Horrible Horror

Christina Ricci-CWP-000789

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.



13 thoughts on “Horrible Horror

  1. I don’t mind historical inaccuracies in movies as long as it makes the film interesting.

    It didn’t. At all.

    I tend not to watch contemporary horror movies as they all pretty well suck the testes of a donkey.

    Indeed, I’m coming to this conclusion as well. It’s a sad thing.

    I did see this one about werewolves. Long story short, female werewolf, while in werewolf mode, flips the bird to somebody and yells in werewolf voice “F&*% you b&*#!”

    Hehe. Which werewolf movie is that? “Ginger Snaps” or something like that?

    My mother saw Final Destination. She said it was one of the funniest movies she’s ever seen. I told her it wasn’t a comedy. She said “Ooooh, I guess it was just really bad then.”

    ROFL! That’s hysterical, and that sums it up nicely. Very nicely.

    • I think that awful werewolf movie was called Cursed. But I can’t be bothered to research the net for the title. I’d rather not remember for sure.

      HA! I think I saw Cursed too. And coincidentally enough, it ALSO had Christina Ricci as the female lead. That was a dog with fleas, if you pardon the pun.

  2. I’ve got one for ya: Cloverfield. Just saw it, and if you like monster movies, it’s a pretty good one. The camera work puts you right in the action, like Blair Witch Project only well-done with a cool monster and lots of scary moments.

    I LOVED Cloverfield (saw it when it first came OnDemand). AWESOME fun movie. Well done. Nicest Godzilla rip-off I’ve ever seen. 😀

  3. No, haven’t seen it. Not going to see it. I suppose one reason I don’t watch horror is that so many of them just seem like excuses for gore rather than having an actual story to tell. The reason I liked Silence of the Lambs and Pan’s Labyrinth is that they had compelling stories and characters. The character came across as real–as opposed to just being sexy teenagers.

    I can’t argue with the appeal of sexy teenagers to other teenagers, but I just feel like a pervert watching them now. This movie wasn’t gory, and wasn’t good either. With no sexy teenagers to enhance the screen, it had very little going for it.

  4. Wait. A Roman Church founded by Joseph of Arimathea? That sounds like they’ve got things somewhat twisted. I understood that he and the others fled after the Crucifixion and he ended up in Great Britain basically fleeing Rome. That’s also supposedly how Mary Magdalene ended up in France. Something doesn’t sound right here…

    Yeah … I won’t even get into the whole “that never happened and it’s ALL a load of crap” thing here. Joseph never fled anywhere and neither did Mary … but let’s stay out of that debate for now. Why would a Jewish man found a ROMAN church? How did he found a ROMAN church when there WAS no ROMAN church yet? Hmm? I’ll leave it at that. Yeah … it was WEAK, bud. WEAK.

    As we’ve discussed in the past there isn’t anything scary anymore. Gore does nothing. The art of horror and suspense have long been lost and the first person to bring that back to the big screen will be absolutely famous. When was the last time you were scared down to your bones by a movie?

    The Exorcist was the last one to scare the hell out of me, pardon the pun. But I’m not sure anyone CAN bring back true horror. I think the genre, for film at least, has been so redefined that slash-n-gore is all there is for horror. Or special effects. Al has some difference of opinion on this, I think, but I’m not in a position to say because I don’t drop the $10 to see movies new; so I’m out of date on everything. 😀

    • I think it could be saved but it almost wouldn’t be in the horror genre anymore. They would come up with some new and stupid classification.

      Probably. I know a lot of “horror” is now classified as either “fantasy” or is literary fiction, so you can’t go to the HORROR section of B&N or Borders to get it now. I’m usually lost without an author’s name to look up, and I’m WAY out of touch now. And of course, with movies, there’s probably even LESS hope. *Sigh*

      I do have to agree though that the Exorcist probably is the last one to TRULY scare the crap out of me. Absolutely disturbing.

      Yeah. I was Catholic at the time and that was the Holy Grail of terror — POSSESSION. *Shiver*

      That’s the word we are missing! DISTURBING!!!! Great horror should reach into your body and shake your core. It should truly bother you to your roots.

      Absolutely! We need things to DISTURB us without trying to gross us out. Gross is gross, but disturbing is rare if not extinct now. HA! Nice catch, bud!

      • I keep coming back to read the comments–even though I don’t watch horror. That’s why I recommend Pan’s Labyrinth. It disturbed me. A few episodes of Torchwood disturb me. Twin Peaks could sometimes disturb me and I loved that show.

