So a couple of nifty little news items have crossed my field of vision recently - apparently, both Lars von Trier and Nicholas Winding Refn are making murmuring noises about directing horror films. Not "thrillers", not "dramas", horror films. Von Trier wants to do something set in Detroit, which is certainly a bleak enough setting, and Winding Refn is thinking about doing something based on the mysterious death of a young woman in a Los Angeles hotel that has a really checkered history.
Now on the one hand, I fully recognize that until the actual films are made and hitting the festival circuit, this is all up in the air. These are just things they are writing, and there's no guarantee they'll get made. But if they do...if they do...this is good news. Politically, it's two critically respected directors working directly within the genre without any sort of attempt to mediate its legitimacy, and I'm all about that. Mostly because there's less chance that the studio will try to spin their films into franchises, and maybe we can point to films like this and say "what the fuck difference does it make? Is it art? Is it entertainment? You tell me, fucker."
But that's kind of high-minded and me thinking about What Horror Means and that's a really short road to being pompous and precocious. The other reason I think this is a good thing is because these are two really interesting directors. Winding Refn's Drive was beautiful to look at in its use of color and lighting - not exactly hallucinatory or dreamlike, but capturing those moments where the world in which we live is imbued with something beyond just life. This on top of his use of space, and silence, interspersed with shocking moments of violence, makes me think that if anyone could make Los Angeles, as sunny as it is, into some haunted, damned place, it's him. And von Trier is the man who made Dancer In The Dark, which sort of strikes me as what a snuff film made by a capricious God might look like, and the utterly excoriating Antichrist, about which I should have more to say later this week. He is a man unafraid of going to some deeply uncomfortable places in his dramas, and his first foray into formal horror does not at all disappoint. I more than expect that whatever he does with the landscape of Detroit, it will push what we think of as both horror and art, and I really, really hope these projects both come to fruition. This would be helping.