When debris from a damaged satellite destroys the space shuttle, what’s left of the crew must fight for survival.
I feel most reviews of Alfonso Cuarón’s science fiction horror film Gravity should come with a set of warnings. First, the camera moves in (what feels like) fluid 3D space, making it the perfect film to see in IMAX 3D – even if you hate 3D. The camerawork will make some of you absolutely, gut-blowingly sick so bare that in mind when choosing a seat. Second, there are scientific inaccuracies scattered throughout the film. Some of you will pick up on them and be terribly put out until, that is, you realize you are watching one of Sandra Bullock’s finest performances. Ever. She will blow you away. If we don’t see an Oscar nod for this performance I’d be surprised.
When I left the theater after having survived Gravity, I was shaking and nauseated. I’m not ashamed to admit I was shaken, emotionally. For 90 minutes, as an audience member, you are going to have a front row seat into one of the most physical movie going experiences you are probably ever going to have. I suggest that, as I did, you embrace it wholeheartedly, and do whatever you can to enjoy it.
You don’t need me to echo what every other reviewer, critic, co-worker, and stranger on the street will readily offer – but I will. Gravity is a visually stunning, emotionally tense, action-packed, triumph. But I will go a step further. Gravity is also a mainstream horror film packaged as a sci-fi fantasy. And while no one is talking about it, there’s no avoiding the truth. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney just starred in one of the largest horror films in modern history.
With an estimated production budget of $100M and set to break $50M on opening weekend, Gravity is being overwhelmingly positively received. But how many of those filmgoers would be shelling out opening weekend dollars on a horror film starring Bullock and Clooney? Okay, okay. A contingent. Me, for instance. But, I’ve been a space nerd since the ’80s and a Bullock fan since The Net, it wasn’t going to take much to get me in a seat.
So, why is Gravity a horror film and does it matter?
The debate is always lively and endlessly enlightening but there is usually one element upon which we can agree – horror films want to make you feel. Typically, the feelings are negative and filmmakers prey on your primal fears to wretch those feelings out of you. A majority of horror films in the last, oh say 3 decades, have centered on the supernatural, paranormal, or undead as a catalyst to make those feelings surface. So, it’s no surprise it’s going to take some convincing to sell Gravity as a horror film.
In a sci-fi horror film, the intruder or catalyst can also be an unwanted event – it doesn’t have to be a creature or virus or the like. In Gravity, you’re going to have unwanted events thrown at you so often you’re going to find yourself physically (and emotionally) exhausted by film’s end. I haven’t been so scared in theater since I realized (spoiler alert!) Santa Claus wasn’t real and we all die.
But, why does it matter what genre Gravity fits into?
It matters. It matters because, for many the horror genre seen as frivolous and, as a result, not taken seriously. Its storytelling value is underestimated, even denied. It’s a genre where actor and actresses cut their teeth, not arrive – like Bullock – with raw, pitch perfect intensity at the height of their game. It’s a genre for teenagers, not adults.
To be taken seriously, horror films like Gravity need to be seen for what they are. Sure, Gravity is a science-fiction. Sure, Gravity is a thriller. Sure, Gravity is a drama, fantasy, And yes, Gravity is a horror film. It is a horror film of the first degree and it is a masterpiece.
What about the rest of you? Would you have gone (or will you go) to see Gravity if the trailer suggested you were about to see a full-on horror film of epic proportions?
Alternate Trailer – Drifting:
Sandra Bullock on Gravity:
Cast & Crew Talk about Gravity:
Official site: Gravity
Grab the Amazing Soundtrack by Steven Price for Gravity