We are the professors, students, filmmakers, screenwriters, and cinéphiles at MSU who gather weekly in the course FLM 200 to watch and discuss good films. In the spirit of the Cinémathèque française and the generation of film critics and French New Wave directors it inspired, our collective abides by the principle that good film writing and good filmmaking (and just plain good living) begin with serious film watching.
Fall 2020: Dissemination of Dread: Global Horror Cinema
Horror cinema has been one of the most popular cinematic genres with its consistent presence both at the center and fringes of the mainstream as well as in alternative forms of cinema, including the B movies and the avant-garde. Scholars have argued for its lowly status during the beginnings of cinema, and its relative obscurity in terms of big budgets and steady outputs during the studio era, and thereafter its gradual emergence as a respectable genre. Nonetheless, if we look at the history of cinema, the concept of dread or anticipation with profound apprehension or fear has attracted talented filmmakers to the genre from its very beginnings. The horror genre has provided a space for interrogating our personal as well as sociocultural anxieties in its myriad forms, for instance, through our desire for invention and fears surrounding the unknown (monsters like Frankenstein), our investment in exploring the ornate as well as the apprehension surrounding the unfamiliar (gothic), our disquiet regarding finitude or fear of death and attraction to the supernatural and curiosity about the paranormal, among others. In this class, we will focus on the way dread has been given form through the images and sounds crafted in horror cinema over the last century. Such a distinct reading of horror cinema across the globe will enable us to reflect on our anxieties surrounding the personal and the sociocultural, in contemporary times.
Screenings will be asynchronous—all screenings undertaken individually prior to the Thursday discussion. All films will be available on public platforms (Netflix, Kanopy, YouTube, etc). Open discussion will take place over Zoom on Thursdays at 8pm EST: Zoom Link
In the early 1900s, Miranda (Anne Lambert) attends a girls boarding school in Australia. One Valentine’s Day, the school’s typically strict headmistress (Rachel Roberts) treats the girls to a picnic field trip to an unusual but scenic volcanic formation called Hanging Rock. Despite rules against it, Miranda and several other girls venture off. It’s not until the end of the day that the faculty realizes the girls and one of the teachers (Vivean Gray) have disappeared mysteriously.
When her niece is found dead along with three friends after viewing a supposedly cursed videotape, reporter Reiko Asakawa (Nanako Matsushima) sets out to investigate. Along with her ex-husband, Ryuji (Hiroyuki Sanada), Reiko finds the tape, watches it — and promptly receives a phone call informing her that she’ll die in a week. Determined to get to the bottom of the curse, Reiko and Ryuji discover the video’s origin and attempt to solve an old murder that could break the spell.