As Halloween rolls around and you dig out some horror films to watch I imagine you debating with yourself and loved ones; just who is the greatest cinematic serial killer? Is it A Nightmare on Elm Street‘s Freddy Krueger, Friday the 13th‘s Jason Voorhees or Halloween‘s Michael Myers? To help you settle the debate in the only way I know how, with data to back you up, I have built a dashboard collecting some statistics on the three murderers and their franchises.
To gauge each killer’s critical appeal I have collected critic and audience scores from Rotten Tomatoes. To compare the monetary value of each film I have taken budget and box office figures from The Numbers, adjusted for inflation, and calculated profitability as the box office as a proportion of the budget. Finally I have collated the most important metric of all; how many kills our three supernatural psychopaths racked up per film.
As the more astute horror fans will know already the homicidal trio don’t actually appear in all of the films in their respective franchises, Jason first kills in the second Friday the 13th, so I have given you the option of filtering out those anomalies. You can also see the charts for just one killer by selecting their face or filter by year if you want to snub the modern remakes in favour of only considering the classic films.
So with all the preamble done who is the best cinematic serial killer?
If you ask my opinion I’d have to say that from a popularity standpoint Freddy Krueger comes out on top with the best average audience and critic scores whereas if you want quantity rather than quality then Jason Voorhees wins with the most money rolling in and the most bodies piling up. As for Michael Myers? The original Halloween film not only came first but has not yet been beaten for pleasing fans and critics alike while raking in serious money.
Who is the best of these three? I think I’d like to see them fight it out…
Growing up in a convent Emma (Mia Wasikowska) was always a little different from the other girls. Whatever she was supposed to be doing Emma would be doing her own way and dreaming of the day she could leave. Madame Bovary starts with Emma getting her wish and marrying country doctor Charles Bovary (Henry Lloyd-Hughes). In theory by becoming Madame Bovary Emma is setting off to live her dream life of luxury and excitement but the reality is much less glamorous. Charles turns out to live a simple life in a modest house with a single servant. He is a kind man but dull and unambitious. While Emma yearns for the bustle of the city Charles is quite content to live out his quiet life in the countryside. Left alone in the house for most of the day Emma soon finds herself becoming less the grateful wife and succumbing to the dual temptations of material goods and extramarital romance.
Emma’s life is lived through the visitors she receives at her house and one of the more frequent faces she sees is Monsieur Lheureux (Rhys Ifans). Lheureux is a merchant who offers to sell Emma her every heart’s desire. From furniture to clothes and from jewellery to silverware there is nothing that Lheureux will not supply the Bovary couple and he happily allows Emma to rack up a mountain of debt. Another face who regularly pops by is Leon Dupuis (Ezra Miller) a young aspiring adventurer. Leon takes a shine to Emma and though she rejects his romantic advances he reawakens her sense of adventure and before the story is told Emma has taken her fair share of lovers. From a humble upbringing Emma learns to live a life of decadence and self-indulgence at the expense of her mild-mannered husband. Naturally Emma can only spend money she doesn’t have, and toy with the hearts of many, for so long before her life starts to unravel around her.
Much like the titular character Madame Bovary is beautifully presented but mostly empty on the inside. The costume and set designs are sumptuous, detailed, and presumably accurate and the film as a whole is greatly aesthetically pleasing. The acting, led by the always impressive Mia Wasikowska, is top-notch and everyone involved throws themselves into their roles with gusto. The ingredients are all there but the end result is somehow unsatisfying. While being a relatively enjoyable film Madame Bovary never quite manages to find its stride and events seem to plod on rather than move forward. Even when the situation becomes dire for our protagonist it is hard to sympathise because not one of the characters are especially sympathetic.
Emma is a selfish young woman who comes across as spoiled and ungrateful, Lheureux is a greedy, manipulative, and selfish man, and Emma’s various lovers are heartless and weak in equal measure. The only character who might stir up sympathy in the audience is poor Charles Bovary but the wet small town doctor is portrayed as pathetic enough to not really warrant our support. With nobody to root for the stakes never rise and the outcome of the film is difficult to care about. Despite the best efforts from a quality cast the script from Felipe Marino and director Sophie Barthes doesn’t put enough meat on the bones of the story. Though enjoyable enough I just didn’t care about what was going down on-screen.
