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Kill the Rich: YOU'RE NEXT and the Discreet Charms of the One Percent

In its by turns disturbing and hilarious portrayal of a privileged family’s reunion gone horribly wrong, You’re Next gives us what is perhaps this year’s most trenchant commentary on an America increasingly riddled by narcissism and greed.
  • By Jed Mayer
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  • August 28, 2013 8:30 AM
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  • 2 Comments

The Summer of the Sharknado

This year we were subjected to one bloated action film after another, all of which treated their subject matter with the kind of ponderous gravitas usually accorded to European art films. Who can save our popcorn fare from this inflated sense of self-importance? Forget Wolverine, Iron Man, and Thor: this is a job for Sharknado!
  • By Jed Mayer
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  • August 20, 2013 8:35 AM
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THE CONJURING and the Specter of the Seventies

James Wan’s "The Conjuring" is that rare thing: a contemporary horror film that doesn’t suck. Critics and audiences seem to agree on this point, and I hope that the film’s minimal use of digital effects and focus on good acting, effective story-telling, and dramatic mood-setting will be imitated by other makers of horror films.
  • By Jed Mayer
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  • July 31, 2013 8:35 AM
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  • 3 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: Siding with the Victim, Part 3: We Are All Meat

Trapped. Tortured. Hunted. Slaughtered. This is the way of life, and death, for most animals. We’d like to forget this, but the horror film never forgets. It reminds us that, like the over 50 billion animals killed every year for human consumption, in the end, we are all meat.
  • By Jed Mayer and Ken Cancelosi
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  • July 24, 2013 8:35 AM
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  • 0 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: Horror Films and the War on Women (Siding with the Victim, Part 2)

Horror movies tell us tales of defeat, usually involving women. Most people would say that horror films are generally anti-feminist, even misogynistic. But the stories of victims are just as important as those of victors. The war on women has been going on for many years, and the stories of its victims still need to be told.
  • By Jed Mayer and Ken Cancelosi
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  • July 17, 2013 8:35 AM
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  • 0 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: Siding with the Victim, Part I: THE SHINING

From the time we are little children we like hearing scary stories. Some psychologists claim it’s because we use these stories to work through our anxieties. Maybe there’s another explanation to why we like scary stories. Perhaps we don’t identify with the victors so much as the victims.
  • By Jed Mayer and Ken Cancelosi
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  • July 10, 2013 8:37 AM
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  • 2 Comments

TRAILER: SIDING WITH THE VICTIM: A Video Essay Series

During July, Press Play will be presenting a three-part video essay series called "Siding with the Victim," about the ways in which identifying with the hapless ones in horror films, the ones who go into the basement/behind the creaky door/into the woods without a flashlight/into the attic, is a crucial part of what makes these films so compelling.
  • By Jed Mayer and Ken Cancelosi
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  • July 2, 2013 8:35 AM
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  • 1 Comment

RAISED IN FEAR: LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH and the Perils of Country Living

Most potential viewers would expect a film made in 1971 with the title "Let’s Scare Jessica to Death" to be a teen slasher picture, but in fact, it is a subtle, moody piece of cinema that explores the fragility of the mind and the persistence of the past, achieving moments of rich psychological insight.
  • By Jed Mayer
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  • June 13, 2013 8:30 AM
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  • 2 Comments
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RAISED IN FEAR: NIGHT OF THE HUNTER and the Horrors of Childhood

The most harrowing film ever made about childhood opens with a lullaby that is anything but soothing: “The hunter in the night / Fills your childish heart with fright / Fear is only a dream / So dream, little one, dream.”
  • By Jed Mayer
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  • May 31, 2013 8:45 AM
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  • 2 Comments
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RAISED IN FEAR: Who Can Kill a Child?

Who Can Kill a Child (1976) is a relatively obscure Spanish horror film directed by Narcisco Ibanez Serrador, but it should be much better known, and not only by people like me, sick of having to pretend to be awed by how wonderful children are.
  • By Jed Mayer
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  • May 28, 2013 11:11 AM
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  • 8 Comments
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