Wednesday, October 26, 2011

31 Days of Horror: The Divide / Faces in the Crowd

2011, Xavier Gens -- cinema
2011, Julien Magnat -- download

The number one question that has come up during the last 25 days or so has been, "What do you consider horror?"  I thought it would be an easy answer as you can just go to the horror section of a DVD store and based on plot description and box art, there you go -- horror. But ignoring the one decision I made to slice out the torture porn sub-genre of horror (i admit, it's horror, i just didn't want to watch it) I ran into too many "well, it's not quite horror" examples in my viewing.  It's a cop-out to answer, "I don't know but I know it when I see it," so I will answer with a phrase that the movie has to be about the protagonist fearing something and the movie being about the viewer sharing that fearful experience.

Scary things can happen in any movie but if it's not the point of the movie, then it's a thriller. A crime-procedural can have a scary criminal but the movie focuses on the catching of the criminal from the point of view of the cops, it's not a horror. Hell, a movie can have a monster in it but if it's about how the monster is hunted down by the military then it's an adventure movie.  There is even the problem that sometimes all the tropes of the horror movie can be present but it's a comedy. I have to give myself a lot of leeway in this viewing project.  It's my choice.  It's my opinion.

The Divide is a po... actually, it's an apocalyptic thriller (the apocalyptic events HAPPENING right then, so no post-anything) with horror elements.  As the movie begins, we see a mushroom cloud erupt in the distance and suddenly our viewer is dragged away to join a stream of bodies running down the stairs. The building is shaking, people are screaming and panic is heavy. Some of the stream breaks off and continues to the basement and through a heavy metal door. The door is slammed and we have our cast. The apocalypse happens around them with no details provided to us or them.

The movie was mostly improv-ed by the cast and director roughly following an ever evolving script. They knew the gist of the story, all being trapped in a bunker during an event that is destroying the city above them.  But the progression of the story was determined day to day by the people involved. There are horror elements, such as a brief introduction of an outside military force, but for the most part the movie focused on the tense interaction between the characters. Days pass and alliances are made and broken, radiation begins to take it's toll and food becomes a valuable commodity. If anything, the horror was once again seeing how much people are willing to do to each other when things go to shit. Unfortunately, other than the novel way of producing the movie, nothing really new was developed here.

Faces in the Crowd stars Milla Jovovitch as a woman who suffers an injury at the hands of the local "whack-job", a serial killer called the Tear Jerker (i think, it's not really important) and ends up with "face blindness", a condition where she can no longer recognize faces, even those she has known all her life. If she looks away from a person, and then back again, it's as if seeing them for the first time again. The setup is definitely something that could have been horror and some of the scenes of her initial reactions are definitive in their horror structure. But at it's heart, this is a straight forward cop-hunting-serial-killer movie with all the love interests, double-blinds and resolution. Very straight to DVD.