En – First Part: the horror in the times of Stranger Things


Published on Oct 21, 2017


The split between arthouse and horror blockbuster horror film in the last years is becoming more and more clear, contrary to what is happening on the border that separates cinema and television, which is getting thinner day by day.

The cinema lagging behind that of the housewife, and the number of many tickets at the box office decreases with the increase of the subscriptions to the streaming services on demand (in the USA, in the summer of 2017, was the most arid of the last ten years from the point of view of box office): to stay abreast of new rules of the narrative dictated by television, Hollywood imbastisce sagas that last the decades (Marvel/DC), to relaunch the franchise (Dark Universe/Monster Universe, the plasma universe narrative original (James Wan and the Conjuring Universe) or relies on the remake. Stuff that has to do with the products the ’80s, most of the time, so you can leverage on what ultimately is the final factor nostalgia” (exploded with Stranger Things, but born much before with the underrated but highly successful Super 8 J. J. Abrams).

The world of entertainment, in essence, is changing at a speed very high and above all constant, and the horror genre (the most overused in the history of cinema, because it is generally less expensive and less restrictive from the point of view of the artistic/creative) is dividing into two currents, more and more clear and distinct: there is the arthouse, contemplative, intellectually stimulating, and deeply disturbing (A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, It Follows, Under the Skin, The Witch, Raw, The Neon Demon, It Comes At Night)generally served at the festival and applauded by the critics but weak from the point of view of commercial success (which is not necessarily a bad thing, since most of these films from a very reduced budget that often is much less balanced); then there is the blockbuster, made to jump-scare in a sequence, and rooms full of people, boxes of pop-corn, jumping, screaming ridacchianti and collections of mind-boggling that make the fortune of the majors.

So here is the great puzzle of the film industry horror contemporary: split sound between the artistic and the commercial is inserted in the broader context of cinema v television, film v saga episodic, short story v novel.

En Andrés Muschietti exits in a period of history (cinematic and otherwise) of great change and uncertainty, and the largest value of production by Warner Bros, is to try to be many things at once (a bit like the shape-shifting Pennywise): it is a remake but it should be for his own account, is a blockbuster, but with elements of arthouse cinema, because it is a stand-alone movie, with its themes, its atmosphere, its narrative arcs, but it is also television, because it refers to the next episode, which will necessarily address other issues and to propose new narrative arcs.

The film is not a masterpiece of horror and not comes even close to this status, even during the sequences the most successful, but it is definitely a masterpiece is the way in which Muschietti combines the typical atmosphere horrific moments more sweet, relaxed and dramatic: if the tv movie by Tommy Lee Wallace, he is mainly remembered for Tim Curry, the strong point of this remake is not so much Bill Skarsgård (his Pennywise the demonic and the most faithful to the novel, King is the spiritual son of the Clown, with Jon Watts), as the Club of Losers.

Every single child actor is perfect in their own part, and all are explained on duty (but Mike is a bit overlooked: James Bond color is fine, but if it is then we forget the characters are african-american ...) and it is impossible not to become attached to all of them, to their ways of doing, to speak, to act, it is impossible not to be afraid for them and it is impossible not to laugh along with them. Muschietti and Fukunaga (who was to direct the film and has signed the first drafts of the script, then edited because it was deemed too extreme), the more the anxiety to grow, the paranoia and the fear that Pennywise is have been able to pass first of all, the sense of friendship that triumphs over every thing: the concept of unity, group, club, the ‘us vs. others’ that is the only weapon the teen to defend himself from the adult world (as opposed to the original novel, here all the adult figures are negative or unpleasant).

In this sense, the film is more a story than a horror, a sort of successful blend between The Goonies, Stand by Me and a slasher movie years of the ’80's (the Goonies that Nightmare are mentioned in the film) and it will be interesting to see how Muschietti will evolve the atmosphere in the second chapter, when our protagonists are adults, and since the ’80s, we find ourselves up to our days, the days of Stranger Things, in which the ’80s are back in vogue.

It would be hilarious and brilliant if Muschietti and Fukunaga, in the second part, were able to do a talk on this topic here, on this nostalgia rogue and on the revival of the ’80s. Maybe quoting your own Stranger Things.

En – First Part: the horror at the time of the Stranger Things is




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