Sunday, March 13, 2016

On Second Thought

"I like all music.  Except rap and pop country."

That's kind of my stock answer I guess, when I am asked.

But it's not entirely true.  I mean, I grew up listening to Public Enemy and Big Daddy Kane,  So some rap, sure I am fine with.  Poppy country music?  That's even harder.  But that Taylor Swift song, "Mean."  That's just catchy.  I'll admit to that.

It is the same way with movies, as we tend to box ourselves in with genre and saying we like or don't like "this type" of movie.  But I suppose if I have ever been unfair to a genre of movie, "horror," might be my go to stock answer.

I think it is because I grew up in the era of Freddy and Jason.  Not to sound all high and mighty, as I like popcorn movies just fine, but ultimately there is just not much to them.  In order to understand Freddy versus Jason, must you really sit through every film of both series to be up to speed?

But I grew to love suspenseful films.  Some even categorize The Silence of the Lambs as "horror," and I love that film.  I have written a detailed and lengthy analysis of it.

I suppose it has just been for me, rare that I have become truly attached to much of anything in the horror category.

Until very recently.

I do not know if this will be looked at as a type of golden age for scary movies, but I can not think of a time I have encountered more well made, intelligent and rewarding movies, meant to scare or disturb.  Filmmakers working under this genre to make something thought provoking, beautiful and far deeper than those films I grew up on in the 80's and 90's.

Maybe it is not coincidence that these are often films by first time directors.

Each film succeeds to differing degrees.  But they are all ones I thought on, well past my time in the theater. Each had a uniqueness to it, and each showed at least this writer, that you never know where an inspiring film might pop up.  Never go into a movie with preconceived notions.

It Follows:   written and directed by Robert David Mitchell

What follows exactly?  Is it a morality tale about STD's?  You might enjoy getting it.  But you sure will regret it.

As easy as it would be to say the film is only about that.  I think you can take away more.

It's about growing up.

It's about adolescence.  Try as you want, you can not escape it.  Everything that formed us in our youth is forever lurking just over our shoulder.

The Babadook:   written and directed by Jennifer Kent   (debut film)

Loss.  Grief.  Raising a child.  Things that can create a boogeyman.  Sometimes you don't defeat a monster as much as push it back and learn to live with it.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night:   written and directed by Ana Lily Amapour  (debut film)

I haven't seen this film in a year or longer, and I might like it even more now.

An effective feminist story.  Our vampire is a woman we can surmise has been abused and mistreated by men, for possibly hundreds of years.  She lectures a young boy to "be good," at the same time she is scaring the hell out of him.  She punishes adult men for their sins.  No male seems immune, until she meets a particular young man walking home from a costume party.  Dressed as Dracula, he is actually kind and vulnerable.

Director Ana Lily Amapour uses her past experience as a DJ to strong effect. (song title:  Death)

Music posters align "The Girl's" room.  Some artists are new.  Some are much older.  Not just reminiscent of a fan, but the various generations she has lived through. 

The Witch:   written and directed by Roger Eggers  (debut film)

The Witch is such a well made film, I have to applaud it, despite the fact it may be one of the most anti-Christian movies I have ever seen. One moment I see it at as this; another moment I see it as something else.  Every viewer can take away something unique.  Either way, it is not soon forgettable.

I have seen multiple film critics dismiss films out of hand for having a message they do not agree with.  This has always bothered me, as I feel it should be a critics job to be above this lack of thinking.

I can not agree with what I believe to be the overall message of The Witch.   But if a film is really not about what it is about, but how it is about it.  Then I can freely acknowledge that the how of this film, is done expertly. 

Who is the Witch of the film?  I mean we see an actual witch early on, in a scene possibly too upsetting to fully describe here.  But is one of the children the or a witch?  The mother?  The father, even?  Is it all just somehow inside their heads?  Starving and ultra religious settlers going mad; just thirty years before the Salem Witch Trials?

Director Roger Eggers uses actual testimony from those trials in the dialogue of his script.

People will ask you what the "scariest movie you ever saw," is.  My answer has always been I have no idea.  Movies don't exactly scare me, literally speaking.  I think what that means to me, is more "disturb."

The Witch, might just be the most disturbing movie I have ever seen.

Black Phillip deserves to become an iconic horror movie character.
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