*Mild Spoilers for Hounds of Love*
Despite being a seasoned horror fan, there are a few subjects really scare me. Serial killer movies, for instance, make me profoundly uncomfortable and anxious. Such stories lack the supernatural and fantastical elements of other horror movies, which I often use to create a degree of psychological distance between myself and fear. But serial killers are real. They target real people. The only psychological distance I can use to insulate myself from this fear is the fact that a serial killer has not come after me thus far.
Despite being a tough movie to get through, I thought Hounds of Love was amazing. I think it’s one of the best horror films of the year for both filmmaking technique as well as its exploration of female identity in a male-dominated context. Hounds of Love finds unexpected resonance not because of its male serial killer, but because of his female accomplice.
Don’t let this post on consumerism in horror movies fool you into thinking I’ve been productive and industrious today.
On this, Black Friday 2017, I have spent an irresponsible amount of money not on friends and family, but on myself. I have no regrets. I didn’t even have to leave the couch to take part in the great American tradition of buying things I don’t need, the day after eating a ton of food I didn’t need.
But I loved it. I do it every year–I munch on Thanksgiving leftovers and hoard coupon codes, grabbing up books and music and clothes and makeup.
That got me to thinking about horror and the horror movies that tackle consumerism. Everyone knows about films like Dawn of the Dead and They Live, but the meteoric rise of material goods and availability post World War II has embedded itself into the very fabric of American pop culture. And whenever we bake something into our national consciousness, it comes out in our horror movies, sooner or later.
Again, some of those movies that confront our materialism are thoughtful horror movies that elevate the discussion. Others don’t pretend to be anything more than a fab 1980s slasher flick that just so happens to occur in a mall. Either way, consumerism in all its shapes and forms, from zombies to haunted malls to obsessive serial killers reflects this very American way of life.
Here are 9 movies (of varying quality) about consumerism, shopping, and the desire to acquire material goods.
I know it’s getting to be Halloween and all, but there are so many horror movie releases this month! 18 horror releases total, spread across theatrical releases and VOD and covering a wide range of subjects and subgenres.
Are you a sucker for horror movie legacies? Why not check out Cult of Chucky or Leatherface? Have you been waiting months for Happy Death Day? What about the latest Saw movie? They are all here, accompanied by my helpful commentary.
My personal picks for this month’s new releases are Happy Death Day, 78/52, and Tragedy Girls. What about you?
One of the most popular horror movie tropes is the Bad, Scary Mother. It’s not just horror movies that love to trot out a fearsome mother figure. Norma Bates wasn’t the first controlling, abusive mother to terrify her children, and she won’t be the last. Medea, Cinderella’s evil stepmother, Cersai Lannister—human culture and literature has countless examples of maternal figures that are selfish, manipulative, and downright evil. These figures are powerful because they fly in the face of our ideal image of what a mother should be.
And what should a mother be? This Mother’s Day, like all others, we will celebrate our mothers for their nurturing natures, for how loving and supportive and selfless and kind they’ve been to us. We will post cute vintage pictures of our mothers, young and bright-eyed, holding colorful little bundles of joy on their laps. We will send them flowers, buy them lovely gifts, bring them chocolates, and wait on them hand and foot. They have given so much to us, we will say. They’ve sacrificed so much for us. They’ve been good mothers.
Does a bad mother fail to do all of that? Is that how easy it is to tell who is a good mommy and who is a bad mommy?
*Very Mild Spoilers for Get Out*
Every once in a while, a horror movie comes along that checks off all my horror-movie boxes. Such a movie strikes a balance between horror and comedy, between jump scares and mounting dread, between imagination and classic genre fare, between a stand-alone story and an important social message.
Every once in a while, a horror movie comes along that knocks me back. Holds me in my seat. Grabs me by the throat.
Get Out is the most recent example of such excellent filmmaking. By now you’ve surely heard that the film has a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 167 total reviews and an 83% “Universal Acclaim” rating on Metacritic. You might also have read that Get Out is a certified box office smash, grossing $111 million dollars worldwide against a budget of $4.5 million, which is 24x over its budget.
Get Out deserves every good review and every penny it earns. Movies like this make me proud to be a horror fan because they prove how the genre is positioned as uniquely challenging and entertaining art. From its technical execution, to its writing, to its casting, to its deeply relevant social criticism, Get Out will probably be one of the best movies of the year and will undoubtedly be one of the best horror movies of the decade.