31 Days of Halloween | Horror Movie Spotlight | The Shrine

image via IMDB

image via IMDB

It’s no secret:  I’m a horror movie nut. I love a well-shot, well-plotted, well-developed flick.  I don’t mind gore, as long as it’s integral to the story.  I can even stand poorly written dialogue if the concept is compelling enough. This month, I’m profiling a film a day you may have never heard of.  Happy Halloween!

The Shrine (2010):  Carmen, a young journalist, feels as if she’s stumbled on the story of a lifetime.  She defies her boss’ orders and books a trip to Poland to investigate the disappearance of a local backpacker who was last seen in a remote region of the country.  With an intern and a photographer boyfriend in tow, they head to the village where he was last seen.  During the course of their investigation, they stumble upon some evasive/aggressive locals who seem to be stuck firmly in the 1800s, then come across a mysterious mist…and what lies in that mist will change their lives forever.  Dun, dun, duuhhhhnnnn!

Look forward to:  

  • mysterious villagers with a dark secret
  • creepy statues
  • a little girl who has seen too much
  • a religious sect with a vested interest in human sacrifice


What I appreciated about the piece: The M. Night Shyamalan-esque twist near the end turns the action on it’s head.  I didn’t see it coming, which given how many horror movies I’ve seen, is really something.

What didn’t work:

  • There are some continuity issues (bags are put down and forgotten; one character is a photographer who takes surprisingly few pictures…and his camera is in one of those bags that gets abandoned…along with, I’m presuming, his ID and passport…which is always encouraged in a foreign country???).
  • Also, how much English do these villagers speak?  Seems to be a random decision as to when they speak Polish and when they miraculously speak English.
  • Costumes were also inconsistent.  Sometimes the Polish characters look like extras in a period village, sometimes they look like they stumbled out of a country music concert. Took me out of the action a bit. The-Shrine-1

In the Halloween Spirit: My Five Fave Horror Flicks

October is my all-time favorite month!  There’s that slight nip in the air, pumpkin beer returns to the tap, and so many different channels are running HORROR MOVIE MARATHONS!  YES!  My DVR is SO FULL RIGHT NOW!

I LOVE a good horror movie (hell, sometimes I even love a bad horror movie), and here’s a list of five of my favorite that you may have never heard of, but are well worth checking out.  In no particular order…

image via IMDB

image via IMDB


This movie is more a comedy than a straight-up horror film, but it’s so damn clever, I just had to include it.  The premise: a documentary film crew is allowed unprecedented access into a vampire community in Belgium, and the family they follow has some definite issues.  The patriarch has delusions of grandeur.  The matriarch seems not quite all together present (i.e. the lights are on but there quite possibly isn’t anyone home).  Sampson, the son, keeps trying to sleep with all the wrong people, namely the community leader’s hot wife.  Grace, the daughter, desperately wants to be human and refuses to wear anything but pink.  They keep a human slave nicknamed Meat that has developed a pretty intense case of Stockholm Syndrome.  Oh, and the community leader, though their elder, is trapped in the form of a ten-year-old boy.  So if you’re looking for something a bit lighter this Halloween season…this is like the Spinal Tap of horror films.

image via IMDB

image via IMDB

HOME MOVIE  (2008)

I am a sucker for “found footage” horror films, and in this film, the construct works.  The narrative follows a family living quietly in upstate New York, when something in the family shifts.  Their two angelic children, well..they’re not so angelic anymore.  They’ve started stapling live frogs to trees.  There is literally nothing creepier than horror films where everything appears normal, and then slowly, you realize that it’s not…and it’s even creepier when the thing that’s all of a sudden not normal are the beautiful, innocent children…

the children


This movie has what has got to be the single best tag line in horror movie history: “You brought them into this world.  They’ll take you out.”  Another film firmly in the creepy kids camp, this one has a Christmas twist, because what’s more mundane than the annual trip to visit relatives for the holidays…and the kids coming down with a cold…and one of the symptoms of that cold is unquenchable bloodlust.  If you’re a fan of gore, these children bring their creativity to the table as they pick off the adults in the film one by one…

image via IMDB

image via IMDB


GIRLS.GONE.CAVING.  Now, if you’re claustrophobic, the first half of the movie is scary enough.  You’ve got a group of women who go caving in a previously unmapped cave, full of too-tight spaces and with lots of potential for cave-ins.  Oh, and they’ve got some interpersonal issues, namely one chick was sleeping with another chick’s man.  So there’s that.  THEN the blind albino Golum-looking people-eaters show up, and they are hungry…


FUNNY GAMES (1997 & 2007)

Now I’ve seen both the original German version and the English language remake, and both are equally terrifying.  Especially Michael Pitt.  He is ridiculously terrifying in this film, probably due to his beauty and deep commitment to the character.  Premise: a family arrives at their lake house, and notices their neighbor in the company of two well-turned young men. But when the aforementioned young men knock at their door, asking for an egg…turns out they’re not as well-turned as previously thought…

What are your favorite horror flicks?  Let me know in the comments!