Did William Shakespeare write horror?
Literary scholars may snub their noses at that question, remaining firm in their belief that the horror genre is nothing more than pulp trash. And how could anyone accuse the glorious and perfect Bard of delving into one of the so-called cheapest, most unrefined genres of fiction in existence?
Yeah, we bite our thumbs at that, too. Of course Shakespeare was a horror writer! A number of his plays incorporate the horrific themes of terror, suspense, threat, disgust, and psychological turmoil. As early into his career as Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare began showing his audiences how deeply disturbed humankind can be. In his book, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, Harold Bloom writes that Titus Andronicus is “the Shakespearean equivalent of what we now respond to in Stephen King and in much cinema.” King Lear, Hamlet, Macbeth — they all follow suit.
Filmmaker Justin Kurzel adapted Macbeth as a way to cope with the grief he experienced following his father’s death. That grief (and the director’s background in darker cinema including his work with Snowtown, a film exploring the “bodies-in-barrels” murders in Adelaide, Australia during the 1990s) produced a telling of Shakespeare’s Scottish play unlike any adaptation we’ve seen before.
Shot on location on the Isle of Skye, the setting for this film is a brutal wasteland. The Scottish Highlands in winter are full of fog and mud, adding authenticity and flair to the film’s violent battle scenes, as well as the characters’ passions, desires for power, and beliefs in the supernatural.
Listen in and find out why we think Kurzel’s Macbeth is a perfect example of artful horror. We’re trying out a little something new in the episode as well — let us know what you think!
Directed by: Justin Kurzel
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine, Sean Harris