Imogen Poots and Colin Farrell in Fright Night (2011)

If it’s true that the first few years of a new decade better encapsulate the trends and sensibilities of the previous one, then Craig Gillespie’s 2011 Fright Night remake is a nu-metal nightmare. The 2000’s were an era of MMA cage fighting, peekaboo thong straps, Axe body spray, and Kid Rock. As we approach the point in the 20-year nostalgia cycle at which we are meant to long for those times, it feels as pertinent as ever to wonder what were we thinking?


Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga in The Conjuring (2013)

Let’s get this out of the way: The Conjuring (2013) is a misogynistic romanticization of a married couple’s career in con artistry. That’s old news, though: other outlets have taken the time to meticulously detail this argument with more care than it probably deserves given that the story is a pie to the face of progressive values. (My favorite take on this is Andrew O’Hehir for Salon (O’Hehir, 2013), but see also Scott Poole for HuffPost (Poole, 2013) and the excerpt from the upcoming Scared Sacred: Idolatry, Religion, and Worship in the Horror Film (West, 2018).) …


Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)

Note: the following was written in February 2015 on the occasion of the movie’s wide release.

I gasped as a friend snatched my laptop from me the other night. “You can’t! My porn is open!”

He laughed, delighted, and then his face dropped. “I don’t see anything.”

“It’s not, like… porn,” I said, realizing he was hoping to find a streaming video, a racy gif, or at least some still-image nudity. In inarticulate horror I confessed, “I was reading fanfiction.”

In the uproar over Fifty Shades of Grey, there is one fact that is either consistently forgotten or goes unrecognized…


Jackson A. Dunn in Brightburn (2019)

Letterboxd user Wesley R. Ball summarizes the movie best: “We Need to Talk About Clark Kent.” Upon its release, Brightburn quickly gained renown as the Evil Superman movie. But in the current social and political climate another theme jumps out: psychopathy and children.

An oft-cited criticism of Brightburn is the fact that Brandon Breyer, a child discovering his superhuman abilities on the occasion of his twelfth birthday, never seems to have a crisis of conscience as these abilities emerge and his empathy retreats. It’s argued that this results in flat characters with weak arcs. …


Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch in The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

The #MeToo movement is said to have begun in October 2017, if you count its beginning as the intersection of the hashtag trending on social media with the first several accusations of sexual abuse against producer Harvey Weinstein. The release of The Autopsy of Jane Doe in December 2016, then, precedes the popularly recognized start date of the #MeToo movement by many months. This means the film is an outlier from the myriad film and TV projects that now seek to reflect, promote, or simply capitalize on socio-political momentum. …


I avoid rape-revenge films like the plague — as a rabid horror fan it’s not easy. But it doesn’t necessarily take a Baise-Moi or I Spit On Your Grave to deliver the experience of a rape-revenge film. Despite my limited experience watching these movies, I’d like to believe that my feelings on the subgenre are valid by merit of my existence in the world as a woman (not that an aversion to rape-revenge tropes is limited to women).

Another thing I avoid like the plague: Nicolas Cage. Nicolas Cage and his memes and his bees and his big teeth and…


Photo by Victoria Marshall

Emily entered my classroom the year before the concert. The teenager in me was awed by her. Found her painfully cool, wanted so hard to be her friend. Thick, dark, wavy hair fell down her back. She wore braces, ripped and cuffed jeans, black Converse hi-tops, and the band’s T-shirt twice a week. In winter, a denim jacket. Her standard uniform. I interpreted her reserve as self-possession and maturity. She was quiet in class. She volunteered answers often, ventured wise observations and insightful questions.

As her teacher, though, I saw the occasional misfiring synapses and gaps in understanding. A flawed…

Allison Reagan

Horror movies & high trash: Kenyon Review, Fiction Writers Review, WIRB, & more.

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