In his poem, “Roses,” William Carlos Williams writes, “The imagination, across the sorry facts, lifts us to make roses.” The poem can be uplifting or cynical, depending on its interpretation. When I sat down to write this piece, I was going to say that the poem was needlessly negative. Are the “facts” really that “sorry”? And can’t the mind work in an opposite way, so that everything around us is really rather nice but appears abysmal? Conversely, writers, for years, have been fascinated with the concept of disillusionment. Our minds build castles in the sky, and when those castles collapse, we see a depressing reality – or so the story goes sometimes. This was clearly Charles Beaumont’s interest in “The Magic Man,” a short story in his Perchance to Dream anthology – a story that isn’t scary, per se, but that subtly leads us to the darker crevices of the human psyche. (There will be some spoilers in this review). Continue reading “The Sting of Disillusionment”
As I watched The Conjuring 2 this afternoon, I found myself spastically reaching toward Michael’s arm and clasping his hand during the film’s intensity peaks. And when we were in the middle of a jump-scare, my startle was often augmented by Michael, who would grab my hand and come close to squeezing it off. In other words, The Conjuring 2 is scary, so unless you’re really emotionally stoic and relatively immune to anything horror, The Conjuring 2 promises you a few unsettling moments – at least. Michael, who has been seeing horror movies with me since we started dating over a year and a half ago, said that this was the most afraid he’s been since he got used to seeing films from the genre. I was scared too, but also intrigued. In fact, I was not just intrigued, but impressed, as we watched the film. The Conjuring 2 does not rely on fear alone, though the movie is scary. It manages to be an incredibly satisfying, even emotionally moving story, at the same time. In other words, the plot isn’t a mere vehicle for terrifying moments. The Conjuring 2 is a well-developed film with a unique story line that “happens to have” a lot of scary parts. And – bonus! – it’s based off a true story. Continue reading “A Scarier Sequel: Drama and Anxiety in The Conjuring 2”
I haven’t read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. However, as I entered the theater to see the film, I expected a version Pride and Prejudice that took place in the 19th century but reflected directorial styles and preferences of the present day, along with, well, along with zombies. By and large, I got what I expected. The movie was fairly attention-grabbing with fairly likable characters and a fairly original plot, which is to say, the film was interesting and fun, but far from exceptional. I think, though, that the film’s worth a view, for what it’s trying to do – combine our contemporary zombie-mania with classical literature to create a new and rare form of storytelling that pays heed to that which has come before and combines it with that which is popular now. The movie – and, presumably the book – try to resurrect classical literature into the realm of pop culture, with intriguing, though not compelling, ramifications. Continue reading “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Pretty Much What I’d Expected”
I’ve heard the argument that there’s no need for horror movies because there’s enough horror in this world already. Perhaps, but perhaps not. What is horror? Bing’s search engine defines it as an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust. Okay, that doesn’t really help. What is horror as a genre? To cheapen a genre I love, we could say that horror is fiction-stuff marketed to manufacture fear, shock, or disgust. But horror movies do this by departing from reality, by placing us in far-flung scenarios that aren’t emotionally troubling – at least not in the long run – because they’re so blatantly fictional. The horror we see in movies really has nothing at all to do with the horror we see in real life. There are very few witches, vampires, and monsters traipsing about North America, and while there are murderers, there aren’t many methodical, superhuman, Michael Meyers-esque serial killers like the ones we see in slasher movies. People will say that we’re an apathetic nation, desensitized by horror and violence. But often times, entertainment violence is grounded in pure fancy; it bears no semblance to the problematic, and often violent scenarios we find in the real world. If I were concerned with avoiding real world horror, I would be more likely to cut myself off from action movies or any movie involving any kind of war – whether it be The Force Awakens, The Hunger Games, or Saving Private Ryan. Continue reading “In Defense of Horror”
The local theater was showing a Thursday night preview of Crimson Peak two nights ago, before the actual release date on Friday. With no hesitation, I was there. Without question, my favorite subgenre of horror is the ghost story, and Crimson Peak primed us to expect some phenomenally creepy ghosts through its ghoulish previews – previous that show portions of skeletal apparitions grasping arms or swaying across the floor. Vampires are fun, witches are cool, and stories about the devil can be pretty scary, but nothing, absolutely nothing, compares to a good old-fashioned ghost story. And Crimson Peak taps into a horror film phenomenon that never fails to dispense fear in generous, indulgent doses: the phenomenon of the female ghost.