Scream (1996)

“Don’t answer the phone, don’t open the door, don’t try to escape.”

A new killer has come to light in a town, wearing the infamous scream costume he rings the household his victim is in, with some unusual questions about horror movies, after an incorrect answer he stabs the teenagers. After we are introduced to the killer, the audience are shown the main protagonist, Sidney (Neve Campbell) the new victim to be terrorized by this psychopathic villain. The plot of the film is interesting and intriguing, you wait to uncover the mystery. Furthermore, there is a captivating plot with Sidney’s family past.

For a 1996 horror film, it still is a super horror and mystery. It is clever how this slasher movie has maintained its greatness nevertheless it being over 20 years old. The use of camera angles are successful in creating suspense and there is a brilliance in the simplicity of the music and sound which is very well executed. ‘Scream’ is able to create tension, even if it doesn’t hit all of the horror elements like it would have in 1996. Throughout the film, there is a cleverness in the mystery too. As one of the characters says, everyone is suspected to the be killer – this is what you end up doing as the audience watching.

There is also a great stardom in this film. Drew Barrymore opens the film in the renowned scene of being the first victim of this ghostly slaughterer. There are other recognisable faces throughout, including Matthew Lillard (Shaggy from ‘Scooby Doo’) and Courteney Cox (Monica in ‘Friends’). Overall, the acting of the film isn’t bad and does feel reliable on screen.

An element of ‘Scream’ that repeats throughout the whole film is a play on the mockery of horror films. Many of the characters have watched plenty of horror films such as ‘Friday the 13th’, ‘Halloween’ and ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’, which they mention during ‘Scream’, we even see a clip of one! This adds another dimension to ‘Scream’ which almost gives a mocking component for the audience to recognise the purposeful parallels within horror films. Wes Craven uses horror stereotypes to predict or to confuse what might happen in this film. The audience are left thinking would this film follow the usual stereotypes or bend the rules of a horror slasher?

In conclusion, ‘Scream’ is such a clever film to still be a horror that is interesting 20 years after. The conversations of similarities amongst horrors is such a different element to the film. However, when the killer is revealed, this dimension does seem more forced. The ending seems to become more of a mockery and more comical. Nevertheless, this film maintains to be a great mystery and does still build suspense and tension. It is still enjoyable to watch.

Saw IV (2007)

Within the ‘Saw’ collection comes the fourth. They are not necessarily needed to be watched in order, however I do think it is largely beneficial to as they do follow on. So if you’re worried about spoilers, for example how ‘Saw III’ ended, then probably not best to read this review and do watch them in order. I use the term ‘spoilers’ loosely, because you watch these films for the gore and horror right? The revelation at the end – that’s the most predominant theme in these films. And that’s not spoiled amongst the other films.

‘Saw IV’ opens up to a new villain needing to take the place of Jigsaw. Quickly, once again, a new game begins and the police are on the hunt to who the new gamemaster is. This time one of the members of the police department has been chosen to play. Officer Rigg (Lyriq Bent) has seen many colleagues fall around him from this psychopath’s games, now he’s given a chance to save two of them. Although, it’s not that easy, obviously. Along his forced path paved out for him, he meets other people along the way who are forced into playing the game.

I’m starting to believe that none of these ‘Saw’ films will be a let down when it comes to the revelation of the film at the end; the creative, psychopathic game you’re sucked into; and the dreadful gore which never seems to fail. This fourth film does not differ from the others, but still manages to add difference from the series so you don’t feel like you’re watching the same film every time. Each film has a different revelation which confuses and baffles the audience – this one is one of the most baffling of them all. They really are cleverly designed films. Films where I still cannot watch the whole screen, hands covering my eyes from the realistic-looking tortures, the tension on the screen racing through me. ‘Saw IV’ is clever in wrapping up the previous films in a nice little bow of understanding after the revelation that came from ‘Saw III’. The games are only getting worse as they become newer in the graphic sophistication. The newer they become, the more daring they get.

