Will 2019 be remembered as the dawning of the Climate Movie Epoch?
Slaughterhouse Rulez and Aniara join the previously-covered Woman at War as some of the first ripples — all from the art-house theatrical fringes (at least in America), a perfect representation of the country’s abject refusal to face the problem head-on — of cinema’s reaction to our current climate crisis.
(Not to be outdone — and I’m never one to forgo pointing out a cross-medium connection — New York theatre is also responding to the catastrophe, most recently in Bess Wohl‘s Continuity, now running at the Manhattan Theatre Club, which questions the effectiveness — and thus the morality — of any climate artivism that itself consumes resources.)
Slaughterhouse Rulez anthropomorphizes the environment exacting revenge on our ravaging, in the form of a mutated creature bred from our careless devastation. Think of it as the 21st century’s version of how the Red Scare’s widespread nuclear panic manifested on the big screen in similar monster movies like Godzilla, or in supernatural serial-killer bogeymen as seen in the likes of Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Godzilla was a warning that our unchecked, insatiable quest for weaponized domination may create the means of our ultimate destruction. Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees were also man-made tools of death, the result of thoughtless human cruelty come back to slash up our asses.
The kids of today may not be responsible for our imminent environmental collapse, but they’ll still feel the pains of it eventually, probably sooner than later; Slaughterhouse Rulez focuses on these innocents. In this way, they’re reminiscent of the women in last week’s The Third Wife, victims of harmful systems not of their own creation that they’re nevertheless forced into. But unlike those literally-imprisoned souls, Slaughterhouse Rulez suggests that it’s not too late to overthrow the corrupt adults in power, saving the day — and, um, Earth? — in the process.
If only the movie realized earlier that it should’ve been a monster movie all along; the story takes its sweet ass time getting to the creature, and the meandering build-up adds little besides tedium. Attack the Block (for the older set: The Goonies) at Hogwarts — replacing the magic with class issues (which are also on Harry Potter’s mind, albeit less overtly) — is a potentially-potent premise, but too much of the duration is wasted going through the joyless motions of updating J.K.’s high school setting to an Oxford/Cambridge frat scene.
Tomorrow, we’ll discuss a movie that fares better with its cinematic climatology: Aniara.
— Thespian, Yay: Simon Pegg’s poshest accent.
— Thespian, Nay: I’m still not sold on Asa Butterfield’s brand of artificial performativity…yet; you’ve gotta have hope!
— Title, NAY: “RuleZ“? Why the fuck?
— Nay, PLEASE, FOR MY SAKE: Obviously 300 references aren’t in vogue anymore…but are they now ~ *GULP!!!* ~ retro? Am I that old?! THIS IS MIDDLE-AGED SPARTA!!!