fbpx

Year: 2018

Hereditary is out in wide release and audiences are less than impressed. So it was with The Witch and The Babadook. While reviewers swoon, everyone else is scratching their heads.

Hereditary is the latest in a wave of ‘serious’ horror movies that have moved the genre from the heart to the head. And true horror fans need the heart. They want to feel the blade whipping past their ears. Hereditary is intellectually dense – to be sure – but is it thrilling? Thrills have become passé. These movies don’t even try to scare us anymore; they aim for a mounting sense of dread and stop short of terror, which begs the question: Is this movie good or just good for you?

God help the movies if they can no longer thrill audiences without being labelled cheap. Critics raved about The Exorcist and Jaws. Both scared up major box office and left audiences white-knuckled. But these days sophisticated horror films don’t bridge the gap.

Transgressive video nasties (like The Evil Dead), which were once championed by the underground film movement and reviled by critics, are now embraced by the very faction who once dismissed them as junk. The genre has been hijacked by academics. If these movies are no longer subversive enough to put off critics, then do they even rate as horror?

With a 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a D+ on CinemaScore, Hereditary is underwhelming almost everyone I know. A margin this wide makes sense if we’re talking about mother!, which was experimental and not intended for mainstream audiences. But Hereditary is a popcorn horror movie that’s psychologically complex, graphic, disturbing, with some knockout performances and a few jump scares.

The problem is that there’s also a heavy-handed subtext about mental illness. True horror films tap into subconscious fears. Killer dolls and possessed children and flesh-eating zombies and hillbilly cannibals don’t mean much on the surface. They aren’t wearing their symbolism on their sleeves. It takes hindsight to process why they penetrated our consciousness and tapped into our underlying fears. Should horror movies be as symbolically ‘neat’ as Hereditary? Toni Collette’s act of self-mutilation is so naked a metaphor that it distracts from the sheer horror of it. We ‘think’ it rather than feel it, and the horror evaporates.

Perhaps I need to look at what Hereditary isn’t before casting it aside completely.

For one thing, it isn’t a James Wan shocker, where a few inspired scare sequences are intermingled with poor characterisations, orchestral stabs, silly expository scenes and unfocused plotting. Hereditary reaches for something purer; the supernatural element develops slowly as the characters psychologically disintegrate. A James Wann film is a giddy experience that makes us feel over-caffeinated. Hereditary is just bewildering and faintly unpleasant.

Hereditary also contains no levity. It’s interesting without being fun and it doesn’t let you sigh with relief after a big scare. One dread-inducing scene is followed by another. Director Ari Aster sustains suspense for two hours – and ends his film on a rather perplexing note. There’s an explanation for what we’ve seen, but it doesn’t all gel. It raises more questions than it yields answers, but this is clearly the filmmaker’s intention. Jaws, The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby lost none of their power with declarative, rousing endings. Hereditary finds an ending, but is it satisfying? I thought so. Many people do not.

The D+ score might hurt the film’s box office, but it was made for $10 million and almost doubled its budget over it’s first weekend. I wonder if people will come around to it, or if the movie’s slow-burn power is lost on a culture obsessed with instant gratification. Maybe our chronic consumption of hyperactive Marvel films and James Wan cheapies has given us an allergy to cinema that breathes. Maybe we don’t have the patience for substance anymore, just a few boo-gotcha! moments. Or maybe this movie is too concerned with ‘saying something’ instead of just scaring the shit out of us. Audiences have loved horror movies for a lot longer than the critics. They know when they’re being duped.

This month we are smashing every lightbulb in the studio as we explore Terence Young’s 1967 domestic thriller “Wait Until Dark”.

This podcast is non-profit and has been broadcast for educational purposes. Excerpts from the following material has been included to enhance the listener experience:

FILM
The Birds (1963) dir. Alfred Hitchcock, USA
Wait Until Dark (1967) dir. Terence Young, USA
Panic Room (2002) dir. David Fincher, USA

SONGS
“Wait Until Dark” [score] (1967), w & p: Henry Mancini

SHOW NOTES

If you want to follow us on Letterboxd, we’re always logging and rating films we’ve been watching and occasionally Luke will do some pretty in-depth reviews, too.

Luke Kane: http://www.letterboxd.com/overbreakfast/
Damien Heath: http://www.letterboxd.com/jedikaos/

You can find Celluloid Junkies on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest. Luke is also on Twitter, as is Damien.

Thanks again for checking out Celluloid Junkies. We’ll see you next time with a close-up, in depth look at Patty Jenkins’ phenomenal serial killer biopic “Monster”.

This month we are going deep underground as we profile our first documentary of the series, the tense struggle against corporate greed and dangerous working conditions in Barbara Kopple’s 1976 film “Harlan County, USA”.

This podcast is non-profit and has been broadcast for educational purposes. Excerpts from the following material has been included to enhance the listener experience:

FILM
Harlan County, USA (1976) dir. Barbara Kopple, USA
Silkwood (1983) dir. Mike Nichols, USA

SONGS
“Which Side Are You On?” (1931) w: Florence Reece, p: Natalie Merchant
“Coal Miner’s Grave” (1976) w: Hazel Dickens, p: John Lilly

SHOW NOTES

If you want to follow us on Letterboxd, we’re always logging and rating films we’ve been watching and occasionally Luke will do some pretty in-depth reviews, too.