        Then again, maybe I’m too easily disturbed.

        According to my parents, I’ve ALWAYS been disturbed. Heh.

  5. I haven’t seen a good horror in years because, I’m with you, slashing and gore doesn’t frighten me. Some of my favourites over the years are:

    Event Horizon: I can’t even think of it without my skin crawling. For added effect watch it during a thunderstorm with the lights off. It rips off Hellraiser in some of the imagery, but that just adds to the overall creep factor.

    Saw this one; I actually wasn’t impressed. It’s nice to know some people see things differently. The eye-gouging seen was pretty gruesome, though.

    Hellraiser: A classic mind f**k. Are you supposed to be turned on or scared?

    Okay, gotta admit, I’ve never seen it. Time to check it out next chance I get, maybe.

    The Ring: Only rated PG-13, I went with my teenaged daughter and rolled my eyes through the first 15 minutes. Then I was scared enough to scream in the theatre when someone touched me.

    I enjoyed this one. I thought it was different for what was current; of course, being Japanese in origin, the idea of horror overall is different, which is good.

    Joyride: Started out funny, then it wasn’t. When a typical funny guy like Steve Zahn isn’t making jokes and is scared, you should be too.

    I don’t know if I’ve even HEARD of that one. I’ll go huntin’ and see if I find it. Thanks for the tips!

  6. Hotel Hell.

    When the bad guy puts on the giant pig head and the sheriff puts down his shotgun so he can pick up the other chainsaw in the room so he and the baddie can have the awesomest chainsaw duel ever… man, let me tell you, I was so scared I had nightmares for weeks.

    I forgot about this one! Woo! Funniest line ever: “My whole life has been a lie … my meat … I used … preservatives!” ROFL! I remember it now! Saw it in high school or thereabouts in a theater with some friends! Good times … good times!

  7. I saw the pic..read a paragraph and woke up right before the post ended…I love love horror flics….

    George C Scott – The Changeling Dynamite movies great scenes..very spooky

    Don’t think I’ve seen that one. I’ll have to check it out. I think there’s been a remake recently, but can’t swear to it.

    Great post…not to toot my horn I never do this..but I dedicated my post to you and pen of passion today you get a chance let me know what you think…Hope all is well with you today..Zman sends

    All IS well, Zman, and I hope the same for you and yours!

  8. I have to admit that horror flicks have mostly gone downhill. Friday 13th, Halloween, etc. pretty much set the stage for the modern horror flicks and that is a complete shame.

    That’s my opinion too. While Halloween had its merits, and The Hills Have Eyes and Texas Chainsaw Massacre pre-dates both of the films you mentioned, the art of horror has been lost for guts-n-gore. And it’s a shame, I agree.

    I have always – well, almost always, been a Stephen King fan and he really writes great stories that aren’t horror. Loved the short story that Stand By Me was based on. Green Mile both book and movie are among my favs as well as Shawshank Redemption. I do enjoy most of his horror stories as well.

    Yes, his non-horror stuff can be amazing. If you’ve not read all of The Dark Tower (but I’m sure you have ’cause I’m the last body on THAT train), please do. Amazing stuff. And I agree about Redemption and The Body. Brilliant works. Brilliant. 🙂

    I am also a big fan of Dean Koontz. His books are also among my list of favs but sometimes his and King’s stories don’t translate well to movies. I think that horror stories are better read than watched as nothing can scare you more than your own imagination filling in the pictures.

    I’ve given Koontz every opportunity. Every time I pick up his books I’m either disappointed or he turns predictable on me. EVERY. TIME. I just can’t get into him. I just can’t, no matter how I try. I may give his Odd Thomas a shot, but he only gets ONE more from me, and then we’re quits, me and him.

    I find Clive Barker’s books gore filled and sometimes hard to follow though I haven’t read very many.

    Haven’t indulged in a Barker yet. Not a big fan of British writing styles … is he British? I did, however, enjoy one of Neil Gaiman’s books: Neverwhere or something like that.

    • I think you might like the Odd Thomas series from Koontz as they are a departure from his usual work. Hope you enjoy that one at least. 🙂

      I’ll give it a shot and let everyone know! Thanks!

  9. Also – I once dated a girl for a whole year because I thought she looked like Christina Ricci.

    You like Christina, eh? That’s okay, that’s okay … we’re all tolerant and accepting here.

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