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28 Days Later
By Stephen Fertig, 16, The Linden Center

28 Days Later is not your typical zombie horror film. The zombies are faster and stronger. They are no longer doing the slow zombie walk with their feet lagging behind. Now they’re able to overpower any man standing in their way of getting human flesh.

The movie starts off with scientists in a lab studying what happens when they infect primates with a disease that causes rage. The disease accidentally gets released when animal rights activists break into the lab and release the primates into London, spreading the rage rampantly.

Meanwhile, Jim (Cillian Murphy) is in a coma and wakes up 28 days after the "rage" has infected England. Seeing how barren London appears, you see how alone and fearful he is. At that point you begin to feel his fear along with him. Apparent signs of chaos—garbage all over the place, missing-people posters and dead bodies—show some of the disaster and suffering that has occurred. Jim doesn’t know what has happened, until he finds a group of people that hasn’t been infected. Finding out that his loved ones, and much of London’s population is dead (or infected), Jim and his companions go looking for other survivors. Survival is often the only thing that goes through their minds.They lose compassion for others once their lives are on the line, and they mercilessly scavenge for food, shelter and safety.

The film has a grainy look that makes it feel more realistic, almost like actual footage. The realistic feel in combination with these man-eating zombies that were impossible to escape from, made this a powerful and scary movie. It’s not recommended for the easily scared; only for those who can handle a devouring fear. 28 Days Later is a one-of-a-kind classic.

The Ring
By Beini Shi, 16, Palisades Charter HS

I remember the day my friend called me at midnight, telling me she had just seen The Ring and she was scared out of her mind. She was home alone, and was afraid "Samara" was going to get her. I didn’t understand how a movie could scare her so badly. But after her call I was curious. Could a movie really be that disturbing, to the point where my friend was scared of ringing phones, leaking bathrooms and TV static?

When I saw the movie, I jumped and almost screamed within the first 20 minutes. The scene in the closet with the dead body was gruesome. That image would haunt my dreams for weeks to come.

The plot of the movie is pretty straightforward. If someone watches a certain video tape, the phone will ring, and a creepy, deep voice will say "You will die in seven days." Seven days later, the person is dead, killed by the little girl Samara, who is taking revenge for her own cruel death.

A little boy watches the tape, and his mother is devastated that her son will share the same fate as the others who have seen it. She is determined to find out who made the tape, and why they must kill anyone who watches it, before her son is killed.

The movie has no slow parts. The director, Gore Verbinski, made sure to keep you in suspense with intense music and the overall gloom of the scenes. It’s almost always dark. The video itself is in black and white, giving it an eerie feeling. Naomi Watts gives a convincing performance as a mother who has an intense love for her son.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this movie for the Halloween season, or just anytime you want a thriller. So turn off the lights, unplug the phone, and get ready for Samara to haunt your dreams!

Darkness Falls
By Rachel Lizotte, 15, John Burroughs HS

The first time I saw Darkness Falls, I was with two friends. One was so scared she left the theater and snuck into How to Lose A Guy in Ten Days. My other friend kept "checking" on her to see if she was OK. I stuck through the whole movie and suffered later.

The movie, which stars Chaney Kley and Emma Caulfield, starts out with the legend of how the Tooth Fairy came to be. In the town of Darkness Falls, there used to be a woman, who the children would bring their baby teeth to, and she would give them a coin in return. There was a fire in her home one night and it disfigured her forever, so she had to wear a mask to cover her face. One day, two little boys went missing from the town, and she was blamed for it. The town tore off her mask so everyone could see her face, and then burned her. While she was dying she cursed the town. The next day the boys showed up fine. But every time a child in Darkness Falls loses their last tooth, she comes to visit them, and if they see her, she murders them.

I find this movie scary because things just jump out at you, and you never know what’s going to happen next. Who’s going to die, who isn’t going to die? You just get caught up in the action and mystery. The storyline just creeps me out because that kid could have been me. I didn’t have any nightmares, but I always made sure a light was on wherever I went. I would recommend this movie for a dark night to watch by yourself or with a friend, for it has a lot to do with the dark, and how you aren’t safe in it. Now, go scare the pants off yourself.

By Sue Li, 16, Culver City HS

Signs is not your typical slasher movie where teenagers are chased and die. Instead, Signs offers a refreshing twist to the term "scary movie" by feeding off of one of humanity’s greatest fears, the unknown.

Mel Gibson plays Graham, a retired pastor, whose wife recently died in a tragic car accident, and he has subsequently lost his faith. He wakes up one morning to find strange crop circles in his field. After receiving signals from a baby monitor, his son realizes that aliens are planning to invade the earth. As the movie progresses, the extra-terrestrials get closer and closer. This movie reminds us that although the human race can build skyscrapers, construct space stations we are not invincible.

Director M. Night Shyamalan uses a combination of eerie silence and unexpected events to rouse fear. I never knew when the family dog would suddenly jump and cry out or when a character would come in contact with an alien. Much of the violence and bloodshed in the film was not shown, but left to the imagination.

Signs proves the stereotypes about underdeveloped and weak slasher films wrong. Gibson delivers a convincing performance. The roles of the children also provide comic relief to the movie. They come up with the idea of homemade aluminum hats, a fool-proof method to prevent aliens from reading their minds.

The movie incorporates much broader themes than just aliens. It makes me think about God’s role in the universe and made me wonder if everything happens for a reason. Graham also realizes how fleeting life is.

The only disappointing portion of the movie is the end, which I will not go into great detail about to avoid spoiling it.

However, I would definitely recommend Signs for a Halloween night with a bowl of popcorn, the lights turned off, and the doors and windows locked. I saw this movie in the theaters, but when I came home that night, I was hesitant to look out the window and kept the blinds shut. The jingling of wind chimes still warns me that the aliens are close. Signs has instilled a fear of aliens in me because who knows, what if they really are out there?