Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Black Swan - A word about horror films

Several instructors have given me the privilege this past year with invitations to their screenwriting classes. I have been shocked and amazed at the wealth of talent and insight that most of you posses. While some of the writing was rudimentary, the raw talent for storytelling is there; to be polished with some practice and education.
This statement couldn't be more true to those of you interested in writing and directing horror films. The horror genre is overburdened with mindless shock value and cheap thrills. With the Saw series as the genre's latest poster child, no wonder the blood gushing, maniac ravaging films are getting horrible reviews. Central plot devises rest on gimmicks rather than genuine character development. Nudity and blood are poor substitutes for acting. Zombies and vampires are played off as nothing more than overused shells of once interesting, original concepts.
The genre is suffering from the same issues in student writing.
Don't get me wrong. If you have been to my office, you would know that I am a lover of the horror genre. I am also a believer that horror films can transcend their stereotype as a powerful metaphor for psychological drama,(at times, George Romero) politics, and sociology.
I'm on a rant today because the latest reviews came out for Darren Aronofsky's latest film, Black Swan. Black Swan is opening the Venice Film Festival this evening. An advanced press screening was yesterday. One of the reviews states "Indeed, White Swan/Black Swan dynamics almost work, but the horror-movie nonsense drags everything down the rabbit hole of preposterousness." This quote makes me feel like the reviewer has a bias against the poetry of the genre rather than considering using metaphor as a compelling, dramatic storytelling device.
If you are interested in the horror genre, I would recommend the following titles as examples of what I am talking about: Dead Ringers, Let the Right One In, The Thing, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978),The Brood. Below I have posted the trailer for Black Swan. Try to see it when it comes out and make your own decision. - Eve.

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