Demons of Fear: “UNDER THE SHADOW” (2016)

Fear and anxiety have a way of unsettling us: sometimes bringing out our worse natures, and sometimes forcing us to find our better selves. Writer/director Babak Anvari explores this in his Iranian horror, UNDER THE SHADOW. He also shows how fear, anxiety, and war can unearth darker powers in Nature. The look of the film is simple but with a growing oppression, a sometimes claustrophobic feel. The main characters are at the mercy not only of the external unrest but also of what is lurking in their minds.

A HONEYMOON (2014) from Hell

An alien presence turns wives into husband-killing monsters in writer-director Leigh Janiak’s feature debut, the indie science-fiction horror film Honeymoon (2014). In their native urban environment (likely New York City), newlyweds Bea (Rose Leslie) and Paul (Harry Treadaway) seem like an average (including their quirks) yuppie couple. When they go from city to country (crossing the border into Canada in the process), the ties that bind — along with the gender roles defined by contemporary heterosexual marriage — go out the window when an eerie light shines into it, focusing on new wife Bea.

Terror Tuesday: Nicholas Winding Refn’s “NEON DEMON” (2016)

It is tempting to compare NEON DEMON to STARRY EYES, but I think that would sell both films short. Both films deal with the predatory nature of fame and are strong visually, but they each have their focus. The lead in STARRY EYES, Sarah, understands what she has to sacrifice and does it willingly. But there is, at least in the beginning, a genuine naïveté and original drive about her.