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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #12!

The twelfth edition of the new and revived Scannain podcast discusses the week that has been in Irish and international film.

This week, I’m joining Jason Coyle, Ronan Doyle and Emma Fagan to discuss everything from zero-budget Irish indie The New Music to the internal logic of It Follows. As usual, we discuss what we’ve watched over the past week or so, jump into the top ten, and talk about the new releases landing in Irish cinemas.

Check it out here, or give it a listen below. You can access the New Music GoFundMe here.

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It Follows the Rules – Horror Movies and “the Rules”

As with all cinema, horror movies tend to reflect the era in which they were created.

There are any number of obvious examples. The b-movie horrors of the fifties fixated on atomic horrors as an expression of anxiety of the development of the nuclear bomb and fears about science gone mad. The haunted house became a fixture of horror in the seventies owing to economic uncertainty, while the zombie became a reflection of unchecked mindless consumerism. The late eighties gave way to body horror as the AIDS virus became an international crisis. In the nineties, knowing irony seemed to take over.

itfollows3

Even in the first couple of years of the twenty-first century, the genre came to be dominated by supernatural monsters and found footage. Found footage offered a more grounded and realistic depiction of terror, reflecting the footage of real-life horrors captured on camcorders and mobile telephones for broadcast on the evening news. This dependence on found footage seemed to represent a logical extension of the ironic postmodernism of the nineties, a fear that the real world and the world of the horror were overlapping.

Indeed, it is quite easy to draw parallels between the War on Terror and the horror movies of the early twenty-first century. The found footage style recalls the images of 9/11 captured by citizen journalists and imprinted upon the public consciousness. The emphasis on torture in franchises like Saw and Hostel reflects contemporary political debates about how best to face the future. The renewed emphasis on foreign countries as inherently hostile in horrors like Hostel, The Ruins and Touristas.

Still waters...

Recent horror movies have seen a bit of a shift away from those kinds of themes and stories, although there are still traces to be found; The Shallows is very much an “American tourist in hostile territory” film while The Girl With All the Gifts looks to be a clever twist on the zombie genre that is still going strong following a millennial resurgence. Still, recent years have seen modern horror become increasingly nostalgic and old-fashioned, a trend best demonstrated by the horrors produced by James Wan like The Conjuring.

However, there is something else interesting happening in the background. Perhaps an extension of the same postmodern irony thread threaded through late nineties films like Scream and then evolving into the blurred fiction of found footage, modern horror films seem increasingly fixated on the idea of the “rules.” more and more, it seems like horror films insist upon their monsters conforming to an internal logic that the protagonists and audience can deduce (and exploit) through observation and experimentation.

lightsout

Note: This post includes spoilers for It Follows and Lights Out. If you haven’t seen them yet, consider yourself warned.

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Non-Review Review: Scream

Today, we’re reviewing the entire Scream trilogy. Sadly, I’ll have to wait to get a look at the latest instalment, but reviews of the first three will be going on-line throughout the day.

It’s hard to really look back at Scream in context these days. It was released in the mid-nineties, a period where the slasher movie had all but died off, after series after series produced weaker and weaker instalments. Audiences had been sort of numbed to the impact of the slasher film as a genre, expecting the bland stock scares, the stereotypical mumbo-jumbo, the teen angst, the sexual politics and even the unstoppable killer. It’s not too much of a stretch to believe that Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson intended the movie as something of an epilogue for the genre, a not-too-fond farewell to the type of films that had been churned out since the seventies, with never a hint of growth and development.

A dead line?

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Are Zombies the Monster of the 21st Century?

They say that horror movies and (before that) ghost stories reflect the unconscious fears of the time. So, for example, vampires allayed the fear of burying members of the community alive – if there were scratch marks on the inside of their coffins, it was because they were monsters, not because your doctor made a mistake. Or Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was a cautionary tale for a society just on the cusp of the age of reason – a warning not to dive too far into that pool labelled ‘scientific progress’. Monster stories and ghost stories allow us to put aside our fears even for a moment by expressing them in their most ridiculous forms – I don’t think that facet of human nature has disappeared over the past century or so. If we accept this line of reasoning, are zombies the current expression of our deeply buried fears? And, if so, of what?

At least they are taking good care of their teeth...

At least they are taking good care of their teeth...

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It’s Screen Scare Week!

In the lead up to Halloween, we’ll be taking a look at some the horror genre. Check back nightly at 3am (the witching hour!) for a new article each night on the weird and the wonderful of cinema, looking at:

Plus, check out some articles from earlier in the month, like:

Hopefully that’ll get you in the macabre mood for the freaky festivities next weekend…

The Little Horror Movies That Can…

Next month is October, which means Halloween, so I’ll be taking a closer look at the horror genre (both with reviews of movies and my own unique style of commentary), but the success of the new Paranormal Activity on a budget of less than $15,000 (and I thought District 9 was cheap) has got me wondering: why is it that low-key horrors are so scary?

There's been a lot of activity around Paranormal Activity this weekend...

There's been a lot of activity around Paranormal Activity this weekend...

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The Zombie Revolution Will Not be Televised…

I watched Quarantine with my aunt, uncle and brother last night. It was fairly okay – it did pretty much exactly what it promised on the tin, nothing more nothing less – but it was undermined by a fine third that revealed to us (and the characters) the reason for said outbreak. The reason wasn’t particularly smart or original – it was really exactly what you’d expect, which isn’t what you’re looking for in the final twenty minutes of a horror film. It got me thinking, are these horror films scarier the less we know about the beasts lurking in the darkness?

Hangovers were worse than usual at the office Christmas Party - no one could remember where they parked...

Hangovers were worse than usual at the office Christmas Party - no one could remember where they parked...

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