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Fatal Frame

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Released: 2014
Directed by: Mari Asato

“Have you heard of a curse that affects only girls?”

With this opening line, Fatal Frame draws us into its mythos almost immediately. A dark, brooding boarding school for girls sets the stage. And from there on, the mysteries only intensify.

The story begins with Aya, who is attending an all girls high school, and is quickly approaching graduation. Aya is charming and talented, so much so that many of her classmates begin to fall a little bit in love with her. When Aya shuts herself in her room and doesn’t emerge for weeks, rumors begin to spread about what has become of her. The obsession grows so intense that a ritual forms; girls bring her photograph to a certain part of the school and kiss it at midnight. However, an apparition resembling Aya begins to torment these girls, and after a short time they begin to turn up dead.

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Released: 2013
Director: Eric England

Many zombie stories begin with a similar premise: our protagonist somehow finds him or herself either in the middle of a zombie-ravaged town, or one that has already been destroyed by them. We’re dropped off in the middle of the commotion, with little understanding of how it progressed into the full-on nightmare we’re seeing in front of us. It’s more exciting this way, certainly, the immediate peril our main character is in often fuels the momentum for the rest of the film.

Contracted takes a very different approach to a zombie film. One that not only examines the beginning of the infection, but follows one of the characters that will ultimately spread it as she succumbs to its effects. It’s a unique and interesting look at the genre, but one that doesn’t always hit the mark exactly the way it could.

Our main character, Samantha, goes out to a party one night, her mind rife with personal issues that are weighing on her. After the party, however, her problems only get worse as she begins to find herself becoming increasingly sick – with an illness she can’t quite identify. As the symptoms begin to escalate out of her control, she struggles to piece together what is happening, and the events that brought her there to begin with.

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She Walks In Shadows

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Released: 2015
Edited by: Silvia Moreno-Garcia & Paula R. Stiles

The dearth of female characters in Lovecraft’s fictional world is not a secret to anyone who has extensively read his writing. The women he did include in his works are more notable for being so few in number than necessarily for their contribution to the larger scheme of the world. So the idea of taking this void, and filling it with nightmarish and strange tales of the women who undoubtedly would have occupied these stories, was an attractive concept for me. I had been let down by books I’d greatly anticipated before, but I purchased a copy of this book as soon as it became available and hoped for the best.

She Walks in Shadows is a book that seeks to actively fill the void in the Lovecraft meta, not just of women, but of diversity in almost any regard. It is foremost, however, an anthology of fictional works written by women, and featuring women in the lead roles so often given to the male characters by default.

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American Horror Story: Murder House

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Released: 2011
Created by: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk

I have something of a complicated relationship with Ryan Murphy’s works. I was an avid fan of Nip/Tuck, and followed it through until the very end, and so I knew full well going into American Horror Story the gamut of quality his shows can range through. They can be captivating, in a manic sort of way, or they can fall apart completely, tripping over loose plot threads as they go down. So where does the first chapter of American Horror Story fall? It seems to have a good amount of both the peaks and valleys that Murphy’s shows can create, all in one season.

Murder House is the first story of the series, and it tells the tale of the Harmon family in their move from Boston to L.A. The move is facilitated, primarily, by an affair Ben had with a young student of his back in Boston. This causes friction between him and his wife, Vivien, as well as distress for their teenage daughter, Violet. However, once they move into their new house, they begin to understand that what they were running away from is not nearly as bad, or as dangerous, as what they face in their new home.

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The Moth Diaries

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Released: 2011
Director: Mary Harron

Vampires are a classic staple of horror that have captivated storytellers for centuries. Still, they are somehow incredibly difficult to get just right. Make them too rough, and they lose the romantic flair that seems to draw people’s attention so consistently. Make them too soft, and you end up with a wreck like Twilight. The Moth Diaries tackles this well-trodden path in an interesting way, and while the execution isn’t perfect, it does succeed in some of its pursuits.

The story follows Rebecca, a sixteen year old girl, enrolled in a private girls’ boarding school. Occasionally withdrawn and teetering on depression, she still struggles with the memories of her father, a well-known poet, and his suicide. The one thing that seems to keep her sane is the comfort of knowing at school she’ll be reunited with her best friend, Lucy, and the rest of their friends – but the appearance of a new girl in the school, named Ernessa, seems to change everything.

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Whispering Corridors 2: Memento Mori

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Released: 1999
Director: Tae-yong Kim, Kyu-dong Min

The Whispering Corridors film series is an interesting beast to tackle. None of the films explicitly tie together; they are more spiritual sequels than anything, sharing similar themes and settings with each other. All of the films take place in Korean girls’ schools, and all share elements of tragedy, social alienation, and of course, ghostly apparitions.

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