Presented as the true story of a young, and not wholly likable, couple (Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat), the film follows the pair as they attempt to document the bumps they’re hearing in the house at night–only to discover a demonic presence and some repressed memories for one party. A still brilliant exercise in sound design, tension, and the uncanny ability to trick audiences into believing what they’re seeing is actually happening, this remains the best found footage horror movie ever made.
Before there was Insidious, The Conjuring, or a myriad of other “suburban family vs. haunted house” movies, there was Poltergeist. Taking ghost stories out of the Gothic setting of ancient castles or decrepit mansions and hotels, Poltergeist moved the spirits into the middle class American heartland of the 1980s. With a smart screenplay by no less than Steven Spielberg (and, according to some, his ghost direction), Poltergeist finds the Freeling family privy to a disquieting fact about their new home: It’s built on top of a cemetery!
You probably know the story, and if you don’t you can guess it after decades of copycats that followed, but this special effects-laden spectacle still holds up, especially as a thriller that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Fair warning though, if your kids have a tree outside their window or a clown doll under their bed, we don’t take responsibility for the years of therapy bills this may inflict!
The often overlooked other child of the Hannibal Lecter movie family, Red Dragon is no The Silence of the Lambs, no matter how much it wishes it was. Nor is it as visually evocative or luscious as Ridley Scott’s decadent Hannibal. Nevertheless, we find this prequel to both films to be at least worthy of association with the former, and ultimately more satisfying than the latter. A definite attempt to reshape Thomas Harris’ first novel to feature the Lecter character into a Silence of the Lambs clone, Red Dragon still has quite a bit to enjoy.
At the top of the list is of course Sir Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal for the third and final time. Definitely his hammiest iteration of the character, even a campy Hopkins is impossible to resist given the not-so-good doctor’s droll wit or distinct taste palate. Director Brett Ratner’s framing around Lecter is competent enough, and he wisely gets a superb supporting cast who can overwhelm any shortcomings.