Friday, 12 January 2018

We Don't Go Back – Guest Post: The Wailing (2016)

This is another guest post from my friend and frequent collaborator Jon Dear, of Views from a Hill.

My first encounter with Asian horror was Takashi Shimizu’s Ju-on (The Grudge) (2002) and it upset me more than I was expecting. At the time my ignorance and lack of experience put this down to the supernatural threat not playing by (what I then saw as) the rules. The malevolent force could pursue victims who ran from the haunting (there was no escape, that’s not fair!).
Oh now, this really is too far. Most unsporting.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

We Don't Go Back #75: The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

There have been a couple of occasions where the act of fitting a film into my series has been in itself a betrayal of a plot twist, a handing over of secrets. Where the tropes of folk horror are part of a reveal. And in order even to talk about them, I am explaining the ending. So tread carefully. I think The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a strong enough film to be worth a look with its twists revealed, but nonetheless I'll be giving things away.

You can find The Autopsy of Jane Doe on UK (and I think US) Netflix right now. It is well worth looking up. You need a strong stomach though.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Written in Water #23: Following Yonder Star

January 6th is the Feast of Epiphany, the official end of Christmas. It's when, traditionally, the tale of the Magi is told in churches. It bears telling again, for it is one of the strangest stories in a book full of stories whose strangeness we take for granted.

Friday, 29 December 2017

We Don't Go Back #73: Doctor Who, twice more

The thing that few commentators on Doctor Who outside of the hard-core fan communities ever properly get across is how it isn't really one show. When its entire cast, production crew and writing team change every few years, this is inevitable. Pretty much every sweeping "Doctor Who is/does" statement you can make, even on the most fundamental level, in terms of theme and content, needs to be suffixed with "except when it isn't/doesn’t" to be true.

I think the one real exception to that rule is only this: Doctor Who is a cultural artefact that reflects the prevailing atmosphere of the time, and because it's science fiction (except when it isn't) it can comment on the milieu it's in more freely, and with more feeling.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

On a Thousand Walls #10: Possession (1981)

This post is also The Question in Bodies #6.
Possession – a film that was banned for some years in the UK, butchered in the US and only finally released in its intended form in 2013 – feels for me like a low-key simulation of trauma.

It has that irrational, raw feeling, is all about the confusion, the moment where you freeze up and nothing makes sense, and you can’t form a thought, and you react in ways that afterwards leave you deeply ashamed and humiliated and messed up for days or weeks afterwards. You see it happen, the way that characters try desperately to find some reason in the ways they’re behaving, in the time they give each other, only for the fight-or-flight reaction to kick in and drive them to do wildly inappropriate things.

It's trauma. It feels like you’re watching a trauma happen in real time.

We Don't Go Back: A Personal Taxonomy of Folk Horror and Pagan Film

The Gorsedd, Singleton Park, Swansea. 
Towards the end of October 2016, I thought, "I know! I've got this copy of The Witch sitting here and I could spend a few days going through some of the other stuff I never got round to watching and it's years since I had a Halloween movie binge, and hell, why not write about them?" I had a copy of The Wicker Man I'd found in a record sale in 2010 that I'd never watched; a copy of Beasts that cost me 50p at a stall in the Summer. I last watched Simon Magus before I had kids, and now my oldest is 11. I planned my viewing carefully.

It spiralled out of control.