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Thank You, Eli Roth: I Feel So Vindicated

Written by on November 26, 2020

Story by Chuck Tackett

Thank You, Eli Roth: I Feel So Vindicated

“Horror is the outland genre of cinema. Some people fear it. Others don’t respect it. That renegade status lets it go places no other genre can reach. Great horror films entertain and provoke us. They put society under a microscope, making us question not just what we fear, but why we fear it.”

“Natural disasters are terrifying – that loss of control, this feeling that something is just going to randomly end your life for absolutely no reason, is terrifying. But what scares me is the human reaction to it and how people behave when the rules of civility and society are obliterated.”

Eli Roth: Movie director, writer, & actor

For those of you who know me, or have been a regular reader of my weekly articles and blogs, you are cognizant of my endearment regarding horror and disaster flicks.

Ever since I was a pre-teen, up to now, as a 64-year-old man, I couldn’t quite put my fondness into words of my appeal for them. I just simply said ‘I like what I like,’ but deep down inside, I knew there was a deeper meaning to my fascination for those genres of movies, especially horror. Maybe my lack of words was mostly the negative reactions I receive when I reveal it to some people down through the years. I didn’t want to try, or I just didn’t feel the need to justify my tastes. Even in Hollywood, the Academy Awards act like they are allergic to horror movies. Only one horror movie in the history of The Oscars has ever won for Best Picture of The Year. The ONLY exception was “Silence of The Lambs” in 1992. No other horror movie has won an Oscar since.

A splendid example of horror movies taking us to places that some people dread to go to was the 2017 blockbuster movie “Get Out,” by director Jordan Peele. This horror film took a subject that millions of White people are reluctant to address and acknowledge. Some even downright willfully lie that racism either doesn’t exist or is not as prevalent as Blacks and other people of color, insist.

In 2019, Mr. Peele continued his ground-breaking success with the movie, “Us,” about murderous doppelgangers terrorizing this Black family. For those of you who are not familiar with doppelgangers, they are biologically unrelated lookalikes of a living person. In mythology, they are portrayed as paranormal apparitions, usually bringing bad luck. Check out the Netflix movie “Curon,” if you wish to see another movie with doppelgangers.

Both “Get Out” and “Us” are about losing your identity and conflictions people of color, and other marginalized groups, deal with, on how we see ourselves on the inside, versus how mainstream society views us. We are constantly and continuously on guard throughout our lives.

On the opposite side of the spectrum is a movie I considered to be a tour de force, regarding race and financial class distinction in the murderous and violent White privilege thriller: “American Psycho.” The lead character, Patrick Bateman, brilliantly portrayed by actor Christian Bale, is never caught and punished for the brutal murders he commits, even though, throughout the movie, he admits to his peers he’s guilty of those crimes. Some didn’t care to find out, as long as he conformed to the perfect stereotype of the White financially successful businessman, blessed with stunning good looks. Blind to them, on the inside of their hero they worship, is a murderous monster brewing within Patrick Bateman. He feels isolated, he is pressured from keeping up with his external appearances. He takes it out on women, fellow co-workers he feels threatened by, and others he defines as beneath him.

Another prime example of the renegade genre that is horror, a subject matter a lot of people find taboo, is the topic of religion, and when it becomes a murderous or suicidal cult-like we are experiencing presently with White Conservative Christians, Trumplicans, and the political party formerly known as the Grand Old Party. Two horror movies that tackled this verboten subject of a religion becoming a murderous, suicidal cult are 1973’s “The Wickerman,” and 2019’s “Midsommar.”

1973’s “The Wickerman” is considered to be one of the best horror films from Britain. The movie was inspired by the 1967 novel, “Ritual.” The motion picture centers around a police sergeant, who is a devout Christian, assigned to investigate a missing girl on an isolated island coastal town. There, he finds that the populace has abandoned Christianity, and have embraced a form of Celtic paganism.

2019’s “Midsommar” was written and directed by Ari Aster, best known for the 2018 horror movie now on Netflix, “Hereditary.” In an interview, Mr. Aster proclaimed he was heavily influenced by the 1973 British movie, “The Wickerman,” when he created “Midsommar.” That movie is about a bunch of American college friends traveling to Sweden, to one of their buddy’s place of birth, to attend a festival that is held every 90 years. The festival is not what they expected, and they are held, prisoners.

I hope that these examples clarify the point that in disaster and horror movie genres, that people prove who they really are in those situational genres. The horror and disaster genres should not be treated as the ugly stepchildren with no redeeming qualities, in Hollywood, and movie critics alike. Thank you, Eli Roth. I feel so vindicated for thinking outside the box and seeing value where multitudes of people see it as cinematic trash.

“Horror is where our nightmares come to life. It reveals humanity’s best and worst. What we deserve. What we dread. Who we are. What we are afraid of. What we might be. We have the courage to face our nightmares, we can face our deepest fears.”

Eli Roth: Movie director, writer, and actor

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