Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What's in a Horror Movie? Brief Thoughts on Unfriended

I like horror movies.

The other day I was chatting with my mom about the tv show American Horror Story, a show I only watched for one season and found grotesque on the whole. She said she'd heard it had basically become nothing but porn and then she paused and said, "maybe those two just go together."

I felt a little offended at first. Horror is one of my favorite genres, but there is in fact a lot of horror that I don't like. And it's not wrong to think horror and porn go together because in many cases this is true. It's just that...well it can certainly be more, is often more, and doesn't have to be just porn.

I think the best kind of horror will expose our fears in a way that is interesting and fresh. It will be an examination of the darker parts of us and it might use different methods to get there, but this the heart of it. And some of the interesting stuff going on gets lost because of genre, but what do I have a blog for if not to talk about the stuff I see no where else? :)

So I rented Unfriended the other day. Actually it's been a few weeks now. The concept seemed silly, but as I watched the events unfold, I realized that it's true to the best kind of horror--that there is more going on than the surface (admittedly silly) story.

Unfriended is about a group of friends who are suddenly haunted by someone in their online group chat. They try to get rid of this person, but they can't. It's the ghost of a girl who committed suicide after an awful prank was played her.

And yeah the premise is stupid. And it's not actually that scary. The deaths are needlessly gruesome. But halfway through I found myself interested anyway because the premise of taking friendships and putting them all online is actually kind of interesting and terrifying in and of itself.

As the ghost torments this small group of friends into revealing deep dark secrets about themselves--and these secrets are all betrayals of each other, the true terror reveals itself.

It's not so much a ghost forcing kids to tell their secrets as it is the fact that these secrets exist in the first place. We first think this is a nice group of friends having a nice chat, but this is only the exterior. They have done the worst kinds of things to each other and behind each other's backs, but they hide it with the gloss of smiles and likes and facebook friendships. But this outer appearance is superficial, at the core is pure rot.

It's interesting, too, how they try to justify their choices to themselves and these choices haunt them...literally. But there's a fair bit of denial going on, because it's always hard to accept the worst parts of who we are.

Overall, I don't actually recommend this movie. But I do think it's a good example of horror having thematic integrity and giving the consumer something to think about--if you are open enough to do so.


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