Tuesday, December 7

Blood, blood and a good dose of catharsis: why horror can be good for us | Horror movies

TThe terror begins in 1985 London when Enid Baines, a film censor, sees a shocking reflection of her sister’s mysterious disappearance in terrifying images that she must see. Enid, the traumatized character at the center of the chilling new movie Censor, has to unravel the dark riddle as a public dispute rages over the impact of hardcore horror.

Censor it is just one film in a crimson flood of modern British horror now hitting screens and streaming services. Released in theaters on August 20, it has been described as a bloody tribute to the “disgusting videos of the past.” But the film’s Welsh director, Prano Bailey Bond, is also making a timely comment on the strange therapeutic relationship between horror films and their growing audience.

“Nasty video” was the term that was once used for films deemed inappropriate due to their gratuitous blood, violence, and sheer determination to terrify. Forty years ago, in a more protective age, many were barred from blanket release should they cause lasting harm. The counterargument, that a dose of sheer horror can offer catharsis in times of trouble, or even heal wounds, was not audible above moral panic. So why now, after such a bleak period of national trauma and anxiety, are so many of the stories told on screen so terrifying? And why are millions of viewers clamoring for more?

“One of the attractions of horror right now has to be the immediacy with which it makes you feel something,” said Mark Bould, a film and literature reader at the University of the West of England. “For many people, the pandemic has been a crippling experience: locked up, socially estranged, trapped alone or trapped with families, constant danger and endless boredom, overwhelmed and powerless.”

The current terror boom in Great Britain started with movies like Howl, Attack the block, Tourists Y Prevent, and has recently been followed by critical hits like Santa maud and the haunting nightmare of the refugees, His house. But it’s a trend that has perversely continued throughout the actual horrors inflicted by Covid-19, reflecting a renewed appetite for shocking content.

Released in June, In the Earth was a pandemic-themed paranoid film by Ben Wheatley.
Released in June, In the Earth was a pandemic-themed paranoid film by Ben Wheatley. Photograph: TCD / Prod.DB / Alamy

This june Tourists Director Ben Wheatley was back with his paranoid pandemic theme On earth, while Rob Savage invented Host, about a virtual session carried out in Zoom, as a riff of the culture of the confinement.

Next month at the Venice film festival, another British director, Edgar Wright, will unleash his new thriller. Last night in Soho, starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Matt Smith, while a few weeks later the popular horror film Sacrilege, directed by David Creed, will distribute some downloadable pagan violence.

This Friday, as the cinema audience takes a seat to Censor, a new British political horror film, Election night, will have its UK premiere in Chichester followed by a discussion with director Neil Monaghan, who has sapped terror at the heart of Brexit divisions.

“It’s a horror movie at its core, but one that really has something to say,” Monaghan said, explaining that the roots of his movie go back to the 2016 vote. “People lost friends arguing about it. Families were devastated. We had gone from having a relatively stable society to something that was tearing us apart even though it wasn’t really affecting us as a people much. “

The tension of a horror movie, Monaghan argues, can be used to examine a royal conflict, as in the 2017 American hit. Salt, starring black British actor Daniel Kaluuya as the boyfriend of a white woman who takes him to meet his sinister family.

This thoughtful new American school of horror continues to thrive, rapidly advancing alongside an increasingly rapid stream of upcoming reboots of well-known film franchises, such as the the candy man, resident Evil, Scream, Hallowe’en and the The massacre in Texas Serie.

On August 20, David Bruckner’s acclaimed film The house of the night hits British theaters, with English star Rebecca Hall playing a widow dealing with grief in the lakeside house her husband built. Ten days later, the Canadian horror movie living room launches in Britain and will directly address fears of a pandemic, set in a hotel hallway as a deadly virus spreads.

A sacrifice for the solstice in the popular downloadable horror film Sacrilege.
A sacrifice for the solstice in the popular downloadable horror film Sacrilege. Photography: Brochure

Last year, a finnish study He concluded that horror movies can activate neural pathways in a way that few predictable things can, offering a taste of the experience of genuine fear. The pupils dilate and increase the heart rate and blood pressure.

Danish academic Mathias Clasen, director of the Aarhus University Recreational Fear Laboratory, has even argued that seeing horror “can have positive effects in terms of adjusting coping strategies.” Clasen and a colleague from the University of Chicago, Coltan Scrivner, followed this up with a study of 310 recruits who answered questions “used to assess their morbid curiosity, how prepared they felt for the pandemic, how they felt during the pandemic, and their preferences. cinematographic ”.

Their results indicated that people who saw horror learn about their own responses to fear and thus they can better regulate their emotions.

In 1950s California, Dr. Martin Grotjahn, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who was the first dean of the Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute, controversially argued that horror movies are “self-administered psychiatric therapy for American teenagers.” Others have argued that going through trauma simply means that survivors develop an appetite for stronger foods, such as Covid patients whose taste buds are off, and therefore want more potent content in their entertainment.

The brutalizing effects on the art of war, famine, disease and natural disasters have been evident over the centuries. After the Black Death killed an estimated 25 million people in Europe, Renaissance art began to depict its random, lethal power. An illustrated manuscript made in Tuscany at the end of the 14th century shows devils firing arrows at a pile of twisted bodies. And across Europe, the fear of hell became a key element of culture for decades to come.

The Grudge is an American reboot of an American remake of a Japanese original.
The Grudge is an American reboot of an American remake of a Japanese original. Photograph: Screen Gems / Allstar / STEVE ACKERMAN / ALLEN FRASER

Likewise, the summer of 1816, obliterated by clouds of dust after the eruption of the Mount Tambora volcano in 1815, was followed by a tide of somber art and music, including the invention of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. And the aftermath of World War I changed poetic language forever, letting blunt Anglo-Saxon horror return to the literary halls.

Official war artist William Orpen was one of several painters who felt the need to reproduce the horrors of the modern battlefield in an impactful way. In paintings like Germans Dead in a Trench (1918), he wanted, he wrote, to show “the holes of the howitzers shaped like bodies that peeked faintly through the putrid water.”

After the Great Depression of the 1930s, America also enjoyed a wave of horrific Hollywood imaginations, with characters like The Mummy, Dracula, the Werewolf, and Frankenstein making their film debuts.

Some fans have testified about the relief it can take to see horror after experiencing personal trauma. They may be right. The compulsion to repeat is the psychological term for the phenomenon in which an anxious person unconsciously looks for situations that remind him of his fears. There may be comfort for some in the familiar feelings of nervousness and even terror.

The late English film critic Robin Wood once said that the key requirement of a horror movie plot is that “normalcy is threatened by the monster,” and this perhaps somehow explains the bonding experience of watching horror movies. terror in a large group.

“Terror is also one of the genres that has a particular kind of sociability: for the last half century or more, it is often about young people who go in groups to experience an indirect threat together. It has a special kind of pleasure. So surely that kind of augmented audience experience is also part of the appeal, “said Bould, whose book The Anthropocene Unconscious: Climate Catastrophe Culture will be published this fall.

But whatever drives the horror fanatic, there will certainly be plenty of terrifying British content soon, with the HostDirector Rob Savage recently promised Inside Edition Digital that his next film will focus on the alienation that people have felt during the pandemic. “You see someone coming towards you on the sidewalk and this anxiety hits you, do I cross? Do I keep two meters? This kind of fear of other people that they have instilled in us, I think, is something that we refer to in this new movie, ”he said.


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