Netflix is currently not working for me right now, so I figured I’d give some last thoughts on the intersection of the horror genre and fairy tales. While several of the movies I watched for this week’s theme were atrociously bad and none of them were what I would consider amazing, I did like the seeing how different people approached these ideas in different ways. We got a straight retelling, a modernization of a story, a story that used the trappings of the fairy tale and so on.
I think there is a definite place for the kind of movie that plays with childhood stories in these ways. Fairy tales are, at the core, a childlike thing. When we hear the stories we grew up reading or seeing the movie of, it helps to transport of us back to that childhood mentality where the fantastic is commonplace and good triumphs over evil. However, that childlike imagination is also where we get the monsters under the bed or the thing in the basement. Combining a fairy tale with the horror genre not only makes sense in that many of these stories included horror elements to begin with but getting us to be in that childlike mindset helps to make the movie that much more frightening.
When done right, the fairy tale horror movie shows a twisted image of our childhood. Like any good horror story, it takes the familiar and makes it alien. When done wrong, as we saw so often this week, you merely take the names or ideas of certain fairy tale things and slap them onto a generic or terrible plot. The ones that really worked used the source material in interesting ways. Snow White focused in on the queen and spiraling madness from grief where Hansel & Gretel highlighted the grotesqueness of the original stories cannibal themes. The ones that really didn’t work, like Alice in Murderland just used the names and look of the Alice characters without playing with any of the themes or doing anything interesting with the story. I think Pinocchio’s Revenge was an interesting side case in that you probably could have dropped any reference to the original story of Pinocchio and made it work just fine but the references did add some interesting things to the plot.
Final thoughts on the matter would be this. I don’t really see the fairy tale/fantasy sub-genre of horror as being one I would particularly seek out but, up until this week, I actively avoided it. The themes for the rest of the month are actually based on types of horror films that I normally look down my nose at as being inherently bad. While there were certainly ones that lived up to that expectation, I feel like I would no longer cringe if someone suggested we watch one from now on.