9 Lives

My review of 9, the Tim Burton-produced animated apocalypse, is now up on the main Plugged In site. The film is more haunting parable than anything else, bolstered by an important cautionary question: With all our techno-gizmos and mechanized whodats, are we getting too smart for our own good?

I talk pretty extensively about the spiritual elements in my review(and there are many). But here, I’d like to address something else that I’ve been puzzling over: The film’s creep factor, and why it impacted me as it did.

I saw 9 on the heels of Halloween II, a gory, violent, hard-R horror movie. It was a feature-length study in brutality, where humanity is bludgeoned to the point of unrecognizability–a vicious and loathesome way to spend two hours. But here’s the thing: Bloody horror films like Halloween don’t scare me. I didn’t jump. I didn’t scream. The movie–has horrible as it was–didn’t linger. I am frightened of a great many things, but Michael Myers is not among them.

But the evil, soulless machines in 9 … man, those are just flat-out creepy. If I was 12 and had seen the film, I’m pretty sure the snake-like machine topped by an eyeless doll head would’ve given me nightmares for weeks. And let me make a confession: 9, at one point, made me jump.

None of this is to say that Halloween II is somehow more benign than 9: It’s not. But it is interesting … and it perhaps illustrates that blood and guts aren’t nearly as frightening as imagery that taps, somehow, into our Boschian-like imaginations. Ask the man-or-woman on the street about the creepiest films they’ve seen, and chances are good that, somewhere in the conversation, The Wizard of Oz will pop up because of those scary flying monkeys.

So, all that said, tell me: What movies scare you? And why?