Not Quite Horror: “Carnage” (2011)

Not Quite Horror contains reviews of films not traditionally considered horror films. By analyzing them as horror films (identifying the monster, discussing the shared worry for the audience and the main characters, and understanding the depth of horror available to the viewer), who knows? There’s more than one way to watch a movie.

Carnage (2011)

The Monster: Cobbler. Truthfully, the most frightening creatures in Carnage are the two sets of parents (one couple played by Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly and the other is played by Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz). The child of one family knocked two teeth out of the child of another family, and all four adults sit down to find the best course of action for their two kids.

The trouble is the adults are much more distressed then their children. When their inability to swallow their own pride in the spirit of compromise becomes apparent, they unload all of their pain and suffering. None of them are able to find solutions, and the film lets them wallow in the hells they’ve created.

The Horror: Cobbler. The family of the boy who struck the other son might have escaped if the mother (Winslet) hadn’t eaten a helping of cobbler. The dessert mixed with the tension in her gut and swirled around.

These awful people might have escaped each other’s wrath if the cobbler hadn’t come up all over the coffee table. Once bodily fluids and property destruction came to the party, no one had any hope of escaping.

The Shared Fate: Awfulness lives inside most human beings, but somehow we make excuses and escape from confronting the true suffering of others. For the couples in Carnage, a cobbler and an upset stomach led a massive pile up of emotional pain.

For other awful people, a traffic mishap, a weather anomaly, or even a stray dog could be enough to keep them with other awful people until the truth comes out. Then, let the carnage begin!

— I am indebted to Noel Carroll’s The Philosophy of Horror for his ideas on defining horror, as well as John Skipp and Craig Spector’s article “Death’s Rich Pageantry, or Skipp & Spector’s Handy-Dandy Splatterpunk Guide to the Horrors of Non-horror Film” in Cut! Horror Writers on Horror Film for a similar idea.–

–Axel Kohagen

1 thought on “Not Quite Horror: “Carnage” (2011)

  1. Wonderful and unexpectedly hilarious Polanski-film. Not for everyone, but I loved the hell out of it.

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