July 2007

Untitled J.J. Abrams Project

The trailer sure doesn’t reveal much…not even the name of the movie.

Fortunately, it does reveal that the producer is J.J. Abrams, a master of building up suspense that actually doesn’t lead anywhere.

‘Nuf said.

Untitled J.J. Abrams Project Trailer

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Skinwalkers and Rise: Blood Hunter

Despite a few holdouts like From Dusk Til Dawn and that John Carpenter movie, modern American vampire stories are all about one thing: how cool it is to be a vampire.

Fortunately, I’ve come into your life to ruin that fantasy for you forever. Vampires actually deal with a lot less moral ambiguity than regular human beings. And that’s by design.

Vampires struggle with dualities that are crystal clear. Human vs. animal. Good vs. evil. Violent vs. peaceful. Hedonistic vs. heroic. In each case, the lines are clearly drawn: the good/selfless/peaceful/human part is struggling with the bad/selfish/violent/animal part. The story is always about “redemption,” and the person being redeemed is conveniently seeking redemption for sins that were literally out of his or her control. Which is to say, they were committed while in the “inhuman” state.

As usual, movies are here to streamline our anxieties into simple equations. Everyone with the tiniest imagination and capacity for self-regard watches these vampire-glorification movies and thinks “They don’t know how much they’ve hit the nail on the head! That same conflict rages in my own heart. I too am both hero and villain. I too have the capacity for both the most tremendous good and the most treacherous evil. I too am constantly struggling with how much to give into my animal nature. I too have done horrible things, and I too deserve redemption.”

The vampire story distills those universal human conflicts into a fairy tale that makes them easier to think about. The popular notion is that these movies are indulgences in the viewer’s dark side. But the reality is that the catharsis the viewer experiences by projecting their own conflicted nature onto the screen is the closest that most people are ever going to get to “redemption.” The only true redemption - the redemption that we’re all looking for - is the realization that you actually couldn’t help committing your sins. And only vampires get off so easy.
Not using the word “vampire” anywhere in the title or the text of the movie is part of the same construct. No need to use the word, because by not using it, a vague notion is put forth that a) this is a self-aware vampire movie, and therefore not camp, b) it’s not about vampires per se, which is a joke, because no vampire story that’s any good is actually about vampires, and c) you won’t really “get it” unless you’re one of the four billion people who have ever had a crisis of conscience or wished that they could live by fewer rules.


Skin Walkers trailer

Rise: Blood Hunter trailer

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