I've decided to try and take the October Horror Movie Challenge. In short, it is a challenge to watch 31 horror movies in the month of October. As part of this challenge (although not required), I decided to post something after each one of the movies. Being an RPG blog, I'll probably post lessons from these movies about what to do or what not to do as the horror GM or player. I'll try to keep it as one lesson for movie, and I hope that at least some of them will be applicable outside of the horror-gaming scene. For my list, though, I've decided to pick a bunch of movies that are considered good, yet not that well known, so I went to the 31 last places in the Time Out London. I hope that you'll find it interesting…
And we start with Come and See. And what can I say? It is not your typical horror movie. Actually, it is pretty far from it. It is a great movie, though, even if it is not a great horror movie. If I'll have to describe it, it is somewhere along the lines of Apocalypse Now, but done right, just like with Platoon.
It is a movie about the horrors of war, and specifically about the horrors of the Second World War, while also tackling the way that they influence a young lad who wants to be- and becomes- a partisan. The story takes place in Byelorussia, during the year of 1943
But apart from being a great movie, it is still a pretty good horror movie (even if it is more a horror movie by accident than by purpose). And like most good movies, it has quite a lot to teach us. But I wanna concentrate on a single lesson from it, derived from a single scene. It is the scene in which the Germans burn the church with all the people in it.
In this scene, director Klimov tries to show us the monstrosity of the Germans during those times. Klimov was wise enough to understand that one needs more in order to show someone as monstrous, than to just show this one committing mass murder. To make someone into a monster or to show someone's monstrosity you need far more than that.
The solution that he has found was to make the Germans behave, when committing those atrocities, like its normal and nothing worth thinking about. More than that, he showed them like they're enjoying it, a sick enjoyment. Our knowledge that it's all true makes it even more monstrous. But for our purposes we don't need this knowledge. For our purposes, the fact that he did show this is enough to make us hate those Germans, to make us terrified of what they can do. They listen to music while they murder, eat shrimps while watching the church burns, taking pictures afterwards like it is a tourist attraction. It's monstrous, it's disgusting, and it shows their monstrosity to the extreme.
And we can use that in RPGs too. When we want to show the monstrosity of the monster(s) in our games, we can use this trick. In one of my Changeling campaigns, for example, the villain made a lamp from the head of one of the major ally NPCs of the characters. But it didn't end with that, as he was so happy and smiling all over the place due to the beauty of his new lamp. Needless to say, nobody loved him afterwards. He's monstrosity showed for miles.
It is pretty much a morbid lesson from a very dark and depressing movie, but I think that it is a very useful tool in the horror GM's arsenal. How about you? Did you use a tool like this? If so, how did it go? And what other lessons did you learn from the movie?