Grimm up North – Arthouse Horror Double Bill
On Thursday night I joined the Grimm team for their latest double bill at the Manchester Dancehouse and was treated to two very different and very intriguing films. Arthouse horror has a tendency to completely divide audiences so read on to find out whether A Horrible Way to Die and Amer are worth a look…
This low budget thriller takes a look at the twisted mind of a serial killer and follows the events that take place after he escapes from prison and attempts to track down his ex-girlfriend. Shot out of sequence in a style reminiscent of that used by Nolan in Memento, the audience is given the opportunity to piece together the story to find out exactly what happened between the mentally scarred Sarah and her violent ex whilst also witnessing the build up to a number of violent encounters as his search for Sarah comes closer to fruition.
Considering the budget involved the film’s director, Adam Wingard, has done an impressive job of creating an intruigingly watchable horror with a great storyline but there were times when it fell flat. The gory effects were spot on and should please any horror fans out there it’s just a shame that at times the acting felt fake and as such it was eclipsed by the realism of the visual effects. There is some wasted potential here as the story and the style the film was shot in should have combined to make for excellent viewing but failed to deliver on its initial promise.
Credit to whoever came up with the name for this film, I am sure that people who enjoy twisted horror films will be very curious to see what A Horrible Way to Die entails, and although there are moments of dark brutality it doesn’t quite live up to its name.
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A throwback to the Giallo genre that saw its heyday in Seventies Italian cinema, Amer is a visually stunning film by a director who has clearly been heavily influenced by the work of visionaries such as Argento and Bava. Amer is split into three distinct segments that observe the key moments in a woman’s life from her innocent childhood to the blossoming sexuality of her teens and her eventual transformation into an adult. Each of the sections feature some elements of horror although I would personally say it is more of a dark thriller which leaves the audience guessing to the very end after much head-scratching at the strange set of events that define Ana’s life.
The superb use of colour and lighting throughout ensured that every single frame was beautiful to look at and I cannot wait to watch the film again in my home environment so that I will be able to pause it to take in the gorgeous visuals. It is a shame that the story appears to be more of a backdrop for the visuals as the director has done an incredible job of presenting the film and sourcing an excellent soundtrack but at times there is very little semblance of a plot. If Amer was not as beautiful to look at then it would be very disappointing but the strong visuals do make up for a story that is lacking in parts.
I can completely understand why a film such as Amer is capable of dividing audiences so much, I was blown away by it but I’m not at all surprised that people who are not fans of the genre see it as a self indulgent case of style over substance. Initially I was unsure of the film’s direction and was not too impressed with the sparse semblance of a storyline but having had time to think back to the film I began to appreciate just how fantastic it is. Much like slow burners such as Melancholia and The White Ribbon that also left me cold on first viewing but lingered in my minds long after until I began to appreciate their worth, Amer is a truly beautiful film that has all the hallmarks of a future cult classic and deserves to be recognised as such.
The next Grimm event will be taking place on Friday the 16th March at the Alexander Burgess Foundation in Manchester and is a Roger Corman double bill featuring the regional premier of documentary Corman’s world followed by a screening of Sharktopus:
Tickets can be purchased online from the above link so make sure to book yours in advance for what is sure to be another cracking night!
About The Author – Tom Bielby
Long time film fan and aspiring film writer, Tom is a horror fanatic who wasted far too much time at University sitting through every film in the IMDB Top 250. He is partial to foreign films and cult cinema and would love to rid the world of people who rustle their popcorn during important scenes. He can be found on Twitter under the alias @filmbantha
Do Arthouse Horror films leave you on the edge of your seat or do you prefer a more straight forward approach when it comes to the horror genre? Let me know your thoughts below..