“A surreal shocker,” Fan Goria
Nightmare is the first official film of the Philadelphia Underground Film Forum (PUFF). A couple is shocked to find themselves cast in snuff films with strangers while thinking they are having sex with one another. The male in this couple, under pressure of a deadline in his film class, uses this disturbing-reality creep to propose a movie to his class. He then scripts based on more snuff coming in from nights with his lover. The camera functions as the proximal source of all terrifying snuff, both in the class and in his life. External circumstances corroborate the actuality of the images from the latter. But the film maker is never shown. Only the film maker’s environment is portrayed — casting both the film class and movie’s audience as snuff enablers. Through their titiliation and tolerance of cinematic sex and violence, they function to reinforce the film maker’s horror making.
Nightmare suggests an implicit critique of the fallacy of homuncular determinism. What happens when the self-within self dreams? Where does the primal self get its direction? The most parsimonious inference is from an audience whose moral outrage is blunted by the camera’s de-emphasis of scenic suffering. This softening of terror plus counterconditioning by attractive sexual stimuli suck the audience into becoming complicit in the reinforcement of acts (by the invisible reality/film maker <G-d/Technology?>) that have terrifying byproducts. It has potential as an allegory for analyzing the process by which America now enables a culture of terror.
Nightmare will be shown tonight at 725 N. 4th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123 at 7:00 pm, 9:30 pm, and 12:00 am. Admission is $5.
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