Tuesday, December 22, 2009

For your Horrorthon 2010 consideration

18 comments:

DCD said...

GAH! Just one more reason why skiing is a suckfest.

Catfreeek said...

Like Open Water but the water is snow and the sharks are wolves.

Octopunk said...

Ugh. Nein danke Someday I will muster the will to tackle this subgenre, and watch Open Water and Frozen and all that, but only after I've exhausted every hate-filled Crazy Hillbilly movie there is.

To me, the idea of watching a movie like this is repellent. I guess there's nothing wrong with stories in which the mundane suddenly turns into a deadly menace. But that idea so mirrors the mundane disasters I fear every day (mostly meaning I worry about car accidents), I full-on resent the same fears be pushed on me by fiction. Which is all about me and no objective indictment of the subgenre. If anything I'm giving props to its effectiveness by being openly afraid of it.

But I'm also terribly bored with it. Here's what I remember thinking during most of Blair Witch:

"I wish they'd hold that camera still...there sure are a lot of skinny trees and brown leaves to see...these people are sure becoming increasingly unpleasant to hang out with...I wish they'd start stuffing their faces with those fucking leaves so I don't have to listen to them bitching anymore...or see anymore goddamn leaves."


Of course there was other stuff going on, but that is what stayed with me.

So here's my cranky assessment of Frozen. On one hand, looks genuinely scary and possibly good, on the other, they should've climbed up that thing and shimmied along on top of the cable, and right away before things had a chance to get any worse. Idiots.

Catfreeek said...

I will probably watch this but anticipate the same impatience you are talking about Octo. I just can't help myself, I watch everything.

Jordan said...

I think it looks good. I like this kind of this thing...my opinion is kind of the opposite of Octopunk's, on the broadest level.

One of my favorite Stephen King books is the underappreciated Gerald's Game. At the tail end of the summer, a middle-aged couple decide to take a final weekend at their remote lakeside cabin for a spur-of-the moment romantic getaway. They get there Friday night, notice that they're the only people around in the little resort community (since it's mid-October), and commence their favorite bondage game ("Gerald's game") they strip and he handcuffs her to the bedposts...and then suddenly has a heart attack and slides to the floor, dead.

The next forty-eight hours, as the wife confronts her predicament (naked; handcuffed to the bed; front door wide open; fading light; cold air blowing in; lights out; dead husband out if view on the bedroom floor; nobody around for miles) is one of the most terrifying, spellbinding reads King has ever produced. The odyssey of terror and courage and self-discovery and life-assessment and heroism is particularly amazing since the entire novel (almost) takes place in one small room. The wife's unbelievable struggle to get water out of the glass Gerald left just out of reach on the headboard (about 40 pages of pure suspense) is particularly riveting. Great book.

Anyway, my point is, it's not the only thing I like, and it's not my first choice, but I totally dig this kind of horror. Whatever you want to call it..."ordinary-situation-gone-astray" horror.

Jordan said...

Plus, Octo: the whole "They should have done X, earlier, back when they had a chance" element is ALWAYS present in this sort of story. I think it's actually an essential formal component. Part of what makes these detail-oriented scare tales so compelling. It's an allegorical portrait of life's less horrific escalating challenges: whatever it is you avoided, now you've got to do it no matter how much harded it's gotten...time to face what's important and learn what you're made of etc. (I'm posting from my phone so this isn't the most cogent explanation but hopefully I'm making myself clear.)

Jordan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jordan said...

It takes a special kind of leadership to avoid that trap. O e of my favorite of the (rare) examples of people in strategic/tactical/leadership moments being smart enough not to get trapped that way:

THREEPIO: I am fluent in over six million forms of communication. This signal is not used by the Alliance. It could be an Imperial code.

HAN SOLO (on the phone): ...It's a good bet the Empire knows we're here.

LEIA: We'd better start the evacuation.

Jordan said...

I basically want to see Frozen right now.

JPX said...

I'm a sucker for the "predicament" movie. I love stories where people are trapped in unusual circumstances/isolation like The Ruins, Open Water, Open Water 2, Moon, etc. I'm totally on board with Frozen.

Books include, The Raft, Kon Tiki, Robinson Crusoe, etc.

Octopunk said...

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Octopunk said...

That was from Zack.

Octopunk said...

The Ruins doesn't fall under my hatred umbrella because there's an evil creature in it.

Also, there is precious little retro-advice to offer those people.

JPX said...

Zack, you make an excellent point and I'm glad you agree with me.

Jordan said...

Zack does make a good point.

However, my own comments here aren't receiving nearly enough attention.

Octopunk said...

It's crossed my mind how badly a ski resort would get sued if this happened, and then I realized something. They only get stuck because they scammed their way on and they don't register on whatever guest count the resort must use to prevent this from happening. Which 1) takes the bite out of the scary text about how this has to happen sooner or later, and 2) makes them extra idiotic for not thinking of this when they go for their last nighttime run.

Jordan said...

Honestly, Octo, I don't know what your problem is with this one.

Yes, they scammed their way onto the lift; that's why they got left behind. That's the whole point. It doesn't "take the bite" out of the statistical data about how it's "just a matter of time." It doesn't say "It's just a matter of time even provided that everyone follows the rules." It simply points out that the totality of the system is dangerous, because of a significant statistical margin of error (including mishaps, scams, breakdowns, etc). Where are you getting this idea that it "doesn't count" because they broke the rules?

And since when does the stupid behavior of a bunch of characters (a bunch of teenagers! In a horror movie!) nullify the horror? It's not scary and/or not interesting because they did something dumb? Says who?Where does that leave the kids at the bottom of the quarry in Trick 'r Treat, or the girl swimming to her death at the beginning of Jaws, or Rose bringing her kid to Silent Hill?

Didn't you read that Stephen King story "The Raft"? A bunch of drunk kids end up driving to that filled quarry or pond or whatever it is and swimming out to the raft. Then the monster corners them there. "Nobody knows we're here" the main character suddenly realizes. They die one by one, horribly, and the last guy is left staring at the pickup truck and their clothes on the shore, a mere 25 feet away, before he plunges into the water to get killed. Yes, they should have left a note for somebody. But they didn't, so it's adios.

Seriously, where are you coming from? How can "the entire idea" be "repellant," as you write? The entire point of a vast percentage of horror stories is the punishment of characters whose actions are ill-conceived, from Psycho to Hostel. What strange sour mood are you in, that you sit watching Blair Witch or the Frozen trailer with your arms stubbornly crossed, huffing, "It's not scary and I'm not interested, because it's the characters' fault!" Do you realize how much quality horror gets "disqualified" based on that criterion?What about the guy drinking the coffee in the final act of The Vanishing? Did you immediately get impatient and scornful because "He shouldn't have done that"? What about Greek tragedy Hubris? What about "tampering in God's domain?" There's an entire, centuries-old moral dimension to fear narrative you're imperiously disregarding. You sound like a Republican dismissing obesity/smoking death statistics because "They should have known better." Like Obi-wan says, "Come to your senses!"

Octopunk said...

I guess I wasn't clear. This subgenre does scare me, but it's in a way I'm not into, because it strikes a personal nerve too easily, and because it's also boring. So I'm looking for a reason to discount it. I don't really see a basis for extending my observations to all horror movies.

Minor point: I never used the words "doesn't count" and your use of quotes makes it look like I did.

Remember talking about Ringworld? The scene in which the guy is suspended way high up in the alien garage or whatever? You found it gripping, I was bored. My take on this is coming from the same place.