My favorite season of Fall is upon us. I make no apology for my love of Fall; no more sweating my makeup off at work, no more shooing my partner away at night because our upstairs bedroom becomes a furnace and his baseline body temperature is already equivalent to the sun, and best of all Halloween makes it socially acceptable to talk about slasher movies and decorate ones house with skulls (two things that take place all year round in our house).
Speaking of horror, Michael and I are 21 days into our 31 days of horror challenge in which we watch a horror movie every night of October. I am going to talk about my favorites (and least favorites) next month, but there are a few movies I wanted to talk about now. We all agree that 2016 was one of the best years for the genre; some of my absolute favorites debuted during that time, but after Jordan Peele gifted us the genius that is Get Out, 2017 seemed to clock out early. After what seemed like a long dry spell, we were gifted with It, mother!, and Happy Death Day.
All of these films (aside from mother!, I’ll get to that later) were really solid, my favorite being Happy Death Day so let’s talk about it first! Happy Death Day is like Groundhog Day but with murder. The plot is pretty simple and straightforward; a college student, Tree, is murdered the night of her birthday and must re-live the day of her murder until she solves the mystery. Tree is presented as Basic White Girl who loves drinking and is in a sorority with equally Basic White Girls. The list of people who have a motive to kill her is pretty long. It would been SO EASY for Tree to be the completely helpless blonde girl who is killed in a gratuitously violent and somewhat sexual way like many female victims before her. However, even though Tree succumbs to her killer multiple times, she fights back hard. She plots (mostly alone), plans, and does everything in her power to solve her own murder. This movie does not pass the reverse Bechdel test (there are not more than two named men who talk to each other about something other than a woman) but it sure passes the regular Bechdel test with flyer colors! The one gripe I have with this movie is that is assumes that men who look at gay porn but date women are gay rather than bi. It’s disappointing but not surprising.
It was my second favorite film from this selection; if you know anything about me you know that It has been a staple in my horror diet since I was a child, both the book and the miniseries so of course I was waiting with baited breath for the remake, which did not disappoint. 2017 Pennywise has been given a terrifying update that only adds to Tim Curry’s unsettling but campy version. The best part for me is that fact that new Pennywise has mannerisms and features that do not look human, like when he opens his mouth to take a bite and his gums and teeth move like that of a great white shark or how he sometimes slithers away. Like Happy Death Day, there were a few choices in It that do not make any sense except to hold up hetero-normative white supremacy such as, in a scene that deviates from the book, Bev is kidnapped by Pennywise, forcing the 7 boys to come together to rescue their damsel in distress (complete with the kiss to awaken her and all. *eye roll*) despite the fact that Bev is by far the strongest character in the group and if anyone was going to be kidnapped, it should have been Stan, the weakest link by far. Also a deviation from the book: Mike, the only black character, is no longer the group historian who fills everyone in on the history of Dery, Maine and it’s series of strange murders; that role has been given to Ben and the result is that the only black friend in the group has almost no role (I didn’t count, but it seemed like Mike’s character didn’t even have enough lines I could count on both hands).
Now onto my least favorite, mother! I don’t have a whole lot to say about it because there are only so many ways I can say “imagine that really pretentious classmate you had in AP English who thought he was the next Hemingway wrote an allegorical movie about the Bible.” I didn’t dislike the film as much as it did absolutely nothing for me, which I think partly comes down to personal preference (I do not enjoy films that aren’t literal, at least partly). And I don’t particularly enjoy movies that make women suffer for no reason; I think there are more interesting ways to play out God’s creation and destruction of a Earth besides exposing Jennifer Lawrence’s breasts while she is viciously beaten and called sexist epithets moments after the same crowd murders and eats her newborn baby. Here are a couple of other thoughts on the film, including a very interesting take on viewing the film through a Jewish lens.
Overall I am pretty happy with the selection of horror this Fall; I was hella impressed with the Netflix adaptations of Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game and 1922 (both films I’ll cover in my 31 days of Halloween post. Hope everyone is enjoying this most glorious of holidays!