A look at FEAR – NO not the shitty Mark Wahlberg and Reese Witherspoon thriller…

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve last posted on here…I’m sorry to keep you guys waiting by the edge of your seats (LOL). I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about some of my favorite thriller and horror films over the past year – A Quiet Place (2018), It Comes At Night (2017), Super Dark Times (2017), and while they are all such different films, I found a lot of my thoughts and analyses about them to be quite redundant.

I was left wondering, what is it that separates these films from each other? What makes them so special? I think how we categorize fear for one is very important here. If we want to categorize anything in the genres of thriller/horror it should be categorized by the type of fear that particular film embellishes. So, I have taken it upon myself to create a scale of fear, “The O-S Scale”, to help one analyze thriller/horror films more adequately (Get your notepads out gang!).

To me, there are two extremities when it comes to fear in film – Objective Fear and Subjective Fear. If we think about the literal term ‘Objective’ this comes from meaning actuality or supportive reasoning such as statistical facts or science that explains why something would be categorized as objective. While ‘Subjective’ comes from meaning interpretation, or personal declarations such as feelings or emotions, that explain why something would be categorized as subjective. Thus, Objective Fear refers to actuality, or overt fear, while Subjective Fear refers to interpretation, or ambiguous fear.

For example, your most objectively scary movies are going to be your slasher or torture films, to name a couple – movies in which you’re directly faced with the catalyst of the fear. In these films you might often wonder, “What caused this evil rage? – A wrong-doing? A mental-health issue? What does this perpetrator want from the victims?”

While your subjectively scary movies are often more of your or dystopian films or films that lacks a distinctive Mise en Scene  – movies in which the root of the fear is harder to define, and often described as “IT”, because the evil is something we have yet to put into words, category, or meaningful thought. In these films, you might often find yourself thinking, “What is IT? Is IT all of our problems manifested into something we can’t explain, something we can’t see, something we can only feel? Is the evil that we combat self-induced?”

To put things in perspective, if we were to label the most objectively scary movies on my “O-S Scale” as a 10 and the most subjectively scary movies as a 1 (not to say that a 10 correlates to horror and a 1 correlates to a lack of horror), we could consider a movie like Halloween (1978) as a 10 and a movie like It Comes At Night (2017) as a 1.

Further, during your objectively scary movies, our fear is usually instilled like a rollercoaster – build-up’s to a climax followed by a come-down from that scene, followed by a relapse, over and over again until the movie concludes. Yet, during the subjectively scary movies, there aren’t usually these sporadic moments of climax throughout the film. Of course there are climatic moments for sure, however, there’s more so this lingering of constant unease or fear during the whole movie. As if the tension we feel comes from knowing we’re not going to get that big hurrah of a scare when we anticipate it, because we don’t even know exactly what the fuck we are afraid of yet (see homemade graphs below).

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Let’s break this down in more of a literal context – Usually your objectively scary movies are conducive to dark hallways passed through by a shaky protagonist with a light waiting to turn sharply to only see a ghost staring back at them. Our subjectively scary movies might be envisioned as a petrified protagonist alone in the woods searching for the root of strange noises, sightings, etc. Make sense?

Now, in my humble opinion, I think we are currently in a subjectively dominated era of horror. Not to demean or disenchant the great objectively scary movies that have recently been made, but I do feel as if our current climate of horror leans more on the subjective side. One thing that we can all agree on, is that there are great masterpieces of both objective and subjective film of all sorts, despite if you have a certain preference in category or not. Likewise, we can also agree that neither category of film is more scarier than the other.

What I hope you take away from all of this, is a new lens to analyze the thriller/horror genre of film. I hope to bring more critical thought to the physical reactions that are a natural byproduct of our deepest cognitive emotions. To enlighten my readers on the subject matter of fear itself – an inevitable, natural, and complicated source from our inner subconscious, that is often the reason for why we can or cannot explain our complexity of wonder.


What are some of your favorite thriller/horror films? How would you rank them on the O-S Scale? How do you feel about these categories, do you agree or disagree with this spectrum? Below are some horror films that I have ranked on the O-S Scale, let me know what you think!

Halloween (1978) – 10
It Follows (2014) – 1
As Above, So Below (2014) – 6
It Comes At Night (2017) – 1
A Quiet Place (2018) – 7
The Invitation (2015) – 5
Honeymoon (2014) – 4
Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015) – 3
The Witch (2015) – 4
Super Dark Times (2017) – 1
Jeepers Creepers (2001) -10
Hereditary (2018) – 4
The Others (2001) – 2


An Ode To David

You are perfect.
You dazzle.
You intoxicate.
You relish—

In the spotlight
Of opposition
To a mass
Much greater than you.
So they thought at least…

From sources of creativity
And vectors that renew
This clique of disenchantment
Undone with folly motifs
And docile vessels.