The Platform (2019)

The concept of this film is very interesting. Predominantly, we follow one man in particular, Goreng (Ivan Massagué), who has voluntarily entered the pit in order to get a degree (I think, I didn’t really understand his reasoning for entering). The pit is a type of vertical prison; in this pit there are a certain amount of levels, which becomes a mystery when you’re watching. Each level is labelled with their designated numbers. There’s the bare minimum in these rooms, only a sink and toilet, two beds, and a giant square hole in the centre which matches all the levels above and below. This is where the platform comes down, the platform of food. Grand cakes, expensive lobster, fancy dishes spread this platter of food, however the only people who witness this gesture is level one. They get the first chance to eat as much as they can, after the allocated time the platform moves down to platform two, they now can eat, and so on. With Goreng we start on level 48, the food is pretty much devoured and minimal at this point, imagine what it would be like by the time it reaches the very bottom.

The horror in this film relies solely on the unpredictability of humans when it comes to survival. You have no idea how the inmates will react, how they will turn to violence, when they will snap. When allowed to bring in one item or object, there are even weapons amongst them. ‘The Platform’ contains horror in a lot of ways. There is the constant tension that anything could happen, there is also the gore of killing others and even turning to cannibalism. There are also psychological horrors embedded in this film, as Goreng hallucinates to the point where he is manipulated by his own mind.

As a Spanish movie, I did watch this dubbed into English as it is on Netflix, although it didn’t make any different to the actual film. The entire concept of this horror film is so different from anything I’ve seen before. I was wondering after the first twenty minutes where it was going to go, however that added to the horror of the unknown. Goreng tries to come to grips at what he has got himself into along with the audience understanding the type of prison this is. He reaches a conclusion that he will try and ration to help those below. There are a lot of eery horrors in this film, a lot of violence, all surrounding the extremes these inmates have been pushed to when starved and desperate. It’s definitely a horror for adults, as there are some horrid scenes. Nevertheless, the concept was interesting to keep the audience hooked, even if the ending didn’t feel like an ending at all. It’s scary how the unpredictability and desperation of humans generates all of the horrors into this film.

Escape Room (2019)

Six strangers are invited to an escape room through the allure of winning $10,000 if they win. What they didn’t know was that these escape rooms were instead based upon their own fears and were in fact extremely real, not just a game. The film has a quick introduction of the strangers invited to the game, but the sole reason for this film is the escape rooms, so happily there’s not too much time wasted on the character developments. You could argue there is too much of an introduction, but a quick flash forward to bring the film in adds intrigue.

Happily, you’re not introduced to all of the characters in the show. Instead, you’re given a quick understanding of our main protagonist, Zoey. A brief show of a few others and let’s get the movie beginning. After all are given a box with a secret message, the six strangers have finally been bought together. Throughout the escape rooms, we understand the characters more, in particular what they have in common and their fears that are being brought to life. The first room evokes some excitement to win the money, but soon they discover that the room isn’t for entertainment when it turns into an oven. They move onto different escape rooms all perfectly designed for those playing.

‘Escape Room’ is a horror, however not one with jump scares or constant frightening scenes. Instead, there is an eeriness throughout the film. The lingering of a camera, the six strangers are always being watched. The idea of a haunted background for all the characters adds intrigue for the audience. The mystery of who is behind all this manipulation and why these six have been forced into this psychopathic game. I wouldn’t say there is a strong frightening element, I wasn’t sat scared. But these sorts of horror elements do work well in this type of film and I couldn’t predict what was going to come next.

‘Escape Room’ is such an interesting concept – strangers trapped and desperate to get out of rooms before their times runs out. While watching, you do become intrigued to what the next room will unfold into and what traps will be lying around. You also become invested in discovering what the haunted pasts of these characters are and how they will react into a survival of the fittest situation forced upon them. It’s not the most amazing horror-mystery I’ve ever seen, but I did love the concept and enjoy the film. It is a shame that the whole reasoning of the games by the end is a bit weak, but as I sad before, it’s the escape rooms you watch the film for. You have to watch until the end and uncover each room as you go.

Saw III (2006)

These films are a lot better when they are watched in order, so if you’ve not seen the first two films of this ‘Saw’ franchise, find them here: ‘Saw’, ‘Saw II’. ‘Saw III’ echoes a similar pattern of the films before, adding more pieces to the Jigsaw puzzle. The serial killer this time has taken a doctor and a revengeful man to play in his game. Along with his accomplice (the reason why it’s important to watch in order), Jigsaw manipulates every aspect of the game in his usual trickery to force people to face their fears and appreciate their lives as they fight for survival.

