Sunday, October 11, 2009

Carnival of Souls (movie #34)

This movie is creepy. I saw it a few years ago when I was in college, and I didn't expect much, but I was pleasantly surprised. Candice Hilligoss stars here as a woman who is in a car accident after foolishly deciding to drag race with some teenagers on a deserted road. Her car crashes off a bridge when they crowd her out, trying to cut her off and gain the lead, and then the police spend hours trying to get her car out of the water. No one expects any survivors, but then there's this woman, covered in mud,crawling out of the river and stumbling drunkenly across the riverbank. Somehow she survived, but she didn't come back alone. Soon the woman starts seeing visions of pale faced people with dark eyes who appear to want to drag her away somewhere. I didn't expect that a movie with a primitive bunch of tricks up its sleeve like this could actually be effectively scary, but this movie works. The pale-faced spirits are freaky, and as the woman becomes more and more unhinged, she scares me and I believe her transformation.

One thing this movie does that I really appreciate is how it makes me think about why scary images are scary. A lot of movies today show a person stumbling through the dark or at the very least they stumble around without seeing anything scary, and then suddenly something pops into their line of vision (accompanied by a loud spurt of music) and we jump, and BOO! we're scared. Jump scares like that don't take much talent, and they're not hard to pull off. This movie goes a bit farther. At one point, the woman who has survived the accident starts seeing a therapist to deal with her ghostly visions that no one else can see, and one day, after she's been haunted by these visions for along time, she runs to the therapist for help. She talks to the back of his chair, and then suddenly the chair spins around and we see that it's not the therapist at all, but instead one of the visions. She stares at the vision, and it's scary,then she stares at it for so long the shock wears off. Then after a bit, a smile spreads across the specter's face, and BAM! suddenly the image is scary again. Most movies don't want to linger on the ghost or the monster or whatever for that long, and if they do, they let it get to the point where it's not scary and then they don't know what to do with it, so it's not scary at all for the rest of the movie. this movie manages to take something that scared us and use it to scare us again, and I'm impressed by that, because it's something that a lot of big-budget movies of today can't do.

This movie is worth a watch. I for one am glad I watched it again.

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