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Posted on March 26, 2022

Office Killer: Working from Home is Horror

Guest Post

In The Shock Doctrine Naomi Klein describes the process of “disaster capitalism.” To simplify greatly, she notes that the neoliberal free market has evolved to take advantage of national crises and seemingly “natural” disasters, using these moments of collective distraction and general freak-out to stealthily implement intensifying exploitative policies and social arrangements. The COVID pandemic has set off another round of this predation, forcing us to turn our homes into offices, blend our domestic work with paid labor, pay for our own office supplies, and manage the psychological fallout that results from these changes. Meanwhile, we are advised to concentrate on the bright side of this brave new world – “More time with your loved ones!” “You can wear pajamas to work!” – while ignoring the dangers and downsides, “More time to get isolated and abused by domestic partners!” “More time to never be done with work!” For those of us who see the cup as half empty, we can find an avenging spirit in the protagonist of the only film directed by famed photographer Cindy Sherman, Office Killer, a horror film made in 1997 but still relevant today.

Spoilers follow! Read more

man holds knife to woman's throat
Posted on March 9, 2021

Beavers Bite Back: Rape-Revenge, “Good for Her,” and Freaky’s Final Girl

Guest Post

Freaky (2020), directed by Christopher Landon, is a slasher movie with a body-swap twist: a teenage girl, Millie (Kathryn Newton), and a serial killer, the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn) – through the dubious magic of an ancient Aztec curse – switch bodies and must deal with the unintended consequences. But the movie’s title is more than a nod to Freaky Friday; it’s also an indication of the way it mixes up – or gets freaky with – its genre classification.

Freaky establishes its slasher credentials early on, directly referencing earlier slashers like Halloween (1978) and Scream (1996) during its opening sequence of murders, and it’s obviously familiar with body-swap conventions as well (the cursed Aztec object, for instance). As a body-swap slasher, an unusual combination, some of its elements may not fit comfortably. Dawn Keetley writes, for instance, that “it felt pretty off-putting to be asked to identify with the Butcher’s body rather than Millie’s. One of my persistent pleasures in the slasher film is precisely in the Final Girl’s body. In this film, I’m asked to transfer that identification to Vince Vaughn.” The body-swap element might, then, undermine some of the effects of the slasher. And Freaky is certainly much bloodier than a typical body-swap movie, although it does retain the genre’s emphasis on gaining new perspective and understanding of others. Read more

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