This week in horror – 20.06.21

Anya Taylor-Joy and Ralph Fiennes headline new culinary horror film, The Menu

Anya Taylor-Joy has been one of the most exciting up and coming stars who has left a superior mark in horror, with her performance in The Witch (2016) being at the center stage of the film’s success. Now, she has been cast as one of the lead characters in the new horror following a young couple as they travel to a quiet island to dine in a lavishly exclusive restaurant.

Accompanying Taylor-Joy is Ralph Fiennes, who will play the mysterious chef. Fiennes is a Hollywood accolade, known for his roles in Schindler’s List (1993), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), and the lead antagonist in the Harry Potter films. The Menu’s development had reached a brief halt early last year as the supposed director Alexander Payne dropped ties with the production, however since then Mark Mylod has been announced as the director for this very exciting film. 

Chucky tv series releases an exclusive teaser trailer 

Everyone’s favourite doll Chucky is back in one of the franchise’s most courageous roles yet. An exclusive trailer for the new tv series following Chucky and Tilly teases their typical killer antics. Both Brad Douriff and Jennifer Tilly reprise their roles as they star in the show that follows directly from the original films. The teaser is certainly brief, but enough to make Chucky fan’s shiver in anticipation. The direct continuation from the original films will allow for a deep character based study, where we get to learn more about the motives of Chucky, as well as create a longer timeframe to meet old and new acquaintances from his wild life. 

Toxic Avenger remake progresses through the development stage 

News broke of a remake of the cult classic, The Toxic Avenger late last year, and although the details were sparse, casting information has been announced. Kevin Bacon is officially the latest cast member to be confirmed, he will be starring alongside Peter Dinklage, Jacob Tremblay, and Taylour Paige. Dinklage will lead as the protagonist who transforms from a meak outcast into a deformed mutant, whilst battling off a ring of criminals. Walking in the steps of Toxic Avenger creators, Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz is Macon Blair, who directed the acclaimed I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (2017), and appeared in Green Room (2015), The Florida Project (2017), and I Care Alot (2020). 

New film in The Conjuring Universe to be directed by Darren Lynn Bousman

Darren Lynn Bousman has helped frame the Saw franchise, with the latest installment released this year ‘Spiral’, gaining rapid success. And now it seems that he will work his charm on another horror franchise, The Conjuring Universe. The film will follow the infamous tale of the LaLaurie Mansion, which still sits in New Orleans in the French Quarter. The house has a rather sinister history as it housed one of history’s most brutal serial killers. Due to the historical element, the film will only partially be filmed inside the house, with the rest in alternative locations. 

Highly anticipated horror, The Night House finally gets a release date

The Night House has been brewing up a storm ever since it entered production in early 2019. The film follows Beth (Rebecca Hall), a widow who remains stricken with grief. To occupy herself she stays at a lake house that her husband had built her. However, it’s not long until the disturbing dreams and visions begin… The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24th of last year, but due to restrictions a wider theatrical release was halted. That is until it was released by Searchlight Pictures that the official release date will be August 20th of this year. 

This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.


Freddy Krueger: Your worst nightmare

“One, two, Freddy’s coming for you…” We all know that spine-tingling jingle that subtly defines one of horror’s most intimidatingly successful franchises, A Nightmare on Elm Street (Wes Craven, 1984). Craven’s legacy bears rich classics that have excelled beyond anyone’s expectations, with his filmography boasting titles such as The Last House on the Left (1972), The Hills Have Eyes (1977), and everybody’s cliche-twisting slasher, Scream (1996).

The great success Craven has received is admirable, yet there is an overt lack of discussion regarding symbolism and dissection when it comes to the titular character across every Nightmare on Elm Street film, the boogeyman himself, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). The franchise holds a total of nine films, with the first procuring the densest socio-political issues, alongside the most candid portrayal of Krueger. As the series has developed, so has the rambunctious behaviour from his character, with his later appearances emphasizing the more chucklesome and gabby side to his persona. To fully decipher what he represents we need to take a step back to the early 1980s and unravel the twisted world of Freddy Krueger. 

