Haunted by History in HIS HOUSE, LA LLORONA and SHE DIES TOMORROW, RESIDENT EVIL, Kindertrauma and More!
In this Issue:
- Horror History: Haunted by History in HIS HOUSE, LA LLORONA and SHE DIES TOMORROW
- Image of the Week: BEAST MASTER
- Tiny Bites – This Week’s Best Horror Headlines
- Things We Love: Eternally Yours
- Hey, That’s Us! – Shudder in the News
Haunted by History in HIS HOUSE, LA LLORONA and SHE DIES TOMORROW
In the last year, we have lived through a massive confluence of events. We can look back to the past and see how humanity has dealt with these issues before, whether it be the 1918 flu pandemic, the rise of fascism, or the cry for social justice from multiple communities. Yet, collectively, we continue to struggle to learn the lessons of the past with many believing themselves to be the exception rather than the rule.
While we all try to survive and make sense of our present state, three films have been released on streaming and VOD that depict reckonings with historical and personal pasts as well as public and private trauma in ways that directly speak to this moment. Remi Weekes’ His House, Jayro Bustamante’s La Llorona and Amy Seimetz’s She Dies Tomorrow all examine existential dread, dismantle the constructs that keep us chained to our past and challenge us to face our actions that contribute to the current climate.
In His House, Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) have escaped the war-torn South Sudan and are seeking asylum in the UK. When they are granted a trial period to see if they are some of the “good ones” by taking care of themselves and the government subsidized council house that they are told to live in, they soon discover that a malevolent force is in the house with them. In his debut feature, Weekes’ has crafted a nimble, effective and engaging horror film that functions on many levels. It grapples with the notion of the individual and our larger place in the world when that place is defined for you, not by you. Weekes tackles these issues using an asylum seeker narrative, geopolitical trauma and contrasts these narratives with confinement. What emerges when we are left alone with our pasts and our memories? Ultimately, in this context, His House explores our struggle to embrace our identities and inability to move forward until we accept the past.
La Llorona may be the most fitting, unintentional lockdown film that could have come out last year. When a Guatemalan dictator is confined to his home with his family because of protests due to his past war crimes, he and his family must confront his past actions which come back to haunt all of them within their gated mansion. La Llorona directly confronts privilege, class systems, the atrocities that a government can commit against its own people and how the sins of the parent become intergenerational trauma. The world for this family has stopped, the protests outside are stripping them of the power they once had and the ghostly figure of La Llorona is closer than they think.
If Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion provided a scientific blueprint for the last year, Amy Seimetz’s She Dies Tomorrow provides an emotional guide for our current state. A young woman named Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) knows she’s going to die tomorrow. This knowledge is literally contagious and passes on to other characters and the film follows their final days. The fears of contagion and death have been at the forefront of our collective realities for the last year. She Dies Tomorrow presents a chilling, sober, gut-wrenching look at our mortality and how we rely on our interconnectedness. We have been so isolated from each to keep those around safe but filled with knowledge that everything we do could have dire consequences. Seimetz makes death and the repercussions that come from it feel tangible in everyday lives which are infiltrated by a knowledge that the end is so much nearer than we think.
As the adage goes, no one is promised tomorrow. We don’t know what the next year, month, day, hour or minute will bring in These Times™. In these three films, characters are only able to move forward once they confront their horror. They must shed their expectations and exist in newly charted territories. These films are a reminder that our histories are never that far away from us and if we listen to the past and adopt its lessons, things could be different. There will be no return to the way things were before March 2020, nor should there be. We will be grappling with collective trauma, isolation and new ways of moving through the world for years to come. The world may not snap back to normal but there is an opportunity to change, if we heed the warnings of the ghosts that are all around us.
Alexandra West is the author of “Films of the New French Extremity” and “The 1990s Teen Horror Cycle” for McFarland Books. She co-hosts The Faculty of Horror podcast with Andrea Subissati.
IMAGE OF THE WEEK
We’re suckers for a great man-in-a-monster-suit creature, so of course we adore this behind the scenes look at how the practical FX masters at Stan Winston Studio created “Kothoga” for Peter Hyams’ 1997 creature feature, The Relic.
MORTAL KOMBAT, LAKE MUNGO, AND MORE
The Harvard Crimson looks at His House’s subversion of horror tropes and its exploration of emigration and trauma.
Empire explores the upcoming Halloween Kills’ themes of “community fear, paranoia, misinformation and crowd panic.”
Horror gamers rejoice! We have an official release date for Resident Evil: Village, a new trailer, and a demo of the upcoming installment.
We got a first look at the new R-rated Mortal Kombat…
Psycho Goreman director Steve Kostanski spoke to Entertainment Weekly about his top 5 sci-fi horror recommendations.
Elizabeth Moss spoke to The Wrap about the progression of her career and how she chooses roles like The Invisible Man and Shirley.
Collider wrote about the profoundly devastating Lake Mungo.
These 30 movies, a mix of kid-friendly horror and childhood classics, traumatized us as kids.
BuzzFeed proves that kids do, in fact, say the darndest and most terrifying things.
Dig into this comprehensive look at the costumes and production design from The Stand.
This piece breaks down 25 of horror’s most ridiculous tropes we can definitely do without.
THINGS WE LOVE
If your love is undying, celebrate it with this tarot-inspired “The Loves” necklace depicting skeletons joined in an eternal kiss. It’s from Montreal’s Sofia Zakia jewelry, which also features other tarot- and horror-inspired creations.