Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Normal Becomes the Fearful

My summer ends tomorrow. It wasn't much of a summer because I had to teach the entire time and took on several other projects in order to get by, but it was nice not teaching 5 or 6 classes a week for two months.

I want to celebrate the end of the summer by watching some senseless movie tonight. I was thinking of Final Destination 5 . I've always been a fan of horror and suspense movies. When I say fan I don't mean that I particularly enjoy watching them, since a lot of the time I'm watching with my glasses off or watching events out of the corner of my eye. But I am always a fan of the simple plots and narratives that horror movies employ. Like any genre there are conventions and there are attempts to break those conventions. There are ways of citing older films, attempting to break into new territories. Alot of times horror and suspense films are simply taking an experience everyone is already used to and moving it into a new location where you can do the same things, but with different weapons, animals, monsters, accents, historical limits, ethnicities or even color schemes. Every once in a while a new formula is created or appears to have been created and often times it is a generational dynamic, with a new generation claiming that this vein of slasher film is distinct from the ugly actress, wooden acting, fake production values and red colored corn syrup of the past. Horror films always straddle an interesting line between in your face brutal morality, or the visceral metaphoric and literally punishing of characters for breaking norms or violating natural laws, and the simple instinct to shock and appall people who are watching.

What has always drawn me to the Final Destination films is the way they transform the landscape around us from something which we can take for granted, and see as being fundamentally neutral, a menagerie or random but harmless objects, into a menacing network of potential instruments of death. If I were in a Lacanian mode right now I would argue something about it meaning the symbolic network or the Big Other is revealed to not be the guarantee of your identity or your existence, as some benevolent helpful father figure, but rather a traumatic force which can turn on you at any moment. All humans are gamblers, where you see the world through whatever lens you see risk and danger. There are things that you trust to keep you safe and things you trust to not be dangerous and so you ignore or simply accept as there and nothing more. The Final Destination movies are a freaky reminder that whatever framework you create to understand those things is always limited and always insufficient. These movies are supposed to be scary, but they intend to turn the normal into the fearful.

Another reason why I want to watch Final Destination 5 tonight is because of the video below. It is meant to be a spoof of Save by the Bell starring the cast of the film, and not only is it gruesome and funny, but the song is so catchy as well.


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