Once again the London Film Festival served up a number of horror and horror-adjacent films; these were our favourites.
Holy Spider (Dir: Ali Abbasi)
This Iranian marvel mixes procedural thriller with serial killer horror. It’s pretty successful in that, although at the two-thirds mark I was thinking “is this film really doing anything that’s new or interesting, beyond the Iranian cultural setting?” But then the third act comes along and a new kind of horror is introduced, which proves to be the making of the film.
Some may find the killings gratuitous or exploitative – I thought that element was vital to make the third act really land. Performances, lensing and score all on point. And what a closing scene! Easily one of the films of the year, horror or otherwise.
You Won’t be Alone (Dir: Goran Stelovski)
his Malick-y folk tale follows a shapeshifting-witch as she travels from persona to persona in and around a cluster of Macedonian peasant villages, killing her victims before taking their form. Beautifully shot, edited, and acted, this film shows the dangers and other effects of pretending to be what you are not. It’s delicately paced, and the breathy cod-spiritual voiceover does start to grate a little from quite early on. Nonetheless, it’s worth seeing for its haunting vision and for the nuanced central performance from Noomi Rapace.
The Origin (Dir: Andrew Cummings)
Would you Adam and Eve it… a journey into proto-horror in this engrossing, if slight, stone-age Predator* style movie.
*except not a sci-fi.
Will ‘Adem’, ‘Ave’, and the rest of fur-wearing wanderers make it to fertile soil as they cross the cursed land they’ve landed upon? Or will the mysterious demon, hiding in the dark and behind the trees, catch and eat them? This is a very watchable slice of Ur-horror – I loved the sound design and the invented language.
Also worth checking out were Nanny (Dir: Nikyatu Jusu), which looked great and had a superb central performance from Anna Diop; Unicorn Wars (Dir: Alberto Vásquez) with its unsettlingly apocalyptic vision, like Winnie The Pooh meats Angel’s Egg via Platoon; and Attachment (Gabriel Bier Gislason), which upends Jewish mother tropes to form an intriguing London and Europe-set religious possession thriller.