Browsing Tag


Posted on July 15, 2017

Politics and American Horror Story: Roanoke

Guest Post

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 11, 2017

Man Vs.: Horror, Philosophy, Nature


2015                NR                  Canada                        Adam Massey             87 mins.

Horror films are important not least because they so often dramatize fundamental philosophical questions.

I just watched an extremely interesting (and definitely underrated) horror film (currently streaming on Netflix in the US), Adam Massey’s Man Vs. (2015). I did so at the same time that I was reading an essay by Canadian philosopher Karen Houle about the importance of the language we use when talking about the natural world.[i] At one point in her essay, Houle quotes from Martin Heidegger, a quote that struck me as providing a great lens through which to watch Man Vs.

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Posted on July 7, 2017

5 Perspectives on It Comes at Night

Guest Post

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 July 5, 2017

Don’t Hang Up: Teens and Social Media


2016  |  R  |  83 min  |  Directors: Damien Macé & Alexis Wajsbrot  |  Writer: Joe Johnson  |  UK

Grade:  A-

Don’t Hang Up scares some sense into social media obsessed teens.

Synopsis: A few millennial pranksters take crank calls to the next level while trying to achieve internet stardom. They soon find out the hard way that there are very real life repercussions for their actions.

Don’t Hang Up is a really good film. I was super excited to see a horror film that is rated “R” as that in itself has become as likely as finding a unicorn.  This film evokes many of the better elements of Wes Craven’s Scream (1996) as well as I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) combining pranks, poor choices, and a few selfish kids. Remember the opening scene in Scream when Casey Becker gets a prank phone call? Well, imagine that on crack and you have Don’t Hang Up.

Most thrilling about this film is the commentary on social media use. Don’t Hang Up tells a tale of a handful of teenage boys who video themselves making pretty vicious prank phone calls for the purpose of getting “likes” online.  When bad things happen, we could superficially assume that their horror-trope indiscretion was exploiting others for personal gain.  However, this film is actually much more complex than that. Social media and technology greatly enhance the cat-and-mouse component within this film.

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Posted on July 2, 2017

Don’t Hang Up


2016                R         UK                Damien Macé and Alexis Wajsbrot                83 mins.

It says much about Don’t Hang Up that I’m irresistibly drawn to say of it: “It’s Saw meets Unfriended—with a bit of The Strangers thrown in.” What this says about Don’t Hang Up is that it consistently echoes other horror films. Some critics will no doubt say that this makes the film derivative, formulaic. Don’t Hang Up is actually better than that, and the way in which it evokes other films is actually a plus for me. It’s hard (some would say impossible) to create something absolutely new: everything builds on what’s gone before. Don’t Hang Up is creative—original—in the way that creativity and originality most often exist in the world: it puts things that have come before together in some new ways. And that makes it a film worth watching in my book.

The film begins with a group of high school boys making prank calls, which they stream online for the thrill of getting thousands of views. The film’s opening montage cleverly shows how the exuberance and excitement of the prankers is predicated on the suffering of their victims, to which they give not one iota of consideration. Here’s where Unfriended (Levan Gabriadze, 2014) comes in, which is similarly about what happens when teenagers put a video depicting someone else’s misery online. The opening scenarios of both films dramatize the callousness of young people, or the callousness produced by lives lived in large part in the abstracted world of social media . . .or both.

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