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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #34!

It’s time for the latest Scannain podcast!

This week, I join Jason Coyle, Ronan Doyle, Grace Duffy and Andrew Quinn 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 work and legacy (and delayed appreciation) of Agnès Varda, the charm of When Harry Met Sally, the appeal of the original Halloween and the horror of The Exorcist.

You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

Top Ten:

  1. The Nun
  2. Black ’47
  3. BlacKkKlansman
  4. Christopher Robin
  5. Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation
  6. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!
  7. Incredibles II
  8. The Meg
  9. Searching…
  10. Ant Man and the Wasp

New Releases:

  • A Mother Brings Her Son to be Shot
  • The Predator
  • Crazy Rich Asians
  • King of Thieves
  • The Rider

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Non-Review Review: Hereditary

Perhaps what is most striking about Hereditary is how all the comparisons to The Exorcist seem off base.

To be fair, every movie deserves to be judged on its own terms unless it expressly demands otherwise, whether through a preexisting relationship or an inviting homage. Nevertheless, The Exorcist has been a touchstone for Hereditary in the run-up to the film’s release, a critical cliché employed to underscore just how effective Hereditary is. Rolling Stone has pitched the film as “this generation’s The Exorcist.” TimeOut described it as “a new generation’s The Exorcist.” Titlemag acknowledged the use of such critical shorthand.

Something to chew over.

It’s easy to see why this comparison has been made. The Exorcist is public short-hand for scary, a famously controversial film that shocked audiences upon release and which many members of the current generation first heard discussed in hushed tones. More than that, there’s significant thematic overlaps between Hereditary and The Exorcist, with both films serving as unsettling explorations of a tightly-knit family dynamic that use supernatural horror as prism through which these dynamics might be interrogated.

However, there is a major tonal difference between Hereditary and The Exorcist. In many ways, The Exorcist represents a very broad and populist strand of seventies horror, with an accessible central narrative that plays off easily understood fears in a very direct manner. The Exorcist was a cultural phenomenon, earning almost two hundred million dollars at the United States box office on initial release, and becoming a touchstone for an entire generation of horror fans. It is a movie that has inspired parodies and references, which can be used casually as shorthand with non-cinephile audiences.

Putting the ‘fun’ in ‘funeral.’

Hereditary is a very different sort of beast. Hereditary is not a descendant of that sort of broad crowd-pleasing horror spectacle. The narrative is dense and layer, its symbolism abstract and its storytelling often allegorical. Hereditary is full of ambiguities and lacunas, with tension simmering beneath the surface before exploding dramatically towards the climax. If Hereditary is a descendant of sixties and seventies horrors, it is a closer relation of more abstract nightmares like Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now or Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby.

This is perhaps the most interesting thing about the film, and one which perhaps goes a long way towards explaining some of the more contradictory aspects of its theatrical release.

Do look now.

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The X-Files – The Calusari (Review)

This August (and a little of September), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the second season of The X-Files. In November, we’ll be looking at the third season. And maybe more.

The Calusari is very heavily and very clearly influenced by classic horror cinema. With its demon child and dramatic ritual sequences, the episode seems constructed as a gigantic homage to The Omen and The Exorcist, two of most iconic horror films of the seventies. On paper, this isn’t a bad idea. The show hasn’t done a straight-up quasi-exploitation horror episode since Fresh Bones, and “scary kids” worked well enough for the show in Eve.

On the other hand, the show has historically had trouble doing straight-up classic horror stories – Shadows was a misfire of a ghost story, while Shapes was a questionable werewolf tale and 3 was a disaster of a vampire show. More than that, The Calusari pushes the show into fairly uncomfortable territory, dealing as it does with the religious beliefs of immigrant communities. The Calusari is not as bad as it could be, but it’s also not particularly good, either.

A haunting tale?

A haunting tale?

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