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Posted on February 3, 2018

3 Films That Can Help You Understand Phantom Thread

Guest Post

Phantom Thread is Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film, and I left the theater trying to figure out what to make of it. The story is simple: dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) meets a waitress, Alma (Vicky Krieps), and they begin a relationship in which she becomes his new muse and must find her role in her new life while vying for his attention with Reynolds’ high-class clients and his sister, Cyril (Lesley Manville). Soon, Alma begins to assert herself as the primary woman in Reynolds’ life and eventually demonstrates the implications of that role to him and the audience. Phantom Thread is a beautiful movie but the great camerawork and outstanding performances hide layers of meaning based principally on the complicated relationship at the center of the movie.

Although the film is a romance, there are some horror and thriller elements that helped me comprehend what was happening. To understand some of these aspects of the film better, I recommend thinking about it in relation to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca and Psycho, as well as Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper.

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Posted on January 24, 2018

Horror and Scripture Call for Manuscripts

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Lexington Books/Fortress Academic is pleased to announce a new series: Horror and Scripture. The series seeks monographs that explore horror, monsters, and the monstrous in early Jewish and Christian scriptures (including canonical and non-canonical texts). Books in the series will be grounded in the discipline of biblical studies, but will exhibit a wide range of methodological diversity, including, for example, film studies, psychoanalytic theory, anthropological approaches, monster theory, and postmodern readings.

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Posted on December 26, 2017

Apocalyptic Religions in The Mist

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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 19, 2017

Christmas Horror Movies for a Spooky Twist on the Holidays

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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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Posted on December 2, 2017

I Am the Pretty Thing that Lives, Dies, and Haunts in the House

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I have heard myself say that a house with a death in it can never again be bought or sold by the living. It can only be borrowed from the ghosts who have stayed behind.

I Am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House begins with the anticipation of certain death. In this 2016 Netflix original, directed by Osgood Perkins, Lily Saylor (Ruth Wilson) enters the house of the dying author, Iris Blum (Paula Prentiss), to serve as her live-in nurse. Lily spends solitary months caring for Ms. Blum, and the film follows her at a sometimes excruciating pace. Ms. Blum refuses to call her anything but Polly, whom Lily learns is the lead character in one of Blum’s books: a character who suffered a horrible murder but whose ending was never fully told. The ghost of this character (Lucy Boynton) begins following Lily about the house, unbeknownst to her. The death that the house has been waiting for becomes three as Polly’s end is briefly shown, Lily never reaches her 29th year (as she predicts in the first few minutes of the film), and Ms. Blum dies without her caregiver. The film slowly unravels the theme of three different relationships in regards to these deaths: 1) that of the dying and a caregiver, 2) 1) that of an artist with her work, and 3) that of the living with the dead. Ultimately, these relationships grow so neatly and subtly tangled that they become inseparable

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