Few things are more horror movie than a good haunting. Ghost stories can be terrifying, hilarious, painfully dull, gore-fests, as well as endearing.
Similarly, there is an often forgotten camp-factor to horror that when done right makes for gleeful darkness.
The Sixth Sense
I’ve not seen The Sixth Sense since it was released way back in 1999. At the time, this film had major cultural impact. Not only did the line “I see dead people” turn into an obnoxious catch-phrase bled into millions of banal and needless cultural products, it also launched M. Night Shyamalan who, for good or bad, went on for the next decade to have a steady influence on Hollywood. This film also spawned a micro-genre of ghost/haunting flicks, perhaps most notably The Others.
Some simple things–this is a quality film, well-done and compelling. In fact, I was very surprised to find how much more emotional impact it had than when I first saw it. While the ‘what a twist’ moment was earned, it was definitely the least interesting aspect of the movie. What I found most interesting were the parallel stories of Toni Collette as Cole’s (Haley Joel Osment) mother and Olivia Williams as Dr. Crowe’s (Bruce Willis) wife.
Collette has made a career of being a working class mother on the brink (About A Boy, Little Miss Sunshine, United States of Tara, Hostages, and the underrated Fright Night remake). Unlike a lot of actors who get pegged into a role for mere convenience, Collette is able to make the role, the trope, into something vastly more compelling what the character is on paper. So her struggles to not push her son away or punish him but rather fight to find what is creating the distance between them so the two can embrace both figuratively and literally is truly moving.
The emotional payoff of Collette’s story arc sets us up for the ultimate big reveal of who the true haunting is. Williams has a role affording her few lines requiring her to convey all of her character’s motives and emotions. Given Shyamalan’s love of parallel, hidden storytelling Williams has perhaps the most difficult role to play.
A genuinely good ghost story & excellent film.
The Addams Family
I believe camp in horror is regularly misrepresented. It’s more than silly or mere bad taste or supposed irony, camp entices because it grants one the freedom to revel. In the case of The Addams Family, we get gaiety in the macabre robbing what makes horror of any of its fear leaving us with pure aesthetic. Such is the delight of goth.
In 1991, this movie was portrayed as a silly mess exploding in popularity. However, upon re-watching it, this film is nothing but fun. It never takes itself too seriously yet avoids the easy laugh, a move that pulls it out of the dreck of most dumb camp. Some may disagree, but I think they would because they confuse not sharing tastes with something being bad. The Addams Family is what goth looks like when it’s not angry but rather happy, playful. The acting of Raul Julia but especially of Angelica Huston make this flick a love letter to dark corners.
Light-hearted darkness capturing the glee of Halloween.