The Sixth Sense

True Detective

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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IntroGhostRevenge

When you think about it, the film Ghost has the exact same plot as your average supernatural horror film. It’s about a wronged spirit haunting a former lover through possession and manipulation, only to provoke and carry out gruesome revenge on those who wronged him. The only difference is that we watch horror movies from the side of the haunted, and not the one doing the haunting. Also, there sadly tends to be much less romantic pottery making. Here’s a handful of spooks who, like Swayze, totally were in the right.

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thesixthsense1999720pbr

Less than two years ago, scientists at UC San Diego made the “discovery” that spoilers don’t matter. Not only did they find that stories aren’t ruined by knowing the ending but that people prefer stories when they know the ending. That sounded like hogwash to a lot of us, and to a degree the study was faulted. For one thing, it doesn’t really apply to anything but short stories, as that’s the only medium employed. And on top of that, these short stories weren’t of much significance to the participating subjects. The people weren’t invested in the stories, which makes a huge difference according to a more in-depth look at spoilers in a new article at The Atlantic. Change the studied medium to a series finale of a TV show the subjects had been watching for years (or at least many seasons’ worth of episodes), and you’ll surely see different results. Even then, there are always a number of factors to consider. One thing the UCSD study got correct, not that it was a revelation, is that good storytelling throughout is more important than plot, especially a plot’s conclusion. That is what matters most to enjoyment, regardless of the medium, and what makes us return to certain stories over and over. But if you consider the way we relate to stories, the return to some works can also be more akin to revisiting our past, thinking back on a memory or watching an old home movie. Even if you’re re-reading […]

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Culture Warrior

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Cabin in the Woods Carol J. Clover‘s 1992 book Men, Women, and Chainsaws was one of the rare academic books to become a hit amongst a larger, dedicated movie-going public. The book introduced the term “final girl” (the virginal “good” female who often becomes the final victim or lone survivor at during the final act of a horror film) into the zeitgeist, and it’s an idea that seems so obvious, and is so pervasive throughout the genre, that the fact that a similar term had never been popularized before was simply confounding. It’s also the central organizing conceit to Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods, the most overt act of genre deconstruction to enter multiplexes in quite some time. The final girl does not emerge in Cabin as it does in its normal generic form (as a narrative inevitability, a cliché), but rather Clover’s coined conceptualization of “the final girl” encompassingly structures the film – it is the critique of generic conceit, rather than the routine employment of a generic norm, that acts as Cabin’s narrative impetus.

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M. Night Shyamalan

When M. Night Shyamalan join the world of Twitter, I immediately thought, “This guy’s going to get slaughtered.” So far, it hasn’t been a slaughter, but neither has it been the warmest of welcomes. Right when it became aware the divisive director – and a director I still like, The Last Airbender and The Happening notwithstanding – the twist jokes came. So. Many. Twist. Jokes.

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Culture Warrior

This editorial features some spoilers for Hanna and Kick-Ass. Consider yourself warned. In preparation for this post I ran a quick Internet search on child assassins and found this video from New York Magazine. While I wasn’t promised a video exclusively on child assassins here, and instead got something that explores the notion of child killers at large, this video conflates two categories of child killers that I think deserve remarkably different types of consideration. The great majority of killings performed by children in this video are from horror movies. From Rosemary’s Baby to The Omen to The Brood to Firestarter to the other Omen and beyond, the child/killer is an exhaustively repeated horror trope to the point of cliche (and is often confused with the simple overlapping category of “scary children,” like in The Shining and The Sixth Sense). But every so often a child-killer horror film comes along that works in line with the formula (The Children, anyone? Bueller? Okay, how about Let Me In?), reminding us why child killers still have the capacity to be engrossing and entertaining even if they’ve lost the ability to be outright horrifying: because they play on our society’s veneration of childhood innocence, replacing the ignorant bliss of childhood with benevolent, malicious intent to do harm to the much taller individuals that surround them. But child assassins are quite different from the overall category of child killers. And while two recent films in two subsequent spring movie seasons that feature child assassins, […]

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The release of Catfish, a movie that will cause you to be beaten to death by the internet if you even mention its name, brings to mind a few movies of the recent past that we couldn’t talk about. These films were more than just big twists. They were entire experiences that audiences, in rare form, decided were too incredible to spoil for anyone. It seems we’re getting farther and farther away from that here in the Information Age, but Catfish (whether or not the hype is deserved) is a great reminder of films that gained mystique because you “had to see them for yourself.” Here are a few of those films.

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Culture Warrior

I argued in a Culture Warrior article last year that bad films give audiences a degree of power and authority over the enormous and intricate machinations of filmmaking – in other words, that in an industry so large, with so many levels of production and with such a complex process from inception to completion, for a work of incompetence to somehow arise is an instance of seemingly impossible serendipity. Bad films are more believably possible – and come about, arguably, more often – through the process of independent filmmaking, a venue where resources may be limited but accountability may be absent altogether. Thus, a masterpiece of incompetence like Tommy Wiseau’s The Room is likely if not inevitable when there are significant sources of funding provided by a first-time feature director who doesn’t know the first thing about narrative storytelling, much less the difference between 35mm and HD cameras – or Troll 2, in which a language barrier also provided a barrier to competent filmmaking.

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The twist ending is a difficult thing to perfect. Attempting such an ending runs many risks. For one, if the twist occurs with the natural trajectory of the story, the impact of the twist can be lessened for the spectator if they accurately guess it along the way. Perhaps more commonly, twist endings simply don’t work most of the time – more often than not, they come across as cheap, insincere attempts at making the spectator think they have experienced a more intelligent film than they actually have…

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This week’s Culture Warrior is getting its bunker ready for Y2K.

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Cinematic Creepy Children

There is nothing creepier than small children. Except clowns. Oh, crap, what if someone makes a horror film featuring child-clowns? We’d be screwed, but until that frightful day, these are the Ten Creepiest Children in Film.

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The Happening

Yesterday Josh Radde reminded us that M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening will be hitting theaters this Friday along with The Incredible Hulk. Josh, who gave you permission to talk about that which we do not speak of?

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