Category Archives: horror

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Season 1 (2018)

Hollywood has been presenting witchcraft in a breezy packaging with an attractive female lead at least since Elizabeth Montgomery famously portrayed Samantha Stephens in Bewitched. It’s a great way to sanitize a concept that has long been stigmatized in folklore and history. You know it’s an idea in which Hollywood is deeply invested because they keep repackaging it and selling it to you over and over as though it’s something totally new. Whether it’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Once Upon a Time or Charmed, Hollywood serves up variations on the theme every few years. While Samantha Stephens’ nose twinkle cast a spell on the American public for a respectable eight seasons, America’s most beloved teenage thaumaturge is arguably Sabrina Spellman. Beginning as a spinoff character from the Archie comics world of Riverdale High, Sabrina is a half-witch with dead parents who simultaneously tries to harness her power for good while keeping her necromantic pedigree on the down low. It’s an idea that would eventually make JK Rowling mountains of cash, but like most pop culture phenomena, the soil had already been tilled by some other archetype. In this case, it is quite likely Ms. Spellman. Never allowing a good property to go to waste, Hollywood’s deep state coterie over at Netflix have brought Sabrina back for a second time in the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Though I am unfamiliar with the Melissa Joan Hart version of the show which ran from 1996 to 2002, it’s pretty obvious that this is a much darker take on the character and story. Like way, way darker. Honestly, if I had a daughter who was at the age for whom this show is presumably targeted, I’d feel a bit reticent to allow her to watch.

The series portrays the days leading up to Sabrina’s 16th birthday which also happens to be her Dark Baptism. This ceremony would officially initiate her into the Church of the Night and allow her to begin her studies at the Academy of Unseen Arts. The problem is that she’d be required to forsake her life as a normal teenager and follow the path of witchcraft for eternity. This includes ditching beta retard boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle, her annoying black SJW friend, Rosalind Sinclair, and her equally annoying non-binary friend, Susie Putnam. If this already sounds like the makings of another Hollywood SJW shit sandwich, you’d be correct. It’s not pure cringe, but when it goes there, it’s pretty bad.

Did you put something in my soymilk, Brina?

Read The Bluest Eye and get #WOKE, bigots.

Use my correct pronouns or get hexed, bigots.

Oh, it’s just ritualistic cannibalism, Sabrina.

Rounding out the Spellman family are Miranda Otto’s aristocratic Aunt Zelda. She is offset by fat and quirky Aunt Hilda played by Lucy Davis. The Spellman clan also includes the warlock mortician cousin, Ambrose. Because it’s the Current Year, he’s been reinvented as a black pansexual. Other than providing a reason to craft storylines that involve racism, an excuse to throw in some gratuitous Crowleyan butt sex scenes, and make a veiled reference to Pan in every news story, this reinvention makes no sense. Granted, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is himself gay, but it doesn’t make me any less cynical about the character rewrite.

Sabrina is also tracked by the formerly dowdy and bookish, Miss Wardwell. She’s possessed by an entity in the first episode and transforms into a vampy Elvira knockoff who’s initially presented as a Church of the Night excommunicate charged with guiding Sabrina towards the coven life. We’ve also got a trio of bitchy Mean Girl witches who exist to taunt and torment Sabrina at the Academy of Unseen Arts. Tati Gabrielle plays the alpha queen and she’s accompanied by her subservient drones, Agatha and Dorcas.

Naturally, Sabrina rebels against her witch aunts, Hilda and Zelda, because she feels that Father Blackwood was disingenuous when he assured her that she’d be able to exercise her free will after swearing allegiance to the Dark Lord and signing the Book of the Beast. Essentially, the show is presenting a bizarre inversion of the standard coming of age morality tale. Instead of the stifling strictures of conventional Christianity and Western traditionalism, you are presented with a plucky teenager bucking the conventions of Satanic Orthodoxy. Sabrina’s “rebellion” consists of taking up her dead father’s mantle of Satanic Protestantism and finding a Third Way that will eventually culminate in a confrontation with Satan himself. She is allowed to continue her dual citizenship in the world of witchcraft and mortality on the condition that she attend the Academy of Unseen Arts. With her allegiances pulled in opposite directions, which way will our brave heroine turn?

Needless to say, the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is very heavy on the occultism. Very heavy. Admittedly, it is nearly impossible to find anything in the fantasy, horror or sci-fi realm which doesn’t feature occult themes and symbolism, but this one piles it on pretty thick. There’s nothing particularly occulted or hidden about it either. It’s as plain as it can be. Cannibalism, necromancy, blood sacrifice, sex magick, demonic possession, ritual abuse, Crowleyanism. The show’s acronym is itself a reference to chaos magick. You name it, this show has it. In terms of imagery, you’ve got the now ubiquitous Baphomet statue, tons of inverted crosses and pentagrams galore. Even the Latin incantations are 100% authentic. And remember, Marina Abramović said that occult magic wasn’t art when it was portrayed on television. So basically, you’re exposing yourself to true blue occultic invocations when watching CAOS. Fun for the whole family!

