A lot to be mad about
In this week's Field Notes From Hell: Thoughts on Mariama Diallo's politically charged thriller, 'Master,' a Blu-ray release for Dwein Baltazar's 'Oda sa Wala,' new horror trailers, and more.
Welcome to Field Notes From Hell—the weekly roundup email from my twisted newsletter, Deep Cuts. Each dispatch contains key horror news, thoughts on recent horror films, and personal life updates.
Here are this week’s Field Notes:
Master is a cloud of frustration about equity
Mariana Diallo’s film, Master, pulls its frustrations neatly into a piece that, unlike Jordan Peele’s Get Out, nestles on the cushions of defeatism. It never tips over indignation, of course. There’s no weakness in the awareness that there’s rarely ever a point in pushing a boulder uphill if the hill is made to be unforgiving.
For Gail Bishop (Regina Hall) — one of two black professors and the first black schoolmaster in the employ of Ancaster College — that hill is painfully (and historically) white. Though respected by the mostly Caucasian student body, she feels naturally alienated and not at all exempt from casual racism and microaggressions. These tiny little cuts are shared by a student named Jasmine Moore, a young black woman among ivory-skinned peers.
Narratively, Master hasn’t made space for all this. The first half can be trimmed by half and in its place add finer texture to Gail’s characterization. And the horror elements can’t help but feel like mere afterthoughts to an otherwise painful drama a la Kitty Green’s The Assistant.
☝ Master is part of this week’s recommendations on Rappler’s TikTok.
Vinegar Syndrome picks up Ode to Nothing
Dwein Baltazar’s Ode to Nothing finds its first global home video distribution with Vinegar Syndrome. I consider this a good match. V.S.’s curation have always favored the weird, unsettling, and uncategorizable — words that I’d use to describe Baltazar’s film.
Following the listless existence of a mortician named Sonya (Marietta Subong), the film kicks off when a corpse inadvertently appears at her doorstep.
The release happens under Kani, V.S.’s new label that champions Asian cinema. If you’re interested, you can read my feature on the release on Unreel and get the region-free Blu-ray on the Vinegar Syndrome website.
Latest horror news and trailers
Plenty of new trailers this week. But the clear standout is Alex Garland’s Men, starring Rory Kinnear as…well, all men. The Aviary looks good, too, if only for the actors attached. And not exactly a trailer but worth sharing: The Batman’s deleted scene featuring Barry Koeghan’s take on The Joker.
Watch this week’s horror trailers (and clips):
After an incredible showing in Matt Reeves’ The Batman, Paul Dano has written and is publishing a whole comic book about the Riddler called Riddler: Year One 🎴.