Madame Bovary is a lack-lustre period drama that is less than the sum of its parts. While I must admit to being unfamiliar with the source text this adaptation leaves solid performances lost in a bland melodrama.
Madame Bovary has no UK release date yet.
On the subtropical Japanese island of Amami two young teenagers find themselves struggling to deal with their parents while awkwardly taking their first romantic steps together. Kyôko (Jun Yoshinaga) lives with her parents in a house shaded by a 400-year-old banyan tree. Her mother, a shaman, is sick and dying and all Kyôko and her father can do is try to make her comfortable and savour the time they have left together. Kyôko’s friend Kaito (Nijiro Murakami) has moved to the island with his mother. They have left a city life in Tokyo and Kaito’s tattooist father behind. As Kyôko must come to terms with losing her mother while surrounded by a large extended family, Kaito is forced to adjust to life with just his mother on an island cut off from civilisation and his heritage. Through sadness, anger, heartbreak, and companionship Kyôko and Kaito are bonded together and a sweet teenage romance blossoms.
Spread out over two hours Still the Water is not a film of thrilling action and explosive stunts but one of quiet emotions and the slow development of characters and relationships. Rather than follow the traditional three act structure made up of scenes that service a simple plot and drive towards its conclusion Still the Water instead takes on a more fluid pace. Scenes flow from one to the next in slow, lyrical fashion with mood and tone more important than exposition and function.
Kyôko’s journey through the film is one tinged with sadness. Much as the impending death of her mother casts its shadow over events she remains a positive presence and could never be said to have wallowed. Moments featuring Kyôko and her parents just sitting around their house and talking are tender in their simplicity. These authentic moments of a family enjoying each other’s company, teasing and joking with one another, are what make the film sing. Kyôko’s story is so painfully sad because the audience believes in her family and the love they share. There is an innocence to be found in the story of a young girl and her sick mother, a fable told through numerous Studio Ghibli films, and upon losing her mother this girl finds her strength within the sadness.
Kaito’s story is just as painful for him but tinged more with anger than sorrow. Wrenched away from his previous life in the bustling metropolis of Tokyo and struggling to deal with the separation of his parents Kaito turns his mother into his own personal antagonist. Kaito’s pain is at once completely understandable and totally unreasonable. His upset comes not from a logical place but from a deep instinctive sense of betrayal. Despite both having trouble in their families when Kaito and Kyôko are together they retreat into childish playfulness and happiness. Theirs is such a tender, tentative romance. One that flashes into maturity when emotions and events come to a head and Kyôko shows her strength by putting aside personal grief to try to control her young love’s rage.
If what I have said so far sounds like waffle then it is only because Still the Water is so hard to justify using words. This is a film that expresses itself best through stunning visuals, quiet moments of contemplation, and a gentle rocking pace. Writer & director Naomi Kawase has created a film that feels truly organic. A natural phenomenon that talks of the loss of innocence and subtle power that love can bring.
A quiet film about love, life, and death Still the Water will make you smile through your tears.
Still the Water has no UK release date yet.
“Fury certainly passes the time and provides plenty of spectacle though not on a scale we haven’t already seen before. It’s hard to know what the film is trying to say and what it has to offer that is not just treading old ground. If we can all agree that war is unpleasant then you can probably give this one a miss.” So says I.
Can a pair who have been best friends since they were five fall in love? Probably. Romantic comedy with enough swear to warrant a 15 certificate.
The Book of Life
Gorgeous looking family animated film about the Mexican Day of the Dead. Call me crazy but this looks absolutely charming.
This Is Where I Leave You
Here at the cinema. Moderately OK looking adult comedy drama with an ensemble cast including Bateman, Fonda, Fey, Driver, and Byrne. Expect to chuckle and then feel emotions.
“The Babadook is a well crafted, lovingly designed, and properly acted horror film that will have you checking out the shadows on your way home. With Hollywood failing to bring much to the horror table it took an Australian film to remind everyone why they are scared of the dark again.” So says I.
Period drama starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper more likely to win Razzies than Oscars. Dare you go to see how bad it really is? I’m not sure I will.