What’s especially insidious about CAOS is the manner in which it plays the wholesome source material against the dark themes and subject matter. As the titular character, Kiernan Shipka is likeable and attractive. Her affections for her boyfriend Harvey and her annoying SJW friends are convincing and endearing. She displays the requisite level of smarts and independence that make her a sympathetic lead for a youth oriented series. Conversely, the occultism is played with a comparably breezy tone while being pretty depraved.

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blueberry eyes…12 days until #caos

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There is, of course, the predictable bevy of progressive SJW clichés. The main difference between this and your standard issue Hollywood bullshit is that CAOS gives you a clear window into the hidden metaphysics of the SJW worldview. This may seem like a political agenda arbitrarily grafted onto an occult themed teenage drama, but these ideas are, in fact, tightly interwoven. The show is replete with what’s now a standard hostility toward men. The majority of the male characters are either beta retards like Harvey, abusive, insecure bullies or lecherous dolts. The seemingly rote anti-male bigotry makes more sense when it’s linked to colonial era witchhunters who were Harvey’s ancestors. Subsequently, Sabrina’s romance with him is even more heretical because she’s consorting with the progeny of witch killers. Bloodlines matter in the occult worldview, and the weight of genetic determinism weighs just as heavily on Harvey’s fate as it does Sabrina. Even the current push for veganism and animal rights is tied back to a pagan veneration of animals as familiars and spirit guides.

Susie Putnam’s presence in the story feels at first like another checkbox ticked on the #DIVERSITY list, but her androgyny makes more sense when seen through the lens of hermetic metaphysics. Susie is a living Baphomet. As Eliphas Lévi points out in Transcendental Magic, the Baphomet is the alchemical union of the male and female divine principle.

Moreover, the sign of occultism is made with both hands, pointing upward to the white moon of Chesed, and downward to the black moon of Geburah. This sign expresses the perfect concord between mercy and justice. One of the arms is feminine and other masculine, as in the Androgyne of Khunrath, whose attributes we have combined with those of our goat, since they are one and the same symbol.

All of this pales in comparison to the epic cringe of the social justice club formed by Sabrina and her friends early in the series, WICCA. Formed as a group whose ostensible goal is fighting the omnipresent scourge of bullying, WICCA stands for Women’s Intersectional Cultural and Creative Association. You don’t have to look very hard to find all the standard SJW pet issues championed by pagan organizations. You’d think the #WOKE intelligentsia would be happy that this show was merging paganism with social justice, but NOPE. It’s just not good enough. Never is, really. Mass media MUST ALWAYS redouble its efforts to push culture towards the singularity of mass wokegnosis.

The conclusion of the series was every bit as nonsensical and incoherent as the staged row between The Satanic Temple and the producers of the show over their usage of the Baphomet statue. In other words, there’s no real conflict at all. The reason you’re sympathetic to Sabrina is because she refuses to sell her soul to Satan by signing the Book of the Beast. Her devotion to her friends and her apparent instincts for a set of supposedly higher virtues created a necessary tension to propel the story. But if you think about it for two seconds, there’s no real growth arc at all. Despite her initial refusal of the Dark Baptism, she attends the Academy of Unseen Arts and deploys the most powerful magical incantations in witchcraft as an expression of her devotion to Harvey. After it all backfires, she ends up capitulating to the Dark Lord, but only so she can summon even more powerful magic to ward off the threat to Harvey and the citizens of Riverdale. So she becomes a sort of Satanic Savior, but she ends up ditching the life she initially wanted to keep. While we surely haven’t seen the last of Sabrina’s mortal friends, the writers have set up a future confrontation between her and Madam Satan and Father Blackwood’s antichrist progeny. As she does her triumphant slo-mo march through the lobby of the Academy of Unseen Arts with her Mean Girl witches at her side, we’re supposed to cheer the fulfillment of her Satanic destiny. After all, she’s decked out in her Rosemary’s Baby miniskirt and she looks soooo cute in her new platinum blonde bob. YYYAAASSSSS. SLAY KWEEN.

Do you even Left Hand Path, bro?

Whatever.

All of which brings us to a couple of key questions. For whom was this show intended and what did its writers intend to convey? It’s seemingly targeted at the 10 to 25 year old set. Sure, you could argue that the 18+ crowd will regard it as just another confection in the endless digital feeding tube of Hollywood degeneracy. But what about the ongoing coverage of witches in the media? If this is just harmless entertainment, why are we seeing witchcraft being covered so sympathetically in the media with increasing frequency? And what about the younger set that will surely gravitate towards it? Satanism and witchcraft is cool as long as you “do the right thing” and avoid the Crowleyan sex orgies and ritual cannibalism? Be super careful when engaging in necromancy? Being a Wiccan is totes #WOKE if you believe in #SocialJustice?

