The world of movies is changing, and so are our audiences.  Ten years ago we might not have programmed edgy, off-the-wall films like Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri or The Favourite, not least because, pre-digital, we could only carry three films at any one time.  And even if we had, we certainly wouldn’t have expected them to sell out. Ten years ago, who would have expected the Best Director Oscar, and the Best Picture BAFTA, to go to a foreign language film, Roma, and for that film to be one that very few people have had the chance to see in the cinema, because of Netflix’s rules.

But perhaps the most surprising change is how ‘horror’ as a genre has moved to the forefront of moviegoing.  Ten years ago horror movies like the Saw series and Hostel were open to the charge of being little more than ‘torture porn’, and we would never have thought of programming them in the Screen Machine. But in the past eighteen months films such as the remake of It, A Quiet Place, Hereditary (pictured below, with Toni Collette) and above all Jordan Peele’s Get Out have brought horror to the heart of mainstream movies, with Get Out winning one Oscar and being nominated for three more.

In many ways this is not surprising.  There have been two periods in cinema history when horror has been a dominant genre—the 1930s and the 1950s, both periods of great uncertainty about the future, whether it was the rise of Fascism, or the Cold War (and, especially in America, the ‘Red Menace’). A film like Don Siegel’s original Invasion of the Body Snatchers ( especially with its proper, bleak ending) is a marvellous metaphor for American panic about ‘the commies among us’. It seems that the catharsis of a horror movie somehow helps in coping with dangerous and unstable times!

And so now we have Jordan Peele’s new film Us (Lupita Nyong’o pictured below in Us, and already tipped for an Oscar nomination) universally acclaimed as even better than Get Out. Even Simon Mayo, on Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review, normally no fan of horror, thought it was excellent. And it’s so much more than just a ‘horror’ movie. So we certainly want to give our audiences the chance to see it. It won’t be for everyone, and we’re not screening it at every location.  But perhaps we should—we’ll be doing our best to get as much feedback as possible on how people are reacting, and whether audiences who’re missing out will want to see it.

Another big development in the movie world has been the rise of the documentary. Not surprisingly. Nae Pasaran was a big success with us. But we’re also experimenting with a range of new documentaries, especially where we feel they’ve got a truly cinematic quality to them, and don’t just look like TV programmes on the big screen.

And the other big surprise, perhaps the biggest of all, has been the return of the musical. Remember how the critics savaged The Greatest Showman and audiences proved them wrong? And A Star is Born blurred the definition of ‘musical’—is it really a ‘film with songs’?  Now we’re looking forward to Wild Rose, a home-grown ‘film with songs’ with no less then 21 Country numbers, most performed by rising star Jessie Buckley.

So our biggest problem these days with the Screen Machine is not ‘which films do we screen’, but rather ‘which films can we fit in’, with so many great movies to choose from!

Robert Livingston

May 2019

Screenings for Us:

Daliburgh – Friday 3 May

Liniclate – Tuesday 7 May

Tarbert, Harris – Friday 10 May

Dornie – Tuesday 14 May

Gairloch – Thu 23 May

Screenings for Wild Rose:

Kyleakin – Saturday 18 May

Lochcarron – Tuesday 21 May

Gairloch – Thu 23 May

Lochinver – Sat 25 May

Lairg – Wednesday 29 May

… plus more still to be scheduled in.

One thought on “Horror: welcome to the mainstream

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