If the scenario of 10 Cloverfield Lane was filmed with the emotional sensibility of The Road. Opens with the Joel Edgerton family (with Sarah and teenage Travis) murdering and burying grandpa, who has become infected with whatever killed the world, and only gets darker from there. Soon the Chris Abbot family (with Riley Keough and a young kid) shows up, and after a few days of Joel being extremely suspicious, they’re allowed to move in. But paranoia and infection follow, and the Abbots are evicted and killed.

It was sold as a horror movie (according to Indiewire, Black Phillip even has a cameo), but it’s a particularly grim sort of postapocalyptic thriller… effective, but somehow I didn’t go for it – too much grim hopelessness, not enough Take Shelter mystery/wonder – and it somewhat reduces my desire to catch up with Krisha. It’s not a bland genre exercise, tho – interesting ideas within.

Shults:

The ultimate unknown is death — I think that’s all over the movie. But there are worse things. And there’s a line you can cross that’s too far, and it breaks things, and if we keep functioning like this, and if we keep going in these cycles, we’re going to destroy ourselves. It’s inevitable. We need to take a step back. Losing our humanity is going to be a lot worse.

M. Halperin:

Travis’ sickness only appears after he’s seen his mother and father kill an entire family — mother, father, and child. For all we know, the disease could itself be a function of metaphor, appearing only after a character has been so fervently immersed in the deterioration of human structures. Indeed, Travis has watched as his parents, his creators and fervent shelterers, have themselves become the nightmares. (Quite literally: throughout the movie, Travis’ more surreal nightmares are shot in a different aspect ratio, and set to a different score. This brutally realistic scene, however, also occurs with these subtle flourishes.) Is his retching after this scene, and the coughing of blood, representative of a revulsion with the very stuff with which we’re made? Sure, he’s pretty undeniably sick, but the sickness is also a literal purging of blood — which metaphorically speaks to a guttural, uncontrollable desire to purge oneself of family, of an inheritance of violence.

Self-reflexive documentary interviewing a few people who suffer from sleep paralysis, during which they feel like they’re awake but unable to move and being tormented by malevolent entities in their room. Ascher’s movies are always a pleasure to watch – the sound, editing, and reenactment footage are all great here. It includes occasional behind-the-scenes footage – slates, the camera resetting for a creepy move behind a wall, the “entity” actors prepping a shot – as if to remind us that they’re reenactments.

Arguably not a horror movie, but it’s the first movie since Candyman that I’ve been afraid would follow me out of the screen into the real world, since some people begin experiencing sleep paralysis after hearing stories about it. Therefore it is one of the most effective horror movies ever. Also disturbing in the way that it ends – one sufferer finds Jesus and quits having nightmares, the others have some ideas but it seems like their torment is still ongoing.

A. Nayman for Cinema Scope:

[Ascher] suggests that the sorts of visions common to sleep paralysis are actually deeply embedded in the collective subconscious. Exactly how they got there in the first place is a question that The Nightmare doesn’t really try to answer, but its entire M.O. is baldly provocative. Like the haunted TV broadcasts in Ascher’s beloved Halloween III: Season of the Witch or the cursed videotape in The Ring, it’s a film that means to infect its audience with its imagery.

“Look at my knees. Look at my knees!”
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Things I’d forgotten about Eraserhead:

The curled insect-ring Henry gets in a tiny box in the mail and puts in a cabinet:
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The sequence of events leading to the eraser factory. Henry enters the radiator, stands behind a railing, the baby’s head pops out of his neck, knocking his adult head on the checkered-floor ground. Blood pools, head falls into the pool and splats onto the street outside. A bum looks interested, his arm outstretched, but a boy grabs the head and runs, enters the factory. A man (Paul, below left) anxiously presses a buzzer until a bearded man (below right) comes out pointing his finger “OKAY, Paul!” Bearded man takes the boy into the back room where the eraser technician tests the head. “It’s okay.”
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Kinda felt like I was going through the motions as cinephile and Lynch-fanatic going out by myself to watch Eraserhead on 35mm on the big screen… but WOW was it ever awesome. Such beautiful dark, dark imagery, and amazing to see it as intended sitting in a dark theater away from the comforts of home. Movie is a nightmare – that’s the most accurate description I can think of. Sure it’s a “horror film” among other things, but more importantly it is the closest thing I’ve seen to an actual filmed nightmare. There are no “dream sequences” because there’s no reality… the whole film follows a fascinating dream logic.

Made 30 years ago now. Mary’s mother Jeanne Bates (who also appeared in Mulholland Dr.) died last year. Sound man David Splet (who also worked on Days of Heaven and four other Lynch films) died in ’95. The actor who played Paul at the eraser factory, also in two John Carpenter films around the same time, died in ’98. Everyone else seems to be doing fine, but I also learned that assistant director Catherine Coulson later played the Log Lady on Twin Peaks, and co-cinematographer Fred Elmes (also shot five other Lynch movies and films by Cassavetes, Jim Jarmusch, Albert Brooks, Ang Lee, Mira Nair, and Charlie Kaufman’s new Synecdoche New York) is the only person listed on the whole IMDB to be born in Mountain Lakes, NJ. A hometown celebrity – and it’s a GOOD one!

Jack Nance was murdered Dec. 30, 1996. His final film was Lost Highway. Despite the IMDB’s claims, he’s not the same Jack Nance who co-wrote “It’s Only Make Believe” with Conway Twitty… wake up, IMDB.
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Jack Fisk (below), alive and well and married to Sissy Spacek, has been production designer / art director on all four Terrence Malick films, two by De Palma, two by Lynch, and There Will Be Blood – an impressive career!
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