I’d be disingenuous if I claimed that I didn’t find the Satanic posturing and iconography of Slayer, Mötley Crüe and Venom wildly transgressive when I was a youth. I perceived it as an act though. I didn’t think they were really serious about any of it. It was an affectation meant to rankle the Tipper Gores and Pat Robertsons of the world. CAOS feels different. This is a bildungsroman. This is the story of a teenager forming the value system she’ll carry into adulthood. The message seems to be that Satanism and witchcraft is cool because it helps you to #RESIST and smash the patriarchy. Listen, I enjoyed my delusions of teenage rebellion when I listened to Dio, too. I get it. I’d like to think there’s room for that kind of thing in the adolescent pop culture diet. But there’s a reason conservatives and progressives have struggled for cultural supremacy. Politics are downstream from culture, and you need a set of metaphysics to make sense of the progressive civic religion. So you smuggle them into the arts and pass it off as cultural transgression despite the fact that there are no real standards or barriers that remain to be broken. The culture is already sufficiently debased so any bubbles of outrage can be played up as evidence of the stranglehold of the demiurge over the minds of the population. And CAOS is here to tear it all down! The problem with the orthodoxy of progressivism is that the transgression threshold must be routinely demolished in order to even register on anyone’s outrage meter. Subsequently, the inverted cross on Ozzy Osbourne’s Diary of a Madman album cover is just a quaint memory that dads like to bring up when they romanticize their youthful rebellion. Call me old fashioned, but I see a difference between a metal song about Aleister Crowley and a vivid portrait of ritualistic cannibalism that’s linked to Thelemic scripture. Since that’s the new threshold for transgression, can we really be certain that everyone watching will empathize with Sabrina’s revulsion? Especially since outlets like Vice are promoting the idea that cannibalism is edgy and cool. If this represents the the new standard for teenage rebellion, I’m not sure I want to see where this leads.

Help! I can’t keep track of my MK alters!

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Mandy (2018)

If you liked Panos Cosmatos’ retro-futurist sci-fi/horror mind trip, Beyond the Black Rainbow, you’ll absolutely love his follow up film, Mandy. Even if you didn’t, Mandy is for you if you want the cinematic equivalent of a Black Sabbath collaboration with Lustmord. Equal parts surrealist Lynchian fever dream and low budget Clive Barkeresque phantasmagoria, Mandy is a heavy metal laden tour de force of postmodern pastiche. Its status as a modern cult classic is guaranteed. When a film features “Starless” by King Crimson over the opening sequence, you know you’re watching a movie that’s swinging for the fences.

Plot wise, Mandy is a fairly straightforward revenge fantasy that’s a grittier arthouse analogue to the gothic industrial urban fantasy portrayed in The Crow. Similar in tone to the foreboding mysticism of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Valhalla Rising, the effectiveness of the film lies in Cosmatos’ expert pacing, psychedelic visuals, brooding soundtrack and ever escalating aura of cosmic doom. Like his prior film, Mandy is also loaded with esoteric symbolism.

As Red Miller, Nicolas Cage adds yet another iconic performance to an already eclectic and celebrated body of work. Is it his best? I don’t know, but it’s a supremely entertaining performance and he inhabits it with all of his Cagey charm. As he shared in an interview with Empire Magazine, Cage will go the extra mile to ensure that a performance has the right….spirit. There are at least a couple scenes which belong on a Cage career retrospective highlight reel. Miller is a lumberjack somewhere in what we presume to be the Pacific Northwest who lives a peaceful life of seclusion with his girlfriend, Mandy. In the titular role, Andrea Riseborough channels an equally iconic metalhead chick who is both an accomplished illustrator and avid fantasy novel reader. In her two pivotal scenes, she’s wearing a vintage Mötley Crüe pentagram shirt and Black Sabbath shirt from the Never Say Die period. Like Quentin Tarantino, Cosmatos is both attentive to detail and explicit about his sources of inspiration.

I wonder if Nic Cage is into the occult.

The film contains a lot of occult symbolism, and one of the most significant ideas is revealed during an intimate moment between Red and Mandy. Mandy asks Red to name his favorite planet, and he confesses that Saturn is his favorite. This foreshadows Red’s supernatural rampage to come and casts the overall story arc in a distinctly Gnostic light. Within the Western esoteric tradition, Saturn has a myriad of associations with Yaldabaoth the demiurge, the Lord of Time and Death, the black cube, the devourer of children and the dominion of this world. Even the bedroom in which they sleep resembles a black cube.

