Paranormal Activity – Starring Katie Featherson, Micah Sloat – Netflix – 2007 – 1h 26min – Dir. Oren Peli – 15
Starring Katie Featherson and Micah Sloat in the roles of Katie and Micah in what critics have called the least creative naming decision since Kanye West named his daughter North, Paranormal Activity is one of the defining horror films of its age. It came amongst a renaissance of horror during the 2000s, along with films like Saw, 28 Days Later and, of course, 2004’s Garfield starring Bill Murray, and distinguishes itself from other scary flicks by never really showing the audience the full picture. Watching Paranormal Activity is the film equivalent of sitting on a damp seat on the London Underground: you don’t know exactly what’s going on, you’re scared, you’re uncomfortable, and you can be fairly certain that somebody has just wet your pants. Unlike the Tube analogy, though, Paranormal Activity isn’t nearly as unpleasant, and stands head and shoulders above many other supernatural thrillers for its subtlety, story-telling, and legitimately terrifying scenes. Unfortunately the sequels aren’t quite so clever and rounded, and become so complicated that in the fifth installment a Mexican child teleports into the kitchen from the first film. Why? Who cares.
Night Of The Living Dead – Starring Duane Jones – Prime Video – 1968 – 1h 37min – Dir. George A. Romero – 18
Released in the same year the Ford Escort replaced the Ford Anglia (which of course was one of the most important days of the 20th Century, behind the release of Tony Banks’ Bank statement in 1989 and the invention of Honegar, a mixture of honey and vinegar, in 1959) Night Of The Living Dead is one of the all-time great horror films. It effectively single-handedly launched the modern zombie into popular culture and was considered so scary at the time that regulations were brought in to legislate against it. It was also notable for being the first time in American cinema when a black actor was cast in the lead role when the script didn’t expressly call for one, which was incredibly ground-breaking for its time. The film follows a group of survivors in the early days of a zombie apocalypse as they fight both the undead and one another, all led by the cool and collected Ben, played by Duane Jones. Ben as a character is such a staple of the genre that you’ve probably seen an identical main character in nearly every other zombie film you’ve watched. That’s just how much of a classic this film is, it set the standard so well that over half a century later we’re still just trying to make something as good as Night Of The Living Dead.
The Addams Family – Starring Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd – Prime Video – 1991 – 1h 39min – Dir. Barry Sonnenfeld – PG
Based on the television series of the same name from the 1960s, The Addams Family follows a family whose name escapes me as they reunite with Uncle Fester. Fester, who looks surprisingly like the actor Christopher Lloyd, is portrayed by actor Christopher Lloyd, and features alongside Anjelica Huston as Morticia and Raul Julia as Gomez. These three are the beating heart of the film, supported by Wednesday and Pugsley, played respectively by Christina Ricci and Jimmy Workman. Jimmy Workman, interestingly, is what a pirate shouts when he sees his friend Jim, who is a man of work. Jim, me work-man! I’ll say it again just in case you didn’t catch it the first time. Remember to laugh this time, it’s a good one. Jim… me work-man! Got it? You probably just don’t get it if you don’t find it funny. That’s okay, it’s pretty clever so I don’t expect everyone to understand. That’s just how my brain works. I’m like Charlton Heston in Planet Of The Apes.
What We Do In The Shadows – Starring Natasia Demetriou, Matt Berry – IPlayer – 2019 – 5 Series – 16
Based on the 2014 film of the same name, What We Do In The Shadows is a mockumentary series that follows four vampire roommates and a human named Guillermo. Each episode deals with the roommates as they interact with the mortal world, other supernatural beings, or just with one another. Shadows is arguably the most high-profile vampire-based work since the Twilight films, but (fortunately or unfortunately, take your pick) features much fewer sparkly heart-throbs or – as we in the biz call them – spark-throbs. Despite the lack of said spark-throbs, however, Shadows has managed to cement itself as a seminal work of comedy-horror, amongst the likes of Young Frankenstein, Scary Movie, and, of course, 2004’s Garfield starring Bill Murray. Frankly, there’s not all that much to say about What We Do In The Shadows other than a simple watch it. Or, if you’re a time-traveller from after the invention of the radio but before the invention of television, give it a listen. Or, if you’re a time-traveller from hundreds of years into the future, download it straight into your brain before your next shift guarding the last of the 25 pence Freddos.