You are the utmost precedent
Of love and fear.
And for that…

You are perfect.
You dazzle.
You intoxicate.
You relish.

(It Follows really did it for me…xoxo)

An Ode To Richard

To arise in this stupor
Would be the ideal.
To masquerade in this fallacy
Would sparkle to most.

With embers of authenticity
That to no degree can satisfy enough —

A muse.
A portal.
A figment.

To which only clutter this disdain
And are no more than temporary.

Independently maneuvering pious burros
Tormented with in-denial cliches
In a labyrinthic pursuit for
A c t u a l i t y.
Desperate for substance
It is only at bottom
In which there’s utter relief
From a mad world of suburban shallow.

(For you, Donnie Darko)

An Ode To Eli

Take off your flannel,
And show me your goods.
Better yet, just wait,
Until we get to the woods.

For a weekend escape,
A rustic rendezvous,
But wait, just wait, 
This is too good to be true...

(Um-teen hours later…)

Please don’t touch me, 
You bastard of man. 
I’ve tried to cure this, 
I’ve done all I can.

I said don’t touch me, 
Cuz look, now you’ve got it too!
Melting, rotten, flesh,
Sticky like glue.

And now here we are, 
Down by this lake.
Watching our epidermis,
Just flake and bake.

For fuck’s sake!
How much more of this can we take?

Don’t bite me you little bastard!
God dammit you just did…
I hope you burn in hell with your denim
You Mullet-bearing skid.

This getaway has been disastrous,
Isn’t it funny?
“Doc, where are we goi-“
Awwww look it’s a bunny!

Fuck my life,
Fuck my life,
Fuck my life,
I’m dead. Shawn Hunterrrrr…..

-If you get this, you get me :)

Let it be known that…

If you’re the type of person that considers Labyrinth a staple of your childhood memory, I like you.

If you’re the type of person that watched Donnie Darko and your only question at the end was “What is cellar door?”, I hate you.

If your favorite movie is Saving Private Ryan, you shop exclusively at Gap and J. Crew.

If you alphabetize your entire movie collection, I respect you.

If you consider Michael Bay films “cult classics”, go fuck yourself.

If you recommend that the movie Source Code is a must see, leave me the fuck alone, pleaseeeee.

If Prom Night is your favorite movie, you’re so cool…just kidding, you’re a douchebag! Joke’s on you!

If you can name the winner for best cinematography at the 1998 Oscar’s, you’re way cooler than me.

If you own the movies, My Blueberry Nights, Vanilla Sky, and/or The Number 23, you’re the type of person that I run from.

If you see “based on a true story” and pee your pants a little, it’s okay, you’re not alone.

If you think Woody Harrelson has a foot fetish, you’re probably right…

You probably wear Sperry’s and only date blondes if your favorite movie is Billy Madison.

If you didn’t already know, you’re emo if you own The Art of Getting By.

Your name is Rebecca, Jessica, Ashley, or Meghan if you love Definitely Maybe.

If you quote The Other Guys religiously in your mainstream dialogue, you’re fucking awesome. No sarcasm here, you are actually fucking awesome.

If you love Tom Cruise action films, you probably only fuck in missionary.

If you wasted $13 on Nerve, I feel your pain…

Your name is Brad, Sean, Derrick, or Jeff if you own a Scarface poster in your house.

I once paid to go see Limitless in theatres and then bought it on DVD, to only be ashamed of these actions years later in my adulthood.

If you dressed up as Batman for the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight in 2008, at AMC 12 in Springfield, IL… MARRY ME!

Overlooked Hyper-Masculinity in the Case of 8 Mile

When we think of examples of hyper-masculinity in film, we often think of films like Fight Club (1999) , Rocky (1976), gangster films, and any film starring Jason Statham or Vin Diesel. While these kinds of movies might in fact be staples of hyper-masculinity portrayed in film, this concept is often seen in many films in which we wouldn’t necessarily realize are overly masculinized.

The film in particular that I would like to focus on is 8 Mile (2002). To many, 8 Mile is a cult classic, a treasure for hip-hop films, and an overall feel-good movie. We love the underdog story of Jimmy/B-Rabbit (Eminem), earning his respect in the face of adversity in the racially segregated metropolitan Detroit area. As inspiring as the story itself may be, the complexity of the gendered narratives behind each character is unapologetically engraved within the movie.

