The occasion of All Hallows’ Eve saw yours truly sifting through the Amazon and Netflix listings for some macabre themed entertainment to wile away the evening, once the local gangs of trick or treaters had been bought off by with the stack of Haribo bought in for the occasion. Never get high on your own supply and all that.
With the pizza ordered and the evening stretching before me, it seemed rude not to have a double bill. First up was 1922, a recommendation thrown up by Netflix. Based on a Stephen King story from his anthology Full Dark, No Stars, it stars an unrecognisable Thomas Jane as Wilfred James, a down at heel farmer who plots to kill his wife Arlette over her wish to sell land that she has inherited and move to the city taking their son Henry with her.
Wilfred manipulates Henry into helping commit the murder using the boy’s budding romance with their neighbours daughter as a bargaining chip.
After almost bungling the killing, the pair hide Arlette’s body in the farm’s well, but this being a King adaptation, things begin to go south very quickly for Wilf and Henry from here on in.
At its heart, 1922 is an old fashioned morality tale, but although the protagonists end is never in doubt, there is enough narrative skill employed to keep the viewer hooked on what their ultimate fate might actually be.
Next I flipped to Amazon for Orphan, a glossy Hollywood evil kid/family in peril bit of highly polished schlock. I confess to having had half an eye on this one for a while, being a big fan of the evil child horror sub genre ever since scaring myself witless watching The Omen (1976) as a kid.
Scream Queen Vera Farmiga of The Conjuring fame takes the lead as Kate, a recovering alcoholic traumatised by the stillbirth of their third child. Deciding to adopt, Kate and hubby John come across mysterious 9 year old Russian girl Esther at the local orphanage. Soon enough, bad things begin to happen around Esther, and the demands of the plot see that John, a successful self made architect, sees fit to suspend his critical faculties with regards to his newly adopted daughter.
Orphan is trash, but it’s well made trash, with a decent cast and production values and a stand out performance from Isabelle Fuhrmann as the malevolent Esther. A decent twist too. Worth checking out if you’re a fan of psycho kid films.
As I’m sitting here spilling metaphorical keyboard ink, the joyous memory of the 80’s straight to video heavy metal horror classic Trick or Treat has popped into my head and I’m kicking myself for not thinking of it on Halloween itself. Better late than never, I shall scrape the Amazon barrel tonight, and get some kind of retrospective/review put on the blog. Watch this space.