The Michigan Daily - rnichigandaily.com
TV/NEW MEDIA COLUMN
ore th anjust
There are few things
better than a good scary
movie ... for me, at least. I
count "The Shining" as one
of my favorite films. I saw
'Where's the photographer?'
Alt-J transcends alt
genre i-nft new album
of any of
ALEC STERN exorci
'This Is All Yours'
By YARDAIN AMRON
m ber that epic spaceship
sceie in Alien (1979), when Kane
one second and This Is All
a bloody alien
the next? Lead Alt-
vocalist of Alt- Infectious Records
does. He even
wrote a song about it - called it
"The Gospel of John Hurt" - and
it's as weird as it sounds, maybe
even emblematic of Alt-J itself:
The band's outsider essence on
its sophomore album, This is All
Yours, refuses to conform to any
but 'pining', which is that feeling
when (basically) love turns to
shit and your heart is shattered
and sickens your mind and body
- all through awell-talked-about
Miley Cyrus sample.
But there's something also
playful quality to the album that
was nonexistent on An Awesome
Wave, the band's Mercury-
Prize-winning first album. You
hear in the instrumentation on
"Garden of England," a Shire-
esque interlude filled with birds
and cheerful wood flutes (played
by Hobbits?) that on any other
album, would feel completely
out of place. You hear it on "Left
Hand Free," where Newman
has filtered his voice to mimic a
trucker-dude on the radio, so we
can imagine him wacking it with
his free left as he speeds down
I-90. And you hear it with silly
lines like: "Turn you inside out
to lick you like a crisp packet"
or "Love is a pharaoh and he's
Call it prog-rock, indie-
whatever soothes our craving
to label and define. But This
Is All Yours just doesn't fit all
neat and tidy in any one box.
"Warm Foothills" is too ethereal
to be rock, "Arrival in Nara"
too acoustic to be electronica,
"Leaving Nara" too synthesized
to be folk.
I don't mean to dismiss genre
as superficial or claim Alt-J has
transcended its wide grasp.
Genre is important, and helps us
categorize a piece of art so we
can gain a deeper understanding
of both it and its relationship to
others. At least in theory. But I
feel like we think of genre too
squarely, use it too flippantlX.
This Is All Yours is great because
it challenges us to examine the
borders of genre, and maybe,
refuse its grasp. If you don't
believe me, find me another band
that can sample Miley, Cyrus
successfully. Come on, that's
were seven of them ... seven.)
But television horror is an
entirely different beast, if not
solely because it's so much
harder to pull off. Whereas
horror movies are almost
always characterized by their
quickly developing narratives
and one, simple mission -
get in, get scared, get out
- that mentality doesn't
work on the small screen.
When 90 minutes becomes a
potentially years-long saga,
there needs to be something
One of the newest
offerings in the horror TV
landscape is FX's "The
Strain" from writer-director
Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's
Labyrinth"). The series
premiered on July 13 and was
met with awarm critical and
commercial response. But as
the season comes to a close,
I find myself questioning
the series' viability in the
long-run. In other words, I'm
beginning to think this show
kind of sucks.
Don't get me wrong;
"The Straih"is scary, and
it's featured some of the
most genuinely terrifying
sequences I've ever seen on
television. But this isn't the
big screen, and after many
hours of commitment to the
series - much longer than
any horror movie - it's clear
that "The Strain" uses horror
in more ways than one. In
reality, "The Strain" hides
behind its genre, akin to a
costumed kid on Halloween.
The appearance might do the
job, but ultimately, it's all just
Because really, "The
Strain" isn't a good show - a
fact that becomes clearer
with each passing week.
It's full of stock characters,
cheesy dialogue and illogical
developments, chief among
them that bureaucratic
red tape holding Ephraim
back from fighting the
izing New York City. Or the creators have also
very infected character, mastered the horror genre
ir eyes bleed and their as it pertains to television.
alls out, continues to Despite the fact that it's in
that it's "just the flu." the name, "American Horror
z the best of Story" doesn't put horror
wood's recent major first. Because when you're
r movie releases telling a story that's 13 hours
e Conjuring" and long, and takes its audience
ious," both from James months to experience, being
- weren't narratively scary isn't enough. On all
tional. The former three of the series' iterations,
run-of-the-mill the horror is supplemented
sm drama, while the by complex characters,
stretched for a hokey believable story arcs, dark
logy. But at slim humor and frequent, if not
ng times, none of that always impactful, social
mattered. Ultimately, commentary.
vas not only thrilling, The other day, my brother
ventive in their thrills, asked me what "The Strain"
slting them among was even about. "Vampires,"
ost successful horror I said. "But not like, sexy
s. vampires. They're scary." He
best of Hollywood's was unimpressed, but there
TV horror additions, wasn't really much else I
er, are far more could say to try and impress
cular than "The him.
Conversely, what is
"American Horror Story"
about? Take the first season
Hannbal' - "Murder House." Its
logline: A family moves into
Sstun nng a house that is also home to
all the ghosts of the people
3Xample of who have died there. But
that's just a starting point to
rror on TV. navigate the real nuances and
dimensions of its characters
- "Horror Story" 's Trojan
horse. Holistically, the first
," or even "The, season is about marriage,
ring" and "Insidious." young love, death and deceit.
d away on NBC (yes, It explored infidelity and
the second season grief in the face of trauma.
nnibal" outshined It gave us Jessica Lange's
hing else on television fascinating portrayal of
this year; that Constance Langdon. It was
es "True Detective," serious enough to tackle
urth season of "Game school shootings and weird
ones" and the first enough to have an unclothed
f "Mad Men" 's final Dylan McDermott fight a
n. It's undoubtedly the masked man in a rubber suit.
st horror series on And on top of it all, it was
ion, not because it's frightening. From its chilling
ening, but because it opening sequence to its home
defined by so much invasion-themed episode
han fear (though a late to its "Rosemary's Baby"-
Michael Pitt episode inspired ending, "Murder
ost certainly give you House" was still plenty scary.
sares). "Hannibal" is But first and foremost, it was
ionally well written, good.
tically acted and That isn't the case with
ngly crafted. And "The Strain" - because even
of it all, its visual after ten hours, it's still just
or provides so much about vampires. And if I
and nuance that it's could potentially be watching
t impossible to classify this show when I'm 26 or
vies at all. "Hannibal" 27, just about vampires isn't
ast one thing, and all going to cut it.
moving parts come
er in such a delicate
ofound way that you'll
all about Anthony.
ns or any of the source
ial that inspired it.
a different FX series,
Stern is sleeping with the
lights on. To comfort him, e-mail
email@example.com. To hug him,
ALL YOU HAVE TO
DO IS CLICK
WE'LL MAKE IT WORTHWHILE;)