A couple of bad horror choices to kick off the new year, starting with WWE-produced slasher sequel See No Evil 2:
I expected much more from this sequel, coming from hot horror prospects the Soska sisters, and with a cast including genre stalwarts Danielle Harris and Katharine Isabelle. Only Isabelle really stands out as a knowing parody of the drunk party girl archetype, but she’s in a completely different movie to everyone else: a self-serious slasher with no plot to speak of, set in a bland, sterile environment, and with depressingly underwhelming kill scenes. The first film was pretty bad, but at least it had a semblance of a story, and a decent performance by Kane; this one’s so boring, it’s actually worse.
The Lair of the White Worm, a film I first saw on Channel 4 one late night in the ’90s, fared no better:
Ken Russell leans on the psychedelic nightmare vibe of his earlier Altered States to prop up this risible adaptation of a Bram Stoker story, a confused mess that wobbles between horror and comedy but doesn’t commit to either. The results are hammy performances that might well be deliberate, though one can’t quite tell, and intermittent shocks decidedly weak by the standards of the era.
Irish documentarians Keith Walsh and Jill Beardsworth’s film follows over a number of years the lives of residents in Majdal Shams, one of a handful of remaining Arab Druze villages in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, and one only kept alive by its meagre apple trade with neighbouring Syria.
Technically speaking it’s not up to much: uneven sound and image quality abound, and the filmmakers struggle to find a cohesive narrative in their edit. But the variety of locals they spend time with – between the Assad-worshipping older generation who pray for reunion with Syria, and the more pragmatic, even jaded youth who remark on their statelessness with justified frustration – are given ample opportunity to tell their stories.
And it’s ultimately the people themselves who paint a vivid picture of a community as reluctant pawns in a geopolitical chess game, slowly being choked of life. The title is supposed to be a metaphor for them, but perhaps a better one would be the piles of dead fish on the dried bed of the local lake, its waters drained to feed the demands of nearby Israeli settlements. The facts on the ground speak for themselves.