Sunday, March 29, 2020

A Helping of Horror to Help with Corona Induced Terrors!

Sometimes, you just need to give in to the urge to scream! :) 

Before Corona, it was common enough to grouse about how there simply wasn’t enough time to do the things we really want to do. Like slow down and spend a few hours practising yoga and meditation in our eternal quest for personal wellness. Take a cooking class so we can whip up healthy, tasty and masterchef worthy dishes for family and friends. Enrol for a useful professional course to add some heft to the old resume. Read those damn classics which everyone insists we do before dying. Buy a plot of land in some rustic, rural setting where we can spend the weekends in a charming cottage growing wholesome veggies and raising livestock with the view of spending our retirement as a farmer living off the fat of a bounteous land. Connect with old friends and have long, conversations the way we used to before life got in the way. Spend quality time with the kids. Perhaps do that charitable thing we have always been meaning to for the less fortunate…

But who the hell has time for all that even during a lockdown when the days ahead unwind with way too many empty hours that we fill up with chores and Netflix. Or Amazon Prime. These OTT platforms have become humanity’s dearest companions and the time not spent plonked on a couch armed with popcorn and watching movies or shows is spent browsing through the gazillion choices provided on said platforms or whatsapping friends for recommendations.  

A lot of folks told me to watch Contagion which was supposed to have been most prescient about the current situation and others insist that ‘feel good’ films or comedy shows are the way to go. I strongly disagree and not only because I am an avowed contrarian. In addition to being seriously depressing, the former has Gwyneth Paltrow in the lead and I have been feeling extremely ill disposed towards the actor ever since she used her celeb status to hawk increasingly bizarre, so – called wellness products that make the trash peddled by our home-grown Godmen seem credible by comparison. Check out some of her brand Goop’s bestselling products – candles that smell like her vagina, Jade eggs to be inserted into the holiest of holies, pubic hair oils, psychic vampire repellent sprays to name a few! (The next time I rant about how it is imperative to judge art not the artist, be sure not to rub my aversion to Paltrow, this epitome of capitalist greed and chicanery in my face).

As for ‘feel good’ films which leave you feeling warm and gooey, the crash – landing on returning to reality can be jarring and extremely hard to take. After all no one on Modern Family, Brooklyn Nine - Nine and rom – coms starring Dulquer Salman or Katherine Heigl are cowering in their homes, frightened out of their skins by a viral outbreak. Loving these ridiculously awesome characters and laughing with them can fill us with the most intense distaste for our own lives which will seem even more bleak and dismal than it actually is, in comparison.

Which is why I recommend the horror genre. These films are designed with the honest and noble motivation of making you scream, squirm or throw up. If successful they will definitely leave you sick to the stomach, utterly grossed out and embarrassingly petrified. Horror is surprisingly potent and it feeds a vulgar human need to watch good looking youngsters be tortured and killed in unspeakable ways. My theory is that we as a race, miss the slaughter fests served up in the Coliseum not to mention the live decapitations and witch burnings famous in the middle ages.

Be that as it may, once you have seen enough characters impaled, decapitated, disemboweled, have their eyeballs skewered, or be fed on and turned into flesh – eating zombies, you will gain a proper perspective about your lot in life, far from satisfactory though it may be. You just need to tough it out right past the primal urge to run and hide under the bed, hands clamped over your mouth to stop the shrieks of terror. Then you wait for your pulse to return to normal and immediately, you are guaranteed to feel better about whatever crap is going on in your life, even if it is a lousy lockdown.

Some of my recommendations:
Cabin in the Woods: It is a surprisingly fun film given that there is blood and gore aplenty with a cynical message about the unworthiness of human beings and the pointlessness of trying to save the race. Besides it has a young and dishy Chris Hemsworth in it.

It Follows: A lot of horror films require you to check your brain at the door, and submit to the not so subtle manipulation of light and sound to make your innards curl, prompting you to jump up in your seat or cry out loud. But this David Robert Mitchell flick is seriously smart and insanely terrifying. It is either a stunningly subversive yet non - judgemental take on the terrors of sexually transmitted diseases among the young or a forceful endorsement of practising the strictest celibacy outside the confines of marriage.

Get Out: Jordan Peele’s Get Out is a gem of a film that is wickedly weird and a scathing indictment of ever present racism. It also boasts of some fantastic performances by the likes of Daniel Kaluuya, Catherine Keener, and Lil Rey Howery. Thanks to this clever masterpiece, every time, I spot a cup of tea with a silver teaspoon, I want to run for the hills! 

The Shining: Without doubt, one of the worst films ever made and a disgrace to good cinema! Jack Nicholson hammy, OTT performance remains supremely cringe – inducing. Damn you Stanley Kubrick! Do the sensible thing and read the brilliant book by Stephen King instead people!

Movies like The Quiet Place and The Conjuring have quite the fan following but I find them over – rated. The trick is to keep an open mind though. Whatever works for you! I recently watched Howl, a British indie creature feature that was passably entertaining. Anyways, trust me, turn to horror in these troubled times and thank me later.

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