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Comfort Art or Out of the Comfort Zone? The Halloween Movies versus A24 Studios

There’s a reason we focus on good coffee and good music with this little ol’ creativity thing we’ve got going on here. Putting a mug of perfectly brewed medium roast to our lips alerts our brain that something is about to happen, and our body settles in for a familiar feeling.

Coffee makes us feel good. It’s comfort. We know what to expect when we take that first sip, and we, if you’re anything like me, attempt to recreate the first-sip experience each time you microwave the mug (which always ends fulfilling the law of diminishing returns). Music, on the other hand, can do the opposite. It can be comfortable when you first get to know it and continue to bring the fire each time you lay that vinyl down and set the needle in the groove.

Recently, in my 31 days of Halloween horror-thon, I watched the 1980 slasher-ish classic, Terror Train. Knowing fairly well what I was in for, I settled into bed, pulled the covers up under my chin, and let the familiarity creep in. The credits begin, and the feeling is that familiar tingle…

…like the coffee one. The one where you know exactly what to expect from a crappy movie with a fun premise. You can go in having zero expectations, don’t have to be scared, and get to have fun commenting on the fact that David Copperfield’s first and only “acting” role is as a… magician. It’s not all that different from digging into your own pint of Ben and Jerry’s after a long, hard work day. It’s a comfort movie. It’s comfort art, and there’s a reason we love it.

The 12th Halloween movie was just released, and it’s called Halloween Kills. The 13th Halloween movie, Halloween Ends, is scheduled for release in 2022. As a society, we love Michael Myers. I’m talking about this one, despite also loving this one. Maybe love is a strong word, but there’s something oddly familiar. We know what we’re in for with a Halloween film. Guy in mask. Knife. Iconic theme music. Staring from a distance. In a time of uncertainty, we crave what we know.

And yet.

And yet. If you’re here reading this blog, you’re not only the comfort-seeking type, are you? I’m willing to bet you’re also a boundary-pusher in one, some, or many aspects of your life. Maybe it’s in your creativity - either in what you create, or what you seek. There comes a point in comfort art where I’ve had enough, and I need to open my mind again. It’s then that I seek the weird, the boundary-pushers, the stuff that’s going to make me think or talk for days.

One place that I turn to for reliably-weird is the A24 Studios and their series of movies. Picking out some of my horror favorites of theirs for this blog was especially fun. If you haven’t seen them, I highly recommend the following:

In Fabric: This is an astoundingly hypnotic film about a killer dress. Its arthouse and fun. A must-watch.

Climax: We’ve blogged about this one before. This movie is a terrifying look at drug tripping set against a bumping beat and some incredible dance scenes.

Enemy: More of a psychological thriller, this one’s about internal horror.

Green Room: This is a gore-filled flick that details the horrors of "white supremacy" set against a punk backdrop.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer: An awkward, bizarre revenge tale with a horrifying ending.

Under the Skin: Scarlet Johannson, unscripted, puts men through a meat grinder.

The VVitch: Would thou like to live deliciously?

The Lighthouse, Midsommar, and Hereditary: So popular lately, I don’t think I even need to comment.

These movies aren’t comforting in any way, but they’ll expand the way you’ll view cinema.

Books do this: comfort or push. We read them, seek them, and use them for different reasons. We visit classic art museums with different expectations than museums of contemporary art. There’s room for cozy mysteries alongside boundary-pushing chapbooks.

Halloween Kills works nicely alongside The Lamb, despite the different roles they fill.

We all float down here, in the comfortably good, the weirdly comfortable, or the place where comfort has no role. Be you, be creative, be an asterisk.

**May I recommend a comedy-horror that both feels strangely comfortable and yet pushes its own boundaries? Try this new (old) favorite on for size.

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