Long ago, much longer than I shall admit to you now, I worked at a tiny, independent video rental shop in the college town of Olympia, Washington. One of my fellow movie geek co-workers had found a list of poorly-translated subtitles from Hong Kong movies, and taped it up by the registers. There was one line that stuck out to me; one line from the litany of grammar snafus that struck me as particularly poetic. That line is:
“How can you use my intestines as a gift?”
That line sums up the magic of this genre for me. Horror reflects our current anxieties and offers us a comforting catharsis. It pulls out our glistening guts and shows us how to read them like tea leaves. In fact, that particular Hong Kong subtitle is what I originally wanted to name this blog. However, I soon realized that Google search engines would end up sending me poor souls seeking solutions to various gastrointestinal maladies.
I’m an American so as you probably know, my country is a festering shit-show right now. Some days are terrifying; each humiliatingly stupid action made by our new administration expedites the normalization of things that were once dystopian fiction. Yet, on other days it feels exhilarating; like every stone is being upended to reveal all the disgusting maggots that ever hid in the wet muck below; sunshine exposing it and burning it all up. Always there is this confusing roller coaster of despair and optimism. At least there are horror films to help us through it. Because who has money or insurance for therapy now, anyway?
The following articles explore some of horror’s latest attempts to find meaning in the fears caused by our current societal climate. Oh, and one is just straight up about the actual climate. Happy gut-gazing.
“Looking back at 2016, a year of potent fears, our art responded with potent films. From the Nazi murderers in Green Room to the invasion thriller of 8 Cloverfield Lane, our films reflected a scarily accurate, if heightened, image of our reality. If Donald Trump’s campaign can find an overlap between their political “message” and the people who watch The Walking Dead, there has to be a truth to the pseudoscience of pop culture anthropology. In this noble pursuit, what monster will scare us the most in 2017?”
“As a Mexican filmmaker, Cuarón has made an undeniable political statement by painting illegal immigrants his heroes and white American southerners as the horrifying monster. It’s a shot across the bow of alt-right voters everywhere; it’s also bound to get more than a few of them into the seats.”
“Horror, almost better than any of the other genres, pits the will to live against the will toward nihilism,” Kusama explained. “I just think that’s worth exploring. I don’t know what is more important, actually, to explore than that very dynamic.”
“I’ll say this: The scariest monster in the world is human beings and what we are capable of, especially when we get together. I’m working on these premises about these different social demons. These innately human monsters that have been woven into the fabric of how we think and how we interact. Each one of my movies is going to be about one of these different social demons. The first one being “Get Out,” is about race and neglect and marginalization.”
“One sequence about 40 minutes into the film is particularly alarming. It starts with Gore telling some followers that the fossil fuel industry has spent years trying to convince (and bribe) politicians into ignoring climate change. That’s not news, but the next two scenes are particularly painful now. First, Trump makes an appearance on Fox News, admonishing President Obama for focusing on global warming instead of defeating ISIS. Then, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman meets with Gore to discuss his investigation into Exxon-Mobil and its allegedly fraudulent representation of climate change science going back to the 1970s.”