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Posted on August 4, 2017

Baskin’s Conflicted Horror

Guest Post

Baskin is a 2015 Turkish horror film directed by Can Evrenol. It centers on a group of police officers, including a young and naive officer named Arda (Görkem Kasal), as they respond to a late-night call and inadvertently wander into Hell. The men stumble into a place and time “where realms unite,” and they are doomed to be punished for their sins in life in a twisting tale that denies the viewer any semblance of reality to which they can cling as the horrors mount.

Baskin spins an intentionally disorienting narrative as perspective jumps from character to character, and dreams within dreams layer upon one another as the film moves toward its climax.

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Posted on July 15, 2017

Politics and American Horror Story: Roanoke

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November 9, 2016. Hillary Clinton concedes the presidential election to a “pussy-grabber” who spent his campaign sending tweets like, “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?” Addressing “all the little girls watching,” Clinton implores, “never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”[i]

The penultimate episode of American Horror Story: Roanoke premieres less than twelve hours later. “Chapter 9” opens with a trio of college-age bloggers looking for the house where My Roanoke Nightmare (the show-within-a-show constituting the first five episodes of AHS ‘s sixth season) was filmed. Sophie (Taissa Farmiga) wonders aloud, “How many likes do you think we’ll get on Instagram when we post footage of the house at the peak of the blood moon? We are gonna blow up the Internet, right?” The exchange that follows is eerily prescient:

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Posted on July 7, 2017

5 Perspectives on It Comes at Night

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I’ve had lots of conversations with people about Trey Edward Shults’ recent film It Comes at Night (2017)—about what it means, how to interpret the ending, and what “It” is. This post is most definitely for those of you who have seen the film and who want to think more about it (so–spoiler alert). Here are five different opinions on what happens and what “It” might be.

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Posted on June 29, 2017

Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country: On Horror and Racism

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There is much to recommend about Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country, published in 2016. It is a book where the premise (monsters are real, but racism is the real monster!), setting (1954 Chicago and environs), form (a series of connected short stories, each taking up a different horror trope), and characters (each of which stars in their own story and crosses over into the others as side-characters) are all reasons to pick up the paperback. Recently, the book became even more enticing following the announcement of an HBO series adaptation produced by Jordan Peele (Get Out) with Misha Green (Underground) writing and showrunning. (You can check out Matt Ruff’s announcement here.) The show has the potential to be the next big thing given the talent involved and the source material, so if you want to be one of those people who invariably claim that the book was better, now’s your chance to get ahead of the pack. Except that might not be the best idea in this case because everything that works here could easily end up working better as a TV show since it only reaches its full potential on the page occasionally.

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Posted on June 23, 2017

The Last Broadcast: Christine and Carnival of Souls

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On July 14th, 1974, 29-year old Christine Chubbuck, a TV reporter based in Sarasota, Florida, was helming a seemingly routine newscast when there was a technical hitch. Once the live feed returned to the studio, Chubbuck read the following statement: “In keeping with Channel 40’s policy of bringing you the latest in ‘blood and guts’, and in living colour, you are going to see another first – attempted suicide.” She then pulled a gun out from under her desk and shot herself in the head, dying in hospital several hours later. Footage of her suicide attempt was subsequently passed on to the police. In Killing for Culture (1995: revised and updated 2016), David Kerekes and David Slater discuss Chubbuck’s suicide alongside other notorious instances of “Death in the Media.” They note: “The tape has apparently yet to surface in any form. Despite some claims that footage of Chubbuck’s suicide had once circulated on the internet, there is no evidence to suggest it is there now. Frankly, it is unlikely that such material – any material – would ever surface and then simply disappear from the virtual reservoir” (2016: 355).

Footage of Chubbuck’s death may not yet have surfaced in the “virtual reservoir,” but that fact that it inspired two films in 2016 suggests that her story is one that still resonates. The meta staged “documentary” Kate Plays Christine (Robert Greene) is told from the perspective of an actress preparing to play Chubbuck. My focus here is on the more formally conventional take on Chubbuck’s story, Christine (Antonio Campos, 2016), which dramatizes the months leading up to her death.

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