their nature, are weird.
about it—they’re (often) miniature representations of people meant to be played
with. They’re inanimate objects. With another person or an animal, there’s an
exchange, an actual relationship of some kind. But with a doll, there’s nothing
inside the doll to interact with. Yet we design them specifically to encourage that
interaction. In fact, we craft dolls specifically to invite children and adults
alike to construct identities for their dolls, to feel like there’s some kind
of relationship there. Because dolls demand that the person invent a
personality for the doll, a narrative for the doll, a ghost of a person to live
within the doll.
That’s weird, right?
Let’s talk about what it means to be a father. In our culture, a father is supposed to be a protector, a provider, the person responsible for the physical, mental, and existential well-being of his family. While both mothers and fathers face conflicts regarding their individuality and the demands of having a family, their duties are wholly distinct.
In many horror movies, a mother’s fears are tied to her biological function and are restricted to her relationship with her children. The anxiety here is that a mother might lose her autonomy to her children, that she might selfishly betray the sacred bond between mother and child, or that she will fail as a mother and be subject to a multitude of punishments. I delve into a lot of these movies in my post about mothers in horror movies, which you can read here.
When it comes to fathers, horror movies seem divided into two camps. In the first, a father struggles to fulfill his obligations (whether he’s aware of this or not is left to the individual film), thereby putting his family at risk. It’s only through his re-dedication to idealized fatherhood that he can protect his family. In the second, a man rebukes his fatherhood and the responsibilities that come with it because he is the nefarious threat to his family. On the whole, his obligations are to both his children and his wife (heteronormative families rule the roost in horror movies so far), and his duties arise more from social code than biological function.
It’s with these thoughts in mind that I created this list of horror movies that examine fatherhood. In these films, fatherhood is the glue that holds the family together and allows the family unit to become the fundamental building block of communities, societies, and civilizations. Whether these fathers fail or succeed in living up to the standard has profound ramifications for his family, which reflects our deeply held fears about the stability of our society.
The Haunted House Movie is one of my favorite types of horror movies. Multiple factors contribute to my appreciation, but the biggest thing for me is what a haunted house movie accomplishes as a trope. Haunted house movies may not be the scariest genre, but it is certainly the most unsettling in my book. These movies are about the pollution of the sacred sanctuary of a home. Otherworldly forces beyond human control destroy the integrity of a house as a protective dwelling, which terrifies me on a deep level.
As a devoted horror movie fan, I’ll be the first to admit that the market is glutted with horror movies, most of them terrible. And not in an enjoyable, over-the-top kind of way.
If you are a horror movie novice searching for a good horror movie, the simultaneous breadth of availability and lack of choice entertainment can be discouraging. Horror fans feel that way all the time, but we know enough that we can make solid recommendations.
With Halloween fast approaching, I decided to compile a list of horror movies that are both scary and accessible to a wide audience. The following films are perfect for a Halloween watch party because 1) they are relatively easy to find on streaming services, 2) they’re well-made films, and 3) they scare audiences in thoughtful, enjoyable, entertaining ways.
Even if you’re a horror movie buff, this list is a nicely packaged bundle of great horror movies that present a strong argument for the merits of horror. These movies are harrowing, smart, witty, and funny. They are heartbreaking and profound. They reinforce the magic of telling stories through the medium of film and legitimize a genre that critics loves to hate.
Last week, news of the Poltergeist remake set fire to the Internet, and not in a good way. In an interview with Collider, Sam Rockwell, who has been cast as father figure Eric Bowen in the remake, dished out details about the new film. And what he shared may give pause to some fans of the original, including myself.
I should probably disclose that the 1982 film Poltergeist is one of my favorite movies of all time. I love it. I’ve loved it since I was a small child and I love it now. Every time it comes on TV, I drop everything and let myself get sucked into the world of the Freeling Family—mother Diane, father Steven, and children Dana, Robbie, and Carol Ann. Poor, sweet Carol Ann. It’s utterly compelling—well-acted, scary, and an incredibly well-balanced story. It’s amazing and awesome and you can’t convince me otherwise. It doesn’t need to be remade.
So it’s not surprising that my immediate reaction to news of a remake (an unnecessary remake) was to make this face: