In a glowing review of a horrible movie, Noah Berlatsky says “I love horror films, but they don’t scare me” whereas the older he gets the more he squirms at “embarrassment comedy”. For instance “Silent Night” where people facing climate annihilation remain repressed bourgeois selfish squabbling fools. Oh that’s original, mocking social convention. “The true horror is not that all the social rules crumble in the face of bloody catastrophe. It’s that they don’t.” Like the rule where you can say just anything about climate, provided it insults those over 30 as cruel and reactionary, and people won’t object.
As he explains, “‘Silent Night’ is set in a near future in which the earth has experienced massive environmental collapse. Poisonous storms sweep the landscape, and everyone caught in them dies in hideous agony. The British government has issued euthanasia pills to (almost) everyone so they can die with less pain.” So a bunch of nits hold one last Christmas party for old friends, and insult one another cattily while youth protest in vain. “And the parents continue to spend a great deal of energy trying to justify their generation’s poor choices, both to themselves and their children. ‘We just want to make you understand that as your parents, we are not to blame,’ Nell says with great earnestness, as Sandra nods along.”
When reviewing even a compelling action film it used to be obligatory to mention that in some regards the premise was unconvincing. Apparently it no longer is, or the critics no longer notice. Instead we get something as judgy as it is grotesque, because of course Nell’s son Art “gradually reveals himself as the film’s foul-mouthed moral center… He is particularly concerned about the impending suffering of the undocumented immigrants and homeless people who don’t have access to euthanasia pills.” World ends, women and minorities hardest hit. And naturally “The adults have no answers for him…. But even in death there are hierarchies. Everyone intends to hold onto their privilege until the very last.”
Is there a moral? Is there is there? Oh yeah. “In a pandemic and in a climate crisis, humans still grind their axes, even if they know the edges will eventually be buried in their own skulls…. It’s hard to watch because we’re watching it all the time.”
Perhaps because your own thoughts run in a circle as bleak as it is absurd. And to think we once wasted time watching Casablanca.
And to think I was naive enough to expect to be entertained when I went to the cinema, rather than being preached at.
By the way, if you want a non-gloomy, non-preachy book about the end of all things, I can recommend 'First and Last Men' by Olaf Stapledon.