Monday, April 30, 2012

What's in the Box?

Thrown like a star in my vast sleep
I open my eyes to take a peep
To find that I was by the sea
Gazing with tranquillity.
'Twas then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
Came singing songs of love


Yesterday, for the first time, I sat down to watch David Fincher's "Seven." Yes, I know it came out 17 years ago, and it's a movie with which EVERYONE seems all too familiar. (After I mentioned it on my Facebook page, I got about a dozen "What's in the box?!" comments.) But even though I knew it was an acclaimed film and an important pop culture touchstone, I had never actually watched it.

I was scared to.

First, because I'm not a fan of horror or gore per se. I do enjoy a good suspense film. And I don't mind an honest-to-goodness fright now and then. I thought "Paranormal Activity" was brilliant, and "Silence of the Lambs" is probably among my top 10 favorite movies of all time. But I cannot tolerate torture porn: No "Saws," "Hostels" or "Human Centipedes" for me. (Even the trailer for the first "Centipede" disturbed me for weeks.) Honestly, I've just never understood the pleasure in vicariously experiencing someone else's pain. That's one reason I always hated "The Three Stooges" and refuse to see the Farrelly brothers' remake.

Please don't anyone ever get me this birthday cake.

But movie genre preferences aside, I had long been curious about "Seven," and had every intention of watching it someday. Then came 2007's "Zodiac," also directed by Fincher. It's been five years since I first saw "Zodiac," and all I have to do is hear Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man," and the cold shivers begin.

It wasn't the scary factor itself that bothered me, although "Zodiac" is often genuinely terrifying. It's the dread. In making that film, Fincher was able to create an all-consuming sense that the world is a cruel, twisted place where awful things happen to innocent people for no reason whatsoever -- that life is a series of ugly, unsolvable puzzles. The movie made me feel literally crazy.

I always figured "Seven" would have the exact same effect on me, and that's why I've avoided it. But I found myself yesterday with absolutely nothing good to watch on TV, and I needed something to occupy my attention while I made my weekly quiche. In scrolling through the Showtime-on-Demand movies, I came across "Seven" and thought, "It's now or never."

I should have opted for never.

 Not unlike what I look like after making my quiche.

As much as I admired the filmmaking, the performances and especially the horrifically brilliant plotting, the whole operation just left me feeling baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad. The vomit bucket. The "Help Me" fingerprints on the wall. The knife dildo. It was all just awful. And even though I followed it up with four back-to back episodes of "Friends," I went to bed feeling completely unsettled.

Sure enough, at 3:30AM on the dot, I awoke from a disturbing dream. I can't remember the details. But it was dark and violent and filled with dread, and as I lay in the darkness of my room with the humidifier quietly gurgling alongside my bed, I was afraid to go back to sleep, lest the dream continue. So I stayed awake. I read from a length paperback (Gay Talese's "The Neighbor's Wife," which I'll blog about another time). I watched a movie on Netflix (some Z-grade gay-genre documentary called "The Adonis Factor"), I tossed and turned, and then, around 6:45, I fell back asleep... for 15 minutes.

Absolutely no reason to include this still from "The Adonis Factor," but I need to keep my gay male readers interested somehow.

Today I feel like absolute shit and am basically worthless. And I have nobody to blame but myself and David Fincher.

I think I'm done with scary movies for good.

Homo exhausted.  

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