Writers found in the horror genre don’t often fare too well. It can be due to their own desperation. Ethan Hawke‘s true-crime author in Sinister and Courtney Cox‘s erotic fiction writer in the tv series Shining Vale, are two who hardly consider their families over their own ambitions. Other times it can be due to a character getting stuck on a dark path. Before naomi watts was a reporter searching for a cursed videotape in Ring, Nanako Matsushima was on the hunt in the Japanese original. Then there are even worse terrors out there.
Words have power. If it doesn’t spit out cosmic monsters (In The Mouth of Madness), a writer may very well take it upon themselves to spill some blood by their own hand (The Shining). No matter what method, be it journalism, a novel, or even a screenplay, these writers will do whatever it takes to get to the end of their story. Whether they survive, is a different issue entirely.
9. Iris Blum – I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House
Present-day Iris (Paula Prentisse) is a retired horror author suffering from dementia. A collection of her works de ella sit comfortably on a shelf, from which her de ella new live-in nurse Lily (ruth wilson) cautiously reads from. Out of 13 books, The Lady in the Walls is the most haunting of them all. Centered around Polly Parsons, Iris didn’t conjure up this protagonist. Polly appeared to a young Iris (Erin Boyes), telling her life story but not having any memory of her death. Without any warning, one day the ghost never reappeared. The Lady in the Walls has an unfinished ending due to Iris’ lack of satisfaction. Nearing death, Iris remains obsessed with learning the end of Polly’s story. She still lives in the house, with the hopes the revelation will come. But it never will. The sacrifice here is a personal and a very lonely one.
8. Steven Crain – The Haunting of Hill House
As the oldest Crain sibling, Steven (Michael Huisman) has made a career out of writing about the paranormal. But he’s unfulfilled, not believing any of it. He chooses to see everything with a rational mind, even if he could be wrong. And he is – the ghosts in this series are real and deadly. But if the supernatural isn’t causing problems, human error does the job. When Steven figured out what was going to be his first book, it detailed the collective trauma his family faced at Hill House years ago. When given the manuscript, his sister Shirley (elizabeth reaser) saw the pages as exploitative. In her eyes, it tainted the family like the tabloids had, but Steven published it anyway. He needed the book’s advance, no matter if it strangled him from his sister of him – which it did. By the last episode, Steven is still begging his relationships with the people closest to him.
7. Reiko Asakawa – Ring
After journalist Reiko’s (Matsushima) niece is killed, she goes to find the unmarked videotape believed to be the cause. Finding it in a cabin, she watches it, and yes, the curse is real: “You will die in one week.” It’s a bit of gallows humor that this is one deadline Reiko absolutely needs to make. Seeking help from her ex-husband Ryūji (Hiroyuki Sanada), Reiko can’t stop him from watching the cursed tape. Marked for death too, Ryūji tells Reiko to make a copy of the tape to analyze. When their son watches it, the search to find answers intensifies. By the week’s end, they uncover the skeletal remains of Sadako (the original Samara). The curse is broken! Well–until Reiko’s ex-husband is killed by the vengeful spirit. Unfortunately, it’s from his death that Reiko realizes how to her actually survive the seven days. Reiko not only survives because of Ryūji’s death, but so does their son.
6. Cathryn – Images
The previous sacrifices were either self-inflicted or accidental. That isn’t the case with children’s book author Cathryn (Susannah York). She is dealing with something more frustrating than writer’s block. She “sees” a strange man in her bedroom and hides, only to find out it was her husband de ella (Rene Auberjonois) the entire time. Her mind about her ca n’t be trusted. But Cathryn doesn’t find the support she needs and doesn’t actively seek it out. She becomes content with not knowing the difference between reality and fiction. Unicorns are on her mind constantly. It’s a favorite creature of hers to write about, with a horn as deadly as the knife Cathryn uses against an ex-lover, who may or may not be real. These violent reactions reach a terrible peak. Driving on an isolated road, Cathryn sees her de ella doppelgänger. She speeds into it, convinced it will heal her mental anguish. Bad news for the writer – it’s not an imaginary figure she kills, but a real human.
5. Jack Torrance – The Shining
Jack Nicholson‘s writer-gone-mad is obviously not right in the head from the beginning. He’s all smiles in front of employers and full of contempt when with his family from him. He has an aggressive temper and is suffering from alcohol addiction. Becoming the winter caretaker at the Overlook Hotel and bringing his family along is a bad idea. When his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) approaches him as he writes one day, he lashes out. As for their son Danny (Danny Lloyd), Jack already hurt him in the past. When it comes to it, the haunted hotel doesn’t need to switch on this writer’s dark urges. He can do it all by himself.
