Thursday, October 2, 2014

Thursday Movie Picks: Unstable Characters

Ah yes, the first Thursday of the Halloween Season is here! On Thursdays, I pick three movies based on a theme selected by our host, the wonderful Wanderer at Wandering Through the Shelves. She was gracious enough to make all of the themes for this month horror friendly. Our first topic is "Unstable Characters." Wow, there are tons of those, especially within horror, so there are plenty to choose from. Just to make it a double whammy...or maybe a triple whammy, I'm going for a theme within a theme within a theme within a theme. No typos. And four themes if you lost count. I'll explain. The overall theme, of course is unstable characters. The second is horror. To add a third layer, these are all foreign movies. Finally, the unstable person in all three movies is a female. And by now, you know that these picks generally fall into one of three categories: best (favorites), worst (hated), or hidden gems. Once again, I'm going for the latter. Hopefully, I'll broaden your horrorizons.

(Masumi Miyazaki)
Strange Circus
This movie is a questionable fit for this category. By that, I mean we're not really sure if our protagonist is stable, or not. To be honest, we're not even sure if she's the sole protagonist or one of two. You may wonder how this is possible. The story starts with a twelve year old girl who is being molested by her father. Eventually, we meet Taeko, a renowned author. The question becomes did what we saw to that point actually happen or is it just the latest novel that she is writing. If it did happen, was it to her? It's a twisted tale told with tons of beautiful yet disturbing imagery by Japanese director Shion Sono. By the way, star Masumi Miyazaki delivers an unbelievable performance taking on three roles, flawlessly. (Click here for my full review)

Bae Soo-mi
(Su-jeong Lim)
A Tale of Two Sisters
Our unstable person in this Korean horror flick has just come home from a mental institution. She has a sister who adores her and a step-mother who hates her. Her dad is baffled by her. This twisting, bending Korean horror movie continuously screws with your head. And for fear of spoiling the movie, I won't say too much more. Just know that it unfurls itself in brilliant fashion. And stay away from its American remake, The Uninvited. (Click here for my full review)

(Cecile De France)
High Tension
Some will tell you that this French ode to slasher flicks is a dud. What they really mean is that the twist is irredeemably stupid. In fact, just by including it here, I've probably ruined it. At the risk of removing all mystery, I'll just flat out say that the young lady pictured is indeed unstable. So why am I recommending this? Up until that twist, this is an insanely tense and often gory game of cat and mouse. Our lady in question is in pursuit of a madman who has kidnapped her bestest buddy after randomly and gruesomely slaughtering the rest of her family. For most of the movie it keeps us on the edge of our seat. We're deeply invested in finding out where all of this is going. Admittedly, it just creates a massive plot hole when we find out, but the fun is in getting there.


  1. I'm not a fan of a Tale of Two Sisters but it is an interesting movie. It definitely has a tighter story, is creepier and is much more successful in delivering the scares than the remake. The remake had this side plot with the three ghost kids which didn't seem to come to anything.
    Wandering through the Shelves

    1. My theory holds true, then. No matter what you think of it, you will still he remake is worse. Another big issue for me is how horribly Elizabeth Banks is miscast. I could see her "acting" he whole time as if the things needed for this role just aren't in her.

  2. Good call on High Tension and A Tale of Two Sisters! I haven't seen the other one.

    1. Thanks. Glad to see someone else that likes High Tension. If you ever venture into Strange Circus, just know that strange really is the operative word.