Monday, February 20, 2012

A Few Movies That Have Scared Me, and Why

I saw Event Horizon in the theaters.  Back then, the Internet wasn't as buzzing with trailer sites and I think - if I remember correctly - there was no YouTube, as of then.  So, far as I knew, Event Horizon was just the next science fiction flick to hit the big screen.



This movie still stands as one of the very few that have genuinely freaked me out.  I still struggle to understand why.  There's plenty of gore in the end - which actually DID turn me off, a little, because it seemed to lose a lot of it's creepiness at that point - but for 90 % of this film, I jumped at nothing, I shivered and shuddered was afraid.

Of course, the above clip contains a lot for me to connect to.  First, of course - operating from my own beliefs of the universe - we have an evil ship that may or may not have gone to Hell and brought something back with it.  Nothing like that to get a life-long Protestant's blood pumping and heart pounding.  But there was something....more.

It's about the characters themselves, you see.  Do I feel for them? Associate with their plight? Feel sympathy for their troubles, feel concern for their welfare?

And by this point of the movie, I'd connected with the main characters, or at least had assimilated  - from Noel Carroll's The Philosophy of Horror - their struggles into my perception of them in their situation.  And in Event Horizon, we're clearly presented with the main character's traumas before things start getting really wild wooly:

1. Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne) - lost a close shipmate in an accident years before, is haunted by this, swears never to leave another man behind. So what does he fear losing? His crew.

2.  Dr. Weir (Sam Neill) - lost his wife to suicide, so buried he was in his work.  What does he fear? That his wife's death/suicide is his fault, fears the failure of everything he's worked for, losing his mind.

3. Peters, Med Tech (Kathleen Quinlan) - her son is very sick, and also with her husband, because of her divorce.  What does she fear? Her son dieing, never seeing him again.

4. D. J. (Jason Isaacs) - a very violent, checkered past hinted at - that he's had to do very bad, unavoidable things, because he had to.  What would he fear? I don't think I'd like to know.  

And also, too...Event Horizon features the classic case of hubris, in man over-reaching himself and probing mysteries better left unknown: 

Black Hole - It's Perfectly Safe.... 

The end (spoilers) also is something I'll always react to, personally....and that's the ultimate sacrifice for others: (be warned...a little gore, here)


So ultimately, Event Horizon worked for me, because it hit all the points Carroll lays out for art-horror:

1. invokes feeling of fear for characters, because they were created strongly enough for me to assimilate them and their fears

2. invokes disgust in impure, nightmarish images (that were done very sparingly to begin with, might've be overdone in the end)

And this movie incorporates feelings of "art-dread" by invoking the awareness of avowed, inexplicable forces of the universe (hell, demons), and because we know of Captain Miller's fear of losing anyone else, the pathos of his final sacrifice to save his crew has all that much more impact.

So, let's assume that all the other movies I'll mention hit these same things, so for them, I'll just give brief descriptions, my take on them.

VERY creepy.  Very surreal.  Had some nice moments.  And, I assimilated the main character's confusion and disorientation, felt that way myself.  The sequels were fun, but this one stands far above them in the creep factor.


My students think I'm crazy when I say this freaked me out (they say it's lame) but it did.  Maybe because of the ending, because we've come to expect the problem in a horror movie to be "figured out". And in this one, we're given a head-fake at the end, but no solution here...

Do I even need to say anything, here? This is the movie the SAW movies desperately want to be.

Before this blog gets ridiculously long, here's a trailer for a movie that's coming up - again, not "horror" - that for some reason just sets me all shivering with dread.  Looking forward to this release, definitely.

Seems like I haven't seen a lot of horror movies, doesn't it?  Tis true, and I have seen more than these, but these are some of the few that have actually SCARED me.  I've connected to quite a few and enjoyed them for different reasons, reasons that perhaps I'll articulate tomorrow or later this week....