Waking up in a wooden box, a man discovers he is stuck in a twisted game forcing him to choose a path of forgiveness or revenge. Discovering a tape recorder, the man is presented with situations he has dreamt about, although his test is to shy away from the revenge route and turn to forgiveness instead. However, he finds forgiving extremely challenging when faced with memories of his son’s horrendous untimely death. Meanwhile, with Jigsaw and his accomplice, a doctor has been taken. As she’s connected to a collar of death around her neck, she’s forced to operate and save the ill (in so many ways) killer.

Once again, ‘Saw III’ has created a brilliant sequel to add to the franchise. The horror of the gore is present as usual. A lot of times I couldn’t watch the screen, turning away at the goriest scenes. Yes, the graphics aren’t phenomenal, alike to the first two, however the execution of gore and horror is not a miss. Furthermore, the mystery of the film is still dominant. We discover that human emotions are so unpredictable we cannot predict everything that is going to happen, leaving the audience in constant suspense and terror. Even though we suspect a twist to summarise the end of the film, you still don’t see it coming. You almost wait for the revelation and explanation behind Jigsaw’s reasoning of the chosen game. ‘Saw III’ is no different from the first two as the audience are captivated in the horror and surprised by the twist every time.

Saw II (2005)

There are many ‘Saw’ films in this horror gore franchise. After reviewing the first and original ‘Saw’ movie (click to view) with the introduction of the man who captures people to play games for survival, the next obvious choice was to turn to the second. This time we’re not in full cooperation with the people playing the game to begin with, instead our focus is towards the killer himself, being captured by the police yet still in all control.

When the mastermind behind all the dreadful killings is finally captured, the police are eager to put this villain in his place. However, he states rather quickly that he only wants to discuss with one Detective in particular and that he must now play along with the game. Meanwhile, he also reveals that he already has his selection of victims trapped in a house in the middle of a game. Therefore, this time we watch as two games unfold. The game in the house, as sadistic as it is, is played by these rules: the group have been breathing in a deadly poison and to survive they must obtain one of the few antidotes scattered around the house. The audience are forced to watch as the group become crazed and ill driven to do anything to gain an antidote and save themselves.

The ‘Saw’ movies are known for their gore and horror. This one is no different from the rest. This second film actually has many connections and hints to the first film, which adds to the franchise feel of the films. ‘Saw’ movies should also be known for their revelations and twists in the end. ‘Saw II’ once again follows the desperate emotions of humans and their drive to survive, but also follows a mastermind who has thought everything through to play a game so disturbing but clever in its complex solutions.

Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

The sequel of ‘Happy Death Day’, I was quite excited to see what there was in store. Now I really enjoyed the first film of Tree (Jessica Rothe) waking up on her birthday over and over again ending with her death each time. Therefore, when a sequel was announced, I did want to see it. My summary: the first film is soooo much better, the second? It wasn’t amazing, it wasn’t horrific, I quite enjoyed watching it.

Happy Death Day 2U - Tree and Ryan
‘Happy Death Day 2U’ brings back the original storyline but with a twist; when Tree goes back to her birthday, the day doesn’t set out how she knew it would. There’s a definite need to watch the first film or a lot of the comedic elements would be lost on the audience. Originally, it seems that the story might reflect away from Tree to Carter’s friend Ryan (whose acting really isn’t great). Instead, we pull a full circle back to Tree herself and back to her birthday (happily, because she is a much better character). Her anger is hilarious (and understandable). Tree is the centre of the film. It feels like they were trying to finish a lot of elements from the first film in this sequel. A lot goes into the background of Tree’s history.

Happy Death Day 2U - Tree
The weird twist seemed to follow a science-related aspect, where Ryan and his friends have built some sort of time machine (I really don’t know). This aspect was poorly executed and didn’t make much sense. It didn’t have the same fluidity or reasoning of the first film. I thought the film was going to go down the route where all of the friends end up in the same time loop, waking up every day to be killed. But instead, once again it was just Tree on her own. I think they could have done a lot more with the plot. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the mystery element of who is behind the baby mask this time. And besides, Tree does come up with some hilarious ways of killing herself to restart the day.

Happy Death Day 2U - Tree and Killer

There are ups and downs with this film – as I said before, the first is a lot better. I enjoyed the development of the mystery and the slight changes to the original wake up call. But overall, it lacked in the random science department which didn’t make much sense. I suppose you watch it for the character development of Tree, because she’s brilliant! Her sarcastic and passive aggressive attitude, but her movement into a different time loop is more revealing to her true character.