Setup, Reminder, and Payoff: A Case Study of The Ritual

the ritual horror film movie writing story plotHi, bats, ghouls, and spirits! I wanted to give some brief thoughts on a film I saw a few weeks back, particularly a specific aspect I keep thinking about. David Bruckner’s The Ritual is a solid horror movie about a group of friends going into the woods as strange events occur. It is a film best seen without reading much on it, so if you haven’t seen it, I would recommend doing so because I will mostly be writing about the ending. Many will compare this to The Blair Witch Project, though it at times reminded me more of Evil Dead.

Overall, I thought the film was good, and it was the first good movie I saw in 2018, and the first decent Netflix original horror offering of 2018 (after such films like The Open House and The Cloverfield Paradox). There were great camera choices, especially the use of slow zoom ins, though I felt as if the script could have been stronger in some parts. I will speak about the story concepts of setup, reminder, and payoff, with regards to a plot line in the film. If you haven’t seen the movie, I would recommend not reading the rest of this post because I will go into details that are not revealed until the last thirty minutes of the film. (And really, even the opening is a tad of a spoiler.)

So, SPOILERS below.

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Anachronistic Techniques (Jumpscares) in Horror Period Pieces: Please Stop

Helen Mirren, my queen, playing Sarah Winchester, an intriguing and misunderstood woman.

Hi bats, ghouls, and nonbinary spirits! I hope you’re doing well. Okay, let’s talk about horror movies, particularly ones that take place earlier in the twentieth century or around the turn of the century. This bit of a rant was inspired when a fellow horror fan I know and respect says she doesn’t enjoy Gothic horror films. As someone whose favorite horror genre is Gothic, I was curious why, and she went on to say she didn’t like Woman in Black, but she liked Crimson Peak and The Others. Having seen all these films, I started to see the pattern, and it reminded me of what I disliked in Annabelle: Creation (which isn’t Gothic, but it has a similar issue I’ll address), and what seems to be an issue in Winchester, though, full disclosure, I am going by reviews, not my own viewing experience.

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Ambiguity in Writing: A Case Study of The Wailing

the wailing horror movie writingHello, spooky ones!

I recently watched The Wailing, a South Korean horror movie on Netflix directed by Na Hong-jin. It is a gripping movie that warrants a second watch after you’ve completed it. Described as a cross between Se7en and The Exorcist, the story revolves around a bumbling police officer, Jong-goo, who investigates people getting sick from supposedly digesting a supposed mushroom that makes them murder their loved ones while they progressively grow more aggressive and have sores and rashes covering their body. Meanwhile, the residents of Goksung (which means “the wailing”) suspect the illness or curse is caused by a Japanese stranger who arrived in town and allegedly raped a woman who then became sick and began showing up naked in public locations. The situation worsens when the officer’s daughter, Hyo-jin, begins to exhibit a strange personality shift, and the rash appears on her thigh.

Just to be clear, I highly recommend you watch the movie first because I am going to talk about the ending in great detail. Trust me, the runtime looks like a lot, but just when I thought the movie was ending, and there were about thirty minutes left, I was excited. I wanted the film to keep going. Also, I will discuss insinuations about sexual abuse and historical instances of widespread rape through coerced sex work. So, be careful.

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