What could be more horrifying than the realization that technology and media is taking over your life?
Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist is about a family living in a haunted house. The heat actually starts when the youngest member of the family Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke) gets abducted by these ghosts. How? Through the television of course! On the other hand, Gore Verbinski’s remake of the Japanese hit Ringu, The Ring, takes on a more surreal tone. Naomi Watts plays the role of a reporter whose niece (Amber Tamblyn) and her friends die of unknown causes, and rumors say they passed away because of a video tape. Her investigation leads to deeper trenches when she learns the source of this cursed tape.
On the surface, these films are classic examples of mainstream cinema’s success at horror. They’re remembered especially because of the iconic scenes they bear: Poltergeist’s child abduction and The Ring’s scene of a creepy little girl named Samara coming out of the television to kill the ones she curse. But a deeper understanding would show these films’ take on modernization and critique of television and media. It’s so much scarier to have this deeper understanding since the most influential medium (the television according to Time Magazine) is actually succeeding in sending its messages across to its audiences, even those messages that are hideous and inhuman. Like Carol Anne, their target is the youngest members of society because they know they would be naive enough to eat up their shit. And we, the passive boob tube audiences let ourselves be Carol Anne - abducted by these monsters that we become monsters ourselves… living and breathing under the influence of what is dictated, or what is popular even if it violates our own cultures. Everyday, we indulge ourselves into it and everyday, the horror is very present. Until when would we let these influence us? Would it reach the point where we die because of their own influences, because their very own Samara?
- Gio Potes, October 2011