Mandy is also reading a book called Seeker of the Serpent’s Eye. It’s a fake book, but it sounds like something that could have been written by Michael Moorcock or Robert E. Howard. As we hear Riseborough’s voice over, the film cuts over to an animated segment that’s a double layered reference to the 1981 classic, Heavy Metal. We see a naked woman who extracts a green orb from the corpse of some fallen creature. The green orb is the Serpent’s Eye, but it’s also a reference to the mysterious Loch-Nar that was the embodiment of all evil in the universe. I suspect this also ties into the reference to the demon Abraxas that will occur later in the film.

Under the crimson primordial sky a wretched warlock reached into the dark embrace. His fist closed around the serpent’s eye, strange and eternal. It glowed from within, strange and eternal.

Miller reads as a Gen X-er who has chosen a simple life over the materialistic rat race that was ushered in by the Reagan administration. As he drives home from a job, we hear Reagan delivering a homily which extols traditional American pieties. Miller promptly switches off the radio. I believe this was meant to be read as a boilerplate rejection of American conservatism and strip mall Christianity, but given how the rest of the film unfolds, I think the film can be interpreted more broadly as Gen X meting out a brutal vengeance against the false utopianism and plastic idealism of the Boomer generation.

Their life is torn asunder when a hippie Jesus freak cult discovers Mandy taking a walk through a normally untraveled country road. As the leader of Children of the New Dawn, Linus Roache’s Jeremiah Sand is a captivating amalgam of Charles Manson, Jim Jones, and David Koresh. Using a perfect combination of slow motion, colored filters, and a doom laden soundscape, Cosmatos imbues this meeting with a menace and dread that you don’t encounter often enough in contemporary horror.

Though they are properly viewed as a representation of cults like the Children of God, the Process Church of the Final Judgment, or the Branch Davidians, Children of the New Dawn will be seen simply as a proxy for all of Christianity for most viewers. For the average person who watches Mandy, they’ll see no distinction between Jeremiah Sand, Pope Francis, Joel Osteen, Billy Graham or John Hagee. At the end of day, the theological distinctions between these individuals may be negligible, but the fact that this film can present such a lurid caricature of Christianity and get away with it says quite a bit about how effectively Hollywood has both hastened and capitalized on the decrepit state of the Christian church in America.

Jeremiah is obsessed with claiming Mandy as a new concubine/disciple so he summons Ned Dennehy’s Brother Swan to his side. “You know what to do,” he says as they exchange a knowing look. Sand asks if he has the Horn of Abraxas and Brother Swan offers a smile of reassurance. He sends Brother Swan on his way and then summons the mind controlled Sister Lucy to his room for ritual abuse.

Brother Swan drives to a clearing in the forest with his dimwitted lackeys in tow. He walks into the field and pulls out what appears to be an ocarina. With a name like the Horn of Abraxas, you expect something like what Tibetan monks play, but the ghostly melody that emanates from the instrument is sufficiently creepy. Up until this scene, Cosmatos has been skirting the edge of reality, but this is the point when it tips over the edge into madness. After Brother Swan admonishes his dimwitted lackeys to shut up and wait, a demonic biker gang that looks like leftovers from the Hellraiser universe emerges from the forest. Astride very loud motorcycles and ATV’S and decked out in infernal, post-apocalyptic bondage gear, you just know some bad shit is going down. Their entrance alone is one of the film’s best scenes and reveals Cosmatos’ visual panache. Upon their arrival, Brother Swan offers a jar filled with a gelatinous substance that’s some kind of highly concentrated LSD paste which will figure prominently in subsequent events.

Mandy is abducted and Red is bound with barbed wire. Before she is brought before Jeremiah, she is dosed with LSD and intentionally stung with some nasty looking giant insect. In a parallel of Beyond the Black Rainbow, Mandy presents a charismatic hippie-esque cult leader who uses drugs to seduce and control his subjects and to artificially enhance his promises salvation and spiritual liberation. I believe both films open a window of insight into experiences and events which shaped Cosmatos’ worldview. Since drug induced mind control is a prominent theme in both films, the question over whether these experiences involved mere observation or his own trauma and emotional distress is an open one.

As she is escorted into their inner sanctum, she’s wearing the 44 jersey we see on Miller in the film’s opening. IMDB claims this is either a reference to Reggie Jackson, Mark Twain or serial killer, David Berkowitz, but I suspect it’s a Crowley reference. In chapter 44 of the Book of Lies, there is a ritual called the Mass of the Phoenix. The ritual calls for the consumption of a “cake of light” which includes bodily fluids. Nothing resembling this cake is eaten, but I suspect Mandy herself is the cake of light. Both Miller and Sand represent two different but pure expressions of the Luciferian ethos of Do What Thou Wilt. This above all else appears to be the film’s overriding message.

