GREGORY HORROR SHOW
A quick overview of the high highs and middling disappointments in horror this year.
With the social media app formerly known as Twitter now a shell of its former self, horror fans have been forced to return to Facebook to continue such interminable debates as “What does or doesn’t qualify something as ‘horror’?” “What the hell is ‘elevated horror,’ anyway?” “Are remakes inherently bad?” “Have horror movies gotten too ‘woke’?” “Were we wrong for letting women make horror?”
In a year when both David Gordon Green and M. Night Shyamalan released new movies, the horror discourse was especially spicy, and that’s before we get to the really interesting stories, like the surprise viral success of Skinamarink, which, with the way time seems to be passing nowadays, feels like it was released five years ago. Both indie and mainstream horror made daring choices, not looking to appeal to as broad a range of audiences as possible, and treating the genre as a serious art form, as opposed to just a machine that prints money. But the biggest surprise came in October, with the release of Saw X, the tenth film in a seemingly unkillable franchise, which ended up being one of the best, most coherent entries in the entire series. Continue Reading →
Ridley Scott’s surprisingly hollow biopic of the French military commander falters as a character piece and comes shy of victory as an epic.
For a film with as many contradictions as Napoleon, it’s odd for it to be so straightforward. It covers 28 years, but it never feels like a lot of changes. It’s over two and a half hours, which, while not a herculean runtime, never entirely slows down. Perhaps it’s because it never really gets started. Ridley Scott’s latest opens with a public decapitation of Marie Antoinette (Catherine Walker), giving way to the 1793 Siege of Toulon. The violence is often unsparingly graphic, so why, then, does it feel so cosmetic? Shouldn’t a live horse eviscerated by a cannonball to the chest do something to the viewer?
Maybe not when there’s such little context. If Napoleon is one thing, it’s episodic—ahistorical, even. David Scarpa’s script begins in the trenches and is content on staying there. Everyone and everything are simply window dressing. That includes Napoleon Bonaparte himself (Joaquin Phoenix), whom the film oversimplifies from intrinsically flawed leader to wholly externalized man-child. After the Siege, he wins the affections of Joséphine de Beauharnais (Vanessa Kirby). The two soon marry. Continue Reading →
Beau Is Afraid
If there’s anything Ari Aster wants you to understand after watching his newest film, it’s that he’s funny. With just three feature films under his belt, Beau Is Afraid marks both a massive departure from his previous films and a solidifying of his style. It’s a movie about terror, without a ton of interest in being terrifying. More specifically, it’s a movie about the absurdity of fear and the ridiculousness of human nature. And yeah, it’s definitely about moms, too. Continue Reading →
I am sitting in the waiting room at an Urgent Care in Maine, waiting to see someone about a mild allergic reaction to a bee sting. It is August 2003, and I am thirteen years old. While my mother and I wait, I look up at the muted television, and suddenly I can't breathe. The news broadcast is carrying a live feed of what I recognize as the Brooklyn Bridge, and to my horror, thousands of people are streaming across it, trying to get out of New York City. My first thought, before I stammer to my mother that she needs to ask for the remote, that she needs to turn up the volume, that she needs to call our family and see if they're safe, is: It's happening again. We manage to unmute the waiting room television and watch, frightened, as the news breaks of the massive blackout that has paralyzed the Northeast. No one knows the cause, and I convince myself: It is happening again. Continue Reading →
Stories revolving around single men suddenly thrust into the father’s role (even if only temporarily) obsess about men’s ineptitude. Whether they think their failure to take naturally to childcare is biological or sociological or better played as comedy or tragedy doesn’t really matter. For whatever reason, the takeaway is still men aren’t cut out for fatherhood of any kind on their own. In a shocking breath of fresh air, C’mon C’mon says, to put it bluntly, fuck that. Continue Reading →