[REC] (2007) directed by Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza
Oh man, I had to stop watching this a couple of times to quiet my stomach. Cloverfield didn't bother me at all, but the shaky-cam in this movie was abusive. I even watched the thing on a tiny laptop screen and I still got motion sick. I understand this filming technique greatly added to the impact of the movie, but, geez, it's hard to watch sometimes.
The plot of the movie -- at least until the last 15 minutes -- is pretty standard stuff. It's a zombie movie of the "super-rabies" type, like 28 Days Later. What it has going for it is that it takes place in a very small apartment complex and is shot with a handheld camera. Both of these things make the movie feel very claustrophobic and tense. That, and the movie rarely takes a break. It almost feels like one, unbroken shot of people running around screaming for 78 minutes.
I loved the ending with what appeared to be Rubber Johnny's mom. At first, I was not really happy with the sudden left turn into the occult when they got to the penthouse. But, the more I think of it, the more I like it. What else were they going to do? Find one more zombie up there? Get sniped through the windows by the police? Instead, they give us a vague explanation for the zombie outbreak, and one that's completely unique as far as I know. From what I was able to gather in the chaos, it sounds like a doctor was trying to cure a girl possessed by a demon with medical science. The cure he develops doesn't work at all and instead causes the outbreak. Logically, he decides to lock the possessed girl in his penthouse and gets the hell out of Dodge. He must have told the police about it, though. I'm not sure how else they would've known so fast that they needed to quarantine the apartment building. I suppose [REC2] might explain more. (8/10)
Seventh Moon (2008) directed by Eduardo Sánchez
I've seen a lot of backwoods horror movies, but never one set in China. It's a great idea to dive into the superstitions of rural China in order to scare the crap out of an American and her Chinese-American husband who can't speak Cantonese very well. Turns out, in this part of China, they need to offer sacrifices during the full moon of the seventh lunar month, else bad stuff will happen. Namely: quite creepy, naked, pale moon demons will take you away and kill you.
This was another shaky-cam movie, though not all the way through. The shaky-cam parts were a little annoying, though, as they was mostly just a technique to make it hard to see the moon demons clearly. This was not unexpected, though, coming from the director of Blair Witch. And, I'll grudgingly admit this technique worked. Never being able to see the moon demons clearly (until the end) greatly increases their scariness. The blurry, pale, humanoid shapes coming after the characters in the dark are straight out of a nightmare.
I think this movie works for me because it's easy to imagine being hopelessly lost in the middle of a foreign country and not being able to speak the language. With nothing familiar to grasp onto, it's easy for fear to take over (even without moon demons). (7/10)
And that's it for the 12 Ghost House Underground movies. They faired a little bit better than your average Horrorfest run: I liked 5/12 of them (42%), which beats the hell out of Horrorfest's current record of 9/35 (26%) for me. Dance of the Dead and The Children are the clear winners from both GHU sets. I also dug Dark Floors, The Substitute and today's Seventh Moon. Looks like I'll be saving Fangoria's Fright Fest films for next year, as I'm all out of time. The Six Weeks are nearly over!