The 1960s and 1970s brought about great change, where the revolution of attempted freedom was at large, particularly in the USA. What brought about this dire need of a system change was a generalised anger over the lack of equality, civil rights, and the state of affairs across the world. These worrisome concerns were protested by the youth of America, leading to many filmmakers who were heavily involved in these stands becoming influenced by a furied ethical climate. The consequences of this were not always directly pronounced, with a favouring of symbolism and metaphorical values. One of the most primary examples of course being A Nightmare on Elm Street. The themes are manifested almost solely through Krueger, as he embodies denial, vulnerability, dissonance, and unjust dominance

The adaptive dream notion behind A Nightmare on Elm Street is well known. Craven had been inspired by the sudden death syndrome seen in a group of Hmong refugees, with Krueger’s stalking nature being influenced by a creeper that Craven had witnessed during his childhood. Withdrawing away from Krueger briefly is the setup that forces his legendary status; from the start, the setting is not reflected in archetypal horror locations. Instead of the haunted house or cemetery, we are presented with white picket fences in a white suburban neighbourhood. Straight away Craven is mocking the societal frame that cradled America’s elite, who would infamously belittle those who wanted to change the country’s structure for a fairer place. And what enforces the mimicry is the juxtaposition of what Krueger represents against the apparent bed of roses. 

Krueger withholds his victims through their dreams. He is not only controlling people at their most vulnerable state, but when they also have no chance of escape, people psychically need sleep to survive. In the first film the lead protagonist Nancy (Heather Langenkamp), has to battle against Krueger in her dreams to prevent her imminent death. Throughout the film, their contact is initiated through Nancy’s dreams, with her actually suffering in real life with any injuries she may obtain in these dream battles. Krueger presents himself with no invite and eventually becomes such a harrowing force in her life that the lines between dreams and reality become blurred. Without going on a tangent, the dream state is riddled with our subconscious thoughts, and what we aim to repress. Krueger is a symbol of the aftereffect that is born through neglect and generational cruelty that society attempts to abandon. 

Krueger’s charred skin, deep with lacerations and a hollowed complexion is not just purposeful to amp up the gore factor, it serves as a plot reaction. The brief history surrounding his origins is identified from the first film, where we find out that Nancy’s mother Marge (Ronee Blakley), and the other parents on their street burned Freddy Krueger to his death in a collective vigilante mission, due to Krueger being a child killer

What is intentionally ironic is the reason behind his motivation and the consequences of the parent’s actions. Needless to say, Krueger is riddled with vengeance, and he wants to destroy these adolescents to fuel his sick desires and to punish their families. The adults of Springwood are villainous, not only in their own deeds but additionally through their individual downfalls, including selfishness and avoidance of admittance. 

Their own matters of justice create a dark past that must not be uttered, forming an air of uncertainty and moral evilness over the town’s authority figures. Through the older generations’ actions, a cycle of repercussions has been conjured. Their children are suffering as a result of their misdeeds. Nancy and her friends are targeted by Krueger and are forced to fight it out alone, in a vicious system of repressed guilt. This fixes Krueger’s innate motive to disrupt the false civil harmony created, as underneath the façade lies a seedy underbelly

What furthers Krueger as a direct symbol of rebellion is his position as a fully fleshed-out villain, rather than an antagonist with an anonymous aura haloing over them. Throughout all of the films, Kruger is an all-performing show character, whose infectious personality has forced audiences over time to warm to him more than his victims. Krueger represents the evil in society, but just as humans do, we cannot help but be tempted by such wickedness. He talks, runs, jokes, laughs, and most importantly toys with his victims, showing genuine enjoyment in killing his prey.

He evokes a personality, not just a wallowing killer behind a mask. There is nothing at fault with the great silent killers, such as Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees, but Krueger’s sensibility has a mysterious sense of threat that only he can achieve. He does not feed off of people’s fears as a source of power, instead, he uses that menacing allure to break down his victim’s shield. The thought of a speechless killer is terrifying, but the thought of one who plays a game of cat and mouse (just because he can) creates a daunting and disturbed atmosphere. 

Throughout the rest of the franchise Krueger’s comedic tone heightens, almost falling down the rabbit hole of 1980s fruitfully humorous horror, however, his true looming nature has remained the same. In comparison to other big franchises of the genre, A Nightmare on Elm Street has fewer titles, which is mostly due to the 2010 reboot completely failing at expanding the universe. But, despite such setbacks in progression, the most pivotal element across every film is the tonal roots that the Nightmare films stay true to, with Freddy Krueger being one of horror’s most definable and complex characters

Love to read more about iconic horror villains? Check out our article on Jason Voorhees here.