Tuesday, July 09, 2019


At first, I walked out of the theatre not sure what to say about this movie.  I was super excited going in, but was fully prepared for it to fall short.  After all, with all the hype around Ari Aster's Heredity, I did not like it as much as some of my friends--thinking it definitely was a beautiful work of art in terms of impending gloom and camerawork, but thought the family trauma was more than enough even without the supernatural element that felt tacked on at the end.  The very thing that was wrong about that film, Aster did right in this one, centering the dissolution of a toxic relationship as the main source of horror, but setting it amidst the sunlight dappled beauty of a creepy Kinfolk catalog aesthetic.

In fact, there is less of the supernatural in this one, than there is the general horror of much folklore.  Very little happens that is not human directed--sacrifices, spellcasting, fertility rights.  But at the same time, there are spots of gore that jump out so strongly and starlingly becuase they are in broad daylight and paced exactly right.  So much so that you might forget you are in a horror movie, or can't quite figure out if you're in a horror movie, which contributes to the viewers disorientation as much as the characters.  It is, like Heredity, very much a meditation on trauma and grief, and the main actresses' struggle with a personal tragedy had my heart in my throat the entire movie (the closest thing I can think of recently that had this effect was Haunting of Hull House.)  Also, the dynamics of isolation and community, however fucked up. And the boyfriend, is ultimately every bad relationship you ever had, who meets a weirdly satisfying end. 

But so much can be said about the visual feast of this movie--from that unbearable bright beauty of the clearing to the visual representations of much of what happens in the film--the iconography, the illustrations. Unlike most horror, everything happens in the daylight, which becomes oppressive in its own right. As someone who most appreciates the beautiful cast against the terrifying, this movie hit all the right buttons, and some I did not even know existed.

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