A generationn new alex garland thriller men, Jesse Buckley plays a woman whose holiday in the English countryside turns into a surreal nightmare. Her torturers are both singular and plural: an entire village of hostile strangers, all with the face and voice of Rory Kinnear. Garland, the science fiction writer who wrote and directed Ex Machina and Annihilation (both equally gender-focused to some extent), has never explained the nature of this menacing anomaly, the hive mind of this seemingly identical stalker . But anyone who’s seen a few horror movies over the past decade will know what our poor heroine is up against. She’s being hunted by (gasp!) a horrible, over-the-top trope.
Is there a prolific monster in all modern movies? This terrifying metaphor roams studios and art galleries, morphing like creatures from Stranger Things to suit the allegorical needs of high-minded filmmakers everywhere. It may look like a mental illness. Or like some special sociopath. Of the dozens of melancholy holiday favorites, its dominant shape is sadness or trauma. In “The Man,” the evil beast takes the form of misogyny—specifically, a historical tendency to blame everything on women. (If the title doesn’t make the goal of the movie clear enough, the opening scene is Barkley pulling an apple from a tree in the garden. Does that count as some kind of restraint from Garland, since he didn’t get ahead and just named for Eve?)
We live in an age of metaphorical horror—horror movies loudly and unabashedly striving to tell something scarier than a sharp knife or sharp fangs, something real and important. Of course, monsters that aren’t just monsters are nothing new. Just ask any scholar of vampire or werewolf lore what these enduring folklore icons can stand for, or what they have had for centuries. As long as there have been horror movies, there have been horror filmmakers leading our missteps, hangups and anxieties – trampling model cities for Oppenheimer’s sins, equating the living dead with mindless shoppers, building haunted houses from a city Lloyd’s blueprint.
The problem is, everything in the past Subtext. Today’s metaphorical horror category puts it on the surface.Think about a recent movie remains, which makes Zero trying to hide the fact that its supernatural entity is representative of the horrors of dementia. Looking at it, you don’t tremble with fear, but nod in sad, respectful approval. Who can scream when they’re somberly thinking “I’m going there if it wasn’t for the grace of God”? Other times, the metaphor can go from scary to downright offensive. lights out It works brilliantly as a jump scare machine, not as an exploration of major depression.
These films basically write their own academic papers out loud and do the interpretive work for the audience. At worst, they play more like an equation than a thriller: solve X to reveal the cultural or psychological issues the monster blatantly represents. Not that every filmmaker chooses only one metaphorical function.last year antlers, a venerable studio creature whose well-made and ruthless at the same time has turned its rampant mythological menace into a totem for nearly every major problem in America: opioid addiction, child abuse, environmental destruction, you name it. It’s an overloaded concoction that makes one wonder if a horror movie about nothing is preferable to a horror movie about everything.
Many of the great horror movies that have come out over the past few years have put information over cheap thrills and employed metaphors without giving up fear.but for each Babadook or go out or it follows (The film, by the way, benefits from the subtlety of its metaphors—no, “it” isn’t a walking STD), and a dozen horror movies seem to exist only to present a simple, barely-there hidden thoughts. Looking at them, you start to feel a little sympathy for the bunch of purists brandishing their pitchforks at any scary fare enough to be classified as a useless buzzword of “noble”. For many of these potential critical darlings, elevating the horror really just means making clear that the towering ’70s classic makes good sense, safely and productively submerged in all the rich brain material.
Nose headlines aside, men are far from the department’s most egregious criminals. Garland knows how to immerse viewers in an otherworldly atmosphere, a fairy-tale unease. And he doesn’t ignore the shock — especially in the climax, where the director finds a truly grotesque, imaginative way to visualize his #YesAllMen perspective. (As David Cronenberg can tell you, it always works, crushing the brain with serious guts.) However, the film’s blunt message, as true as it may be, remains Diminishes some of its power: Garland makes a film so transparent about its themes that it can’t help but establish a safe intellectual distance between itself and its audience. It sacrifices a genuine fear of the unknown at the altar of an easily unfolding treatise. This is a metaphor for error (aka “about something”).
Great horror movies, really scary movies, tend to operate on a more irrational level. They have a crazy feeling about them, speaking to the primal fear rattling in our minds. They are not easy to solve or explain. This is what Stephen King meant when we wrote poetry about fear, and how nightmares exist outside of logic. Tobe Hooper took advantage of this so diabolically in 1974, when he built slaughterhouse horror machines to rule them all—another movie, like Men, The story of a young urban slicker who goes astray unwisely. Dig into his Texas Chainsaw Massacre and you’ll find all kinds of ideas: about class struggle, about industrialization, about capitalist cannibalism. But Hooper hides them under the skin, in the background rather than the foreground. They are secondary and his main goal is to scare people. Mission accomplished, no metaphor needed.