calebwhutch

Contributing writer for The Artifice.

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    The "Elevated Horror" film, and the "A24ification" of the genre.

    An analysis of the trend of "elevated horror", and how A24 curates and establishes the pillars of this trend through the films it chooses to purchase. There seems to be a school of thought that is under the impression that films like The Babadook, Hereditary and The Witch (which could all be considered as familial "drama" films masquerading as horror) are refreshing because horror has been "devoid of thematic resonance" in the past and the genre is having a resurgence of some kind. Important to consider that all of these filmmakers seem to hold horror at arm’s length, stating in interviews that they weren’t trying to make a horror film and that they see their work as a "family drama" or some other derivative and cliched response.

    • I like your focus on the familial aspect, as I believe I've seen analyses that have touched upon the family trauma aspect of recent horror, such as The Haunting of Hill House. When it comes to the "devoid of thematic resonance" part, the movies mentioned, especially Hereditary, are very influenced by other horror films. It makes me wary when certain directors treat the label "horror" as anathema, as if they're too good for it. It's like when people label certain films as "thrillers" because "horror" would be too "demeaning." Horror films aren't suddenly meaningful; they have often had thematic and symbolic resonance, but those who claim certain films are "horror but meaningful and different" (and I'm not directing this toward you, and you acknowledge the derivative nature of these takes) feel like they're people who generally dislike or don't watch horror and need to rationalize that the films they do like are different because, hey, I hate horror, so if I like it, it mustn't be horror! – Emily Deibler 12 months ago
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    • This is a really important topic to consider at the moment. I think your point can even be extended beyond A24. For instance, whether Get Out is a horror film or a 'family drama' is still up for debate online (much to my and director Jordan Peele's frustration). Interesting that Texas Chainsaw isn't included in these people's ideas of what constitutes a 'family drama'... – Kate 12 months ago
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    Latest Comments

    Lynch constantly plays with the idea that America has been constructed to intentionally create a facade that evil can fester beneath, going unnoticed. There’s a critical commentary at work here of course, but there’s also a nostalgia for this system, which elevates all of his pieces away from didacticism into complex swirling portraits of the American psyche.

    Holding in your hands the (seemingly contradictory) ideas that the system is rigged while also having an unwavering admiration for the system’s iconography and culture. THE American filmmaker, in my opinion.

    Navigate Into David Lynch's Desirable And Nostalgic Centre

    Interesting read!

    I’m in the minority, but I think Maul’s function works better as one of mystery. In The Phantom Menace he is placed in the narrative as a stand-in for the standard “evil” in the eyes of a religious order, clearly evoking Satanic imagery. The “Other” that is to be hated and fought against, his silence being an illustration of modern organized Christianity’s creation of this figure as all-encompassing evil. Satan as a literary figure is much more complex than what Church will tell you, so the silence of Maul in The Phantom Menace feels like a perfect illustration of that.

    Darth Maul: A Triumph of the Star Wars Extended Universe

    I’ve found it interesting just how deeply in conversation The Phantom Menace is with A New Hope in its third act. Vader vs. Obi-Wan with Luke witnessing the sacrifice, Maul vs. Qui-Gon with Obi-Wan witnessing. Lucas has always been obsessed with technology vs. organic matter, and the prequels are all about the non-dualism that is at the heart of the religions in which The Force is based upon. Maul is a very obvious riff on Christian Satanic imagery, and Qui-Gon is the noble zealot fighting off the “bad”, and this is a visual representation of the simplicity of the Jedi Order’s thinking, and organized religion’s thinking in general. “Good” vs. “bad” is revealed as a false premise. Obi-Wan witnesses this false duality and takes it with him, until the entirety of the system he lives in is torn apart.

    His arc across the prequels beautifully inform his sacrifice in A New Hope. There is no battle between “good” and “evil”. It’s much more complicated than that. Vader being a perfect synthesis of tech and organic matter, of good and evil. Instead of fighting this man who would be perceived as a walking contradiction if looked at through a dualistic lens, he refuses to fight. He illustrates non-dualism to Luke, which Luke will only understand later.

    In my opinion, the prequel films are much more thematically complex than the original three, and their existence enhances the texts of all the installments that chronologically come after them.

    In Defense of the Star Wars Prequels