Luke Kane: http://www.letterboxd.com/overbreakfast/
Damien Heath: http://www.letterboxd.com/jedikaos/

You can find Celluloid Junkies on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest. Luke is also on Twitter, as is Damien.

Thanks again for checking out Celluloid Junkies. We’ll see you next time with a close-up, in depth look at Terence Young’s 1967 home invasion thriller “Wait Until Dark”.

SPECIAL GUEST
Author Samm Deighan, “Lost Girls: The Phantasmagorical Cinema of Jean Rollin” and an upcoming book on Fritz Lang’s M; co-host of the Daughters of Darkness Podcast; Associate Editor of Diabolique Magazine; contributor to Senses of Cinema Magazine

This month we are on the hunt for a serial killer in Fritz Lang’s 1931 German thriller “M”.

This podcast is non-profit and has been broadcast for educational purposes. Excerpts from the following material has been included to enhance the listener experience:

FILM
M [English Language Version] (1931) dir. Fritz Lang, Germany

SONGS
“The Main Scene” from Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922) w: Hans Erdmann
“In the Hall of the Mountain King” (Suite No. 1, Op. 46) from Peer Gynt (1875) w: Edvard Grieg, p: Peter Lorre
“Supersymmetry” (2013) w & p: Arcade Fire
“Silo Attack” from A Quiet Place: OST (2018) w: Marco Beltrami

SHOW NOTES

If you want to follow us on Letterboxd, we’re always logging and rating films we’ve been watching and occasionally Luke will do some pretty in-depth reviews, too.

Luke Kane: http://www.letterboxd.com/overbreakfast/
Damien Heath: http://www.letterboxd.com/jedikaos/

You can find Celluloid Junkies on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest. Luke is also on Twitter, as is Damien.

Thanks again for checking out Celluloid Junkies. We’ll see you next time with a close-up, in depth look at Barbara Kopple’s dramatic, tense and inspiring Academy Award-winning documentary “Harlan County, U.S.A.”.

This month we are profiling Lynne Ramsay’s 2011 mesmeric domestic drama “We Need to Talk About Kevin”.

This episode was recorded before the February 14th school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. As such, some research and statistics stated during the show do not reflect the severity of this school shooting. Our thoughts are with all of the victims, their families and friends.

See Never Again MSD for information on the #NeverAgain movement, created by students of Stoneman Douglas High School who wish for no students to experience what they went through in the future. The “March For Our Lives” rally is being held on March 24th, 2018 in Washington, D.C.

This podcast is non-profit and has been broadcast for educational purposes. Excerpts from the following material has been included to enhance the listener experience:

FILM
We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) dir. Lynne Ramsay, USA

SONGS
“I Don’t Like Mondays” (2001) w: Bob Geldof, p: Tori Amos

SHOW NOTES

Poster Design

Design is one of the recurring themes of “We Need to Talk About Kevin”. Eva’s sparse, childless life decisions are by design; her work is big on design in many ways, including the literal; and the movie takes these themes and transfers them to not only the screen, but also the publicity materials used in its promotion. Few recent movies have received quite as many markedly different poster designs as this film, and here are a selection of just a few of the best.

The reviews and awards poster.

The Kevin-centric poster.

This and the next poster use Neue Helvetica 97 Black Condensed, a blockletter variant of the world’s most popular font. Notice the use of colour, and its direct contrast to the next poster. The blue hues are similar to those seen during the film’s climax.

The Eva-centric variant of the same poster.

Notice that the first two quotes are the same as on the last poster, but in this variation the third quote is changed from one about Ezra Miller to one about Tilda Swinton. The colour, obviously, has been altered to the dramatic red tones that run throughout the movie when modern day Eva is on screen.

If you want to follow us on Letterboxd, we’re always logging and rating films we’ve been watching and occasionally Luke will do some pretty in-depth reviews, too.

Luke Kane: http://www.letterboxd.com/overbreakfast/
Damien Heath: http://www.letterboxd.com/jedikaos/

You can find Celluloid Junkies on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest. Luke is also on Twitter, as is Damien.

Thanks again for checking out Celluloid Junkies. We’ll see you next time with a close-up, in depth look at Fritz Lang’s 1931 German-language masterpiece “M”.

We’re doing something we haven’t done before as we take a look back at 2017. We’ll review each of the Best Picture nominees for next month’s Academy Awards, each list our five favourite films of 2017, and each give away 10 awards in the inaugural Celluloid Junkies Oscars Preview!

This podcast is non-profit and has been broadcast for educational purposes. Excerpts from the following material has been included to enhance the listener experience:

FILM
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) dir. Charles Sellier Jr., USA
The Silence of the Lambs (1991) dir. Jonathan Demme, USA

SONGS
“American Girl” (1977) w: Tom Petty, p: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

SHOW NOTES

If you want to follow us on Letterboxd, we’re always logging and rating films we’ve been watching and occasionally Luke will do some pretty in-depth reviews, too.

Luke Kane: http://www.letterboxd.com/overbreakfast/
Damien Heath: http://www.letterboxd.com/jedikaos/

You can find Celluloid Junkies on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest. Luke is also on Twitter, as is Damien.

Scroll to top