If we were to imagine our normative ideals of masculinity we would probably envision a male, successful in a financially fruitful career, romances with beautiful women, stable, independent, and authoritative. Ironically, Jimmy’s character is an anomaly of our standard conceptions of masculinity, as he struggles to keep a job, lives with, and takes orders from, his demanding mother, and isn’t taken serious by his female counterparts. Jimmy is the epitome of a conflicted and esmasculated individual – a working-class, white guy, in a primarily black community, striving for respect and success, in arguably the most difficult subculture for a white guy to succeed – the underground rap scene of Detroit.

You might ask, if this is the case, then how can 8 Mile be considered a hyper-masculine film? What is important to remember here is that Jimmy’s rise from his demise (wow, see I can rap just like Eminem!), is what makes this movie appealing to many, especially men. In fact, Jimmy’s fight and success to obtain respect is what makes this film hyper-masculine – on top of other things of course.

An important element that intensifies Jimmy’s hyper-masculinity, is his ability to overcome the volatile female antagonists in the film; there are three of which have the most profound roles:

  • Brittany Murphy – Alex
  • Kim Basinger – Jimmy’s mom
  • Taryn Manning – Janeane

Although the initial demise of Jimmy can be accredited to his first choke at the shelter at the beginning of the movie, much of it can actually be also be accredited to Alex, as she represents the epitome of a femme fatale in film. While Alex originally represents an escape for Jimmy’s stressful personal life, she in reality, only pulls him away from his ultimate goals to win a rap battle at the shelter. In fact, her carefree mentality only furthers Jimmy’s adoration for her, making it excruciating for him to witness her sleeping with his so called confidant, Wink. Jimmy’s anger is fueled into rage as he channels his emotions physically towards Wink, which consequently results in him getting jumped by the Free World.

Moreover, Kim Basinger plays the role of Jimmy’s mother, one whom is consumed by poverty, naivety, and her abusive boyfriend. Basinger is an extremely volatile character in the film, as she constantly doubts Jimmy’s rap aspirations as nothing other than pipe dreams, and causes him immense stress and humility. Similarly, Taryn Manning has a short, but congruent role to Jimmy’s mother, exemplifying the typical dependent, argumentative, “baby mama”, only further threatening Jimmy’s means of income and success at the shelter.

Even though each of these women are different, and rarely in the same scenes, they all share one thing in common – they bring toxicity and humility into Jimmy’s life. It is only once Jimmy comes to this realization in which he begins to do better for himself in the film.

Something that I think is important to mention, is that 8 Mile exudes masculinity because Jimmy, and maybe even just Eminem on a larger scale, suffices as a relatable figure to many heterosexual, working-class men, despite their race. As a result, Jimmy’s infamous rap battle win at the end, is not only a big fuck you to any naysayers, but it’s a win for any man who has ever felt as if he is over the bullshit that life may bring.

On a larger scale, rap/hip-hop music is defined by masculinity – whether that means women, money, or respect. And at one point was the space for black men to express their struggle through unprecedented poetry. And while this still may be largely the case, the genre of rap/hip-hop music has changed significantly, and most of that can be attributed to no one other than Eminem.

For those who know me well, know that I could write an entire dissertation on the cultural significance of Eminem for not just rap/hip-hop, but just music in general. However, Eminem’s accomplishments as a respected, innovative, fearless, artist, are what make the case for Jimmy’s story in 8 Mile. What I mean by all of this, is that although 8 Mile is a hyper-masculine film, the gendered narratives in which it exudes, often go unnoticed as we the audience (both men and women) relate to, and appreciate, Jimmy’s overall conquering of adversity. I guess you can say, “There’s a Slim Shady in all of us.”

The Demise of MTV: Why The Network is Failing

While OFF The Record is a blog devoted to introducing new perspectives in film, occasionally there may be those exceptional posts that I publish in which may not be directly related to film itself, but rather television or screenwriting as a whole. With this being said, something that I have recently been inspired to write about, is the recent demise of popular television network, MTV. It is to no surprise, that MTV’s ratings are lower than ever. According to Viacom, MTV saw its lowest ratings ever in the past six years. Additionally, the 2017 VMA’s brought in the lowest ratings of all-time, which comes after several years of decreased viewership.

For those of us who remember the good ole’ days (or some of them at least), we remember MTV for what it used to be in the 1990’s and 2000’s. By, “for what it used to be” of course, I am referring to the days of non-stop music videos, TRL with Carson Daly, Daria, Celebrity Deathmatch, any show dedicated to presenting the everyday life of a particular musician (Doggy Fizzle Televizzle, The Ashlee Simpson Show, Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, The Osbournes, etc.), the VMA’s (when people actually used to watch them), Jackass, MTV Cribs, Room Raiders, Punk’d, Pimp My Ride, Laguna Beach, The Hills, Jersey Shore, and of course, NEXT, we can’t forget about Next guys. Were all of these shows “good quality” shows? Absolutely not, but that was the beauty of the concepts – they were guilty pleasures.

