Apr 4, 2010
Horror that happens in broad daylight
I caught Se7en on IFC again the other night and found myself freshly astonished by the audacity of that ending, which takes place in broad daylight, unlike the rest of the movie, which labors beneath slate-grey rainy skies. It reminded me of how much I like it when filmmakers flip gothic conventions on their head like this. Call it horror blanc. I loved The Shining for this reason — one of the few horror movies to take place mostly during the day; also the murders in The Trouble With Harry which happen on a crisp fall day (yet another reason to dislike Psycho); Hannibal Lecter's cell in Manhunter: a perfect clinical white, much better than the dripping cell in Demme's film; or the lakeside killings in Fincher's later Zodiac, which takes place on a perfect day for a picnic. I love the assurance it suggests, the counter-intuitive chill, also the theme running through all of these films: the monster is not lurking in some dark corner. It's in plain view. You're gonna wish for the dark.