So I’m back again with more movies for you. I thought I’d give this one a more solid theme and have chosen 5 movies that, while excellent, are not very nice. They are all violent in the extreme and some are quite depressing but they are all great. So let’s get started with five movies that you may never forgive me for recommending.
The Descent (2005)
One of the finest horror movies of the last 10 years, The Descent follows a group of female cavers out on an expedition in a newly discovered cave system in an unnamed area of the English countryside. When the group find themselves cut off from their exit, the terror ensues as they soon discover they are being stalked by a strange, terrifying predator.
This is a movie that caught me totally by surprise. Critics compared it to Creep which, although I thought was good, didn’t blow me away. What I got though was a much tighter, well polished and more terrifying experience. Watch this one alone, in the dark and I promise you’ll shit yourself with fear.
Hard Candy (2005)
When people think of Ellen Page they immediately think of the surprise hit Juno. But for me the movie that sets the young Canadian actress apart is her 2005 film Hard Candy. The story follows Hayley (Page), a 14 year old girl who meets a charming 32 year old photographer played by Patrick Wilson over the Internet and arranges to meet in real life. Suspecting he is a paedophile, Hayley sets about a gruesome and violent plan to expose him.
Another film that blindsided me, Hard Candy is one of those films that will have you thinking for days and weeks after watching it. As the movie progresses your sympathy switches from one character to the other and as accusations become facts and layers of untruth are peeled away you find yourself questioning your own beliefs. It is gripping in a way that most other movies ony dream of being. In my opinion, Ellen Page’s best work to date.
Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)
If revenge is a dish best served cold, Shane Meadows‘ gritty tale of vengeance burns you like a shot of liquid nitrogen. Sitting firmly in my top three British movies of all time, Dead Man’s Shoes follows Richard played by the superb Paddy Considine as he returns to his home town after a stint in the army to exact bloody revenge on the gang of petty criminals who brutalised his mentally challenged brother.
Brutal, frightening and gritty with a killer twist ending, Dead Man’s Shoes will draw you in like Richard himself reached through the screen and grabbed you by the collar. Filmed in Matlock, Derbyshire just up the road from where I live, the setting is unusual for a movie like this but Meadows makes it nothing short of perfect. The remote, dreary town seems almost like another character in league with Richard as he avenges his brother. This is a must-see thriller.
Harsh Times (2005)
From the writer of Training Day, David Ayer, comes Harsh Times, the brutal, dark tale of a friendship torn apart by violence and mental illness. After serving in Iraq Jim (Christian Bale) is having a hard time adjusting to life as a civilian. Haunted by the killing he saw and did while in the gulf Jim’s money is running out and as he and lifetime friend Mike (Freddy Rodriguez) set out looking for work they end up falling back into the life of crime and drugs they so nearly turned their backs on completely.
This is not an easy film to watch. Nor is it happy. What you do get though is a gripping story, wonderfully shot and directed that takes you by surprise and doesn’t sugar coat anything. It portrays the disparity of the lead characters very well and is easily the best movie of its type… because it’s the only one.
My final recommendation this month is the true story of prostitute turned serial killer, Aileen Wuornos. Monster is an unflinching look at how Aileen (Charlize Theron) went from ageing prostitute to killing out of necessity to killing for money to being convicted and sentenced to death by the state of Florida and her odd friendship-come-love-affair with young runaway Selby played by Christina Ricci.
Brutal and honest, Monster is about as depressing as they come but the superb direction and Oscar winning performance from Theron simply steal the show. Very few true crime stories are as well done and hard-hitting as Monster. A true masterpiece.
A word of advice before I leave you; Don’t watch all these movies in one go. I don’t want your suicides on my conscience. Next time I think I’ll go for some comedies…