Buried and Frozen
Two new movies out now in Britain - Buried and Frozen - chart terrifying ordeals by people caught in a single location - a coffin, or a chair-lift above howling wolves. Psycho introduced us arguably to the psychopathology of the film experience - Peeping Tom had made audiences recoil a year before. Now, viewers have been groomed to want, and expect, more sadism, more suffering. Where once audiences cheered on heroes or ordinary people (they laughed, they cried) now they sneer, jeer and cheer as victims are tortured, mutilated, humiliated, and forced to endure the most nightmarish of scenarios. There is no doubting the force of "car crash" viewing - some spectacles demand our begrudging, horrified looking - but is pandering to such a looking the best use of the filmic art? I myself think both films are likely to be suspenseful, well-oiled, and, worst of all, entertaining. Yet, how will this trend pan out? As we aim ever more tightly at the heart of the isolated human being in extremis, what shall we, as viewers, hit? Truth, beauty, or a lowered humanity, on the bestial floor among the gum and stale popcorn.