Isobel Goudie is a 17th-century Scottish woman famous for having been recorded as confessing to be a witch—to describing a shape-shifting spell and consorting with the devil. Reading about her confession on the Spooky Isles blog, it’s hard for me to believe in its authenticity. To me, her confession reads more like a propaganda pamphlet, which were wildly popular in the nearby London at that same time. True crime stories were particularly popular, and Isobel’s confession reads like a sensational pamphlet. It would be interesting to learn more about this case to see if the origins of the document have been verified as being legal.
I found a new paranormal investigation show, Ghost Brothers. I gave it a shot, and loved it. The investigators are funny and likeable. They interact curiously with ghosts, which I like more than the aggressive approach that Zak Bagans takes (though don’t get me wrong, I’m a big Ghost Adventures fan). I also really like this new show because they are exploring African-American ghosts, which allows for more history and story-telling about Black history in America—as well as the mystical cultures of Black communities, like the voodoo at the plantation in their first episode.
I’m definitely going to keep watching this show!
Terence Young’s Wait Until Dark
On the Bubonic Illiterate‘s recommendation, I watched Hush, a slasher flick with a disabled victim who outwits her nemesis using her disability. From the moment it started, I found it reminiscent of the 1967 film Wait Until Dark, which follows the very same premise.
Unlike Wait Until Dark, however, Hush didn’t provide with a sympathetic victim, which is, I guess, part of the tradition of modern slasher films. In Wait Until Dark, the narrative builds a relationship of exploitation between the victim and her nemesis that is caught up in her marital relationship, making her feeling of isolation and vulnerability as a blind woman greater as the movie goes on. Even though she is in the middle of the city in her home, she is still pursued as a victim in a web of lies she had no idea she lived in. So scary. And her final act of using her disability to deceive her nemesis makes you want to scream and cheer at the same time.
They don’t make movies like they used to.
Young, Terence. Wait Until Dark, Warner Bros., 1967.
Mike Flanagan’s Hush
by the Bubonic Illiterate
Mike Flanagan’s 2016 survival-slasher film Hush recycles a killer-at-the-door storyline by giving it an impairment. Though Hush is set against a backdrop of familiar circumstances—girl is home alone, home is a house in the woods, lunatic with unknown motive is trying to kill girl—the film’s heroine, Maddie, can’t be typecast as your typical horror lead. She’s an isolated novelist struggling to surpass her first novel, and, most refreshingly, her greatest non-clichéd quality is this: She can’t hear. And that unusual element is why and how Hush works so effectively at keeping tension taut nearly the entire film. Imagine being unable to gauge the noise you’re making when there’s a murderer on your tracks; unable to hear the patter of your feet—knowing very well that your assailant can—as you attempt to move astutely in and around your house. Hush uses deafness to turn a basic plotline into something more intimate; in lieu of suspense-building string-arrangements, moments of silence are used to depict Maddie’s reality as she struggles to stay alive.
The killer—armed with a crossbow, crowbar, and knife—is ruthless, and his slayings reflect it. As well, unlike slashers/archers in films like You’re Next, The Strangers, or Scream, the man after Maddie is indifferent to his anonymity and willingly reveals his face early into the film. The bulk of the film is a cat and mouse chase, both entertaining and unnerving. The final act, however, is particularly original: Maddie, bleeding out from a leg wound, confronts her writer brain to weigh various courses of action (endings) that she can take. Each scenario is visualized on screen, and all but one result in death. Depending on who you’re rooting for, the ending can be either satisfying or disappointing. Regardless, Hush is an original take on a well-worn genre trope and definitely not a film to keep quiet about.
Flanagan, Mike. Hush, Blumhouse Productions / Intrepid Pictures, 2016.