Although I haven’t been writing much on horror here lately, I’ve been doing my homework. At least for homeroom. Horror Homeroom, that is. I’ve published on Horror Homeroom before, and, surprisingly, they’ve let me do it again. This piece is on the films of Robert Eggers. It’s pretty unusual for me to get in on the ground floor with a director’s oeuvre, but my wife has a tolerance for what is being called “smart horror” or “intelligent horror,” or even “transcendent horror,” and so we can get to the theater to see movies like The Witch and The Lighthouse before they go to DVDs or Amazon Prime. In order to write up my thoughts about these two films I had to rewatch them a few times. There’s so much going on here that both stories are difficult to summarize.
Holy Horror treated The Witch in the context of its biblical worldview. The Calvinistic religion of William, and by extension, his family, is pretty scary stuff. In The Lighthouse we find two men each grasping for their own ideas of the divine, as found atop the eponymous structure they inhabit. Both films explore the psychology of isolated individuals, and, perhaps not surprisingly, finds frightening things. We are social creatures, even those introverts among us. When deprived of the interaction of those who think differently (hear this, o Republicans!) we soon begin to wilt. We need not agree with all we hear, but conversation cannot be had without being open to at least the possibility that one might be wrong. Nobody wants to think they are incorrect, but unless they can admit that possibility, there will be no discussion, by definition.
Horror quite frequently thrives on separating people from their fellows. One of the fascinating aspects of the genre is the way in which it does this. Groups, even, that separate themselves from the rest of humanity soon begin to behave in odd ways. Checks and balances are necessary for any health in a society. Those who claim absolute positions often can’t admit this. Do I hear the violins of Psycho coming to life? I suppose community is why I try to publish once in a while in wider venues like Horror Homeroom. Even people who like to watch horror prefer not to do so alone. Maybe having seen The Witch and The Lighthouse in theaters was a crucial part of their impact upon me. And what is a good shudder without someone with whom to share it?