quantum physics, parallel universes and alternate realities tend to be interesting.5 Spine-Tingling Contemporary Films | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comCreep
American independent found footage horror (2014)

A videographer replies to a Craigslist ad for a one day job with the promise of being paid $1,000. He drives to a remote mountain town where he meets Josef, who placed the ad. His request is simple. He’s terminally ill and he wants to make a film for his unborn son to remember him by. It soon becomes apparent that he isn’t who he says he is. Mark Duplass (of The League) is terrifying as Josef.5 Spine-Tingling Contemporary Films | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comTime Lapse
American independent science fiction thriller (2014)

After their neighbour goes missing, three housemates stumble upon a huge camera that takes photos 24 hours into the future in his house. They decide to use it for personal gain which, of course, is a really bad idea. The camera is interesting, but the main plot is about human relationships and the lengths we’re willing to go to in order to protect them. Another mind-bending flick with lots of flaws, but it’s entertaining to marvel at the incredibly stupid decisions the characters make.5 Spine-Tingling Contemporary Films | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comHangman
British thriller (2015)

When a family returns home after a holiday, they find that their house has been burgled. Nothing really seems to be missing but things don’t seem quite right. Could someone be inside their home still? We follow the family through the eyes of the intruder using a hand-held camera and surveillance cameras that he has installed throughout the house. The man with the voice, Jeremy Sisto (of Six Feet Under) co-produced and stars in this refreshing take on found footage horror.

How about you? Have you watched any spine-tingling contemporary films lately?


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5 of my favourite Christmas films

I’m working on Christmas Eve, which is the main day of celebration in Sweden where my family lives, so I’m planning to treat the holidays as self care time and do lots of nice things for myself. I do love my alone time! On my list, is to watch lots of films. As you’ll soon come to realise, I’m not keen on jolly holiday films. One of my favourite Christmas films is the all-female cast 8 Women (2002), which I wrote about back in 2012, but here are five more.5 Of My Favourite Christmas Films | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comUn conte de Noël (A Christmas Tale)
French comedy drama (2008)

Catherine Deneuve stars as the matriarch of a family with a troubled past. She finds out that she has leukaemia and needs a bone marrow transplant, so she brings her family together over Christmas to ask them to check if they’re a match. This of course, opens up a lot of old wounds. Deneuve is one of my favourite actresses because she has such a mesmerising screen presence. A moving bittersweet drama with lots of dark humour.5 Of My Favourite Christmas Films | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comBlack Christmas
Canadian independent psychological slasher film (1974)

During Christmas break, a sorority house is tormented by frightening anonymous phone calls. The sorority sisters start getting murdered one by one. What the girls don’t know is that the murderer is hiding inside the house. Keir Dullea plays one of the girls’ boyfriend and he’s always a joy to watch. He’s absolutely compelling in Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965) and in Full Circle (1977), starring alongside Mia Farrow. It’s very rare that a film manages to maintain a complete atmosphere of dread throughout like Black Christmas does. This is without any doubt one of the best slashers ever made.5 Of My Favourite Christmas Films | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comOgifta par: En film som skiljer sig (Unmarried Couples: A Comedy That Will Break You Up)
Swedish comedy drama (1997)

Two unmarried couples decide to spend Christmas together in a mountain cabin. One couple is always arguing and the other is perfectly happy together. Or so it seems. The dialogue is superb, (think Pythonesque sarcasm and irony), and a lot of truths are spoken about the Swedish mentality. A darkly funny film by the national treasure comedy group Lorrygänget. I consider this film to be essential Swedish comedy viewing.5 Of My Favourite Christmas Films | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comEdward Scissorhands
American romantic dark fantasy (1990)

A lonely inventor, a role written specifically for Vincent Price, creates an artificial friend but dies before he can finish his masterpiece. For years, Edward lives on his own in the Gothic mansion on the hill, learning to get by with scissor blades for hands. One day, an Avon saleswoman knocks on the door and after realising that he’s harmless, decides to take him into her family’s home so that he can live a ‘normal’ life. Predictably, he falls in love with the teenage daughter and has to face a lot of prejudice. Johnny Depp’s outstanding portrayal of Edward carries this heartbreaking film. The only Tim Burton films I favour over this one are Beetlejuice (1988) and Ed Wood (1994).5 Of My Favourite Christmas Films | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comTales From The Crypt
British horror (1972)

An Amicus anthology film consisting of five segments. A group of people get lost in a crypt. They meet a crypt keeper who tells them the stories of their deaths. So what’s the Christmas connection I hear you ask. Well, in the creepiest segment, Joan Collins plays a woman who murders her husband on Christmas Eve while the daughter is asleep upstairs. She hears on the news that a dangerous serial killer is on the lose and it seems like someone is outside her house. I grew up obsessed with the Tales From the Crypt telly series, films and comics so I have to admit that I’m biased.

How about you? What are your favourite Christmas films?


