I deny that Epidemic is a horror film. It is instead a comedy about writing a horror film that fails to horrify anyone. The hypnosis scene is the payoff to a long joke that seldom works. Maybe I'm missing something. I don't know. I didn't particularly like or appreciate Epidemic. I am going to watch the film again with the Von Trier commentary track on. Pedro, what am I missing?
Scream, which I also watched recently, holds up as a really smart love letter to the specific form of horror movie that flourished in the late 70s through the 80s. It lovingly deconstructs the slasher film while upholding all of its basic tropes. I've never been a fan of these sorts of horror movies and ultimately don't care about Scream, either, but I do respect Scream for its critical devotion to the tradition it stands in.
Since I've been engaged in educating myself about horror films and know that I like at least some goofy horror... I finally broke down and saw Zombieland at the Cinema Saver.
I went in with low expectations, but I was still disappointed. There's a lot to like and I smiled and chuckled often, but the film lost me during the cameo sequence and never won me back. Up until that point, I bought all of the emotional stuff going on even if it was dumb and shallow. There was still some core realism to the expressed emotions amid the goofiness. Once Brandon Musa (or some other comedian with the initials BM, I forget) shows up, though, and gets casually killed, every last remnant of reality vanishes and the stakes don't matter anymore. If the characters can't care about BM's death, I can't care about anything else that happens for the remainder of the movie. I couldn't even care about attaching a spoilers tag to all of this. Sorry. The ending was a big let-down and about as conventional as possible, but, even so, it was fun to see Woody Harrelson play things so cool as a one man zombie annihilation machine.
What I took away from all three of these films is the knowledge that I still don't quite know how to define "horror." Is it an "I know it when I see it" sort of thing? Am I trying to be too rigid in my genre boundaries because of my quest to understand this thing?
Epidemic didn't feel like horror. It felt like an examination of a creative process in a pre-Kaufman Kaufmanesque style. Heck, Synechdoche, New York is more of a horror film than Epidemic is. Scream works in the slasher sub-genre and is probably the clearest to define of the group. Zombieland has a backdrop of zombie apocalypse, but it's more of a comedic road movie than anything else, sharing more in common with National Lampoon's Family Vacation than Romero's Night of the Living Dead.
Brandon, I got your note too late. I ended up going to the Cinema Saver for
the double feature of Zombieland/The Hurt Locker. I'll be writing about The Hurt Locker soon after thinking about it for
a few more days. Also, we're in training together on Thursday. Want to work
out a movie loaning swap?