While all good things must come to an end, we live in much different times now. Today, MTV has unfortunately been corrupted with unnecessary reboots, poorly staged reality shows, and an ungodly shortage of music videos. The light at the end of the tunnel is that there are a few aspects of MTV that are saving the network from completely plundering. For example, Teen Wolf (before it’s recent series finale), the revisions to the fan-favorite show The Challenge, and the surprisingly engaging, Siesta Key.

What these shows in particular bring to the table is innovation to nostalgic fan-favorites. What I mean by this, is that each of these shows pull heavily from past MTV hits.

Specifically, The Challenge isn’t necessarily the reboot of another show, but instead the producers changed the stakes of the game that pulled the audience back in when numbers began to decrease. The producers raised the amount of the grand prizes, changed rules/regulations to the game, and instead of just simply casting Real World/Road Rules alum, the producers decided to open up casting to other popular reality shows such as Are You The One, Big Brother, Ex on the Beach, and Geordie Shore. Since such changes, ratings of the popular show have increased more than ever.

Moreover, Siesta Key is loosely related on the epic reality show, Laguna Beach. Siesta Key introduces us to a new group of good-looking young people on the Southeast Coast, that also live very unrealistic, lavish lives. However, what was changed that makes this show different, is they expanded the age group of the cast members to past high school age and into college/post-grad years. By doing so, we are given a bit more maturity when it comes to the drama, as well as obvious drinking/partying. For example, before we would watch the Laguna Beach kids meet for a “get-together” at one of their homes, where they would all be drinking something from red cups, and even though it was evident that these high schooler’s were obviously trashed, the mysterious red cups somewhat preserved their innocence as high schooler’s.

Additionally, Teen Wolf was another surprising hit for the network. The drama series took a innovative spin on a cult 80’s film, and made it into a contemporary, provocative drama series for young adults. Audiences fell in love with the darkness, sex, and drama that the show provided.

Ultimately, shows like these have saved/are saving MTV as a whole, and have done so because they have incorporated not just nostalgia, but innovation as well in their story-lines. In other words, if you are going to reboot something, whether it is a song, a TV show, or a film, if you cannot improve it, then you SHOULD NOT REBOOT IT!

Essentially, the reason why many of the shows presented on MTV fall flat, is because they do not improve the quality of the show in which they are rebooting. This results in a shittier imitation of the original, leaving the audience thinking, why the hell was a great show revamped and trashed for no reason? It’s the same question people asked when Hollywood thought it would be a great idea to revamp Batman with Ben Affleck, just four years after The Dark Knight trilogy had such major success with Christian Bale.

Quite frankly, the reboot of TRL is pointless, because we now have access to music videos before they are released on TV due to the internet. Catfish is literally the same thing every fucking episode, they should have stopped after the documentary. Ridiculousness is just a shittier version of Tosh.0. Teen Mom/Teen Mum are just overkill of the original 16 and Pregnant. And Floribama Shore, no…just no.

In sum, if you can’t make it better, leave it the fuck alone, please.

Furthermore, we have completely lost sight of the main thing that MTV was supposed to stand for in the first place, which was “Music Television”. There was a time when MTV stood for music, and I understand that the accessibility of new music has changed significantly since the network was created, but bring back the music videos for crying out loud! The reason why the VMA’s are starting to get such poor ratings, is because the network has discredited itself with a label of producing trash television. Therefore, people begin to associate the echelon of the VMA award with this negativity.

The reason why people still watch The Grammy’s, The Oscar’s, The Golden Globes, The Emmy’s, and the ESPY’s, is because they are associated with more accredited television networks. While such awards have always been considered more prestigious than a VMA, what I am getting at here, is that it used to mean something to win a VMA, and because of that people watched the award show. Don’t believe me? Everyone remembers Britney and the snake, Eminem and his Slim Shady army, and “Imma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time!” You mention any of these topics in a public venue and everyone will know these are iconic VMA moments without even mentioning the award show at first. But can we do the same thing for the past 5 years?

As I digress, what all of this means is that our beloved MTV is heading towards rock bottom if no change is made. The television network must learn to reinvent itself as every major corporation must do. Rather than focus on the past, strategic thought must be implemented to create the future. MTV viewers need to fall back in love with the network, and flat reboots will only leave us high and dry. We need that feeling of coming home after a long day and turning on MTV, but instead of seeing Carson Daly on TRL, or Ashton Kutcher on Punk’d, we are craving new faces, fresh ideas, and new guilty pleasures to re-indulge in.

-Did you like this post? Comment and let me know what your favorite MTV show of all time is.