Written by: Lois Kennedy
The Blacklist is an adventure-drama series concerning an FBI team hunting down dangerous criminals, aided by an enigmatic informant whose own hands aren’t entirely clean. Episodes vary in amounts of humor versus violence, but there have been some pretty dark storylines. However, the levels of gore are nowhere near that of a typical horror movie. Many of the cast members have less well-known roles in that genre, and their characters are often the opposite of what we’re used to.
- Ryan Eggold—I Will Follow You into the Dark (2012)
How we know him: As Tom Keen, Lizzie’s lying, spying husband.
The horror: I Will Follow You into the Dark is the story of Sophia (Mischa Barton), a young woman traumatized by the death of her parents. Her cynical attitude toward God, love, and life itself is challenged when she falls in love with kindly Adam (Eggold). At least until he disappears, leaving a trail of blood behind. She follows him to the top floor of his apartment building, which is “infested with ghosts,” to save him.
My verdict: It’s categorized as a drama/horror/romance, with heavy emphasis on drama and romance. There’s actually a little too much character development for my taste—the action doesn’t really get going until the last half hour. I had a bit of a sour taste in my mouth because I don’t enjoy romances, and when I see Barton I can’t help but think of the dreadful Apartment 1303. It was still enjoyable for the most part; the performances are competent, the lighting is exquisite, and the script is thoughtful. It carefully posits questions of faith and life after death without being painfully heavy-handed. It does have occasional creepy moments. See it if you’re in the mood for a dark love story.
- Mozhan Marno`—A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
How we know her: As no-nonsense kickass FBI agent Samar Navabi.
The horror: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is classified by its tagline as “The first Iranian vampire Western.” It takes place in Iran, and the language spoken is Persian. The Girl is an emo vampire who enjoys stalking people and occasionally drinking their blood (and riding a skateboard). She meets solitary Arash, and they connect. (It doesn’t hurt that he’s dressed like Dracula.) Arash decides to look past her murderous lifestyle and love her no matter what. Marno` is Atti, a jaded prostitute whom The Girl tries to befriend.
My verdict: To be honest, I had a hard time with it. It’s rich with artsiness and symbolism, which I didn’t fully get. It’s a bit slow-paced; while it’s occasionally gory (like when The Girl bites a guy’s finger off), most of the film is dedicated to themes of loneliness and isolation. Sheila Vand puts in a great, scary performance as The Girl, who just plumb doesn’t understand basic human interaction. It does have humorous moments, like the scene when The Girl pushes an ecstasy-addled Arash to her house on her skateboard. Overall, it’s an interesting watch. I especially liked the soundtrack. Check it out if you want a black and white film about a pouty vampire.
- Harry Lennix—The Fright Night Files (2014)
How we know him: As boss and moral center Harold Cooper.
The horror: The film is an anthology of three stories, mediated by fortune teller Madame Mabry (Lynn Whitfield). Lennix is in the second segment, “Mirror Mirror.” Ronald (Lennix) is a mature guy frustrated with his magic-dabbling, spell-casting, girlfriend Jessica. When he falls for Alexa, who’s more his type, Jessica retaliates by giving him a mirror with a demon hiding in it.
My verdict: Aside from Whitfield’s attempt at a Jamaican? accent, she does a fine job, as does the rest of the cast. Davetta Sherwood is especially eerie as the spiteful Jessica. The “Mirror Mirror” segment brings up some interesting gender issues. Jessica sees herself as like Lilith, who refused to demur to Adam, while Ronald responds with the notion that Lilith “sounds like a real bitch to me.” The characters aren’t always likable, but they’re always entertaining. It’s pretty low-budget, but it looks good. See it if you feel like something cheesy and fun.
- Megan Boone—My Bloody Valentine (2009)
How we know her: As hardworking and dedicated criminal profiler Liz Keen.
The horror: My Bloody Valentine depicts a mining town adversely affected by the slaughter of miners, hospital staff, and partygoers. Ten years later, Sarah, her husband Axel, and ex-boyfriend Tom, who narrowly missed getting killed, are faced with the possibility of getting killed again when the murderer seemingly returns. Boone is Megan, Sarah’s coworker, who’s having an affair with Axel.
My verdict: It’s your typical slasher movie, with slightly older protagonists. It was also intended for 3D, so there is an inordinate amount of special effects popping up in front of the camera. The characters are meh—most are bland and annoying. Sarah gets a lot more interesting toward the end of the movie. The women are a little brighter than usual for the genre—even throwaway characters think their way out of getting cut up, for a few minutes at least. It does have a certain silly Scooby Doo-ish quality. It’s fairly gory—the closed captioning frequently utilized the word “squelch.” Watch it if you’re in the mood for something familiar and predictable.
- James Spader –Wolf (1994)
How we know him: As wisecracking “Red” Reddington, who’s always right about everything.
The horror: Will (Jack Nicholson) is a tame editor who finds his life dramatically changing after he’s bitten by a wolf. Not only are his senses sharper, but he’s more confident and assertive. His new love interest Laura (Michelle Pfeiffer) is into his animal side, until he turns into a killer werewolf. The situation is exacerbated by Will’s protégé Stewart (Spader, who has so much hair), a smarmy career climber who has it out for Will.
My verdict: I saw this in the theatre when I was ten, so it has the nostalgia factor for me. The special effects are pretty good for the mid-90s. The characters are compelling and fairly likable. My major gripe is that the lycanthropy affects people at varying amounts of speed in order to move the plot along. Give it a look if you want to see a werewolf movie that’s pretty original (and watch for a young David Schwimmer in a bit part as a police officer, if that’s your thing).
So the next time you see The Blacklist, keep in mind that the actors have lives outside of pretending to catch deadly felons.
*Author’s note: I owe Internet Movie Database a debt of thanks for filmographies, spelling, and facts about A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.
Lois Kennedy is an avid horror fan who also loves to write. You can find her under her pseudonym Ghoulie Joe on YouTube, WordPress, and Facebook.