I’ve spoken in the past about horror and the genre of horror, and how nothing seems right to me in that regard. I stated that horror has become gore. Slashing, blood-spattered, ichor-dripping and gut-strewn is what most modern purveyors – especially of movies – would classify as horror.
This is too bad, really. How much better movies would be if they’d simply reach for that disturbed emotion of horror, and seek to horrify the audience, without resorting to disgusting the audience. Or better still, shocking the audience.
The idea of horror seems to be lost in most of the movies I’ve seen today. Every once in a while, something will touch on it and tantalize, but nothing’s really horror anymore.
Knowing this doesn’t stop me from trying, though. I recently saw two movies which have, at some point or other, crossed my path without much notice. One was called The Gathering, starring Christina Ricci, and the other was Final Destination, which is a film others have tossed in my face (not here, but on deviantART) as a “classic horror movie”. (There was a third called Preston Tylk, of which we shall never speak again.) So, my love and I sat down to watch them.
The Gathering is about a young woman who’s struck by a car and injured. While the physical damage is remarkably low (clue one), she’s amnesic and can’t remember where she comes from (“the Midwest” is all she’s able to say) or family. The woman who ran her down, the wife of a religious archaeologist and stepmother to his two young children, takes Christina Ricci to the hospital, and since the girl can’t remember anything, offers her room and board at their (palatial) home in the quiet English countryside. But things become bizarre when CR’s character begins to be stalked by strangers in town, which somehow seem to be related to the latest and greatest church find in the modern age – a church dating from the first century buried in the English countryside.
Yada-yada-yada, things get weird, Christina’s trying to save the children from a lunatic with a bad childhood and a shotgun, and she ends up getting hers in the end. Basically, the story is, when Jesus was crucified, a bunch of (Caucasian) people stood around just watching, because like any grisly accident or crime scene, there are gawkers. But these gawkers were cursed by their act, or by Christ Himself (the movie’s never really clear who did the cursing). They are therefore doomed to observe every and all human tragedies as they unfold. They were there in art or in photographs throughout history (because, y’know, the artists who rendered these things were there too and saw every face in the crowd well enough to render them such that they could be identified later).
In the end, Christina’s forgiven and gets to move on to … whatever. She made up for it with her selfless act of bravery in trying to prevent a tragedy from befalling two innocent children. Oh, never you mind that those kids didn’t fit the victimology of the killer, or have any real identifiable role in the exacting of his revenge. What’s important is that they were in danger and Christina helped save them. Onward, Christina.
Aside from some of the worst theology I’ve ever heard, a startling lack of anthropology and archaeology (a first-century church of Rome in England, founded by Joseph of Arimathea, no less, and the very people for whom Christ died – sinners – being cursed because they watched, AND all of them Caucasian and not middle eastern, just for a few starters), a plot so thin you could’ve worked the NYT crossword puzzle through it in ink, and some really bad acting (Christina Ricci does stoic and somber well; anytime you want someone to emote, she’s not your girl), it wasn’t that bad.
Anyone else seen it? What did you think if you have seen it?
Tomorrow, we’ll “discuss” Final Destination.
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