Existentialist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (you know, that German philosopher with one hell of a curly mustache) once theorized that all of life and human activity rests on the will to power. Though I am no expert on Nietzsche, this seems to suggest that each individual’s desire to hold power, feel a sense of power, etc. – in a variety of contexts – governs much human activity. Moreover, we can look at, say, a movie, and understand character actions and motivations at least partially through this context. Famous theorist Michel Foucault suggests much the same thing when he says that “power is everywhere, diffused and embodied in discourse, knowledge, and regimes of truth.” While Foucault examines power on a more sociological level, his viewpoints converge with Nietzsche on the influence and the prevalence – indeed, the omnipresence – of power. And while there are many elements of Alien Covenant to discuss (I saw it tonight) power seems of critical importance. Continue reading ““To Serve in Heaven or Reign in Hell”: The Will to Power in Alien Covenant”
With the mass-produced barrage of horror movies available to us – sometimes formulaic, sometimes cheaply made – it can be tempting for the jaded horror-goer to presume that nothing is truly scary anymore. I offer no new argument, after all, when I contend that in our increasingly sensationalized visual culture, we become (or at least risk becoming) desensitized to so many horrible things, immune to so much tragedy. It takes far more, at least from a visual standpoint, to scare us than it did sixty years ago (a fact that will be evident to anyone who compares The Haunting to an Eli Roth film). This may not be the case universally, but it’s a general rule. And still, scary movies are manufactured, and the passionate horror fan does encounter, every now and then, a film that is particularly, unexpectedly scary. Such was my experience with the film Sinister, released about two weeks before Halloween in 2012 (although I saw it much later ). Granted, Sinister is not as artistically scintillating as my two favorite horror movies of reference – The Shining and It Follows – but it’s still a well-made, incredibly unsettling film. When I told Michael I wanted to write a piece about it, he reassured me that he wouldn’t be upset if I re-watched it without him; one time was enough for him. So I sat down tonight, in my little Indiana apartment, with a focusing question in mind: What makes this film so scary? While I may discuss other things in the post below, I am particularly interested in exploring possible answers to this question. Continue reading “What Makes Sinister So Scary?”
When it comes to the found footage genre, it seems like everyone has an opinion, and they’re not all favorable. Personally, I love the genre’s faux-authenticity (how’s that for an oxymoron?) and I don’t hold films that fall under the found footage umbrella up to unreasonable expectations. CGI’d specters and ostentatious sound effects are necessarily off-limits, forcing the filmmaker to work within certain parameters. What’s trickier, still, is any attempt to work within the found footage genre while somehow also making the film seem unique and original. It’s hard to emulate The Blair Witch Project, for example, and still deviate from it enough to produce something that critics will deem “innovative.” With those observations in mind, I’m going to give the recently released Phoenix Forgotten my seal of approval. It has been, and will continue to be, lambasted for not being scary enough (and perhaps too imitative of similar predecessors), but as I’ll suggest below, that’s a fairly shallow bit of criticism that doesn’t take into account both how intriguing the film is and how chillingly it concludes. Continue reading “Phoenix Forgotten and the Found Footage Phenomenon”
So…final papers continue to be imminent, and I continue to break for a frequent, intense, scene by scene examination of The Shining, my all-time favorite horror film directed by the one and only Stanley Kubrick. My intent, when I started writing, was to write a couple posts. But, this is segment number four in the series, and Jack isn’t even (completely) crazy yet. As such, I think I’ll continue. If you’d like to read my first three blog posts, which cover about the first half hour of the movie, you can check out the first, second, or third!
After a three-week writing hiatus, apparently, I need to make up for lost time. Despite writing a considerably long piece on key scenes from The Shining last night, I feel pressed to continue my analysis tonight, at the expense of working on final papers. I should mention, right now, when it comes to grad school, I’m operating under the dangerous dictum that “it always gets done, eventually,” which I’m hoping doesn’t backfire horrendously. And anyway, my Thursday afternoon class is cancelled, which means that tonight is practically a weekend for me – the perfect time to write about horror. I can’t explain why I enjoy looking so carefully at the most unsettling – albeit sometimes most unrealistic – elements of life, only that I do. And in that vein, I’ll pick up where I left off yesterday, and continue to compile a sort of cinematic, scene-by-scene “close reading,” of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, my favorite horror movie of all time, and one of my favorite movies of all time, period. (Ironically, it’s competing with The Sound of Music and Goodwill Hunting for that title). If you haven’t read the first or second segment of my analysis, consider doing so before you read on. Continue reading “A Tribute to The Shining: Let’s Not Overlook Anything – Part 3”
It’s Saturday night, the lights are dim, and slow jazz begins to emanate through the coffee shop I frequent as I scrunch my body over Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and try to focus on the book’s merits (I mean, it’s okay, but it’s not my favorite). Michael has just left the coffee shop for karaoke, and I’ve elected to stay at the café, which closes at midnight, and study for a candidacy exam that takes place in late August. Suffice it to say, I’m not a huge fan of bars. But as I’m trying to get enmeshed in the heart-rending story of a stranded narrator’s self-constructed wall collapsing in a storm (really, the way I typed it sounds more exciting than the event does in the book) it occurs to me that the exam isn’t until August, and maybe if I read a little while longer I can rent…you guessed it…a horror movie. Continue reading “A Tribute to The Shining: Let’s Not Overlook Anything – Part One”
Horror Blogger Confession: While I usually drag Michael to see horror movies on opening night, a second viewing of Beauty and the Beast took precedence over a first viewing of The Belko Experiment this weekend. I mean, the remake of Beauty and the Beast was soooo fantastic the first time, and I was seriously craving something uplifting. Graduate school, after all, is stressful (this semester more so than last), our country’s being shit on by the most corrupt president and cabinet in U.S. history, and I’m kind of an anxiety head case as it is. So I really needed to see Emma Watson affirm that she wants much more than this provincial life before she forms a healthy partnership with a lovable, furry CGI figure whose horns and stature make him look like Krampus’s gentler, non-demonic doppelganger. I’m only human, and I love watching Lumiere, the talking Candelabra, sing about food. So I put Belko on the back burner and all was well.