I obviously have my bones to pick with Penny Dreadful, but from a horror series point of view, I was pleased with its level and style of horror. The clear stand-out performances came from the one and only Eva Green, whose character Vanessa Ives had some extremely notable scenes in which she was possessed by malevolent forces. These scenes got me thinking aboutan extremely common plot device in demonic/spirit possession stories: when possessing a body and in general wreaking chaos in the lives of those around the possessed, a demon loves to ruin everyone’s day by… telling the truth. Truth is something that is extolled as a virtue and associated with goodness and morality, and one of Satan’s many nicknames is “the Prince of Lies”. Yet we consistently see demons using not lies, but rather the truth, when seeking to unsettle or harm humans. Let’s take a closer look.
Major spoilers for Penny Dreadful and American Horror Story: Asylum after the jump. Continue reading →
Possession is one of the most terrifying staples in the horror genre’s arsenal. Its terror stems from two main sources: firstly, the fear of lack of control over one’s own body, and secondly, the shock of seeing someone you know and love doing bad things. But aside from the visceral discomfort viewers feel from seeing a possessed person, how is possession used in the overall narratives of a work? In other words, what is the point of possession? I think it largely depends on who or what is doing the possessing, and the character development impact that the possession has for the character being possessed.
Season 3B: I did lose my mind, thanks a lot, Jeff Davis. I also lost my faith in humanity, my hope for this show, and also my dignity.
I’ll examine two notable examples from recent television. For those of us who are somehow still Teen Wolf fans, the latest season, which wrapped up this past week, featured an extensive possession story arc. This season, everyone’s favorite Loyal Best Friend, Stiles, came to the forefront (look at many promotional image for 3B, like the one above; Stiles was literally in the forefront, featured as more central than the Teen Wolf himself, Scott). Stiles was possessed by a malevolent Japanese fox spirit, called a nogitsune. Fox possession may sound strange to Western audiences, but in Japanese mythology, it’s totally a thing. On the other hand, most American media will feature the more familiar demonic possession, exemplified for the purposes of this post by the case of Sister Mary Eunice in 2012’s American Horror Story: Asylum.