Jimi: All Is By My Side
André Benjamin (née 3000) stars as Jimi Hendrix in a biopic covering his time in London. FUN FACT: The film failed to get the music rights to any of Hendrix’s songs.
Night Train to Lisbon
Jeremy Irons goes on a night train to Lisbon.
Time Is Illmatic
If you have heard of the artist Nas and his album Illmatic then you are far better suited to see this film than me.
The Way He Looks
Brazilian drama about a gay blind teenager falling in love. Prepare to swoon.
The Knife That Killed Me
“For something completely different and to support a pioneering piece of British filmmaking then The Knife That Killed Me is worth checking out. Directors (and co-writers) Kit Monkman and Marcus Romer have made a carefully crafted film with a fresh approach. It might take you as little while to get settled in but your effort will be rewarded.” So says I.
Sexy 70s drama about America in the 60s.
“The biopic focuses on the early career of cardio surgeon Zbigniew Religa”. Since you asked.
Samuel (Noah Wiseman) is a socially awkward young boy who is quite content playing with himself, building weapons, and living in a fantasy world. His mother Amelia (Essie Davis) is struggling to cope with looking after an eccentric young boy on her own. While she has a close sister who tries to help out Samuel’s odd behaviour means that her patience and generosity is slowly wearing thin. One night when Amelia asks Samuel to pick a book from the shelf for her to read he returns with Mister Babadook. Inside the blood-red cover is a beautifully hand drawn pop-up book about a creature called the Babadook. What starts as reading like a children’s book soon turns sinister and Amelia swiftly abandons the creepy tale.
Soon Samuel’s games involve the invisible figure of the Babadook and he continually insists that he is not imagining the creature. As Samuel’s delusions grow Amelia struggles to keep control of her son amid violent outbursts and spooky goings on. Before too long Amelia has to admit that the Babadook is not just a fictional creature residing within a children’s book but a very real force that is living in her house and one that means to do her harm. As Amelia battles against something she can hardly believe is real Samuel finds himself at risk, not just from the monsters he has long feared but from his emotionally exhausted and once-loving mother.
If it’s in a word. Or it’s in a look. You can’t get rid of… the Babadook. So what can you do?
The modern method for producing a horror film is to make your feature a found footage horror and to rely on jump scares to get your scare quotient. If you want an audience to scream you just need a long period of quiet followed by a loud band and someone rushing towards, past, or away from the camera. Thankfully writer & director Jennifer Kent has decided to buck the contemporary trend in favour of more traditional and deep-seated frights. The Babadook is genuinely terrifying and the scares don’t always come from sudden noises but from the slow and sustained building of tension and the unrelenting anticipation of something absolutely horrendous happening.
The story of Amelia and Samuel is tough enough before the Babadook comes on the scene. Their relationship is one clearly filled with love but Samuel’s allegedly bad behaviour is clearly putting a strain on his mother who is finding solo parenting to be too much work. In the film’s opening Davis excellently plays the role of overworked mother and brilliantly portrays a woman’s descent into mania as she tries to protect the one person she cares about from a supernatural force. As the film progresses and her mental state deteriorates Davis paints a woman at her weakest, one who is susceptible to possession, and then one possibly of danger to her son. Meanwhile young Mr Wiseman puts in an impressive show as the excitable young boy who has trouble relating to other children but no problem befriending the monster who lives in his wardrobe. The two leads give the film its heart and a reason for the audience to worry. A horror is all the more scary when you care about the lives at stake.
Throughout most of The Babadook I was incredibly tense. Since he first appeared as a drawing in pop-up form I was dreading the appearance of the Babadook for real. Obviously the eventual appearance could never live up to the fear that not seeing a monster can bring but in his own unique way Mister Babadook was frightening to behold and to imagine beholding. In fact as I searched for images to put in this review, while alone at home at night, I successfully managed to give myself the creeps all over again.
The Babadook is a well crafted, lovingly designed, and properly acted horror film that will have you checking out the shadows on your way home. With Hollywood failing to bring much to the horror table it took an Australian film to remind everyone why they are scared of the dark again.
is in UK cinemas from 24th October 2014.