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9.11.2007

The Cringe

This weekend I had a discussion on matters of taste in terms of speculative fiction. We were specifically discussing horror movies and the audience cringe. The best of the films in this genre inspire this action reflexively-most watching can't help themselves.

The discussion worked its way over to the best cinematic cringe moments.

Clearly there's this famous dinner scene.
There's this little touch of stomach trouble.
There's this clear intrusion of privacy.
Anybody ever rent this one?

This weekend I watched The Brood, David Cronenberg's horror masterpiece. Take a look at this little tidbit (it had a cringe or two in there).

But there's the unsettling build-up also. Some films constitute a sustained cringe. I'm thinking of Open Water and Midnight Express.

The examples I provided above are visceral; there's no mistaking that. But they're pulled off with such uncanny skill and attention to film making that they simply dwarf much of the slasher-shock that permeates the horror market. Friedkin does in The Exorcist what I think Wan will never be able to replicate in the Saw films. Wan might be able to create a scene that has a similar level of resonance, but it'll have to be in a different vehicle-in a film that illustrates a greater level of craft than what Saw brings to the table.

So let me put the ball in your court. Which films, and which individual moments, create this reaction in you?

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