How the Classic Movie Changed Haunted House Horror

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While we often take this for granted in the rushed haziness of our daily lives, just one look up at the sky should make it clear why primitive cultures once worshiped the sun. Which is why it’s no surprise that our closest star has been a prominent figure in storytelling from Egyptian mythology to the present day. Superman movies.

While the sun is generally considered a symbol of life and hope, our reliance on the sun has also inspired several stories about the terror of no longer being able to rely on its warmth. As for the movies, there’s a certain underrated sci-fi flick that expertly explores this specific type of cosmic horror while also serving as an entertaining dive into the dark side of space travel. Naturally, I am referring to Danny Boyle2007 thriller Sunshinewhich is currently celebrating its 15th anniversary.

For those who haven’t seen it, Sunshine follows a set of astronauts on a desperate mission to rekindle our dying sun after a previous attempt failed for mysterious reasons. During their arduous journey to the center of the solar system, the aptly named Icarus II comes across a distress signal from his unfortunate predecessor. After a close vote, the crew decides to investigate the anomaly, embarking on a risky detour that could jeopardize the fate of humanity.

Re-directing a script from an established genre writer (and now famous director) Alex Garland, Sunshine was Danny Boyle’s attempt to revitalize the psychology-driven sci-fi stories of the 60s and 70s while challenging himself in a notoriously difficult genre. Borrowing from classics like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaristhe film was meant to explore the human consequences of these scientific breakthroughs rather than the sci-fi spectacle itself.

“At the end of time, a time will come when only one man will remain. Then the time will pass.

This focus on the subjective side of the genre also influenced the decision to feature a diverse ensemble cast, with the film bringing together a formidable group of talented comedians to populate Icarus II. From our physicist protagonist Capa (played by Cillian Murphy in his second collaboration with Boyle after 28 days later) at Cliff Curtis‘ Introspective Dr. Searle, these characters are believable as a desperate group of specialists forced to work together for the greater good. Even the incredibly talented michelle yeo makes an appearance as the crew’s resident botanist, as well as a pre-MCU (but post-The Fantastic Four) Chris Evans.

With the exception of Murphy, which makes sense given Capa’s portrayal as a misunderstood loner, the actors actually lived together before and during production as they immersed themselves in their characters. During this process, the actors benefited from in-depth backstory written by Gia Milinovichexploring fascinating details like Mace’s (Evans) unspoken romantic feelings for Cassie (Rose Byrne) and developing character motivations. To be fair, it’s a shame that many of these elements didn’t really make it into the final image, as they would have made the ultimate sacrifice of the crew that much more impactful.

Of course, I’d say the film’s greatest accomplishment is how it plays with the expectations of the genre, shifting effortlessly from hard sci-fi to psychological drama and even incorporating slasher elements towards the end of the film. . While it’s not exactly a traditional horror movie, there are unmistakable shades of Ridley Scott Extraterrestrial and even a bit of John Carpenter sprinkled throughout the image, which is why I think it appeals to horror fans.

In fact, the film’s controversial decision to descend into horror in its final act ended up alienating some viewers upon release, but I think it was a brave move that perfectly complements the script’s reflections on nihilism and Spirituality. From the antagonist’s sun-induced madness to the bizarre visual filter surrounding his horrific burns (as if the film suggested reality itself was warped around strong branddemented character of), there are a lot of elements here that would be right at home in an HP Lovecraft story, making Danny Boyle Sunshine a pretty literal champion of cosmic horror.

Sunshine movie by Danny Boyle

“So if you wake up one morning and it’s a particularly beautiful day, you’ll know we’ve made it.”

These existential scares are balanced by hauntingly beautiful moments like Kaneda’s tragic demise and a trippy yet soulful finale. Sunshine also boasts some truly iconic sci-fi imagery, with the photography making particularly heavy use of color, often bathing melancholic scenes in an eerie amber glow. Naturally, there’s plenty of “sci-fi porn” in the film as well, with heart-pounding space walks and futuristic technology that’s often brought to life through optical deceptions and clever set design rather than CGI.

The impressive visuals are also bolstered by another phenomenal score from John Murphy (in his fifth collaboration with Boyle) alongside electronic music group underworld. Much like Murphy’s work in 28 days laterpieces of Sunshine’s found their own life in other media as other creators recycled the film’s music for their own purposes. Not only was Adagio in D minor (also known as The surface of the sun) presented in the years 2009 Kick assbut he recently appeared in Patty Jenkin’s Wonder Woman 1984further illustrating the staying power of this awesome soundtrack.

While some elements of the script don’t quite hold up to scrutiny, such as the story’s heavy reliance on plot tricks and supposedly smart characters acting like spoiled teenagers rather than professional astronauts, I think there’s an artistry in the experience that mostly offsets most of these issues. It’s still clear that Boyle is having a lot of fun with this unusually large budget, playing with camera setups and effects in the most imaginative way possible. This unbridled creativity doesn’t always work, but it results in a movie that’s still interesting even when it stumbles. It’s also hard to deny the surreal beauty of the film’s final moments, which I believe are up there with sci-fi epics like Interstellar and Moon.

Sunshine It may not be Danny Boyle’s magnum opus, but I think it’s a shining example of cosmic horror done right and definitely one of my favorite entries in the director’s eclectic filmography. As a fan of pulpy sci-fi, I’ve come to accept that minor scientific inaccuracies and flimsy plot points are often irrelevant when it comes to compelling concepts like advanced theoretical physics and metaphysical interpretations of God, and that’s why I’d recommend this ambitious thriller for any fan of existential horror, even 15 years later.


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