Every year, during the month of Hallow’s Eve, media consumers of all ages gather to watch horror movies as a celebration of the thrill and excitement stemming from various cultural, personal, and even instinctual fears. While the modern culture surrounding horror concentrates on enjoying classic films or discovering ones that will surprise/terrify with previously unseen visuals, an element of horror films sometimes forgotten is the thematic message utilizing horror to seize the viewer’s attention and assert itself. Said themes do not always have to associate themselves with despondent issues or modern circumstances, but they do, sometimes, work so intelligently in their analysis of a given topic that their cautionary musings mutate into historic warnings. In the following list, we will examine four examples of horror films that eventually became too correct for comfort.
Contagion: Released almost ten years ago, Contagion, the story of multiple responses to a world-wide pandemic, almost seems ironic given the current circumstances. At first glance, one could argue the film to have been the basic hollywood blockbuster that desired for nothing more than to scare the audience and gather profit. In hindsight, one actually sees director Stephen Soderbergh and writer Scott Z. Burns were hypothesizing a realistic reaction to a subtle yet entirely possible international emergency. The CDC, proffering no hope or fear to the public as a method of influencing said public to combat the virus in pragmatic ways, Mitch Emhoff (played by Matt Damon), dealing with the day-to-day troubles of a limited society, both illuminate the issues of any given emergency that may seem calamitous in the moment but almost always subside with the power of human perseverance.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978): The superior remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Lloyd Kaufman’s sci-fi thriller stands on nearly the same level as The Exorcist is terms of existential dread, though this is not its strongest attribute. In a time of shifting political, cultural, and societal norms, Body Snatchers hyperbolically demonstrated the mob mentality that will always try to maintain a given norm, regardless of its affiliation. Amid the progressive themes for women and independent lifestyles that were brought to the forefront of social protests by the late 1960’s, the alien villains of the plot, known as “Pod People”, refuse to allow any of this change for the sake of unified progress as a species. Individuals fighting cultural mobs does not even need Pod People to work in the present, since anyone could glance at Twitter and see more than enough evidence from all sides.
The Blair Witch Project: Aside from being the found-footage horror movie that changed the world by bringing its genre to the mainstream, 1999’s The Blair Witch Project somewhat predicted the internet’s obsession with fame, otherwise known as “clout chasing”. Throughout the running time, several obvious, minacious incidents warning the main characters to escape and cut their losses are never actually heeded, for they only regard the potential success of their documentary. Once the real adversity begins (whether it be an actual witch or their insanity stemming from ill preparation to explore a forest), the characters have crossed a threshold where returning is not possible. Comparable instances have occurred all across various social media platforms, such as videos on train tracks that have killed participants, or the famous “choking challenge” that began as early as 2007. Sometimes, one must consider their fifteen minutes of fame when the price to pay may be their safety.
Battle Royale: If any Mines student has never seen this Japanese action-thriller, they should see it as soon as they can. Not only does Battle Royale offer superbly cheesy conflicts, but it also explains and defends the struggles of teenage students attempting to make successful lives for themselves despite the ridiculous amounts of competition that comes with it. When the classic free-for-all fight begins, the audience witnesses students’ individual battles as a clear allegory for the overly competitive nature institutions instill in students to find the “best” candidates possible. Given the modern climate surrounding college acceptance, internships, and even somewhat higher level employment, anyone here at Mines–or just outside of it trying to navigate the expansive world of engineering–will witness Battle Royale as more of a student drama than a taut thriller.
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