In the movie’s most telling scene, one that also marks the point of no return for this “family” man, Jack interacts with the ghost of Grady (Philip Stone) in the red bathroom. Here, Jack easily lets out internal thoughts, that Danny is a “very willful boy” and Wendy “interferes.” Indulging in pent-up anger is what fuels Jack to his icy end of it. He would rather sacrifice his wife and son for a glass of whiskey than spend quality time with them.
4. Pat Phelps – Shining Vale
The Phelps family moves into a great, old mansion. Everything seems to be going all right at the start. As her husband and children get settled in, Pat (Cox) plans to write her de ella’s next bestselling erotic fiction. Then the writer’s block hits. The saving grace is when Rosemary (Mira Sorvino) appears, the spirit of a housewife stuck on the property. Under Rosemary’s control, Pat actually gets pages typed up. Good feedback from her editor Ella makes Pat blind to how she’s getting it done. But Rosemary proves to be a bad influence. She tempts Pat into drinking again, breaking years of sobriety. When it becomes learned that Rosemary is probably demonic, Pat takes it in stride.
She tries to bargain to get the book finished, still thinking she’s in control. But when Rosemary feels irked, the spirit kills a nosy neighbor and possesses Pat into cheating on her husband. Without question, Rosemary has control. The show is obviously inspired by The Shining, but unlike Jack, Pat doesn’t fall into insanity. The erotic fiction author actively seeks out Rosemary, right up until she understands the danger she’s been putting her family in the whole time. At that point, there’s no good escape to be found.
3. Lisa Nova – Brand New Cherry Flavor
Lisa (Rose Salazar) arrives in Hollywood with the dream of becoming a filmmaker. Then her debut feature film Ella is taken away by sleazy producer Burke (Eric Lang). Finding the witch Boro (Catherine Keener), Lisa partakes in a black magic ritual to settle the score. But in order for it to work, Boro needs payment. Lisa is forced into throwing up kittens. And there’s nothing cute about those furballs. None, Lisa is determined to continue. Although Burke is the intended target, Lisa soon leaves her own collateral damage behind her. A film director, who is given Lisa’s directing gig, suddenly erupts into flames. Burke’s son is turned into a mindless zombie. In the end, Lisa does gain revenge, but her close friends are killed in the pursuit of it. She leaves behind Hollywood without making her film. After everything she did, it really was just about coming out as the winner.
2. Ellison Oswalt-Sinister
For how reckless Pat is, she is easily beaten out by Ellison (Hawke). The new house he moves his family into has a dark, fairly recent history. They don’t know it, but the previous family was found dead, hung in the backyard. Ellison’s true crime obsession explodes in ecstasy when he finds a box of film reels depicting the unsolved murders. Each “home movie” is more disturbing than the last. Ellison averts his eyes, but he conceals the reels from the authorities. He hopes to publish what he uncovers into a successful book after only finding success in his debut book by him.
When spooky things start happening, Ellison tries but he can’t explain it rationally. His children of him are affected, one drawing the hung family on the wall and the other having night terrors. Even after telling his wife the history of the house, Ellison stops them from leaving. When he does try to burn everything, from the reels to the projector, they only end up finding it unharmed in the old Oswalt home they return to. Not only does he suffer for it, but so does his family. In the end, Ellison gets his wish from him though. He’s made “famous” again with his own unsolved murder of him.
1. Sutter Cane – In The Mouth of Madness
Haunter Out of Time and The Hobb’s End Horror are popular titles from Sutter Cane (Jurgen Prochnow). These horror books are more than bestsellers. Avid readers have become unhinged by the words, mutating and committing mass murder. The cosmic horrors from the pages are very real. In writing about them, Cane hopes to keep the monstrous creatures contained. Understanding it’s a useless struggle, this author has a new plan. He’ll allow everything to go to hell.
The epicenter of the chaos seems to be the mysterious Hobb’s End. This small town shouldn’t exist and yet somehow it does when investigator John Trent (Sam Neil) goes to search for the author. Finding the mad author, Trent learns the terrible truth. Cane is in absolute control. Unlike the other previous writers, Cane wishes to unleash destruction through his work by him – at least, Ellison Oswalt only wanted a good book sale. As Trent comes to understand, there is nothing that can be done. Sutter Cane sacrifices the world because he can.
Sex, Violence, and Toasters: Yorgos Lanthimos’ Mundane Body Horror