October 2011

Horror Junkies Bring Back Analog

VHS seeing new life with genre fans

The music world has certainly been split between formats of different eras, with artists releasing new material via both vinyl and intangible mp3 downloads. Physical digital--i.e. digitally encoded objects like CDs--seems to be falling into a deepening crack in media history. Could it be that movies are going the same route? For horror fans, the retro appeal of the VHS tape might outlive the DVD.

Contagion May Cause Side-Effects

Purell should have to pay royalty fees to this movie for every bottle of hand-sanitizer it sells from now on.

Within the first ten minutes of this film I felt physically ill, and all I'd seen was a feverish Gwyneth Paltrow. However, the opening sequence's montage was of surfaces; those multidinous points of contact we share with hundreds, even thousands of nameless, faceless strangers every day. Doorknobs, cellphones, faucets, bartops, railings, touchscreens... any surface that we thoughtlessly use within a regular day. Contagion is about just that, the networks of possible infection within our increasingly interconnected and interdependent populations, told with raw, emotional, and brutally honest intensity but in such a controlled way that at times it feels more documentary than melodrama. So engrossing is this film that not long after the opening credits rolled, I excused myself from the theater to wash my hands and splash some cold water on my face. It wasn't from gore, or handy-cam choppiness, or even a bad burrito, but from the overwhelming feeling of reality.