The Horror, The Horror: Part 4

More random horror movies, watched at random.

The Covenant (2006)

Directed by Rennie Harlin and with a cast of photogenic unknowns, this made money at the box office, but I can’t really see why. The sons of four families with an occult heritage come into their power when they turn a certain age, but the son of a fifth line long thought extinct turns up to challenge them. There’s rivalry and distrust among the four, a love interest for the hero, magic battles and a climactic final confrontation, but I didn’t get the sense that anyone cared beyond doing what they had to for the pay. The whole thing seemed hollow and formulaic, with an emphasis on looking good, so that it could just as easily have been an extended advert for male hair care products, while the powerful elite with their shallow ideals didn’t appeal to me at all. Overall it felt like a weak episode of Charmed, with handsome hunks in lieu of the Halliwell sisters, but none of the humour or charm. It was a movie that badly needed to send itself up.

Deadly Descent (2013)

I caught this on the goggle box while round TAG’s house. It was on a channel going by the name movies for men. It felt more like movies for absolute idiots. An ex-soldier goes up into the snowbound mountains in search of the beast that killed his father, and some friends go after him to help out. Waiting for them all is the abominable snowman and his mate. Characters who have had a charisma bypass, bad acting, an obviously fake backdrop to much of the action, a plot that made hardly any sense, and some really, really naff special effects. I watched it to the end because I simply couldn’t believe how bad it was. I kept thinking to myself, they have to pull something out of the fire to make this all worthwhile. They didn’t.

Devil (2010)

This is based on an idea from M. Night Shyamalan, but they didn’t let him direct it, so the film isn’t as bad as I feared it was going to be when I saw his name on the DVD box (it’ll be years, if not decades, before I get over Lady in the Water). A man kills himself by jumping off a high building. Inside the building five people become trapped in an elevator, and it turns out that one of them is the Devil. Periodically the lights go out in the elevator and violence is committed against one of the occupants, but nobody is sure who is doing this, not even the police detective watching it all on CCTV. He has unresolved grief in his past, while all the ostensible victims in the elevator have secrets they are hiding, causes for shame and guilt. Naturally it all ties together in the end. I didn’t like the way they introduced the idea of the Devil, with some hotel technician spouting family folklore; I would have much preferred it if there’d been some ambiguity regarding the identity of the arch nemesis. And the way in which the secrets etc. were all tied together was a little too pat for my liking, too tidy. On the plus side, the central concept was a good one, and the claustrophobia felt by those people trapped in the elevator was put over very well. It’s remarkably restrained, with only the occasional outbreak of violence in the dark to disrupt what’s primarily a character driven story come mystery, and that makes it all the more effective as a chiller. All in all, I rather liked it and will probably watch it again at some point.

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