The Horror Honeys: The Brits are Coming (To Get You)

The Brits are Coming (To Get You)

A Guest Honey List by Zoe

I usually like to start my articles with a confession….

As a general rule, I hate British films. Hate them with a passion which makes Michael Myers look like Gentle Ben. Although I am unswervingly patriotic in all other respects, there is something about the ‘British Film’ tag which makes me want to shove spikes in my ears and red hot pokers in my eyes. And I’m not just talking about the ones with Hugh Grant in. I hate the pretentious ‘worthiness’ that we seem to insist on thrusting at people ‘look, we’re British, we do sensible, sensitive dramas about people peeling potatoes’ etc etc. There is one genre, however, where I make some exceptions, and that is horror.

In the last 10 years or so we’ve produced some corking horror films, from 28 Days Later to The Descent; we’ve been flinging the gore about in a very unbritish fashion. Below I’m going to run through a few of my favourites for your reading pleasure.

Eden Lake (2008)
An early outing for the delightful Michael Fassbender, this hoodie-horror directed by James Watkins gets an honourable mention for violence, torture and sheer soul destroying misery.

After their romantic camping trip (yes, apparently some people think sleeping in a tent with bugs, no washing facilities or electricity is romantic) is ruined by a gang of ‘yoofs’ stealing their stuff and wrecking their car, the couple decide to confront said yoofs. This does not end well. For anybody.
Living in South London at the time I first saw this, it seemed less of a horror film and more of a documentary….probably why I found it so depressing. It does however feature decent amounts of torture, plus Michael Fassbender. So win/win then.

The director went on to make the next film on my list.

The Woman in Black (2012)
Otherwise known as ‘the one with Harry Potter in where lots of kids die horribly’. 
A Hammer production based on the book by Susan Hill and the creepy stage play, still running in the West End, this old fashioned ghost story set out with the apparent aim of making the audience jump out of their seats repeatedly, shooting popcorn left right and centre. I imagine the theatre staff loved this film. Not.

The small remote village of Cryphin Gifford is in fear of the ghostly woman in black. If you see her, a child dies… Unfortunately Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) turns up and plonks himself in the woman’s house, thus ensuring he sees her a lot and impressively reduces the child population of Cryphin Gifford.
This film got a slightly mixed reaction on release but I thoroughly enjoyed it, even with the considerable drag factor of it having Daniel Radcliffe in it. There were some genuine scary as hell moments and even this seasoned horror veteran jumped a little. Once.

A sequel is in the works, although I suspect they won’t be going with our suggestion for a title - WIB2: Back In Black. Which is a shame…

Dog Soldiers (2002)
Easily my favourite werewolf offering of recent years, this Neil Marshall helmed film ripped its way into theatres and developed an instant cult following.

A group of soldiers on an army exercise in the middle of nowhere encounter a family of werewolves, with amusing and gruesome consequences.

Seriously, if you haven’t seen this yet it’s worth a watch. The werewolf costumes (think tall people with wolf hats) may be a little iffy but that doesn’t matter in the slightest, once the action gets going. There are enough laughs and entrails to keep even the most cynical horror fan (that’s me again) entertained.

The director went on to make probably my favourite British horror film of all time (apart from The Wicker Man)…

The Descent (2005) 
A group of women cavers explore a newly discovered cave system, with added mutants.
This film, Marshall’s follow up to the successful Dog Soldiers above, contained no werewolves whatsoever. It did, however, contain gore, claustrophobia, kick-ass female characters and creepy as all hell mutant thingies.

I loved this film in the theatre, I loved it on DVD and I love it on Blu-Ray. It is bloody brilliant. You can never have too many kick ass women in a horror film. Throw in bucketloads of gore, some genuine tension, an imaginative setting and non-cgi bad guys that actually look good and you’re definitely on to a winner. I’m still a little on the fence over the ending, but I won’t spoil that here.

That said the sequel was utter cockpiss. Don’t bother watching it. Seriously, it’ll ruin the original, it’s one of ‘those’ films, you know, like American Psycho 2 (aka – what the actual fuck was that?).

Severance (2006)
An honourable mention too for this entertaining comedy horror from director Christopher Smith, even if it does unfortunately feature Danny Dyer. If you don’t know who Danny Dyer is, I envy you.

A group of defence contractor employees go on a ‘team building’ trip to a remote retreat in the woods. Only they end up in completely the wrong place and are picked off one by one by unknown assailants. 
The main recommendation for this one is the humour, there are some genuine giggles to be had here. There are also some imaginative deaths, plenty of gore and Danny Dyer off his nut on magic mushrooms. Anyone who’s ever been on a company team building trip will probably wish they’d been on this one instead, far less painful, even if you did end up with your severed head rolling about on the forest floor.

That said this is the one and only time I will recommend a film with Danny Dyer in it. Ever.

28 Days Later (2002)
And finally I finish up with this zombie-ish flick from Oscar winning director Danny Boyle. 
Jim wakes up from a mild coma to discover that a virus has spread through the UK and most people are either dead or infected with ‘the rage’ a zombie like state whereby they vomit blood on people and then try to eat them. Nice.

I’m usually not a big fan of zombie films but I most certainly make an exception for this one (and not just because it has Christopher Eccleston in it, it’s perfectly normal to have crushes on strange 50 year old men, shut up). The initial scenes where Jim leaves the hospital to discover a deserted London are fabulously done and are some of the most haunting images I have seen in the cinema. Add to that the non-cgi zombies with major anger management issues, pretty lead actor and decent supporting cast and 

Danny Boyle did a bang up job in bringing zombies to London.

Incidentally parts of this film were originally shot in Croydon, the town wherein I used to work; these shots were later cut from the film (presumably because even post-apocalyptic zombie England wouldn’t look THAT shit).

This film also bucked a trend by spawning a sequel that was just as good as the first film. If you haven’t seen either then I suggest you give them a try.

Films I Might Have Missed
Obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list and I am sure I have missed a few good films but hey, if it said ‘British film’ on the DVD then I probably threw it on the floor and stomped on it in the store anyway so it didn’t get much of a chance. 

Notably missing is the recent Ben Wheatley film ‘Kill List’ which a lot of people rated pretty highly. I didn’t think much of it hence it not being included here, so bite me, unless you’re a werewolf/zombie/creepy mutant, in which case stay the fuck away!