Posted on Wednesday, February 14th, 2018 by Matt Donato
Given my thematic body of work here on /Film thus far, I’m sure you’re expecting a February essay that analyzes Valentine’s rosiness through a horror lens. Have I already become that predictable? Yeah. Let’s absolutely talk about why love and horror create the most exquisite, developmentally rich bond(age)s in all the genre world. Why? Simple: there’s no scarier plot device in horror than “love.”
Love is often described as many things – a battlefield (Pat Benatar), the answer (John Lennon), a motherf*#@er (Old School) – but cinema audiences largely attribute love’s on-screen representation to Gerard Butler rom-coms or Hallmark tear-jerkers. Guy meets girl unexpectedly, they fall in love, happily ever afters all around. If it’s December, said man is probably also Santa in disguise. Picture perfect, just as in reality. Right?
For all its butterflies and “You complete me” sentiments, love can also be a savage monstrosity that tears at our gushy insides. This is where, amidst a sea of overtly-saccharine lifestyle pornography pics, the horror genre keeps us in check – unafraid of love’s flip-side intimidation. Call me a cynic, emotionless, or unsalvageable if you must, but to me, we rob ourselves of crucial understanding by not facing our fears and exploring the shadows light doth create.
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Those following my work here on /Film know that I watch a lot of horror movies, from psychological puzzlers to bone-snapping slashers. It’s not all gore, guts and viscera, but one can guesstimate the ceaseless quantity of “disturbing” moments these eyes witness year after year. It could be a scene that triggers an immediate gag reflex, or recharges my nightmare fuel, or hits upon existential devastation with unearthly intent. I wasn’t always prone to stomaching such content – as I once opened up about while discussing my personal connection to the Child’s Play franchise – but now? Well, I’m choosing to relive the year’s most vile challenges on my own accord. Doesn’t that say enough?
What you’re about to read is a list of on-screen sequences that could break a number of viewers. My picks don’t necessarily have to be genre specific, although horror does end up harvesting the largest, freshest crop to choose from year after year. These are the clips that had me clenching down tightly on theater armrests or blocking my eyes with folded hands, as if directors were competing to see who could push me past the brink of no return. Looks like they’ll have to try harder in 2018 (please for the love of sanity, don’t).
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2016 was one the best years for horror movies in a long time and 2017 looks like it could give it a run for its money. Get Out and Raw are already contenders for any future top 10 list I cook up come December and there are plenty of other promising genre movies waiting in the wings.
Like Hounds of Love, a movie that has been winning critical accolades from the film festival scene, even as each rave has been accompanied by a warning: this is a harsh movie and a tough watch and it’s not something you want to approach lightly. However, the reviews suggest that it’s worth the trouble. Now, the trailer is here.
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This is not an easy movie to get through. Hounds of Love depicts graphic scenes of sexual assault and torture. It’s the kind of movie that makes you question why you enjoy watching horror movies in the first place. Why subject yourself to something like this? Why sit through something that makes you feel like you need to take a shower afterwards?
But nothing here is done for the sake of exploitation or titillation. Hounds of Love is a surprisingly deep meditation on domestic violence and controlling relationships, an astonishingly well-acted piece of film, and it doesn’t end quite the way you’d expect from its rape-revenge trappings. But it’s certainly not going to be for everyone.
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Another Tribeca Film Festival has come and gone, bringing a new slew of films you should look out for. This year’s festival was particularly jam-packed, with some incredible special events, including a 25th anniversary screening of Reservoir Dogs (using Quentin Tarantino’s personal 35mm copy) and cast panel, talks with industry legends such as Tom Hanks, Kathryn Bigelow and Dustin Hoffman, VR showcases, the premiere of The Handmaid’s Tale, and the literal godfather of all events, an all-day screening of The Godfather and The Godfather II with the cast and director Francis Ford Coppola assembled for a 45th anniversary retrospective panel and reunion to close out the festival.
Sandwiched in-between these star-studded events were some truly incredible films which I had the pleasure of screening and discovering during this sleepless stretch of two weeks. Here are the narrative titles that stood out, that shocked me, thrilled me and left me in dumbfounded awe by the end credits. Here are my Best of Tribeca 2017 films!
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