Fear Needs No Translation: Dog Eat Dog – An Analysis of “White God”

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Dogs have sat alongside humankind for generations, acting both as guardians and best friends. It isn’t uncommon today to walk into a household and be greeted by a furry, four-legged creature. Dogs can be the center of attention at any house party, and you even see people walking down the street lose their minds upon a dog sighting. The idea that dogs are one of the most trustworthy creatures on Earth has been instilled into the minds of millions of people around the world. But what happens if this trust is broken? Imagine a world where dogs are alienated and have become public enemy number one. In this edition of “Fear Needs No Translation,” we dive into the dark fantasy of Hungarian director, Kornél Mundruczó, where he makes this nightmare a reality in his 2014 film, White God.

Kornél Mundruczó isn’t a stranger to the film industry, having a variety of acting and directing jobs, including films such as Delta (2008) and Johanna (2005). Mundruczó surpasses the artistry that is film; his craft has become an outlet for voicing his opinion on many social and political matters. With the help of acting rookie, Zsófia Psotta, White God has been recognized for its technical cinematography, artistic aesthetic, and issue-driven allegory.

In a not-so-distant future, the Hungarian government has created a tax on mongrel dogs that would nearly bankrupt any mutt owner. As a result, dog populations have skyrocketed in shelters, as well as strays in the street. Mundruczó’s White God follows the story of Lili and her dog, Hagen, as the two face the struggles of separation, abuse, and finding acceptance in the world. Having been forced to living on the streets by Dániel, Lili’s father, Hagen quickly learns his place in society. Gaining an obsession of saving her best friend, Lili soon realizes that the innocence of her world is a façade. Literally being thrown to the curb, Hagen and the other dogs of this ingenious film rise up as the newest form of terrorists. With all hope seemingly fading away, Lili must take a stand against the beast she once considered her friend to find the light in his soul. White God is a beautifully crafted movie, comprised of the spectacle of a melodrama, while incorporating elements of contemporary horror. A true spectacle, Mundruczó and his cast spin together a tale that will have your emotions toyed with from start to finish.

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Fear Needs No Translation: Is Blood Thicker Than Water? – An Analysis of “A Bay of Blood”

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In our dynamic culture, the thought of looking back from where we came from is often overlooked. It’s humbling to take a second and remember that if it weren’t for the innovators that came before us, then we wouldn’t be in the position where we are right now. The philosophers that spoke up against the norm, the scientists that questioned the accepted reasoning, and the political leaders that stood for change are all cornerstones to the world we live in today. Not only does it humble us, but it teaches us why what we experience today is the way it is. Likewise, in horror films, we can look back at the greats and learn from them — these masters of fear that still influence the industry, and probably will continue to influence it decades from now. Today, we pay our respects to the great Mario Bava, with an analysis of his 1971 film, A Bay of Blood, in this installment of “Fear Needs No Translation.”

Being credited with establishing the Italian giallo genre, it’s no wonder why Bava’s legacy has lived on through the works of those both native to and outside the Italian countryside. This specific subgenre of horror is a hybrid of many, drawing its defining characteristics from mysteries, psychological thrillers, as well as slashers, making it stand out from its other horror conglomerates. Bava started off as a painter by trade, but had a great influence by his father, Eugenio Bava, one of the first Italian film directors. Eventually following in his father’s footsteps, Mario brought along his own artistic prowess, creating films with brilliant coloring and lighting. With many underappreciated works, such as The Whip and the Body (1963) as well as Blood and Black Lace (1964), Bava has branded the giallo subgenre for eternity, perhaps most notably with A Bay of Blood. Continue reading

Fear Needs No Translation: Sleep With One Eye Open – An Analysis of “The Awakening”

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The supernatural has been a topic of interest since man has walked the earth. Life after death has piqued our ancestors’ interests, in attempts to gain some sort of closure for the inevitable end. Is there a sort of new life we gain upon crossing over to the other side, or do we simply rot in the ground as a forgotten body? Some believe there is no end of suffering — an eternal purgatory, doomed to haunt the halls which we once called home. In this week’s review on Fear Needs No Translation, the apparitions of the British Isles have returned to scare us once more in The Awakening.

Transitioning from television to the big screen in his 2011 film, British director and writer, Nick Murphy, has proven himself to be more than just a documentarian. Having experience in editing for the BBC newscast and directing a sizeable amount of television mini-series, Murphy previously demonstrated his cinematographic skill not only visually, but audibly as well. Utilizing expertly timed shots, accompanied by a soundtrack to enhance the fear, The Awakening chronicles a paranormal narrative that questions the morality of a post-war society ravaged by the ghosts of the past.

After the loss of her love due to World War I, Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall) has put all her time and energy into her work: debunking the mystical. Her writings, along with her assistance in many police cases, have made her a household name among the British public. When the death of a student at a boarding school for young boys turns into claims of a haunting, Professor Robert Mallory, played by Dominic West, turns to Cathcart as the institution’s only hope.

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Fear Needs No Translation: Blood, Flesh, and Bone Appetit – An Analysis of “Raw”

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As the Lenten season hits the halfway mark, we are given the opportunity to reflect upon the decisions we’ve made and what we’ve given up. Per my normal sacrifice, I gave up meat, meaning no beef, pork, or poultry for 40 days. With a diet consisting of primarily grains and vegetables, it often becomes difficult to not think about giving into my body’s innate desire for proteins only animal-based products can fulfill. That being said, I thought about how wildly appropriate it would be to showcase a film about forbidden gluttony in this week’s edition of Fear Needs No Translation.

French director and writer, Julia Ducournau, dives head first into the horror industry with what may be considered one of the most warped and dark tales of the 21st century thus far. Prior to the release of Raw, her cinematic portfolio was almost nonexistent, being made up of a handful of writing jobs, as well as her short film, Junior. Her first feature length film isn’t the standard coming of age story. Drawing inspiration from both Dracula (1931) and Carrie (1976), Ducounrau has crafted a tale whose message is relatable while still catering to the horror aficionado.

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Fear Needs No Translation: Eat Your Heart Out – An Analysis of “Train to Busan”

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Welcome, readers, to the first installment of “Fear Needs No Translation,” a bi-weekly summary and review of international horror. I, Justin Fortes, will be your tour guide, conductor, pilot, and captain through this terrifying adventure. Each week, a different film will be analyzed not only for its plot and visual aesthetic, but also for the underlying socioeconomic and political issues that the work attempts to resolve. As we take this journey through the blood-drenched planes that we call horror cinema, keep in mind that we will be stepping into territories past our own borders. Let’s throw on our cultural sunglasses and buckle up; it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

As our train pulls into the station of our first film, please be aware of zombies rampantly roaming about the platform. In the 2016 Korean film, Train to Busan (originally titled Busanaheng), director Sang-ho Yeon takes on the challenge of reviving the undead of George Romero’s nightmarish hellscape for a new generation of horror-heads. With a resume exclusively composed of animated films prior to Busan’s release, Sang-ho surprisingly entered the international horror scene, storming in and showing no sign of slowing down.

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