content by

Lauren Jackson

Singing Our Own Tunes: Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay

One of the seven definitions in the Merriam Webster Dictionary of “song” defines it as a poem set to music, or a melody written for a lyric poem or ballad. In contrast: a “fairy tale” is defined as a children’s story about magical and imaginary beings and lands, or a fabricated story, especially one intended to deceive. I looked those up after reading the first sentence (maybe even the refrain?) of Paul Tremblay’s Survivor Song: “This is not a fairy tale. This is a song.”

At the outset, Survivor Song gives us a glimpse into a tragically familiar tableau: the United States in the midst of a pandemic—a highly contagious variation of the rabies virus, passed through saliva, with a near 100% fatality rate due to its rapid onset. There are government-mandated curfews, a food shortage, and strict shelter-in-place laws. We see all this through the eyes of the very pregnant Natalie, just outside of Boston, as she faces an even more familiar struggle: parsing conflicting information in the form of social media posts, radio interviews, and byzantine government statements, trying to figure out what exactly she needs to do to keep her unborn child and husband safe.

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Six (Technically Seven) Weird Horror Movies to Stream While Hiding out at Home

With a sudden and slightly shocking amount of time to kill, some people are taking to social media to do the pushups challenge. Others, the shots challenge. Me? I’m doing the “watch and catalog every movie I never had the time to watch” challenge. I’ve been digging deep through my streaming platform watchlists and a sleek little spreadsheet I maintain like a bonsai tree to find movies long past their time in theaters, cult classics only available behind a paywall, or foreign films with subtitles that I was always too tired to follow.

As a human collective, we’re going through some strange changes these days. Based on my own experience, the best thing to do is to not just focus on using our newfound time to be productive, but to find joy, too. I love watching—and sharing thoughts about—movies, especially SFF/H. If you do, too, get started with this list, and I hope it brings you a little bit of something good.

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Six Genre-Bending Books About Parasites, for Lovers of the Movie Parasite

I always go into movies blind. Maybe I’m a purist or some sort of ass backwards control freak, but I most enjoy movies when I know my reaction to them is purely mine. While I always value a good, critical review, I don’t really care to know the Rotten Tomatoes rating or whether it lives up to the book version. It’s always more rewarding (and, really, more interesting) to compare a fully formed opinion of my own to everyone else’s and see where I fall in the space of media and consumer consensus.

So I walked into Parasite fully expecting a horror movie. Based on the classically opaque trailer and the fact that it played before some other horror movie, my brain filed Parasite away under “horror movies in 2019.” I, of course, did not get a horror movie. And, reader, it was perfect.

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The Witches Are Coming: The Unexpected Magic of Gretel & Hansel

In her book The Witches Are Coming, Lindy West sums up an entire four hundred years worth of history with the spot-fucking-on statement, “Americans are addicted to plausible deniability.” When I read that (in the midst of procrastinating from writing this article), it hit me: that’s what fairytales are. Fairytales provide answers to questions we don’t want to dwell on for too long. Fairytales have no nuance, no grey area, no maybes. I’m not just talking about the versions that Disney fed to us with a spoonful of sugar, either. Fairytales are, inclusively, drawn with clear borders and clear answers. There are the good guys and the bad guys, a battle between the two, and a neat resolution without fail…and within that resolution, a lesson, of course.

All this to say, I walked into Gretel & Hansel expecting to be entertained but underwhelmed.

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