The Untenable Podcast, Episode 132: Tears in Rain, Controllers at Rest

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The one with synthetic existential dread.

In this week’s episode, Mike and Jay talk about Mike’s exploits in gaming, as well as their reactions to Blade Runner 2049 and the last Episode VIII: The Last Jedi trailer.

Intro song: “Mesa” – Hans Zimmer, Benjamin Wallfisch, and Vangelis

Outro song: “John Carpenter’s Halloween Theme” – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and John Carpenter

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31 Days of Horror: Savageland

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Dir(s). Phil Guidry, Simon Herbert, and David Whelan

I cannot believe how well done this movie is. They used still photos as the found artifact to piece together what amounts to be a zombie attack on a border town. There was some video used for found footage, but it was used as a device that I don’t want to spoil because it was a great way to work into the trope. Not only does it have great narrative mechanics going for it, but it also has a social conscience, which is laid bare and is rare in horror. Horror and Sci Fi can be used to communicate subtleties of social ills, but this movie wore them on its sleeve and it was fantastic. I cannot believe how well executed this movie was and how truly unnerving it was.

One of the greatest assets this movie capitalizes upon is once again its believability. With the current state of political corruption, dehumanization of minorities, and the possibility of environmental issues culminating into a natural disaster this movie is at the nexus of great horror storytelling. Couple that with effective mockumentary formatting that uses not only found audio files, but also still camera frames. Those frames show just enough to give the impression of a nightmare unfolding on the fateful night in question. It would be unfair to say that Savageland is another zombie movie to throw on the pile. And that is because while it does dabble in the zombie tropes, it is far more than just a movie of the undead attacking a border community.

31 Days of Horror: Gerald’s Game

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Dir. Mike Flanagan

Gerald’s Game is just about one of the more unsettling movies that I have seen in quite a long time. Mainly because of the nature of the movie, which may also be its central premise – manipulation. Its portrayal of manipulation by those who are loved and trusted, as well as the various types of violation that can take place within those relationships and dynamics is very well drawn and portrayed. And perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the movie is how relatable it is. I’ve probably manipulated in similar manners, not to the same extent, but I probably still left damage. And that is what effective storytelling and horror tropes bring.

What is also very effective about the movie is its snapshot of a relationship brought to extremes where sexual violence and violation of trust is needed to achieve a modicum of intimacy between the two. This comes from the husband, and the wife is just as desperate to save the marriage that she will do anything to satisfy him. She then realizes how far she has gone throughout the marriage, through hallucinations that act as avatars for her psyche, played by herself and her deceased husband. She is allowed to externalize her rage, showing another unfortunate truth for some, which is that the rage that comes with self-realization will often turn toxic and shameful towards the self. She hates that she did not exercise her agency sooner and she taunts herself through the avatars.  There is eventual catharsis, but it comes at the cost of physical and emotional pain inflicted upon herself. It’s almost as if she won’t accept her healing until she has somehow self flagellated, which is unfortunately not surprising, considering the struggles that women have had to endure within society and the stigma attached to sexual abuse and violation.  I went to bed thinking of this movie and woke up thinking of this movie the next day.

31 Days of Horror: The Loved Ones

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Dir. Sean Byrne

The Loved Ones was recommended to me by a coworker, which was odd at the time because they did not strike me as a horror movie person. And I remembered reading about how good it was years ago, and how shocking it was. But shocking in a good way. And being Australian, I’m always curious about their horror cinema offerings. I will say that this movie was impressive because it had a DIY aesthetic but was guided with a deft hand for the material and the genre. Some truly gory and shocking moments, but they really did serve the story and were not gratuitous. A very fun and dark ride, and much better than it should have been.

There is a nice twist on the torture trope where instead of a man trapping a woman, this is a woman trapping a man. But it does fall into the “crazy chick” trope, yet works around it by offering that she isn’t crazy because of rejection from boys, but that she might just have been born bad. Or possibly had pushover parents who allowed her to go too far without any corrective disciplinary measures. I could definitely see that pushover parent aspect, considering how she treats her parents in the movie. The movie is gory, but it’s not gratuitous. And there are plot moments that are disguised as jump scares but actually function as both character defining moments and payoff moments for the audience. This movie should not have worked, but it worked for me.

31 Days of Horror: Noroi: The Curse

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Dir. Koji Shiraishi (2005)

Another indie found footage horror film that is giving me a reason to believe again. This is J-Horror at its finest, and it twists some of the conventions of that specific genre and slowly sets the fuse for a powerful slow burn. I was genuinely unnerved at various points in this movie, and had I seen it in a theater I might have walked out because of the tension. So very well done. Cannot thank Shudder for bringing it for streaming, as it is notoriously difficult to find outside of Japan.

The use of folklore and religious aspects in Asian culture, as in South Korea’s The Wailing, is done quite effectively here as well. It’s a mix of horror and a quasi-police procedural type of investigative narrative and character. What’s also effective are all of the main and side characters. Usually, they are pop-ups and then missing. Not here – they are curious inclusions at first, disappear, and then play very interesting roles later in the story. Intricate plotting and effective use of atmosphere.

 

The Untenable Podcast, Mixtape #16: Existential Quantum Despair

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The one with mechanical quantums.

In this week’s mixtape episode, Mike and Jay revisit the mechanics of Quantum Leap, the value of both Mortal Kombat and Streetfighter  movie adaptations, and how time is portrayed in 11.22.63.

http://soundcloud.com/untenpod/the-untenable-podcast-mixtape-16-existential-quantum-despair

 

Intro song:  “On Me” – Lil Yachty, Young Thug

Song #2: “Falls on Me” – Fuel

Song #3: “Trouble” – Cage the Elephant

Outro song: “Despair [acoustic]” – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

 

Episodes mixed:

Ep. 79: Spoilers –  Kennedy Dies

Ep. 81: The Broadstrokes

31 Days of Horror: Southbound

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Dir (s).: Radio Silence, Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, and Partick Horvath

I was very excited to see this movie, having heard so much great praise for this movie. I was not disappointed. So many great little moments of existential dread and all out gore that permeate this anthology. And I really love movies, sci fi or horror, that play with time and perception of time and self. The subtle supernatural flavor, while simultaneously drowning in “what the fuck?!” sense of narrative expression.

Anthology horror is very tricky to pull off, and this one is very adept and playing with conventions, going right through them, and then almost shaming you for expecting anything different. And some of the stories are downright confounding outside of general context, but once viewed in context to the anthological flow of the narrative, they hit all the right notes for me. Some unsettling imagery and even more unsettling implications throughout some of the stories. Can’t recommend enough.