For an Independent Seminar on horror and monstrosity, I sat down (again) to watch the very classic and very canonical The Blair Witch Project, a film, not surprisingly, about witches, and one situated at the inception of the found footage trend in filmmaking (a trend I address in other posts). Of course, I’ve written about this film before, some time ago, but I really only scratched the surface of its depth and what it has to offer us, as both a piece of criticism and a manifestation – a cultural artifact signaling the historical location of the late 90’s and what questions that location raised. Needing, I thought, to narrow my focus for this film (and, perhaps, for all the texts I’ll encounter this week that deal with witches) I started with what I thought was a very important question: What is “the witch,” so called? What surrounds her, perhaps, and what does she tell us? I think putting a variety of texts about witches in conversation with one another could yield rather interesting answers to this question, but I’ll start with The Blair Witch Project, which offers us a turn-of-the-century glimpse – based off, in the film, age-old lore – of what “witchiness” is, how the witch reveals herself, and what she’s (frighteningly) capable of. Continue reading “What is the Witch? — Part One: The Blair Witch Project”
I was driving from Indiana PA to Erie one night not a few weeks ago, my mind enmeshed in rapid succession of thoughts. It was dark outside, and I noticed little except for fleeting, flickering glimpses of surreal roadside images, ambiguous shadow outlines in the night, as my car coasted across 422, and then across 1-79, headed north. My CD player has been broken for months, so I was flipping through the channels, trying to settle on a song even vaguely satisfying, a melody that didn’t wink out into a barrage of static thirty seconds after I found it. Reliable radio stations are difficult to come by in some parts of Western Pennsylvania.
I adore almost all genres of film. I will bore anyone that will listen about film noir, westerns, gangster flicks, French new wave, indie movies, sci-fi, superhero films, and Star Wars (yes, I’m placing the galaxy far, far away in a category all of its own). One genre that I never could quite warm to was horror movies. I suspect this was because of poor choices in initial viewing; that plus the fact that I am a world-renowned scaredy-cat. I go faint and squeamish at the sight of all that blood. I go weak at the knees at the sound of a drill warming up. With trusted online companions such as Michael and Kalie though, I gradually realised that I was missing out on the nuances of the genre with my blanket ban. I decided that I was going to go on a journey this summer through the thrills and spills of the horror section. Continue reading “It Follows – A Journey to Maturity?”
Whoa, I’m doing it. I’m actually writing a post for my blog. According to, well, this website, I haven’t written a post since June 20th, which means it’s been almost a month. To be honest, it’s not a feeling I enjoy, but I have two part time jobs, and I have to start reading like a maverick for my PhD candidacy exam in late August (I mean, I’ve been reading for it, assiduously, but now I have to start reading like a maverick). With more books to read (at least, in an ideal world) than I’m feasibly going to get done before exam time, I couldn’t justify spending time writing these posts. But, seven minutes ago I turned 33, so I treated myself to a pre-birthday movie with Michael, and now I’m enjoying some birthday blogging. I plan on being wildly self-indulgent for the next twenty-four hours (which, for me, means something like a nice walk at the peninsula and a turkey sausage breakfast sandwich at Panera), so I shall write freely, with no thought of the theory text I’m reading or the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne (which are the two things I’m supposed to be focusing on). Continue reading “When You Wish Upon A….Box of Doom”
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw the previews for the most recently released version of The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise and Annabelle Wallis. Mummy movies are a genre staple, but all things considered, they’re not my favorite approach to horror. I mean, I appreciate them, I like them, I’m always willing to watch one, but as I indicated in an earlier post, I have yet to watch a mummy movie that truly scares me, that captivates me as much as I’d like it to. As it turns out, the most recently released version of the film, The Mummy, which came out about two weeks ago, is an intriguing approach to the horror subgenre, an approach which mashes up action and horror but has creepier overtones than the 1999 Brendan Frasier version of the film. The Mummy (2017) is the first installment in a series of darker films that fall under the bleak umbrella of Universal Studios’ Dark Universe. The film, and its broad appeal, is an apt indicator that Universal Studios has the potential to both combine horror and action, and make horror suitable for a wider age range of viewers – two challenges which, if approached rightly, have the potential to create an incredibly successful series of films. Continue reading “The Mummy (2017) and the Dawn of the Dark Universe”
I’ve always enjoyed titling pieces on this blog, but I don’t think I’ve ever come up with a more appropriate title for a movie. And I say that because when you walk into the theater to see It Comes at Night, I’d highly advise you to surrender all expectations. At a glance, this suggestion may come across as a criticism, which is not my intent. I actually really invested my attention and energy into this film as I watched it, and I commend its originality, especially in a sometimes murky sea of similarly constructed modern horror films. I have nothing scathing to say about it, but I think someone sitting in front of me and to my left said out loud as the credits were rolling, “What the fuck was that?” To be sure, the type of story you’re expecting from the fairly elusive trailer is not the story you’re likely to receive. Even the title of the movie seems crafted to intentionally deceive. At the end of the day, because I always like to define horror broadly, I’ll say that yes, I’d situate It Comes At Night in the horror genre, but in many ways I found it highly unlike the horror I’m used to. Bearing that in mind, I can’t help but talk about the film without giving away more than the trailer intends to reveal. I also have a tricky habit of just saying whatever I want about a film on this blog, which often entails including spoilers (sorry). So I’m not sure how much of the plot this post will ultimately reveal as I sit down to write, but know that by reading it you’re going to have information that the trailers don’t give you. I will give you more warning about major spoilers. With that in mind, continue if you dare. Continue reading “It Comes at Night – And You’ll See None of This Coming”
Amidst rapt excitement about the incredibly unique albeit troubling film Alien Covenant, I neglected all of the film’s predecessors – which was fine, for awhile. But now that I’ve rambled incessantly about why I think the recently released Alien Covenant is such an excellent movie, perhaps it’s time to return to the film’s roots and take a look at the original Alien, and the one after that, and the one after that, and so on, and so forth. Frankly, I’ve been meaning to write about the original Alien for a long time, but every time I’m faced with a highly-respected genre classic that’s stood (at least some) test of time, I get a wee bit intimidated, and this is especially true when we move into Science Fiction territory, which is far from my area of expertise. But a couple of days ago, Michael and I hunkered down to watch Alien and Aliens, and I was mesmerized all over again (since I’ve seen them both before). One wonderful thing about being me is that I have a horrible memory, especially for a lot of film. While this could be detrimental to my performance on the imminent PhD candidacy test I keep writing about (for which I have to read and recall over 100 books) it really comes in handy when I re-watch a film. More often than not, I’m surprised by certain plot twists and character actions all over again! It’s fantastic! With that in mind, I think it’s time to pay homage to Ridley Scott’s classic Alien and discuss why the film is so freakin’ fantastic. Continue reading “An Alien Franchise Tribute, Part One: The Genre-Defining Original”