Thursday, August 13, 2009

I Figli d'Argento

Interesting article in the WSJ about the new wave in European horror movies. A few things for further exploration:

Mr. Argento's example has become a touchstone for a new generation of European horror filmmakers -- weaned on independent genre movies of the 1960s and 1970s -- who prize their creative independence above all else and are fully prepared to spurn advances by Hollywood.

The majority of these directors, who are mostly in their 30s, come from countries like France and Spain, which until recently have had no discernible tradition of making horror films. These new horror auteurs have gained praise for their artisanal approach, which favors old-school latex special effects over CGI, and for their ability to work within tight budgets, a perfect fit for these economically straightened times.

Mr. Argento hails the new generation of European horror filmmakers "for respecting the horror genre and making highly personal films." This new wave includes horror auteurs like Spain's Juan Antonio Bayona ("The Orphanage," 2007), Sweden's Tomas Alfredson ("Let the Right One In," 2008), France's Pascal Laugier ("Martyrs," 2008), and Belgium's Fabrice Du Welz ("Vinyan," 2008), all of whom make use of frightening images and gore, but also tell stories that contain subtle political or social messages.

"European production companies have noticed that a huge generation gap has sprung up between younger and older audiences and have begun to target younger audiences with horror and fantasy films," says Jean-François Rauger, head programmer at the Cinémathèque Française and a critic at Le Monde newspaper, who traces the current trend for French horror back to Alexandre Aja's mould-breaking, violent debut "High Tension," which came out in 2003.

7 comments:

GoJoe said...

Solid article, surprisingly comprehensive regarding the most interesting of the new international horror filmmakers. Also worthy of attention is Spain's Nacho Cerdà. Okay, I don't feel comfortable talking up his notorious short film AFTERMATH but I think he bloomed impressively with his next piece, GENESIS...

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0165297/

...and his debut feature, THE ABANDONED, was solid and distinctive.

Tulkinghorn said...

so...

What's your top three?

GoJoe said...

I’m assuming you mean recent fare? If not, the “Classic Frights” list accompanying the article provides a handful of favorite titles. A personal top three of all-time would be an impossible proposition. Anyway, using the article as a launching point, here are recent titles I found interesting. I make no guarantees you will agree.

If you like patient, atmospheric and mysterious…
THE ABANDONED, ILS, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN

If you don’t mind movies that flirt with what many would consider pretension…
ARO TOLBUKHIN: IN THE MIND OF A KILLER, GENESIS, VINIYAN

If you’re looking for unapologetic slam-bang, take-no-prisoners gorefests…
INSIDE, [REC], I’d like to include HIGH TENSION here but the unfortunate ending has a way of spoiling the rest of an otherwise top shelf slasher picture

None of which is meant to devalue fine genre fare from the rest of the world, including the good ‘ol U.S. of A.

Tulkinghorn said...

Thanks for the list... Most of these surprisingly are available in subtitled releases from Netflix.

And as for minding "movies that flirt with what many would consider pretension"..... I live for them (other than rejecting them for merely being flirts.)

GoJoe said...

:)

Christian Lindke said...

Joe,

I actually enjoyed the ending of HIGH TENSION. It shifted the story to become one of obsession rather than random killing and there's something rather realistically disturbing about an obsession story.

"She's mine...all mine!"

GoJoe said...

Haha, I hear ya Christian. The difference between a cheap “gotcha” and a resonant one obviously differs from person to person. I have a friend whose opinion I respect who feels the same way you do about the ending of HIGH TENSION. For me it robbed the picture of its one sliver of humanity, among other annoyances. I still think it’s worth seeing of course, given you’re a fan of this particular subgenre…