Sand is modeled after Manson, and like Manson, Sand is a failed musician who uses music as a method of mind control. In yet another Cosmatos masterstroke, Jeremiah pulls out a vinyl record of his own music which features an original folk prog track called “Amulet of the Weeping Maze” that sounds like an outtake from Jon Anderson’s Olias of Sunhillow. Sand hoped that the drugs and the music would elicit the feelings of ecstatic reverence that it apparently inspired in his flock, but Mandy’s reaction was not the one for which he hoped. For the transgression of humiliating Sand, Mandy is subjected to a horrific execution while Red is forced to watch. Cage channels a level of emotional anguish that’s pretty wrenching.

From this point forward, Mandy takes on a supernatural, post-apocalyptic fantasy horror vibe. The film suggests that the drugs aren’t just tools for mind control, but are a simultaneously a portal into other dimensions, a source of superhuman strength and a conduit for demonic hallucinations. After Sand and his minions leave him in his state of despair and trauma, Miller frees himself from his barbed wire bondage and sets out to exact his revenge. He takes on the quality of a superhuman, Saturnian dark avenger.

Red seeks out the one man who can supply him with the weapons of vengeance he needs, and that man is named Caruthers. He is played with the slow burn gravitas of Bill Duke, and he evinces the steely cool of a man who is completely comfortable with the idea of taking a life. It’s a vibe that one gets from quite a few actors in Hollywood, and it makes you wonder whether or not it’s acting. After acquiring a crossbow from Caruthers, Mandy goes completely batshit as we suddenly find Miller in a metal forge. In what is by far the film’s greatest scene, we are treated to Nicolas Cage in mirrored shades making a battle axe by hand from molten steel. This scene is worth the price of admission all by itself. Besides being an utterly outrageous weapon, it’s also intentionally shaped like the ‘F’ in the Celtic Frost logo. Since Celtic Frost famously featured Giger artwork on their album To Mega Therion, I believe this is another meta-reference to Crowley.

Armed with his mythical Luciferian battle axe, Red ingests the LSD paste and sets out on his quest for retribution. We’re treated to some brutal combat scenes mixed with dollops of black humor. Just when you think the Celtic Frost battle axe couldn’t be topped, Cosmatos scores another victory of sheer excess by giving us a chainsaw duel. After dispatching the demonic bikers and delivering a gruesome comeuppance to Brother Swan, Miller’s bloody trail of corpses finally leads him to the Temple of the Children of the New Dawn.

The Order of the Trapezoid.

The film concludes with the inevitable confrontation between Miller and Sand, but Cosmatos sets it up with a long march through torchlit tunnels and grinding doom fanfare that is completely epic. You’re rooting for Miller, but what Cosmatos is ultimately serving up is just another serving of black hearted negation and nihilism. The Luciferian dark avenger vanquishes the corrupt Jesus cult leader. The penultimate vision of the film is seeing the chapel crucifix burn as the triangular A-frame is engulfed in flames. It’s tempting to think Cosmatos was showing us that the god of the Children of the New Dawn was actually Satan in first place. But I don’t think that’s what he was saying. There’s a vague sense of cosmic justice being delivered, but it mostly feels like he wants to revel in the smug satisfaction of watching his Christian straw man get crushed and burned. There’s nothing wrong with art that’s a descent into the abyss, but when that idea comprises most of the messaging coming out of Hollywood, it feels a tad malevolent and misanthropic. Don’t get me wrong. This film is among the finest of its kind, and if you have any appetite for what Cosmatos is serving, this film is unparalleled.

The author wishes to thank Eddie for offering his deep insight on the symbolism contained in this film.

Get Out (2017)

So you say you want to see The Stepford Wives repurposed to accommodate the latest #WOKE narratives around white privilege and white supremacy? Look no further, identity politics addicts! Get Out is here to confirm every current political narrative, every ideological bias, reinforce your racial self-loathing AND vicariously satisfy your murderous revenge fantasies! Idiotic, predictable, and supremely hateful, Get Out is one of the most vile examples of contemporary racial politics I’ve yet witnessed. Despite being the villains, the film is mostly geared for smug progressives who take Buzzfeed privilege quizzes seriously, retweet Tim Wise, think gender studies is a legitimate field of knowledge and have one or more #Blacklivesmatter merchandise items prominently displayed. The type of p*rsxn who thinks microaggressions are a thing and genuinely gets zer panties in a twist over the usage of #AllLivesMatter. Based on some of the responses in #WOKE Twitter, it apparently served its purpose of stoking the racial animosity industry which doesn’t exist for blacks cuz white institutional power and shit.

Black people can’t be racist. So STFU. Take some critical race theory, racist.