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5 creepy Japanese films for Hallowe’en

It comes as no surprise that I adore Japanese cinema and that I watch a lot of it. After all, I legally changed my name to that of my favourite actress. In the spirit of Hallowe’en, here are 5 creepy Japanese films ranging from tongue-in-cheek horror to full-blown psychotic. Happy Hallowe’en, boils and ghouls!5 Creepy Japanese Films For Hallowe'en | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comKagen no tsuki (Last Quarter)
Japanese romantic drama (2004)

Starring my namesake Chiaki Kuriyama as Mizuki who is mistreated and betrayed by everyone around her. On top of that, her mother recently committed suicide. On the eve of her 19th Birthday she is seemingly magnetically drawn to a dilapidated estate where she finds the mysterious Adam, played by the very talented musician Hyde. Them finding each other starts off a chain of strange events and you’ll want to stick with the film to figure out how everything is connected. This is a sweet and sad fairy tale based on the manga with the same name. If you like ghost stories and mysteries, this one is for you.5 Creepy Japanese Films For Hallowe'en | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comUzumaki (Spiral)
Japanese horror comedy (2000)

A small Japanese town becomes increasingly tormented by malevolent spirals. A schoolgirl notices that her dad has developed an unhealthy obsession with spirals. He meets his end by crawling into a washing machine turning himself into a spiral. Soon everyone is infected by the spiral virus causing strange behaviours and in some cases, physical transformations. Uzumaki is based on the surreal manga with the same name by Junji Ito, and it has been heavily treated with green colour filters. I find spirals mesmerisingly beautiful and this film is covered in them.5 Creepy Japanese Films For Hallowe'en | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comEkusute (Exte: Hair Extensions)
Japanese horror comedy (2007)

Another film starring Chiaki Kuriyama. A morgue night attendant steals hair from corpses and turns it into hair pieces that he sells to unsuspecting customers. The hair pieces carry the grudge of their original owners, leading to painful deaths for those who wear them. This is a clever parody of J-horror yurei films such as Ringu (1998) and Ju-On (2002). It’s a lot more comedy than horror. Directed by Sion Sono who also did Suicide Club (2001) and the much darker Cold Fish (2010).5 Creepy Japanese Films For Hallowe'en | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comYabu no naka no kuroneko (Kuroneko)
Japanese horror (1968)

In war-torn feudal Japan, two women are raped and killed by samurai soldiers. They come back as vengeful ghosts who take their revenge on the passing samurai by seducing and brutally murdering them. The women drink their blood and exhibit feline behaviour. Kuroneko translates as black cat. This is essential Japanese cinema. It’s full of haunting imagery and breathtaking visuals. A stunning atmospheric film with a feminist angle.5 Creepy Japanese Films For Hallowe'en | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comÔdishon (Audition)
Japanese psychological horror drama (1999)

A lonely widower lives with his son after his wife passed away from illness. His film producer friend sets up a fake audition to find him a new wife and he instantly becomes fixated on the young Asami. His friend thinks she’s somehow peculiar but a romance ensues. As the story unfolds the line between reality and dream becomes blurred. Is Asami really the epitome of innocence? Perfectly directed by the outlandish Takashi Miike, based on a novel by Ryû Murakami. Two men whose work I love. This non-traditional horror comes with a warning: It will leave you feeling nauseous.


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5 amazing revenge films

The urge to take revenge is a visceral reaction to feeling hurt or wronged, but most of us don’t act on it because intellectually we know that it won’t make things better. Therefore, it can be liberating to watch someone else take revenge on a screen. Here are my five favourite revenge flicks.5 Amazing Revenge Films | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comDalkomhan Insaeng (A Bittersweet Life)
South Korean action (2005)

The original title translates as ‘the sweet life’. Lee Byung-hun plays a gangster who unintentionally starts an irreversible war with his gang after refusing to follow his boss’ orders to kill his mistress. It’s stylish and bloody and everything a revenge film should be but what makes this film special is Lee’s outstanding performance. He’s also in I Saw the Devil (2010), another excellent revenge film. He does revenge extraordinary well.5 Amazing Revenge Films | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comThriller – en grym film (Thriller: A Cruel Picture)
Swedish exploitation film (1973)

The first Swedish film I write about is of course an exploitation flick from the 70s. It’s also known as They Call Her One Eye and Hooker’s Revenge. Madeleine is sexually assaulted as a child and is so traumatised by it that it makes her mute. One day, she gets kidnapped after accepting a ride from a man called Tony and he forces her into heroin addiction and prostitution. Madeleine decides to train as an assassin to take revenge on those who have wronged her. When this film was made, porn was being liberalised in Sweden which explains why there are hardcore porn scenes edited into it. Quentin Tarantino loves this film and drew heavily on it for Kill Bill (2003/2004).5 Amazing Revenge Films | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comDeath Proof
American action exploitation horror film (2007)

