Movie Mondays: Horror from Down Under

~posted by Frank

Horror fans are hard to please. Film critics are generally not kind to most horror films (justifiably), and often moviegoers are even more critical. These three films from Down Under – two from Australia, one from New Zealand – are notable not only for pleasing critics and audiences, but for also putting women front and center. And these women are fierce.

In The Babadook (2014) Amelia is a struggling single mother to Samuel, a challenging boy whose outbursts have estranged them from family and friends. When they find a book called “The Babadook,” it unleashes something in the house. Is it a monster, or a figment of their imagination? It may not sound original, and it’s not blood-and-guts gory, but the terror of a single mother trying to hold it together and battle evil forces that may (or may not) be there chilled audiences to their core and made this a surprise hit last fall.

In The Loved Ones (2009), Lola musters up the courage to ask Brent to the prom. When Brent turns her down, Lola – with the help of her father – decide to hold their own prom, whether Brent wants to attend or not. The Loved Ones succeeds because it’s both a bloody torture/revenge flick to satisfy hardcore horror fans and a funny, candy-colored teen film for audiences looking for a new spin in a genre with many familiar elements.

In the New Zealand import Housebound (2014), Kylie is a young woman placed under house arrest, which means she’ll have to return home and spend all day with her dotty mother Miriam, who believes the house is haunted. Well, it turns out the house is haunted, and it doesn’t like Kylie’s presence. Let’s just say she takes matters into her own hands. Housebound has been lauded for being both funny and gross, and for taking standard horror cliches and turning them on their heads.

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