Cabin in the Woods vs. Game of Thrones

Random media-related thought for the day:

In a general sense, I’m kind of a visual wuss. My taste in horror leans towards spooky rather than slasher.

I am enjoying the Game of Thrones series  immensely (we’re in season 2 right now). It is EXCEEDINGLY violent, and often follows very squicky characters. And yet. I’m totally okay.

I saw Cabin in the Woods recently, and didn’t enjoy it nearly as much.  It, too, was violent and squicky, arguably less so than GoT, yet it bothered me MUCH more. I didn’t enjoy it much. I had much more of an “I see what you did there” reaction than a “HOLY CRAP DID YOU SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE” reaction.

And I was trying to figure out why.

Here’s some of what I’m thinking:

  •  I’m generally a Whedon fan. Because of the characters, mostly.
  •  I’m  not someone who grew up on the slasher-horror films of the ’80s and ’90s. So those tropes and their subversions don’t really do much for me.
  • Michael opines that my tolerance for horror films ends at 1975. We watch older ones and I’m fine.
  • I’m a character-centric viewer. I think the problem I have with the newer slasher-type films is that the characters are rather two-dimensional in a way that the violence, to me, gets to be so very impersonal that I’m just…horrified, and not in a way that I enjoy. I have a base reaction that screams WHY AM I WITNESSING THESE PEOPLE BE SO AWFUL TO EACH OTHER I WEEP FOR HUMANITY AND FEEL AWFUL FOR WITNESSING
  • On Game of Thrones, all of the violence is fairly personal. It’s grounded at the very least in familial clashes, and on the larger scale, those lead to wars over land and loyalty. My reaction to GoT is much more “Whoa. That character is MONSTROUS. and FASCINATING. And I can’t wait to see what happens next!”

…so perhaps the problem I have is one of motivated vs. unmotivated violence? Or of contemporary vs. fantasy settings? Or just knowing that one is “fantasy” and the other is “horror”?

Dunno. All I can say is that I’m totally fine seeing severed heads in one situation, and not in the other, and I find that…confusing.

Deep thoughts for the day.


About Lynne M. Thomas

Lynne M. Thomas is a nine time Hugo Award winning editor and podcaster. In her day job, she is Head of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
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