The Horror of Reality

Hey guys, it’s been a sec but I’m back and better than ever. Our most recent project surrounded horror and how it is used to comment on society and its fears. In fact, the driving question for this project was

Why is horror an effective way to reflect and comment on our society?

Throughout this project we watched and analyzed movies that were pivotal to the genre and were tasked with creating our own horror movie using the knowledge we gained from watching those movies. So without further ado, let’s begin.

Let’s start with the movies we watched and analyzed. The first movie we watched was the original Halloween; a scarily effective horror flick that defined many tropes and cliches that we would see in horror movie even to this day. Things like the final girl or dying for being promiscuous. And through these tropes as well as details in the plot you could piece together an idea of the fears and ideals of the society at the time. Mental illness was not well understood and often those who suffered from mental illnesses were demonized, this is reflected in the movie by the way Micheal is viewed by his psychologist and his portrayal as pure evil. Sex before marriage was sinful and wrong so when those who engaged in that activity die in the movie it acts as retribution for their sin. Finally, Micheal is a direct parallel to the fears of the American audience at the time where serial killers seemed to be running rampant. Halloween held a mirror up to society and reflected it’s ideals and fears perfectly.

We also watched Get Out which has become a classic horror movie in it’s own right. Throughout the movie we see commentary on racism and performative allyship and how people of colour have to deal with such things. Much like Halloween, these themes are very reflective of society today and rip away the niceties we often use to hid the true horror that lingers underneath. The horror of these movies force us as an audience to face the disgusting realities of our world.

With those movies and the power behind them in mind, it was time for us to plan and create our own horror movie. Our first challenge was to decide on what aspect on society we wanted to critique. Many ideas were flung around the class but the one we landed on was a commentary on social media and cancel culture. We would show the horror of online influencers. The first thing we had to do was write the script and build the characters. This is the part of that I believe lead to our movie’s downfall. See, we only had one day to write the script and to do so the script writing team, which consisted of me, Rhiann, Ally, and Meg as the head of the department, was split up to write each of the acts. This breaking up of the job and short timeline lead to our script being disjointed and quite bare bones and the short turn around to planning the shoot and actually going up to loon lake meant that our story was linear and basic. But we persisted anyways, trying to add as much as we could so our director and producer had something to work with.

The shoot itself surprisingly went pretty smoothly once everyone fell comfortably into their roles. Our producer, Alex, did a fantastic job at managing each department and wrangling anyone who was lagging. I was in charge of the location department as well as apart of the hair and makeup department and I think I did quite a good job at my jobs. The one thing I wish I had done better was to communicate my ideas for the locations with our director, Ciara. When location scouting I would often block out the scene to make sure it worked and to see if there were any interesting ways we could use the space. For Holly’s death I had planned out the entire scene to be one continuous handheld shot that would use the limited framing of the camera to only show what Holly was seeing. Leading to a long scene filled with dread and suspense. I passed the information onto Ciara but neglected to really explain the shot so what was done ended up feeling like the end of a game of telephone. I feel like a lot of the scenes could have been done quicker and smoother if I had helped Ciara with the feel of the location rather than just tell her where to shoot.

However, the movie we have ended with is still something I’m proud to have been apart of. As for the driving question, the reason why horror is an effective way to reflect and comment on our society is because it allows filmmakers to show audiences the harsh reality of their world without having to make it family friendly.

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