Welcome to the first TV Film of the Week. The name says it all! The Snooty Ushers have put their heads together to recommend a film that you can watch this week on TV. With Halloween tomorrow, we have been focusing on horror films.
NB since we are all still ushers at heart, our weeks will start on a Friday.
So, our first TV Film of the Week is:
Frailty (Bill Paxton, 2001)
Watch, Friday 30th October, 22:00
Frailty is an under-appreciated gem. Bill Paxton is a decent enough actor (he really hit it out of the park with Big Love), but his directing debut suggests that he could be something really special behind the camera. The fact that he has only made 2 more films since seems to suggest that maybe the under-performance of this put him off. Anyway, an FBI agent is talking to the brother of a serial killer Fenton (Matthew McConaughey), who explains how their religious fanatic father Dad Meiks (Paxton) had been responsible for his brother’s killing spree and subsequent suicide. Meiks believes he is given a list of names by an angel of those who are demons, and goes about killing them. Eventually Adam takes on his father’s vocation and continues the killings (or destruction of demons, since neither Adam nor his father accept they are “killing” a living thing).
McConaughey is fantastic in the film, it was in his romantic comedy phase but was a sign of the depth of his talent it took him nearly a decade to start showing regularly. Paxton is great as well, the script is genuinely creepy and plays out as a real thriller, keeping you guessing on so many levels. Does Meiks really believe he is doing the right thing – or is he actually being contacted by angels?
As I mentioned, an under-appreciated gem that will keep you entertained (and creeped out) for it’s full runtime, and will stick in your mind for a long time after.
You lucky people! As a special bonus, since Frailty is on a channel not everyone has, we’ve also also chosen:
Coraline (BBFC Rating PG, Henry Selick, 2009)
Film4, Saturday 31st October, 16:45
Based on the award winning book by Neil Gaiman, an enchanting, creepy tale from Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick. A young girl finds an alternate world, with another mother and father, in the apartment next door. Filled with series of bizarre supporting characters, Coraline balances the surreal adventure with the all too real feelings of abandonment and loneliness Coraline feels. Kooky without being offputting, the passion and attention to detail that has gone into the film makes it easy to love.
From Laika, the same studio that brought us ParaNorman and Boxtrolls, this is a strange mix of Alice in Wonderland and “The Bewitchin’ Pool”, the last episode of The Twilight Zone. Fun for the youngsters, but really creepy for grown ups, as Coraline considers abandoning her family to live in the alternate world created for her, with some very sad moments.
For your consideration
With it being Halloween, we included a few more films for your consideration.
Stoker (BBFC Rating 18, Park Chen-wook, 2013) – Creepy psychological horror from the director of the excellent Oldboy, starring Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, and Matthew Goode. Written by Prison Break star Wentworth Miller. Film4, Friday 30th October, 21:00
American Mary (BBFC Rating 18, Jen & Sylvia Soska, 2012) – A medical student goes to work at a strip club, but the club owner is more interested in her surgery skills, as she gets involved with body modification. An incredibly, ultra-ultra-gory piece of low budget film making from the Soska Sisters – “the new faces of horror”. Film4, Friday 30th October, 23:00
Jeepers Creepers (BBFC Rating 15, Victor Salva, 2001) – Three quarters of a great horror film. A genuinely scary premise somewhat sqaundered with a disappointing ending. 5*, Friday 30th October, 23:00
Witchfinder General (BBFC Rating 15, Michael Reeves, 1968) – Classic horror starring the great Vincent Price, as a 17th century lawyer who travels around English villages torturing and murdering “witches”. BBC2 Saturday 31st October, 00:35
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (BBFC Rating 18, Francis Ford Coppola, 1992) – Get past Keanu Reeve’s English accent and you have a very good piece of work, which revisits one of the most famous stories in cinema. Gary Oldman is great as Dracula, putting the heart and soul back into a story which had come to represent jumps and scares.. Film4 Saturday 31st October, 21:00
The Sixth Sense (BBFC Rating 15, M. Night Shyamalan, 1999) – A modern classic. For all of the cliches that Shyamalan started relying on, when you rewatch The Sixth Sense, you remember why everyone thought he was the next Hitchcock. A quality piece of storytelling. More4 Saturday 31st October, 23:05
Arachnophobia (BBFC Rating PG, Frank Marshall, 1990) – Legendary producer directs his first film, with Jeff Daniels and a memorable John Goodman turn as an exterminator in what plays out like an old fashioned B movie. As a great big scaredy cat when it comes to spiders, this is pretty terrifying, but it apparently is more of a thriller than out-and-out scary film. Channel 5, Sunday 1st November, 20:00
Warm Bodies (BBFC Rating 12, Jonathan Levine, 2013) – A quality horror-rom-com where Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer star as a pair of star crossed lovers kept apart only by the fact that he is a zombie. Rob Corddry and John Malkovich provide some quality support. A love story that horror fans will enjoy. From the director of 50/50 Channel 4, Sunday 1st November, 23:10
I hope there’s something you like! See you next week when The Snooty Ushers choose their TV Film Of The Week!