Quentin Tarantino’s part of the double feature Grindhouse. Stuntman Mike uses his “death proof” stunt car to murder young women by causing car accidents. One day he messes with the wrong trio of women and they come after him. The stuntwoman Zoë Bell (who doubled for Uma Thurman in Kill Bill) plays herself and performs her own stunts. Rose McGowan is one of my favourite women and she’s always a joy to watch. To me, this is Tarantino’s purest film. It’s gritty in the style of 70s exploitation films that were shown in grindhouse theatres and the film was intentionally damaged to make it look like that. The story echoes Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965). The other part of Grindhouse is the zombie flick Planet Terror directed by Robert Rodriguez. The films are joined together by brilliant faux trailers that evoke the old exploitation drive-in classics.5 Amazing Revenge Films | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comChinjeolhan geumjassi (Sympathy for Lady Vengeance)
South Korean suspense thriller (2005)

Part three of Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy. After spending more than 13 years in prison for the kidnapping and murder of a little boy, Lee Guem-ja goes after the man who was really responsible. This is a dark film about revenge, emotional pain and how time can actually deepen wounds, so Park’s usual black humour is very welcome. His use of symbols and metaphors is wonderful, and the way that light and colour is used makes this film visually stunning. Also, watch Oldboy (2003), part two of Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy.5 Amazing Revenge Films | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comThe Crow
American fantasy action (1994)

On Devil’s Night, Eric and his fiancée Sarah are attacked by a crazy gang in their flat. Sarah is raped and murdered, and Eric falls through a window to his death. A year after their deaths, a crow brings him back from the dead so that he can methodically exact revenge on the gang members one by one. The Crow is most known for being the film that Brandon Lee, Bruce Lee’s son, was killed during the making of. Despite what stubborn rumours say, his death is not in the film. The soundtrack is beautiful, featuring The Cure and a Nine Inch Nails cover of Joy Division’s Dead Souls. This film is the wet dream of every 90s goth.

How about you? Do you have any favourite revenge films?


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Five brilliant voyeuristic films

I love voyeurism on film almost as much as I love one location films. I think the reason that voyeurism intrigues us so much is that we all feel like we’re being watched sometimes. There’s a scientific explanation to why we feel like that, but that’s a completely different blog post. I’ve already written about my absolute favourite voyeuristic films, Peeping Tom (1960), Blow-Up (1966) and Psycho (1960) but here are five more fantastic ones.Rear Window
American suspense thriller (1954)

James Stewart plays a news photographer who during a heatwave finds himself confined to a wheelchair in his apartment while his broken leg heals. He spends his time observing his neighbours through his rear window. One day he sees something that makes him suspect that his neighbour has murdered his wife. Grace Kelly is marvellous as the unappreciated fiancée. The film is shot in a very clever way. We see the neighbours almost entirely from his point of view which makes us his surveillance accomplices. They’re observing the neighbours, but we are also observing them observing the neighbours. Rear Window is a wonderful film about obsessive human curiosity.Mientras Duermes (Sleep Tight)
Spanish psychological thriller (2011)

Cesar is a miserable apartment concierge who can only obtain happiness from making other people’s life hell, which he does in secret. He has spare keys to all the apartments and he completely abuses the tenants’ trust. He decides to focus on Clara who proves to be harder to break down mentally than the other tenants. I don’t want give too much away so I’m going to stop there. It’s an unsettling film that’s designed to take away any sense of security you have about your home. It reminds me a bit of El Habitante Incierto (2004), and it’s equally well made and unforgettable.Oldboy
South Korean mystery thriller (2003)

Part two of Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy. Dae-su, a married man with one daughter, is kidnapped and locked up in a makeshift prison for fifteen years. He’s released with a mobile phone and a wallet full of money. An unknown man calls him and gives him five days to figure out why he was imprisoned. A gripping neo-noir film with lots of sadism, dark humour and Hitchcockian paranoia. Sympathy for Lady Vengenace (2005), part three of the Vengeance Trilogy, is also breathtaking.L’uccello Dalle Piume di Cristallo (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage)
Italian giallo film (1970)

An American writer in Rome is stalked by a serial killer after witnessing a murder attempt on the wife of an art gallery owner. The local authorities won’t let him leave the country. The police fail to make any progress with the case so Sam decides to start his own investigation. To me, few things are as cosy as a good old Dario Argento film. His Profondo Rosso (1975) is one of my all time favourite films. This is a beautifully shot murder mystery with Hitchcockian suspense, dark twists and a perfect soundtrack. The opening scene is amazing and will have you hooked.Blue Velvet
American mystery thriller (1986)

The lovable Kyle MacLachlan plays a college student who upon returning home after his father collapses, stumbles across a severed ear in a vacant lot. With the help of a naive high school girl played by the fabulous Laura Dern, he starts an investigation that leads him into a world of voyeurism, sadism, madness and sex. This is a disturbing and compelling film by the master of surreal storytelling, David Lynch. If you’ve never seen Twin Peaks, take a weekend and binge watch it. It’s the greatest TV show of all time.

How about you? Do you have any favourite voyeuristic films?