The premise is very straightforward and there’s not a single real surprise to be found. Daniel Kaluuya plays smart, handsome, upwardly mobile photographer, Chris Washington. As Rose Armitage, the utterly charmless, vapid and detestable Allison Williams is perfectly cast as his seemingly #WOKE, sensitive, totally-not-racist girlfriend who has taken every article from Everyday Feminism to heart. They’re presumably in love and getting ready to spend a weekend with her parents. UH OH! GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER, AMIRITE? DO THEY KNOW???? “Oh, don’t worry,” assures Rose. “My dad would’ve voted for Obama for a third term.” GOT THAT, #RACISTS? THEY THINK THEY’RE TOTALLY NOT RACIST. BECAUSE THINKING YOU’RE NOT RACIST JUST PROVES THAT YOU’RE RACIST. IF YOU’RE WHITE, YOU’RE A RACIST, RACIST! With this current article of faith firmly established, it’s merely a matter of waiting to see which phantasmogoric manifestation of racial malevolence surfaces.

Peak #WOKENESS?

It’s as though there’s a recurring theme.

Could it be that the media has….an agenda???

When they arrive at the Armitage estate, Chris is taken aback by the presence of black servants whose behavior is strangely vacant. Bradley Whitford’s Dean Armitage tries to reassure Chris that he’s totally-not-racist by affirming his wish for a third Obama term just like Rose said. Dinner time brings some additional tension when Rose’s unhinged, nutbag brother asks a few too many uncomfortable questions and initiates an awkward invitation to wrestle. Chris’ unease heightens as as his attempts at conversation with the servants only reinforce his concern that something is deeply wrong here. The tension reaches a crescendo during an outdoor party in which all of the Armitage’s rich, effete liberal aristocrat friends are in attendance. Every performance is a cringey stereotype of shallow cosmopolitanism. Chris is relieved to find another black guest, but is taken aback yet again upon discovering that he exhibits the same vacant mannerisms as the servants. He attempts a parting fist bump, but OH SNAP THE DUDE GRABS HIS FIST INSTEAD. A REAL BROTHA WOULD HAVE RETURNED THE CULTURAL GESTURE. When Chris returns to his room, he bugs out completely when he discovers that the charger cord on his phone has been disconnected yet again. WILL CHRIS ESCAPE THIS #RACIST PRISON OF RICH, WHITE LIBERAL PROGRESSIVES?????

To be perfectly fair, there is some deeper subtext pertaining to the dissolution of the black family and the deleterious effect it’s had on black culture. Catherine Keener plays the matriarch of the Armitage family and possesses the ability to induce hypnosis on the black victims. While under hypnosis, Chris finds himself imprisoned in a psychic netherworld called The Sunken Place. She exploits Chris’ guilt over a childhood trauma he experienced losing his single mother. Naturally, we have another well adjusted black male who grew up with a single mother and no father. Besides being a subtle reference to the MK ULTRA mind control program, the Sunken Place could have been explored further as a metaphor for debased state of the black family. Now before you post that Mother Jones article preaching against spreading hate facts about single mothers, the data reveals overwhelmingly negative effects for black children growing up with single mothers. The Armitage family can be seen as an archetypal legacy of white progressive elites which stretches back to Margaret Sanger through Lyndon Johnson and up to Hillary Clinton who’ve wrought vast destruction on the black population.

If there is a genuine criticism of institutional racism in the film, the entire legacy of progressive legislation from Jim Crow to the Great Society to the 1994 Crime Bill must be put on trial. Filmmaker Jordan Peele claims that the film was meant as a poke in the eye at white, middle-class liberal elites. Fair enough. That’s an admirable aim and a deserving target, but ultimately, I doubt that anyone came out of the theater thinking about anything other than the evil, racist white man.

The film also does some particularly idiotic cheerleading for the TSA. LilRel Howery plays Chris’ best friend, Rod Williams, and he brings his suspicions of foul play to the authorities. He lays out his concern that a rich, white family is responsible for the abduction of his best friend. They laugh off his allegations (HAHAHA! WHITE PRIVILEGE, AMIRITE?) and Rod is left to investigate his friend’s disappearance on his own. As TSA gropefests make the news on a regular basis, it’s as though the filmmakers were intentionally stoking the racial animosity so that they could sneak in sympathy for a frequently embarrassing and increasingly intrusive government agency.

