Jul 29, 2011

MAGIC

"For Ventriloquy, or speaking from the bottom of the Belly, 'tis a thing I think as strange and difficult to be conceived as any thing in Witchcraft, nor can it, I believe, be performed in any distinctness of articulate sounds, without such assistance of the Spirits, that spoke out of the Daemoniacks."
--Joseph Glanvill,  1681
Saducismus Triumphatus: Or, Full 
and Plain Evidence Concerning Witches 
and Apparitions



 



 





THERE ARE NO ACCIDENTS

Yo, Canadians are fucked up.











Jul 28, 2011

MEMENTO MORI: PART I

Life is short, and shortly it will end;
Death comes quickly and respects no one,
Death destroys everything and takes pity on no one.
To death we are hastening, let us refrain from sinning.


If you do not turn back and become like a child,
And change your life for the better,
You will not be able to enter, blessed, the Kingdom of God.
To death we are hastening, let us refrain from sinning.  









Jul 27, 2011

THE MAN WITH FIRE ON HIS FACE



Insidious is a movie you have seen before. Even the most casual movie-goer who claims not to like horror films for a variety reasons has seen a pretty famous 80s gem called Poltergeist. Directed by Tobe Hooper (kind of) but more so by Steven Spielberg, Poltergeist told the tale of a family unit that moves into a new house (in a brand new housing development). Their house features skeletons in the swimming pool, and things that go bump. Creepy things happen. A ghost-hunting crew, with all manner of fun gadgets, are brought in and provide comic relief. An oddball, older woman (Zelda Rubinstein) is their leader. In the climax of the film, we find that only one person--the father--can venture into the otherworldly dimension to rescue his daughter, Carol Ann, (played by the adorable Heather O'Rourke, an actress who at a young age tragically died of poop).

Insidious
, too, follows a family who moves into a new house. Instead of skeletons in the pool, there are noises in the attic. The eldest child of the family ventures upstairs, falls off a ladder, and bumps his head...thus paving the way (or not...) for the following events:

Things go bump. A ghost-hunting crew, with all manner of fun gadgets, are brought in and provide comic relief. An oddball, older woman is their leader (Lin Shaye). In the climax of the film, we find that only one person--the father--can venture into the otherworldly dimension to rescue his son.

In all honesty, Insidious could have been officially rechristened as the Poltergeist remake and not one person would have said, "No, really??"

But here's the most important part: Insidious, a Poltergeist rip-off or not, is a damn good movie. In fact, it's better than its predecessor.

"OMG NO WAY BUT POLTERGEIST WAS MADE IN THE 80s--"

Shut up.

Face facts.

It's a better film.

Directed by James Wan and written by frequent collaborator Leigh Wannell (Saw, Dead Silence), the movie features every essential component: A cast of respectable and talented actors, a smart script, believable characters, and most important, genuinely frightening and unsettling imagery. To attempt to describe any of these images would be disrespectful to the specters that the filmmakers created. So here are some pictures!






Also, to help distance itself from Poltergeist, it features an aspect otherwise underutilized in modern films: Projection, and out-of-body experiences (the ability for your "spirit" to leave your own body at will and travel to distant places with ease). While perhaps not as explored as it could have been, the point is made, and the danger of doing so is quite clear.

What really makes Insidious work is the focus strictly on unnerving imagery instead of needless violence and jump scares. The filmmakers purposely set out to make a film where they endeavored to scare you only with genuine moments of fear--perpetrated by the onscreen haunts. You will not see cats jumping out of closets, or a character rushing on screen and saying "WHAT'S UP???" unnaturally.

Basically, when the musical score is mounting (and it's a rather marvelously unorthodox one by Joseph Bishara--think more Penderecki than Goldsmith), and you can sense something coming...well...that's because it is. And it's not going to be bullshit.

Lots of filmmakers make that same claim when working on a horror set--the emphasis on psychological fear over jump scares and gore (and 90% of the time, they are either bullshitting you, or eventually fall victim to a brainless studio). But the makers of Insidious not only meant it, they nailed it.

Besides, just fucking look at this:




If you don't find this the least bit creepy, then I don't know what to tell you.

I hear they're remaking The Monster Squad.