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Spooky scene selections: scary movies

, and | Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Ellis Riojas | The Observer

There are 10 days until Halloween, and Scene is here to provide you with three essential horror films to watch during spooky season!


By Ryan Israel, Scene Editor

Since its release just over two years ago, “Hereditary” has entered nearly every conversation on the genre of horror. If you mention you’re a fan of scary movies, there’s a high likelihood that a film buff has replied with the question “Have you seen ‘Hereditary?’” And for a good reason: “Hereditary” is phenomenal.

“Hereditary“ is Ari Aster’s debut feature-length film, who has since gone on to create the almost equally terrifying “Midsommar,” although the young writer-director handles the debut like a veteran. Combining carefully crafted mise-en-scene and score with a conventional yet twisted story, Aster creates a sense of heightening tension that runs throughout the first three-quarters of the film. The audience is never given a chance to relax; an overwhelming eeriness constantly lingers but never completely jumps out to scare. That is until the final act when the simmering plot literally goes up in flames with a dramatic finale, bringing the familial conflict and terrifying twists of “Hereditary” to an unsettling end.


“Dr. Strangelove” — because nothing is scarier than real life.

By Jim Moster, Scene Writer

The world is run by idiots. At least, that’s what Stanley Kubrick claims in his famous 1964 film “Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” The bomb in question is the hydrogen bomb, and the film’s military officials are all too detached from the possibility of global nuclear destruction. Cold War anxiety, technical incompetence and literal insanity blind the military establishment to the value of human life.

“Dr. Strangelove” satirizes the Cold War, although I cannot bring myself to laugh while watching the film. The threat of nuclear holocaust continues to loom over our heads in 2020. In addition, we have another doomsday to fear — climate change. Good satire implies that our reality is just as absurd as the content on the screen. The world’s inability to act on climate vindicates the satirical message of “Dr. Strangelove,” which should provide plenty of nightmare fuel this All Hallow’s Eve.


“The Shining” 

By Nick Brigati, Scene Writer

Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” is often regarded as one of the greatest horror films to ever grace the silver screen, and for good reason. From the twin girls in the hallway to the “Here’s Johnny!” scene, so much of the film has become a part of our cultural lexicon. Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, the film tells the story of writer Jack Torrance — played by Jack Nicholson — who overtakes the position of caretaker during the off-season at the secluded Overlook Hotel in Colorado. Jack is not alone, however, bringing his wife, Wendy (Shelly Duvall), and son, Danny — who possesses psychic abilities known as “the shining” — along with him. Through Danny’s gift, a dark history of the hotel is revealed, and we soon get the feeling that not everything is as it seems at this winter retreat.

When the family becomes stranded because of a snowstorm, the hotel’s dark forces begin to corrupt Jack’s sanity — transforming him into a psychotic murderer who endangers the lives of his family. The question, however, of whether it is due to paranormal forces at work, or simply the pressures of isolation descending a man into madness is ultimately up to the audience to decide. This ambiguity adds to the frightening nature of the film, as we are uncertain with every turn of what is real or merely psychological. Whereas other horror films may frighten their audience through the use of jump scares or large amounts of suspense, “The Shining” is terrifying sheerly in its imagery and how the events of the film itself play out. “The Shining” is the perfect film to watch this Halloween, and is even more timely for anyone who suffered from “cabin fever” during the early months of the pandemic.

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About Ryan Israel

Ryan is the Former Scene Editor (2020-2021). He is currently washed up. Follow Ryan on Twitter @ryizzy.

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About Jim Moster

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About Nick Brigati

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