Cat: Horror Movie Sunday

Miss Taz went to see Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016, Elizabeth Reaser), the prequel to a 2014 film that did poorly. The new movie is much better, according to the internet. Some of the details smack that this was a different story reworked to become associated with a current franchise, but I’m only guessing.

Considering Miss Taz’ prior choices of films, I don’t think of her as interested all that much in horror, but it’s likely this was a group outing and ultimately someone else chose what to see.

My interest in horror is somewhat didactic. I’m more interested in suspense of which there’s much cross section, and mystery, which is the source by which contemporary horror is informed. I sometimes have a fantasy of wanting to show Miss Taz the must-see iconic cinema that has defined, refined or subverted the horror genre. She seems pretty disinterested. Today’s outing is more about who she’s with rather than what they’re doing with their afternoon.

But a question was raised: why do we like horror films? Other than being a safe place to experience fight-or-flight (which action-adventure does nicely). I mentioned the boyfriend excuse (jump scares are a good cause to hold your date and cuddle), but this is a group of girls that don’t have sweethearts to clutch, and are still in that place where desires for romantic cuddling are pretty undecided.

But then there is the Scooby factor. Part of the charm of the Scooby-Doo television series was the degree to which it held to its own story formula. Mysteries consistently unfolded in exactly the same pace. The chases were always the same Scooby and Shaggy would split up from Fred and Daphne, and Velma would end up alone with the monster without her glasses. There was always a zany scheme to capture the spook, and the unmasked neighbor would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling kids.

Seventies-era American horror has a handful of stories that generally follow the same format. Whether the monster was Jason or Freddy or Michael Myers, it didn’t matter. He’d always hack the same victims up in the same order.

The rules were eventually outlined in Wes Craven’s self-aware Scream (1996) and again in Joss Whedon’s The Cabin In The Woods (which gave dark necessity to the procession). The specific qualities of the victims were explained, including the order they die, the rules to surviving (or not) and why we keep telling this particular tale over and over again. Also that the first girl optionally flashes her breasts before getting eaten by the monster, and the final girl is supposed to stay virginal, and survives only optionally.

To be fair, Ouija: OoE follows the Exorcist story, with a classic fairy-tale set-up (of Gremlins notoriety). A 1967 family of mediums / charlatans (really. They script their seances.) decides to incorporate an Ouija board into their act. The little girl doesn’t obey all the rules to using the board (Don’t get them wet. Don’t feed them after midnight…) and ends up attracting the attention of a malicious spirit who possesses her. Possessed little girls are scary.

The rest of the story is getting her unpossessed (dispossessed?), because considering 1960’s era psych-wards it’s better she’s controlled by a malevolent demon than suffering from a mental illness.


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