There is something deeply depressing, nihilistic and slightly malevolent about this film. It’s a film which could have been so much more surgical about connecting racism to policy outcomes presumably aimed at improving life for the black community. It could have addressed the Left’s absolute refusal to discuss things like fatherlessness, values or IQ. Instead, it was content to take a worthy target and exploit the narrative du jour. It felt like the goal was just to have progressives walk out engaging in another circle jerk of postmodern smugness. OMG! SO GOOD AND SO TRUE! THE FACT THAT WE CAN CHEER A MOVIE PORTRAYING WHITES AS RACIST VILLAINS PROVES WE’RE NOT RACIST! AND NOW WE’RE GOING TO GO TO A DECOLONIZING WORKSHOP TO PURGE OURSELVES OF OUR TOXIC WHITENESS! Could you make this very same film in which you reversed the race of the two leads? Of course you couldn’t. The Left have abandoned any notion of holding people to equal standards. They’re hypocrites and cowards who only want to construct a cultural panopticon filled with recursive loops of confirmation bias designed for the sole purpose of engineering a self-reinforcing consensus of pure ideological conformity. Make no mistake, they are actively engaged in the business of reshaping language and culture. By dominating media and the entire education apparatus, they’re constructing one-sided cultural narratives that are impervious to scrutiny, debate or facts. Racism is EXCLUSIVELY a phenomenon of the white race through the postmodern magic of “historical and institutional power”. Get Out is just the latest escalation of the Left’s cultural hegemony of boundless nihilism and obnoxious cynicism. Naturally, the critical echo chamber is gushing with praise. They’re already pushing it on Academy voters. I’m sure it’ll be Best Picture at next year’s Oscars.

China Miéville: Perdido Street Station

If you have a taste for horror, fantasy, science fiction or just some virtuosic off-the-chain weirdness, pick up this book immediately.  Mr. Miéville has described his work as “new weird” and though it’s kind of dumb, I suppose it’ll have to do. What he’s doing feels new and original even if the influences are clearly evident. This is a next level genre mashup.

Squalid, gothic urban hellscape?  Check. Avian, insectoid and cactus humanoids? Yup. Bio-engineered mutants? Uh huh. A ghastly crime lord which would make Lovecraft squirm? Yes. A band of heroes embroiled in a tale of political intrigue trying to stave off apocalyptic doom? Got it. Dream eating moths which defecate psychotropic dung? Of course. Gonzo physics, chemistry, artificial intelligence, magic and some crazy shit about crisis energy? Sure. A dimension hopping spider which spews opaque riddle poems? Covered. Sentient mechagod which animates itself with junk from a scrapyard and speaks through a rotting corpse avatar? Got that too. Enough gruesome carnage to satisfy a rabid gorehound? Oh yeah.

Miéville’s imagination and storytelling gifts are dazzling. Perdido Street Station is overflowing with strange, vividly rendered characters and ideas. It’s the kind of material you could imagine being adapted for Heavy Metal. The cinematic detail Miéville brings to the world of Bas-Lag and New Crobuzon deserves special mention. The city is a character in and of itself and Mr. Miéville has succeeded in creating a fantasy cityscape which is simultaneously grand and squalid. 

Thematically, this book is essentially a meditation on choices and the impact our choices have on others. To a certain degree, it is also about the pursuit of individuality and the price you pay for that pursuit. Mr. Miéville’s politics are hamfisted, naïve, and cartoonish, but I’m not going to withhold my recommendation because it is such a flat out tour de force. Miéville is a self-professed Marxist, and he always manages to find ways to portray entrepreneurs and the pursuit of profit as morally degenerate. It’s dumb and predictable, but his novels are so good, it shouldn’t be a deterrence.

The Green Inferno (2013)

When a film stirs controversy, you must first consider who’s pissed off by it or trying to manufacture the illusion that their film is stirring controversy. Broadly speaking, you can tell which films are truly subversive based on whether they affirm establishment narratives or defy them.  For example, in the case of the Ghostbusters remake, it was patently obvious that establishment media went out of its way to portray criticism of the film as irrational, hate filled backlash instead of reasonable people who saw it as another lazy, opportunistic exercise in social justice revisionism desperately trying to be edgy gender swapping. On the other hand, if the criticism is directed towards the film itself and includes accusations of “racism”, “sexism” or “misogyny”, chances are good that it’s pissing off the right people and is probably genuinely subversive in one way or another. The Green Inferno is most definitely in the latter category and is a giant middle finger held gleefully aloft at the current trend toward Hollywood social justice activism and political correctness. 

Most films made these days have a political editorial of one form or another, and anyone who thinks that horror is just pure exploitation isn’t giving the genre enough credit. Horror has the potential to deliver a biting commentary that other genres can’t touch, and The Green Inferno is one of the finest exemplars of this phenomenon. Needless to say, the entire film is a giant piss take on social justice activism and social justice warriors, but it succeeds so brilliantly because it attends to the twin mandates of good filmmaking: tell a good story and respect the tradition to which your film belongs. 

The Green Inferno is a variant of the cannibal-horror genre which tells the story of social justice activists who set out to save a Peruvian tribe and things go horribly wrong. Horribly, terribly wrong. It undoubtedly draws inspiration from films like Cannibal Holocaust, but the fun of The Green Inferno is all in the setup and the ultimate payoff. 

