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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #36!

It’s time for the latest Scannain podcast!

This week, I join Jason Coyle, Grace Duffy and Ronan Doyle to discuss the week in film. As usual, we talk about the top ten and the new releases, as well as what we’ve watched this week. In this episode, we discuss the appeal of Tony Scott’s (arguably) underrated late film Domino, which Jay claims as a cinematic classic and Ronan watched while hung over. We talk about the true horror lurking in Ghost Stories. We debate whether Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation is a Sacha Baron Cohen show as a horror movie.

We also talk about the films that the “young ones” will be watching as part of the back-to-school programme at the Irish Film Institute, the ongoing Dublin Festival of History and the first look deal between Element Pictures and Fox Searchlight that speaks to the viability of Irish film as award fare.

In terms of the top ten, there’s in-depth discussions of both Black ’47 and The Little Stranger, all four panelists having seen those films.

The top ten:

  1. Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation
  2. The Predator
  3. Christopher Robin
  4. The Little Stranger
  5. Mile 22
  6. The Nun
  7. A Simple Favour
  8. Crazy Rich Asians
  9. Black ’47
  10. The House With A Clock In Its Walls

New releases:

You can download the episode here, or listen to it below.

Non-Review Review: Hold the Dark

“Do you have any idea what’s outside these windows? How black it gets?”

An enlightening piece of work.

In the American consciousness, the frontier is a haunted place.

In some ways, it is a concept distinct to the United States, at least in contrast to Europe. The boundaries within Europe were established centuries ago; although they might shift and bend, the contours of the continent have been known to the people who inhabited it for millennia. In contrast, to the settlers who arrived from Europe, the North American frontier was a mystery and an enigma. The frontier is distinct a border space. A border implies a point of collision that might be crossed, the neatly delineated boundary between one place and another.

Let Bisons be Bisons.

The frontier is something entirely different. It represents the edge of reason, and limit of what is knowable. To reach the end of the frontier is to reach the end of “the West.” In geographical terms, off the western shore of the North American continent lies “the East.” In more abstract terms, the American frontier is an imaginary space rather than a literal one. After all, Jeremy Saulnier’s previous film – Green Room – suggested that the frontier could be found somewhere  surprisingly close to urbanity, only a few hours away from the familiar comforts of Portland.

Hold the Dark takes place in a decidedly more remote environment, against the snow backdrops of Alaska. Saulnier goes to great lengths to illustrate the isolation of that environment, paying particular attention to how long it takes Russell Core to reach the small Alaskan town that serves as the starting point of the story before venturing out into the real wilderness. At another point, Vernon Slone stops by an old hostel on his travels. Asked for his point of origin, he’s informed that there was no road connecting the two places. “Not directly,” he clarifies.

Shedding some light on the matter.

As with the snow-covered western wilderness in Wind River, there is a sense that Hold the Dark unfolds against the very limit of the American frontier, at the point where the continent has ceased to provide for the settlers and instead has become something harsh and unforgiving. It is a place that has been settled by humans, but is perhaps untouched by humanity. If Green Room allowed Saulnier to explore the vipers coiled underneath familiar rocks, then Hold the Dark is a story about the animals that hunt at the very edge of civilisation.

Green Room was effectively a cynical and grim take on the familiar horror plot that warned of the dangers lurking off the backroads, just out of sight. Hold the Dark is the story of a hunt for a dangerous predator in a harsh environment. In both films, the monster looks very familiar.

Mask appeal.

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