14/07/2016

Green Room - When Does A Film Start Being A Horror?

Quick Thoughts: Green Room

A band are trapped in a club.


This film is... fuck me... yeah, it's good. There's a small segment in the middle of the third act where tension is lost slightly and overall this film doesn't do anything incredibly special, but, it is a tremendous feat, an undeniably great picture. What makes this film great is quite simply verisimilitude. The script is squeaky clean. There's nothing about it I doubt, it may not be perfect, but to my mind it's flawless. And with this great script comes brilliant direction. What's more, great makeup, cinematography and CGI. What this all culminates into is a film you truly believe in, can sink into, allow it to lock you in and take you on a thrill ride.

Because this is a recent film I don't want to discuss its narrative. What's more, this is certainly a film that requires no more than the 7 words I used to describe it. If you haven't seen it, make sure you do, and go in blind. Its thrills and poignancy come with you allowing the narrative to take complete control. This means I'm not going to pull apart any deeper meaning to be found in it. I still want to talk about this film though. So, the topic to talk about became apparent to me when thinking of a line to introduce it. I thought of something along the lines of: ... a horror/thriller... but. what's wrong with that, is what the title suggests. Is this film a horror?

      

Here we have 4 great examples of horrors. With The Exorcist we have a representative of the supernatural horror sub genre. With The Shining we also have a supernatural horror film, but a different kind. For me, The Shining represents character driven horror films, things you may put under the title 'psychological thrillers'. With Frankenstein we have the monster movie. And with Halloween the slasher. What all these films have in common is a heightened aspect of fantasy. This is most apparent in the monster and supernatural sub genres. It becomes a little more convoluted with the likes of The Shining as the fantasy is somewhat grounded. Nonetheless, there's a surreal, fantastical or cinematic element to films like The Shining, Repulsion, The Babadook and so on.

Now, with the likes of Halloween, the slasher or crime-horror genre clouds itself. The fundamental goal of this sub genre is to attack the audience through representation, meaning we often see teens as victims. By infusing this sense of reality with an aspect of crime, you can begin to see the film as horrifying, but maybe not a horror. However, with Halloween and films like it there is an element of hard fantasy inherent to the main villain. We are made to believe he or it is not quite human. This adds a monster or supernatural side to the film.

It's looking at these main categories of horror that you can see the genre having roots in fantasy, which makes verisimilitude an enemy of the form. To me, a horror is always a fantasy - to varying degrees, granted. In this respect, films like Psycho can't be horrors. They are thrillers or suspense pictures. Sure, they can be horrifying. But, the genre isn't horrifiers. Horror is an emotion and so stems from two places: imagination and disbelief. To see someone stabbed in front of you, you may not believe what you saw and so be horrified. To feel a shadow creeping over your bed at night will be a product of your mind, but nonetheless you'll also feel horrified. Does this mean in an artistic form where we know everything isn't real, where fantasy is dominant, that verisimilitude brings a horror down to a crime thriller?

If horror films capitalise on imagination, on blatant make-believe, can Green Room be a horror?

I turn this question to you. Have you seen this film? Agreeing that its poignancy comes from its realism, would you call it a horror, or a thriller? And finally, does this matter?





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