Posted on January 5, 2018

3 Films That’ll Help You Understand The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Dawn

If you’ve watched Yorgos Lanthimos’s latest film, The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017), you may well have walked away baffled. I know I did. But in a good way. The film is intriguing enough that it draws you in, makes you think—even if it’s only to ask: “What the hell was that all about?”

The plot follows successful cardiologist Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell), who has befriended the son of a patient who died on his operating table. Martin (Barry Keoghan) seems content at first just to meet Steven for coffee and desultory conversation, but it soon transpires that his relationship with the man who operated on his father is more complicated: he wants, as he says, “an eye for an eye.” He wants Steven to sacrifice one of his family members—his wife Anne (Nicole Kidman), daughter Kim (Raffey Cassidy) or son Bob (Sunny Suljic)—to balance the family member Martin thinks Steven took from him. The characters all speak in monotones and reveal very little of their underlying thought or emotion: the style is detached, and environments, houses, hospitals, cities, fill the frame, representing the attenuation of human motivation. It’s hard to know, in short, why characters do what they do.

In an effort to illuminate Lanthimos’s film, here are three films with which its meaning seems to me interwoven. Thinking through each of these films to Killing of a Sacred Deer sheds light on both.

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Posted on December 29, 2017

CFP: Gothic Nature: New Directions in Eco-horror and EcoGothic

Call for Papers

We wanted to let everyone new about a new journal that will be launched in the summer of 2018: Gothic Nature: New Directions in Eco-horror and the EcoGothic. It’s edited by Elizabeth Parker and Emily Bourke and emerged from a fantastic conference they co-organized in November 2017 at Trinity College Dublin.

The deadline for submissions for the inaugural issue of Gothic Nature is April 15, 2018, and the contact email is: 

gothicnaturejournal@gmail.com

Here’s the full CFP:

We are seeking submissions for our new Gothic Nature journal, due out in 2018.

Further to the success of the November 2017 conference Gothic Nature: New Directions in Eco-horror and the EcoGothic, we will be producing a peer-reviewed journal devoted to the same themes.

The editorial board so far includes Dr Elizabeth Parker, Emily Bourke, Professor Simon C. Estok, Professor Andrew Smith, Professor Dawn Keetley, Professor Matthew Wynn Sivils, and Dr Stacy Alaimo. The inaugural issue will also feature an opening essay on eco-horror and the ecoGothic from Dr Tom J. Hillard.

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Posted on December 26, 2017

Apocalyptic Religions in The Mist

Guest Post

With the onslaught of Stephen King adaptations hitting movie screens and televisions this summer, headlined by It and Gerald’s Game, it’s easy to forget about the Spike television adaptation of The Mist. The Stephen King novel has already been adapted for the screen once, in Frank Darabont’s well-loved 2007 film. So why bother with a series? The answer isn’t all that clear, as the series stumbles around for ten episodes, never quite finding its footing. It departs wildly from the source material, reveals itself to be severely out of step with the national tone regarding sexual assault (especially given Harvey Weinstein’s uncomfortable presence as executive producer), and features far too many scenes of people standing around and talking. But as a scholar of the Bible, I found myself intrigued by the religious viewpoints on display, which make for an interesting contrast with the film version.

In both adaptations, a group of people are stranded as a mysterious mist envelops the surrounding area. The dangers of the mist are clear in the film; it harbors monstrous, carnivorous beasts. In the series, the danger is less clear, as the mist seems to call up memories, regrets, and various other nastiness which are more specific to the individual’s fears. In either case, the results of staying in the mist too long are not pretty.

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Posted on December 21, 2017

Misreading Othello in the new Thriller, Dismissed

Dawn

Dismissed (2017) is an interesting film for anyone who is involved in education. Anyone else might find its central story of a psychopathic teen, Lucas Ward, played chillingly by Dylan Sprouse, a bit flimsy. Would a kid really be driven to rather absurd sadistic machinations and even to murder because his English teacher, David Butler (Kent Osborne), gives him a B+ on his paper? (Admittedly Butler later changes Lucas’s grade to an F after Lucas threatens him and calls him out on the fact that he got his degree from Iowa State rather than an Ivy League university. But still . . . ) Directed by Benjamin Arfmann and written by Brian McAuley, Dismissed is a rather lackluster and contrived entry in the psychopathic stalker subgenre. I personally found it enjoyable, though, and not only because I happened to be watching this story of a student who flips out over a grade during grading period at the end of a semester.

Dismissed has something that you almost never see in film: a scene in which two characters engage in a close reading of a literary text. Some of you may now be having unpleasant flashbacks to your last English class, but stay with me. This really is an interesting scene. (It begins at about 25 minutes into the film.)

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Posted on December 19, 2017

Christmas Horror Movies for a Spooky Twist on the Holidays

Guest Post

Christmas is all about jingles, carols, cuddling with your significant half and eating until you start to hate yourself. Still, you can easily spice the whole experience up with a decent Christmas-themed horror movie.

The entire neighborhood is full of joy, there are lights everywhere, eggnog is cascading down into thirsty gullets, children go caroling all over the place, and you’re thinking “Man, this makes me want to scream!” You absolute Grinch! Maybe it would help to hear somebody else scream instead.

Here are 6 of the best holiday-horror movies you can watch this Christmas.

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