Previously, I blogged about how the placebo effect is at work when you watch a horror movie. As part of my... research for this post I watched quite a lot of them. Here are my thoughts on some recent ones. Roughly in order of best to worst. Some minor spoilers, but nothing worse than you'd get from the trailer.
The Last Exorcism - Very scary, and full of surprises. The trailer makes it look like a shameless clone of The Exorcist; it isn't. Gets Neuroskeptic bonus points for the opening bit where the hero, a preacher who's lost his faith, talks about how he keeps doing "exorcisms" because it's psychologically helpful i.e. a placebo effect.
The Broken - Inventive, intelligent and creepy. A woman starts seeing her own doppelgänger after a car crash. Neuroskeptic bonus points for mentioning Capgras syndrome, a classic neurological disorder. Well worth watching.
The Signal - A mysterious TV glitch sends people crazy. But who's actually affected, and who's just been sent crazy by the fact that everyone else is going crazy around them? A clever twist on the zombie apocalypse genre, and manages to be both frightening and funny.
Carriers - An airborne Ebola virus wipes out almost everyone. Four teens try to escape. The characters and acting are pretty blah, but the concept is good, and it's well produced.
Dread - Student film-makers decide to make a documentary about people's worst fears, but one of them is a psychopath, so they end up making a Saw movie. Good, if a bit predictable.
The House of the Devil - An attempt at the kind of anticipation-horror that I talked about in my past post - nothing really happens, but the build-up is tense. Up to a point. Then it goes on for another half hour and gets tedious. Missable.
- Pretty standard slasher, except that the serial killer... is an internal organ! Actually not all that bad, but nothing special.
Mutants - Zombies attack survivors holed up in a hospital. In France. Extremely generic, there is no point in watching this if you've seen, well, any other zombie movie from the past 5 years.
Mulberry Street - "They're rat people, they're f-king rat people!" Some virus strikes New York, turning people into rat people. Who are also psychopaths. More funny than scary, unintentionally. Apparently this was done on basically zero budget: what's disappointing is that it comes across as quite polished despite that - the budget isn't the problem, the script is.