Tag Archives: horror

Five Nightmares at Freddy’s

My son is obsessed with Five Nights at Freddy’s. He’s never played it. His older sister has never seen it. Boys in her class natter about it incessantly so through social osmosis he’s latched onto it, terrified. Someday* he’ll play it and wonder how it ate up so much sleep at the end of kindergarten.

We can’t talk it out. In his mind plain facts hunker down and shake. There is no solid ground when The Fear comes out, it touches everything. Freddy, like Chucky before him, is just a vessel**.

Freddy from Five Nights at Freddy'sIf the vessel can hold some of the general dark, I’m for it. Let Freddy hold as much as his sunken eyes can handle, as long as the air in my kids’ brain is clearer. Give the fear a place to rally so he can get more solid ground.

Maybe that’s horror at a tribal level, demons and witches sucking energy from pools of pain we dig around unpredictable things like jobs, sickness, rejection. The monster’s killed and we hope shotguns or sunlight works on personal demons too. Potential catharsis.

Some argue simulated catharsis unhelpfully medicate us — we’re too doped up on fantasy to face our own problems***. Maybe. Spending too long in worlds of carefully constructed narratives might lead us to oversimplify messy old Life, but spending zero time outside of messy old Life dulls down messy old Life.

At the bottom of all this is that I can’t control everything my kids see and what they’re scared of and I’m trying to make sense of it. I remember what it was like. I remember trading monster defense strategies with my friend (not play monsters – the ones really coming for you at night). And it burned off. I’m no longer afraid of the dark^, except its tendency to hide things like walls when I walk into them.

But for El Kindergartnero the Fear has kicked in. It needs something. If it wasn’t Freddy, maybe Slenderman. Scary robbers. Grease pens. The fear needs a vessel. All told, an aversion to life-size animatronic animals is specific and manageable. One building in town he doesn’t go to and he’s good, and that doesn’t break my heart any.

* Age 27, 28, somewhere in there.
** The 1988 horror movie doll has ground floor with k-6 kids in Boise.
*** Or bigger problems corporations or the government want us to look away from, like war, corruption, endless movie remakes.
^ Unless I just watched Jaws. None of this applies to Jaws.

Short Reviews: The Fly (1958), The Spy Who Came In From The Cold (1965)

The Fly (1958)

Really surprised by how good this was. Smart, solid sci-fi movie with heart, as much about loyalty and love as it is science. It takes the idea of the scientists’ wife being overly aware of flies in the room when the police are questioning her (to make her look crazy) and through the course of the movie loads it with so much meaning. It’s too bad the thing most referred to is her scream at seeing his head, it’s just a small part of the story.

Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965)

Based on a spy novel very popular when it came out in 1963 by John le Carré (of Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy fame). Black and white. Really well-shot, takes its time getting into the story. Spy movie checklist: grizzled old spy (check), maze-like plot with new information piling up higher and higher until the very end (check), gal who takes a shine to grizzled spy (check), disillusion about politics, government, spying (check). The guy who plays Fiedler, Oskar Werner, is amazing. He got a BAFTA and Golden Globe for it, apparently, it’s a case of giving life to something unique and it effects how the story feels afterwards because of his role in the plot.

I turned of Kill List halfway through

About 40 minutes in when our man starts working on the librarian’s knee.

The movie was tense already with marital drama before it went into torture land. I get really OCD about movies that freak me out so I read some spoilers about it. I’m glad I skipped. HO-LEE.

This is me not taking my own advice about looking up what a movie is about or the content but I thought it would just be a psychological thriller and I watched it on recommendation.

Which leads me to not taking recommendations of horror movies from Mark Kermodes any more. He’s probably my favorite critic, partly because he’s fussy and stubborn, British, used to write for Fangoria which gives him all sorts of scuzzy cred for me, has great rants, and is perceptive about movies that have substance. But his favorite movie is The Exorcist. This should have tipped me off. And when he says a horror movie is a tough go and pretty tense, that translates in Hans-speak to this movie will make you wonder if there is good in the world.

Here’s what I found on IMDB just now:

suggested MPAA rating: R for “bizarre situations, graphic brutal sadistic violence, disturbing images, pervasive language, graphic nudity, and sexual material

So we’re not talking about Frozen, here, clearly.

I read some blog posts trying to unravel it with lots of comments. One comment (careful, link has spoilers and strong language) caught my attention (lots of [sic]):

I like horror films because I enjoy being scared and I enjoy tense situations even in my real life. This is a quirk many people have. Fear sets adrenaline pumping and gets the heart beating and traditionally film makers have seen that their is a large market for people who want a good scare. However, I find it genuinely frightening that all these kinds of films keep coming out. These films clearly aren’t meant to scare people.
They’re about something else and it worries me how big the’re audience seems to be. If You comment on this page defending this film at least answer this question. Who is this film supposed to appeal to and why? (and please, no cop out answers that argue that kill list is modern shakespearean tragedy.

Well put, racer_x. I’ve said elsewhere I’d like to do a psychological analysis of people who can watch lots of terrifying movies and not have lasting damage. But then some people think American football is too violent.

Event Horizon

When I was 22 (not 12, not 16) I met a friend-of-a-friend who dared me to watch Event Horizon. He was visiting her from out of state, sleeping under her front porch because her college didn’t allow male sleepovers. He was a film major. At the time he was obsessed with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974 version) and explained to me why the scene where Leatherface calmly puts one of the teens on a hook was groundbreaking. The matter-of-factedness of it, I think.

Somehow in the conversation my love/hate/terror/fascination of horror movies came out. He’d just seen Event Horizon. I told him it didn’t sound like it was up my alley. Or block. Or zip code. He said he’d pay for my ticket to watch me see it. Or get my reaction. I don’t remember him watching me. I do remember feeling numb afterwards. We went to a matinee so when we came out, my rommmate came with me, I had a grimmer view of the world. It’s a movie, basically, about one idea of hell: physical and emotional torture. I wonder why so many horror movies that bag on religion count on a torture hell theme. There’s a thesis there, film majors.

In those situations my roommate and I would often try to right the psychic damage by watching something like Care Bears or Winnie the Pooh. Watching something completely sunny with zero guile seemed to salve some of the pain. I don’t think we did this time – it felt too bleak. We just went back to our apartment and stared at each other blankly.

“That was messed up.”

A couple of months ago I found the script for Event Horizon and read it. I think they cut some stuff out of the movie or didn’t shoot everything. I haven’t gone back to check. It’s still messed up.