Thursday, October 21, 2010

31 Days of Halloween: Hour of the Wolf


As a child, if I woke up after my parents were asleep between 3 am and 6am, when the moon and street lights would mingle and dance on the wall, I would spend the rest of the night wide awake in terror under the blankets, my imagination on full throttle. Ingmar Bergman’s only straight horror film (and by straight I mean the one with the most outright elements of horror in addition to his typical existential and psychological horror) Hour of the Wolf gives a name to that time of primitive fear. Painter Johan (Bergman regular Max Von Sydow) moves with his pregnant wife (the innocent and sweet looking Liv Ullmann) to a secluded island to escape and work on his paintings. As an insomniac, he is awake during "the Hour of the Wolf,” the time late at night, “when people die, when babies are born, and when nightmares run free” (and most people are abducted by aliens I’d wager). His wife stays awake with him each night and is witness as he slowly loses his mind and grip on reality, aided by a group of rich and strange aristocrats on the island that seem hell bent on getting him there. In typical Bergman style, the film is shot beautifully with an emphasis on isolation and the play between dark and light. It’s also disorienting and surreal in a careful way, so unlike what audiences are used to today, emphasizing how just a slight twist on normal life can suddenly become horrific (watching a man suddenly walk up the wall near the end of this film will have you in freak out mode faster than the box of hypodermic needles in Saw II). The precursor of Eraserheard and Videodrome, it's a must see on every film buff's Halloween list. P.S. Trailer below is probably NSFW...depending upon the work.


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