Friday, May 1, 2020

Four Classic Psychological Dramas by Top Directors to Watch Now: You'll Find Out You're Actually Doing Quite Well During this COVID-19 Isolation

By Ashton Samson

You can’t hang out with friends, go to restaurants, vacation, greet your neighbor or touch anything that isn’t your own. You feel as if you’re having a breakdown, like you are about to implode and run outside. Don’t do that. Instead, take my suggestion. First, watch three dark films about the psychological effects that being isolated can have on someone mentally unstable, to confirm that you're handling yourself really well in comparison. Then, watch one that presents positive messages. 

1. The Shining

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, a masterpiece of modern horror, is the quintessential cabin fever movie. From the film’s ominous commencement, to it’s frigid denouement, you will never feel safe, always thinking that you are secluded in The Overlook Hotel alongside Jack Torrance. There are so many things to love about this film; the phenomenal acting, haunting score and eerie vibes. 

One aspect that is most attributed to its success is how well Kubrick weaves the film’s many themes of madness, isolation, and addiction into its main point: in a place where one is left alone, at his purest self, the truth will be revealed about who he really is, for better or for worse. Enjoy this epic masterpiece. I hope that while in quarantine, you don’t discover anything ghastly about who your family members truly are. Instead, find a sense of joy realizing that you’re definitely handling yourself better than Jack Torrance.

 2. The Lighthouse

Imagine working in 1890 New England as a lighthouse keeper on a small island, in the middle of nowhere, where you are forced to work strenuous days and nights, with a wretched, domineering boss who you cannot escape. Meals are mediocre, at best, the weather is unpredictable, and the sound of the foghorn and seagulls are ever present. Director Robert Eggers takes this framework and builds upon it, crafting a complex and ambiguous film that offers no clear answers. 

The movie is a masterful portrayal of what it is like for a man who isn’t of sound mind to be placed in circumstances that only exacerbate his condition. The isolation, lack of physical contact, relentless sounds of the ocean and the harshness of nature conspire to create a deep descent into madness.  The Lighthouse would not be successful without committed actors and the right atmosphere. Luckily, Eggers casted Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, two men of immense talent, who execute herculean monologues, delivering what might very well be their best work. Watching them, you could become easily entranced, but snap yourself out of it, otherwise you will find yourself dancing around the living room, singing “Doodle Let Me Go.”

3. Taxi Driver
Have you ever thought of what it’s like for a mentally unstable man to have no companion except his thoughts? If you haven’t, watch Martin Scorsese’s dark film, focusing on Travis Bickle, “God’s lonely man,” who can’t connect with anyone and obsesses about the decadence swarming in 70’s New York. It will really make you think about how relatable his concerns were and if maybe, someone helped him, they could have been expressed without violence and heartbreak. See this movie, but express your desire for reform unlike Travis, if you can manage…

4. Ready Player On

Ready Player One, by Steven Spielberg is a story of positivity that inspires people to come together and face reality. In such a moment as one that we are living through now, it is important that this message is made abundantly clear. Despite our separation, by social distancing and using technology to our advantage to implement a new way of learning, we are coming together to fight our enemy,  just as the characters in this film do. Watch this film and always remember, “we can be heroes,” even if it's just for one day.

Ashton Samson is our youngest contributor. This article was also published in the 
SJHS Newspaper. To keep up with what he writes, follow us on Facebook.