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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 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 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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Posted on December 9, 2017

Call for Papers: Special Issue of ‘Revenant’ on Folk Horror

Call for Papers

‘Revenant: Critical and Creative Studies of the Supernatural’ is a peer-reviewed, online journal looking at the supernatural, the uncanny and the weird. “Revenant’ is now accepting articles, creative writing pieces and book, film, game, event or art reviews for a themed issue on folk horror, guest edited by Dr. Dawn Keetley.

Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971)                                                                                          The Devil Rides Out (1968)

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Posted on December 2, 2017

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

Guest Post

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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