Ah, Halloween! That spooky day in October that encourages kids to put on masks and loot the neighbourhood. It may be lurking around the corner, but October is all about fancy dress and scary movies, like these three dark gems now streaming on Showmax.
This supernatural horror drama is from the mind of writer-director Ari Aster. Having firm control of the genre, he’s been able to craft a monumental film on the back of dark family secrets. Inspired by the psychological deterioration and dual realities that underpin both Rosemary’s Baby and The Shining, two of the greatest horrors of all time, Aster’s spawned an artful and haunting classic.
Great horrors set the scene with relatable drama and Hereditary takes its time in building dramatic suspense. Toni Collette stars in a career-best performance as a mother desperately trying to keep her family free from the dark forces trying to rip them apart, while Milly Shapiro’s unique look, defining role and unsettling tic make her a figurehead. Peering through doll houses, seeing dysfunction and tragedy as a family curse, Hereditary is a pitch-black film that seeps into your bones.
IMDB rating: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 89%
“Focussed intensity, harrowing psychological drama and nightmarish flair”
Named after an old Afrikaans folklore song, Siembamba was deemed too disturbing to be screened in mainstream cinemas. The South African horror/drama/thriller follows a teenage girl in the grips of postpartum depression who returns home with her new baby. Battling with her mother, her psychiatrist and her new role as a young mom, she sees dark visions rising to the surface. It’s a blend of Black Swan, The Babadook and Sinister, spiralling into focussed intensity, harrowing psychological drama and nightmarish flair.
Siembamba stars up-and-coming talent Reine Swart, whose gutsy all-or-nothing attitude sets the tone for this disturbing horror. Dying her hair and accentuating her features to make her look like a doll, she gives a bold and fearless performance. While Oscar-nominated director Darryl Roodt will forever be known for the heartbreaking drama Yesterday, this is his best horror to date. Dark, intense, ghastly and stylish, Siembamba will leave you jagged.