The poster caught my eye with promises of cannibalism and a minimalist aesthetic. There were rumblings from the past Fantasia film festival that sparked hunger pangs and I’d been patient for this one since the buzz died, and I wasn’t exactly champing at the bit, so it fell off my radar. Through the first half I was certainly ‘awaiting’ something substantial to happen. Something more visually interesting than the characters themselves. That said, it did a good job of creating a snapshot of the dysfunctional daddy daughter duo, similar to that in The Loved Ones, just way less fun. The second half delivers, and while the endgame has enough originality to overtake the taste of predictability there is some unpalatable CG. Yeah, if there is an aftertaste you just can’t kill, it’s After Effects. With a lovely set-piece that you just wanted to spend more than a few poorly rendered seconds with, or relentless motion capture CG… Now, it’s not without some very very lovely practical effects related to one of the main characters escape attempts, and the tension between him and the daddy daughter duo is delicious, so I did have fun with it–but I am glad I waited.
I can’t say I disliked Holidays. It was a fun watch with gems hidden in a few of the shorts. There were some disappointments here and there but by the end, I had a distinct take-away that left me uncomfortable.
The filmmaking was good, the dialogue was good. The acting is good. The title sequences were fun and I liked having the ‘reveal’ of the makers names at the end of each. If you’d like a blow by blow account of each segment that I basically agree with, listen to the recent BindTortureKast episode. The one point that I maybe got even more exacerbated with was the overall message I felt I’d been fed once I sat back to watch the credits roll.
The films were actually telling me awful things. Not fun horror film style awful things either. Social and political style awful things. It said to me that women are all basically fucking crazy. Lone women are utterly helpless or prone to bad decisions and are also crazy. Women are better able to think and cope in groups and may be less helpless but are way fucking crazier. Men are largely absent or abusive and don’t seem to notice all the crazy women until they get killed by one. Honestly, at this rate, I’d rather the much maligned airhead cum dumpster style women seen too often in horror because with them, the audience doesn’t run the risk of being tricked into thinking that she’s anything like most women or that she represents any kind of feminist or egalitarian statement whatsoever.
The only reason I give this stuff much thought is due to the surge in projects like Women in Horror Month and feminist critique of horror films and books, Especially ones written longer than 20 years ago, as they are exactly like shooting fish in a barrel when it comes to finding sexist content. I find that trying to forcefully inject femme-centric stories and leads into the genre has been backfiring in all kinds of really dangerous and mealymouthed ways and this film is a neat example. Now, I’m no social scientist nor any sort of academic of the topic but most of these shorts had me wondering who a lot of these were written for. I’ve been trained now — through being treated like a second-rate citizen for half of my life in a sexist world and shouted down by fundamentalist feminists for the other half since I prefer my own opinion on such matters — to look at films and ask where I fit into this as a human and a woman. It’s never my number one intention when watching a film but with this one it all just sort of gets dragged into the forefront. Kind of unfair when I thought I was going to watch a gnarly nice little horror anthology packed with writer and director names that had me very interested.
With luck, a second installment will happen and have a little more realism and originality to the characters with the same amount of creativity given to the stories which, if you dodge a few snakepits, dead ends, and the Halloween one entirely, were really quite good.
Edit* I forgot to mention the 7000 bonus points for excellent use of baby chickens. If anyone knows me, they know that’s my heartmelter right there. Combined with stigmata? Sure-fire Lydia-win material.
For the past couple of years I’ve been the new releases moderator on horror.org. At first there was a little well oiled team of elves – take that vision where you will – but now it’s just little old me. Emphasis on the old. And with old comes crotchety curmudgeonlyness with bonus made-up words. Posting the recent fare is something I really like to do. A few weeks ago I was handed the reins to drive the Recently Born of Horrific Minds column for the HWA newsletter. Excite! It’s another facet of new releases and makes perfect sense for me to compile the column so we aren’t overlapping effort. I’m very pleased with the new station and looking forward to the June installment.
Over the past while I’d noticed that the way of the new releases was to post any book submitted. If the release date had passed, that’s fine as I figured it gave everyone a fair shake. It’s not always easy to promote your books and sometimes either life gets in the way or you only heard of an advertising method after the fact. That’s all well and good, however, there certainly are books that should not be listed. Last week this was addressed and will continue to be reflected in upcoming posts to the Members Books page (to a lesser extent) and in the newsletter (to a greater extent). This is still about giving everyone a fair shake, so if your book came out a year ago and you’ve been an active member, it may not be posted unless there is a reprint, abridged, alternate medium, or otherwise new car smell to the piece. Last month’s releases will still make it into the rotating banner on the site alongside the actual new releases since a month is but the beat of a moth wing in the lifetime flight a book takes. The newsletter will reflect recent work only since the title has always had the words ‘This Month’ within, so it just makes sense.
For further thought on why this is important, and why I’m willing to research release dates and will even contact authors to make sure I’m not skipping a reprint or new edition, read on. This wasn’t the only set of titles that caught my eye but it seems to be noticed by others. We are easily blinded by the eye candy that is the artwork – and we know I love the cover art – but those release dates are awfully nice to look at too. I am, after all, a data journalist at heart and have an affinity for numbers and the stories behind them.
Thank you, Ginger Nuts of Horror, for the work put into this article and drawing attention to this issue.
It’s far more than release dates, you’ll see that once read, but at the end of the day that’s the concerning part for me as it is free advertising for someone who is taking advantage of authors. Should you have any input, let me know. Members can post new books through the HWA members portal where contact information abounds!