Art house horror, it's a term you read more and more these days on sites like our, but just what is it? In searching for a "true" definition, in hope of helping explain the term to those who aren't yet familiar with this sub genre of films, I found that its as hard to "define" as it is to explain. Everyone seems to have their own explanation of what the term means. So instead lets break the term down to the two basics, to get a better idea of what people are talking about. First, Art House Film, as defined on wikipedia: "intended to be a serious artistic work, often experimental and not designed for mass appeal"; they are "made primarily for aesthetic reasons rather than commercial profit" and they contain "unconventional or highly symbolic content". Second, of course is horror, and I think we are all pretty well in the know on that one! In putting the two pieces together you basically have what is an experimental film, meant to make you think, questioning the human experience and world around you, infected with the horrific. An often very visceral, graphic film that continues to live in your mind well after you watch it, as you try to disseminate what you saw and the implications it presents. Its more than a film it is an experience! If you are still unsure then you need to look no further the this film Coyote (which will soon be released by Wild Eye Releasing), it is a spectacular example of what Art-house Horror is meant to be!
I decided to let this one speak for itself so heres the synopsis straight from Coyote's FaceBook page, "The film stars Bill Oberst Jr. as Bill, an insomniac writer whose sleep-deprived hallucinations distort reality as paranoia drives him to extreme violence." The film follows Bill through his days (and more importantly, nights) as he descends into madness. We are left to determine what part of his "reality" is madness induced hallucinations, and what is "real", with moments of violence that will make your jaw hang open, and your body quiver.
Coyote is quite outstanding in many ways, the film is shot beautifully with an interesting use of color transitions to illuminate the path of Bills mental breakdown. I found that to be both smart and often visually stunning decision by director Trevor Juenger. Another thing I found very compelling in the film, is the underlying sadness I felt from the character Bill, it helped drive the film for me, investing me in his journey on a much deeper level. I have to give a nod to Oberst Jr for that one, I cant imagine any one else bringing forth the same combination of vulnerability and madness that make Bill murderously maniacal yet still leave you empathizing with the struggle that makes him so "bad", and I chose bad rather than evil here for a reason. Evil is a choice that one makes in my eyes, where as "bad" (in the context of the film) is more of a result of the break from reality that is suffered by Bill as a result of his mental frailties. Then you have the violence, oh the beautiful, crazy, head pounding violence! Juenger and Oberst Jr make perfect pair in this film, adding many levels to the experience, making for a film that satiates the viewer like a great meal for the mind!
If you have never watched an art-house horror film I HIGHLY recommend that you give this one the honor of being the first! It will leave you searching the realms for more. I have no doubt people will be talking about Coyote for a long time to come. It has already earned numerous awards on the festival circuit, and has garnered just as much attention for being banned in some areas as for the awards. Lets be honest though, that isn't going to hurt this title at all, in fact it is probably one of the things that has helped it gain distribution. Horror fans can be a bit like kids in the fact that when you tell us we can't have something we are just going to want it that much more! That being said when you watch the film there are some "OHHHHHHH" moments when you know instantly that you just watched a scene that was deemed too much for public viewing, Thankfully Wild Eye Releasing obviously believes that art is meant to be seen and as mentioned will be releasing the film in the near future at which point you can determine for yourself if it is too much, or just enough!
I found it to be just enough myself! The film left me feeling disoriented, and slightly skewed emotionally (or to put it plainly crazy). It pulls you into the world of Bills mental illness and gives you a taste of what some people truly suffer on a day to day basis. It is a beautiful, dark film that deserves the accolades it's getting.Coyote is a film that will live on in you long after you finish watching it, and may just give you a new found appreciation for this burgeoning movement called "Arthouse Horror".
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