Thoughts on Pan’s Labyrinth, fantasy, fascism, horror, thrillers, and suspense.
There’s two reasons to watch a horror movie: special effects and camp. You do it for the humor, the over-the-top acting, the life-and-death drama, ironic enjoyment, sincere enjoyment, the gore, blood, monsters and spectacle. Horror, like a dinosaur, is something improbable, gratuitous and awesome. And horror film, like a diorama, is an enclosure for that improbability. Even when a movie causes you to hurry up your basement stairs, for fear some withered hand may snatch your ankle, you can take comfort that the incomprehensible evil is trapped in those puppets, makeup and film. Horror allows us to exercise control. We articulate our fears, living and unliving. We pose them, bring them to reality, and trap them in a 2-hour film. We taxonomize our ghosts like stuffed birds. We arrange them carefully, and let them collect dust. And yet we keep coming back to the same display, we keep taking pleasure long after their death. And too, in part, from their death–how clever that this dead thing looks real! That my anxiety has a shape I can see!