Bret Easton Ellis on the Problem With Modern Studio Horror Movies

Spoiler alert: This article discusses plot points in The Savage.

Bret Easton Ellis’s work often plunges into horror—he wrote the script for the iconic 1991 novel “American Psycho,” the 2020 horror film “Smiley Killer,” and the upcoming The released semi-autobiographical serial killer novel “Shard”. in January. In addition to his written work — eight novels, a collection of essays, and many screenplays, both produced and yet to be produced — Ellis is a daring cultural commentator who loves to talk on “Brett Easton” Pop culture, often including the horror movie Ellis Podcast. “

As horror movie fans continue to check out this year’s offerings, type Talked to Ellis about his horror film history, what scares him the most and what the future of the genre will look like.

Ellis believes that the new generation of studio horror films often make a critical mistake.

“Especially in the ’70s, horror movies had no backstories or answers to explain the horror,” he said. “Why was Regan possessed by a demon in The Exorcist? We don’t know. Why do sharks swim [in ‘Jaws’]? You do not know. Where did Carrie White get her powers? I have no idea. You can go on and on about the mysteries of these films, and what makes them even scarier is that they are not explained. I now often find that when a horror movie gets too deep into the backstory, it really minimizes the horror when it comes to explaining why these people do it, or why this monster does it.

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“I think Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a good example. We just don’t know what that family is. We get hints of what happened to them, but we don’t get an explanation at all about what created Leatherface For some reason, I find this especially scary in a way that no other film in the Chainsaw franchise has. The sequels explicitly detail why things happened, and the backstory is usually completely insane.”

Ellis underscores his point by analyzing the highs and lows of one of the year’s biggest horror films, The Savage.

“I love this movie,” he said. “I think it had a great, slow build-up with epic shocks in the middle, and then it became this completely different film. We were very interested in how the two films would come together and told us that Why it happened. I have a friend who liked it too, but also thought it was over-explained in act 3. For him it wasn’t scary anymore and that thing, the mother. More scary Yes, this thing lives there and goes out hunting at night.”

Furthermore, Ellis and his colleagues agree that the ending strikes in a uniquely contemporary way.

“The filmmaker friend told me that the film also cheated on him because it didn’t have the courage of conviction, which meant the character Justin Long had to be punished in some way, and that girl Gotta live,” he said. “I wish there was a slightly pessimistic ending, because Barbarian seems to be heading in that direction. It seems like a throwback to the horrors of the 70s, and I love how weird this monster is. It’s not afraid to look downright stupid or Stupid, it’s scary, and I love that it’s not CGI. It’s a really scary, real, tactile, simulated thing.”

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Ellis points out that while studio fare may be over-sanitized in the current culture, a vibrant underground can keep disruptive ideas alive.

“I like to think of it as cyclical,” Ellis said. “Yeah, we’re going through this right now, we’re going to fight back against it, and then we’re going to have a tougher, less ideological awareness [in horror]. We don’t have to worry too much about certain tropes, just get back to aesthetics and fear. “

One of the current films Ellis cites that brings back the edgy, classic horror is “The Terrorist 2,” which he heard about by word of mouth.

“I’ve been complaining about the lack of really gritty, scary horror movies,” he said. “But I was told, ‘You know, Brett, if you really want to find it, you can find the most disgusting horror movies. They’re out there. You just have to look for them. They probably won’t be in the mainstream, but Trust me, you can find them.'”

Ellis went on to recall a conversation with Miramax CEO Bill Block on his podcast.

“I go back to what Bill Bullock said, people always need to face that darkness, see those images, and either be repulsed by them or forced by them,” Ellis said. “So I don’t know if it’s Will go away, it’s just whether it’s going to be corporate mainstream, it really doesn’t seem to want to have anything to do with anything but the most bland stuff. I’m hoping there will be a shift, but there’s so much out there, I think You can find almost anything you want.”

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Looking back on the impact horror movies had on him growing up, Ellis sees it as a way of coping with the tough world around him.

“As a kid in the ’70s, horror movies got my attention,” he says. “I don’t know why, but there are a lot of them and I’m drawn to them. I think they reflect what I’m going through personally because my childhood was really a free-range world made up entirely of adults without any sugar coating There’s a gritty realism to everything, you’re not being treated like a child. The world is still made for adults – you’re basically left on your device and you’ll find the world is different What a horrible way.

“The horror movies of the ’70s had this discordant family charm: my parents’ marriage was crumbling, my dad was an alcoholic, and I realized I was gay. There were a lot of questions going around, and horror movies were about acknowledging or connecting with whatever I was going through. Anxiety and fear in the clearest way. They’re reassuring in some weird way.”



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