The victims in horror films in the slasher genre meet their inevitable demise at the hands of the killer generally for exhibiting an excess of stupidity, hubris, or naïveté. This simple storytelling hook can give the filmmaker ample opportunity to comment on any social or political phenomenon he pleases. In this film, Eli Roth uses this device to maximum effect.  

When the film opens, we are introduced to college student protagonists, Justine and Kaycee.  After leaving a class where they are horrified to discover female genital mutilation practices in African and Middle Eastern countries, the roommates pass by a group of social justice warriors agitating for free health insurance. From the thrift store garments to the dumb slogans to the mindless fist pumping chants, Roth invokes the stereotypical AnCom/Bernie Sanders/OWS/Greenpeace leftist douchebag perfectly. Justine catches the eye of charismatic leader, Alejandro, but Kaycee snaps her out of her hypnosis and warns her not to get involved with guys like him.  They leave the scene of the protest with Kaycee contemptuously pronouncing the activists “gay”. 

Justine receives an invitation to join the activists from one of Alejandro’s amiable but vacant underlings who hands her a flyer which appropriately reads “ACT! Don’t think”.  Justine attends the meeting, but is immediately expelled for the insolent microaggression of speaking out of turn and triggering everyone in the group. She is eventually invited back because Alejandro is intent on working his faux-Che Guevara routine all the way into her pants. In the second meeting, Alejandro sets up the gambit. Go to Peru, prevent the evil corporation from destroying the habitat and indigenous tribe by strapping themselves to bulldozers, transmit the incident to social media, attract global sympathy and government support, and everyone goes down in #hxstory. Justine is sold. She ignores the warnings of her bigwig UN lawyer father after taking his money, and joins her merry band of SJWs on the flight to the rainforests of Peru to Change the World®. 

Roth smuggles in little pieces of editorial at unexpected moments. When discussing the details of their plans, Alejandro reminds them that the militia protecting the company assets will be armed.  One of the activists suggests that they get their own guns so they can protect themselves. In a typical leftist fashion, Alejandro torpedoes the idea and says that their cellphones will save them and if any one of them is greased, then they’ll just have to kill all of them. Ain’t collectivism grand, proles?  

The activists pull off their little stunt, but Justine barely escapes with her life after she’s threatened at gunpoint by one of the militia. Justine is appalled to learn that Alejandro was willing to allow her to die if it came down it. He confesses that he didn’t really give a shit about the cause or the tribe, and that they were just paid by a competing firm to give the company bad press. Hello, George Soros and MoveOn.org. The activists are basking in the glory of their social media fame when the plane’s engine sputters and begins plummeting into the jungle. The crash sequence is brilliantly executed and truly harrowing. The pilot is impaled in the skull, the cabin splits in half and dumps half of the passengers on to the jungle floor.  Once on the ground, they think things can’t get worse, but soon discover that their troubles have only just begun. The remaining activists are tranquilized by blow darts and imprisoned by the indigenous tribe they set out to save in the first place.  

This is where the film kicks into overdrive. Roth takes obvious pleasure in violating PC taboos and doesn’t pass up a single opportunity.  The biggest of which was the casting of the indigenous tribe themselves. You won’t have to search too hard to find some irritating Puritan bitching about “racism” or some other comparably idiotic whinging. This casting choice is a masterstroke and lends the film a feeling of authenticity that makes the film truly terrifying. The tribe wastes no time picking out their first victim, and they choose the poor bastard who brought Justine into the fold. It’s some brutal shit. I realize there’s plenty of gruesome stuff out there these days, but this is a pretty rough scene.  

And it doesn’t stop after the butchery is over. The tribe then prepares the human parts for a tribal feast!  It’s disgusting, but utterly outrageous all at once. 

Roth doesn’t limit himself to grand guignol; he pushes the boundaries of gender correctness, too. In another scene, the female leader of the tribe inserts a giant talon up the vagina of each of the female captives to test for virginity. He draws out the tension by allowing you to experience how terrified each of the women are.  That’s right. Women expressing actual fear. It’s exactly the kind of scene that’s drawn the ire of feminists and culture cops for years, but the thing the Puritans fail to grasp is that seeing a woman fear for her life is, in fact, horrifying. And it’s especially transgressive when the contemporary orthodoxy mandates that women be portrayed as physically stronger, smarter, and more capable than men.

The remainder of the film is a race for survival and ends with an unexpected twist which hints at the possible beginning of a franchise. 

The Green Inferno is a nasty little horror film that achieves exactly what it should by mixing a genuinely scary premise with black humor and attitude to spare. It’s not completely out of line to point out that there are echoes of Herzog here as well. The jungle itself is very much a character in the film and there’s little doubt that Roth and company were cribbing from Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo just as much as Cannibal Holocaust. Roth and company achieved their ambitions with this film.  He deserves credit for his ambition and for being unafraid to piss off people who deserve every bit of ridicule he dishes. 

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