STAYING IN Special
Henry Northmore rounds up a fright night of movies and TV shows to jangle the nerves and scare your pants off
Hallowe’en is almost upon us, so it’s the perfect time to ril e through the darkest corners of the DVD cupboard for a selection of horror movies available this October. And it’s a grab-bag witch’s brew of genres, starting with nihilistic Spanish home invasion thriller Kidnapped (Icon) ●●●●● – tense, wince-inducingly nasty and gripping from start to i nish, as a family is terrorised by masked hoods. Imagine a future America where any crime is legal for one night of the year. The Purge Boxset (Universal)
●●●●● is packed with thrills as society unleashes its inner fury. Surprisingly, the sequel Purge: Anarchy is actually the stronger i lm. Zombeavers (Universal) ●●●●● is gloriously stupid as a group of college kids i nd themselves besieged by undead l esh-eating aquatic rodents. There’s some scrappy fun to be had with All Cheerleaders Die (Altitude) ●●●●● and its mix of high-school witchcraft and zombie comedy. Night of the Comet (Arrow Video) ●●●●● is a cheesy, light and frothy 80s romp as two valley girls i nd themselves among the last survivors on earth, battling raving astro-zombies. Afl icted (Sony) ●●●●● i lls the obligatory found-footage slot: two pals (Derek Lee and Clif Prowse) set out
on a trip round the world, but one of them picks up a mysterious illness after a dodgy late-night encounter in Paris. The documented deterioration is pretty compelling before it inevitably drifts into ‘why the hell are you still i lming this?’ territory.
Finally, we end with two TV series. American Horror Story: Coven (20th Century Fox) ●●●●● i nds us at a school for witches in New Orleans. It’s a light, teen-centric series (starring Emma Roberts, Taissa Farmiga and Gabourey Sidibe) but as usual it’s the older cast that excel (particularly Jessica Lange). Robert Rodriguez has turned his own movie into From Dusk Till Dawn: Season One (entertainment one) ●●●●●. Stretching out the original 108-minute plot over ten episodes drags in places, but also adds multiple layers of exposition as the murderous Gecko brothers (now played by DJ Cotrona and Zane Holz) unwittingly end up at a bar infested by vampire snake people.
20 THE LIST 16 Oct–13 Nov 2014
The Knick Period hospital drama from Steven Soderbergh ●●●●●
The trend for renowned cinema types making a move into TV (aka that place where The Big Stories are being told) continues with Steven Soderbergh directing the ten episodes of a bold new US medical drama. If the phrase ‘medical drama’ makes you think of any number of insubstantial and l uffy shows, you can be reassured by the fact that The Knick is a production from HBO, the iconic cable channel not exactly known for its lack of substance. So, during the opening i ve minutes of this 1900 New York-set show we have suicide, death on the operating table, and cocaine being injected into the toe of a surgeon to get him up for the job. Holby City it most certainly ain’t, buddy. Clive Owen takes on the central role as John W Thackery, a brilliant but l awed (naturally) physician at the Knickerbocker Hospital, where a health revolution is taking place in the wards, even if its racial politics remain arcane. When a lovely ghost from Thackery’s
past l oats by with a terrifying condition requiring even scarier treatment, his belief that a doctor is in trouble when they start replacing an obsession with medical practice with worrying about the human being on the table is put sternly to the test. Meanwhile, the arrival of Dr Algernon Edwards (Andre Holland) to the hospital brings a depressing racial tension to the mix with him being treated by his fellow surgeons as a i rst-year medical student at best and a piece of dirt at worst.
While The Knick is clearly brilliant, it takes a while to get used to the dubby musical motif, as anachronistically weird as Boardwalk Empire’s Britpop theme tune, and Clive Owen is not everyone’s cup of arsenic. But his deadpan acting style works perfectly for this part of a lifetime, even if his American-ish accent comes out dripping wet from all its pond-hopping. (Brian Donaldson) ■ The Knick starts on Sky Atlantic, Thu 16 Oct, 9pm.