Rick Dossey has been a connoisseur of stories for over 50 years. His particular interest is how the stories sustain the people he knows, as well as how they shape their shared reality and perception of life itself. He lives with the wife he became attached to in the Great Pyramid of Giza, as well as two dogs and three cats.
The phrase “Ars Long, vita brevis” has two common definitions — one lamenting the length of time it takes to master an art or a trade versus the bounds of mortality, the other observing that art lasts forever, long after the artist is forgotten.
Both definitions are brought to mind in The Witch (2015), written and directed by Robert Eggers. Eggers’ directorial debut is a movie that at once immerses us in 17th-century Puritan New England yet channels the primal fears of men and women from across the span of human history. In just three years, it has been recognized on many lists of classic horror films, a testament to the universality of its emotional resonance.
The movie is told straightforwardly and simply, with a minimum of special effects and distraction. The viewer feels that the same story could have been told in New England inns in 1650, with minimal changes to reflect the mores and culture of the time. Reflecting upon the movie afterwards, one realizes the timelessness of our principal fears — our acceptance by social groups, our confidence as parents and child guardians, sibling rivalry, the sexual feelings that complicate our understanding of life, relationships and ourselves, and, finally, the dangers of life in the “wild” outside the civilized world in which our minds have adapted to live.
If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you needn’t rush to do so. Because of Eggers’ artistic achievement, it will live forever, at will, as a story that touches our strongest fears — fears that have inspired the horror stories of generations past. When you do have the time and desire to see it, you too may feel that you are seeing the art of horror being mastered for a short window of time, as it has been from time to time throughout the ages.
For most of his life, Evan Dossey has generally avoided horror films. The genre makes him profoundly uncomfortable. This means he has enormous gaps in his cinematic knowledge. Each year, he asks friends and family which essential horror movies he needs to see in order to fill those gaps and spends the better part of October agonizing over them, tossing and turning over them … and writing about them. This year, he’s sharing the month with those friends and family — letting them offer their own thoughts about the tales that terrify (or perhaps just titillate) them. This is everyone’s No Sleep October.
NO SLEEP OCTOBER 2018
Blue Sunshine — James Ledesma
Spoorloos (The Vanishing) — Andrew Kimmel
The Devil’s Candy — Joshua Hull
FYFF Horror Marathon 2018 — Evan Dossey
Cat People (1942) — Aly Caviness
The Child’s Play Series — Salem
The Shining (1980) — Dave Gutierrez
Hellroller — Richard Propes
Poltergeist III — Greg Lindberg
Scream — Heather Knight
The Frankenstein Cycle — Lou Harry
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors — Sam Watermeier
Eastern Horrors — Alex Holmes
Unfriended — Austin Lugar
Freaks (1932) — Alys Caviness-Gober
As Above, So Below — Jonathan Curole
The Beyond — Nick Rogers
The Dentist — Mitch Ringenberg
The Halloween Franchise — Evan Dossey