Browsing Tag


Posted on September 15, 2023

Agatha Christie’s Incursion into Folk Horror in Hallowe’en Party (1969)

Dawn Keetley

Initial reviews suggest that Kenneth Branagh’s new Hercule Poirot adaptation, A Haunting in Venice (2023), has little in common with the Agatha Christie novel on which it is supposedly based. While Hallowe’en Party (1969) is set in a small English village, A Haunting in Venice is set in, well, Venice. The latter apparently centers a séance, completely absent from Christie’s novel. There’s an opera singer with a dead daughter – also not in the novel. Indeed, one wonders why this film is being marketed as an adaptation at all.

Perhaps the only thing the novel and film appear to have in common is that both represent an unusual crossing of horror conventions into Hercule Poirot’s world of clues and ratiocination – into the neat and orderly world of detection. That said, the particular horror conventions that infuse novel and film seem quite different. While A Haunting in Venice seems shrouded in the supernatural – harking back to perhaps the best-known of supernatural horror films set in Venice, Don’t Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973), Christie’s Hallowe’en Party manifests the influence of folk horror.

Read more

Posted on August 25, 2023

Exorcising The Pope’s Exorcist

Guest Post

The Pope’s Exorcist (Julius Avery, 2023) was released in April to much fanfare and has just recently landed on Netflix.  While it performed well enough at the box office, it failed to wow the critics.  It certainly didn’t rise to the level of The Exorcist (1973).  In fact, the many possession/exorcism movies that have appeared since William Friedkin’s masterpiece have generally fallen short.  One of the reasons seems to be the failure to really understand the religion portrayed.  Let’s use The Pope’s Exorcist as a test case.

Read more

a man and two women look concerned
Posted on May 29, 2023

Knock at the Cabin’s Embracing of Fanatical Homophobia

Guest Post

Make the choice” demands the advertising tag line for M. Night Shyamalan’s theocratic thriller, Knock at the Cabin (2023), which comes with a tagline as heavy with political implications as its peremptory plot. The latter’s orthodox overtones, a curious mix of cultish Christianity, archaic aggression and sectarian spectacle, retrospectively seem the plausible progression for a director whose films are littered with conspiracy theories, quasi-Christian lore, and a constant emphasis on patriarchal family values. The cornerstones of religion and reactionism are accompanied by a pattern of often intertwined key motives neatly fitting into a set of larger concepts: being chosen or singled out to play a specific role, a divine plan or predetermined fate, and an existential truth which protagonists either can’t see or refuse to believe.

Shyamalan’s forcefully forward allegories, which transmit these ideas along with an unwavering approval of the gospel, make for a curious series of faith based movies. Signs has a father regain his faith while discovering that crop circles are indeed caused by aliens. The Sixth Sense already spells out in its title the faith which the central story of purgatory is rooted. The Village pairs an exaltation of “blind faith” with surveillance schemes. The Unbreakable series mixes political paranoia with modernized myths of angels and demons. Old embraces traditional family values and the idea of big pharma plotting. Even the Edgar Allan Poe inspired low budget thriller The Visit evolves around deadly deception, validated suspicion, and the importance of biological family bonds. Read more

A disheveled man wearing pajamas looks concerned
Posted on May 17, 2023

Beau Is Afraid, Mother Is Guilty: Ari Aster’s Maternal-Horror Nightmare

Guest Post

Beau Is Afraid seems like something other than a horror movie. It’s nightmare-ish at times but simultaneously absurd and rarely (if ever) scary. It includes some bodily destruction or exaggeration, but these moments are brief or bizarrely humorous rather than straightforwardly horrific. And the movie is mostly described by critics as black comedy or bleak humor, surrealist or absurdist – not as horror.

Its plot doesn’t sound much like a horror movie, either. Beau (Joaquin Phoenix), who has some serious issues with anxiety, is going to visit his mother, but a series of bizarre difficulties prevents him from doing so. As he tries to get home, he discovers that she has died, and then he is hit by a car before he can act on that information. This is merely the opening of the movie, after which he is taken in by (held captive by) a creepily friendly family, adventures through the forest and meets a theater troupe of orphans, and eventually makes it home, where there are still more twists and turns. This sounds weird, but not horrific.

This is a horror movie, though. Read more

a young woman in a crowd looks worried
Posted on April 1, 2023

“Talk About Ni’Jah, Get Stung”: Unpacking Swarm, a Sweet Take on Slashers

Guest Post

The horror genre is currently experiencing an interesting slasher renaissance. Our favorite masked killers such as Leatherface, Ghostface, and Michael Myers have all seen reboots, sequels, and even requels in the last few years. However, not all slasher fans have been satisfied with these remakes and have been itching for a new take on the slasher that isn’t just a gorier remake of the original. Janine Nabers and Donald Glover’s new series Swarm is a fresh take on the classic subgenre that gives us all of the gore without the killer hiding behind a mask. Rather, our slasher is a Black person who kills whenever they must to protect their goddess, pop star Ni’Jah.

Played by Dominique Fishback, Andrea Green, “Dre,” is a part of a larger group of Ni’Jah fans called the swarm. If this group sounds familiar, you’re not mistaken as this group is meant to represent the Beyonce stans’ BeyHive. What Naber and Glover seem to be homing in on is the toxic nature of fandom, exploring how far a fan will go to meet their favorite artist. However, what I find most salient in this series is the subversion of the slasher subgenre and the exploration of what happens to a Black Queer child who is left unprotected by their community. Dre’s character tells us that when everyone and everything casts you out of society, the only place left to run to is a Ni’Jah concert. Read more

Back to top