October 2013 horror movie DVD round-up

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The follow-up to director Daniel Stamm’s 2010 hit follows the fortunes of that film’s possessed teenager, Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell, returning), as she undergoes her rehabilitation in a care home for troubled girls. As is the case in these kinds of situations, we know things won’t remain tickety-boo and our recovering demon-spawn proves the point.

With Canadian Ed Gass-Donnelly taking over directorial duties, this second installment is less interesting/twisted than the creepy original and more of a traditional possession movie, though still has its strengths. Michael Wandmacher’s subtly sinister score builds tension nicely alongside some workmanlike nastiness from Gass-Donnelly. Still, ultimately there’s little here to mark this out from other similar recent additions to this sub-genre. So, yes, let’s hope this really is the last exorcism.

Next up, we have the adaptation of Rachel Klein’s 2002 novel, The Moth Diaries. Delving into the dark underbelly of the Twilight generation, director Mary Harron’s film tells the tale of boarders at a girl’s school from the perspective of grieving Rebecca (Sarah Bolger), who develops a fascination verging on obsession with new classmate Ernessa, played by a blank-faced Lily Cole.

Ernessa may or may not be practicing the dark arts, though what we do know is that things are not quite as they seem as the bodies start piling up. Though lopsided and at times frankly boring, The Moth Diaries’ real strength is Harron’s thoughtful script, offering a thankfully complex insight into adolescent relationships. Still, a strong performance from the talented young Bolger is neutered by an underwhelming Cole, leaving whatever good work there is buried beneath blandness.

Devoured, documentary film-maker Greg Olliver’s debut fiction feature, involves yet another troubled female protagonist (seems this round-up has something of a theme this month, eh?) struggling to cope with mounting grimness. The difference this time, though, is that the real horror on show here is the bleak living situation of an immigrant café worker working long shifts to send money to her family back in Mexico and its impact on her mental wellbeing.

Deftly drawing a comparison between the damage monotony can cause and bona-fide genre Grand Guignol, Olliver’s slow-burning direction works memorably with Marta Milans’ convincing depiction of a woman unravelling to make for a distinctive, original piece of film-making.

Now, enough about troubled women; show me the worms. In case you hadn’t guessed, the last entry this time is a long overdue re-release of Jeff Lieberman’s tongue-in-cheek nature-gone-nasty cult favourite Squirm.

When a power surge gives residents of a Deep South middle-of-nowhere town’s worm farm a new killer instinct, locals start falling victim to carnivorous creepy-crawlies. With ridiculous redneck worm-food and downright cool real worms and slimy effects worthy of a young Sam Raimi, this is great fun.

In many ways the missing link between Jaws and modern films like Tremors or Lake Placid, Squirm obviously has its flaws (some of the acting is poor even for a no-budget comedy horror) but remains an entertaining slice of pre-SyFy silliness.

What’s the best horror movie you’ve seen recently? Let us know below…