Inhuman Geometries: Saul Bass’s “Phase IV

So much of what is weird or uncanny hinges on a particular facet of narrative craft and personal experience: perspective. The weirdness of Algernon Blackwood’s “The Willows” comes from the eerie sentience of the landscape surrounding the explorers – or the imagination of the explorers working them over in the absence of discernable human presence. The weirdness of […]

In the Zone: An Excursion into Andrei Tarkovsky’s Film “Stalker”

[Editor’s Note: The following embedded video is not a trailer, but in fact the entire film of Stalker. Many of Tarkovsky’s films are in the public domain and can now be viewed for free online and elsewhere.] In Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, three men leave the confines of a rotting Eastern European city and walk through a pleasant-looking rural […]

Knowing the Alien: René Laloux’s “Fantastic Planet”

A father and his daughter, while strolling through a field, come across a tiny orphaned creature. The poor thing’s mother has just been killed by a callous group of children and the girl takes pity on it, asking if she can keep it as a pet. After a lecture on responsibility, her father agrees to let her bring it home […]

An Awful Truth: Mike Flanagan’s “Absentia”

Absentia, a horror film from director Mike Flanagan, opens on a pregnant woman walking the streets of a serene suburban neighborhood. This is Tricia, and we watch as she pulls down tattered flyers from telephone poles only to replace them with fresh copies. These are missing person posters, and they bear the likeness of her absent husband. Daniel […]

Cold Comfort: Larry Fessenden’s “The Last Winter”

In our search for optimal ways to use natural resources, human beings have discovered subtle connections between the ecosphere, the raw materials comprising our world, and the fate of our own species. The fragility of this planet’s living environment was a concept all but undreamt a mere century ago, when the Earth promised to supply an endless […]

At the End of the Path: A Review of “YellowBrickRoad”

Seventy years ago, the entire population of a New Hampshire town left their homes and vanished into the woods. The bodies of nearly 300 of these missing people were later discovered, mutilated corpses which bore the signs of murder and exposure to the elements. The rest of the townsfolk were never recovered, lost to the eerie […]