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‘What’s your favourite scary movie?” asks a voice in this sonic investigation into the horror genre and our fears of the unknown. “Close your eyes,” instructs the whisper, and invokes images of those terrors through words and sounds.
Originally showcased at Home in Manchester, it is currently part of the Pound Arts Centre’s Magic and Mayhem festival. Writer and performer Louise Orwin offers it up as an aural experience, and as a video with the same soundtrack.
Orwin sounds like a Halloween sprite as she pours creepy images into our ears in the hope, it seems, of setting our imaginary demons in motion. “Do I seem familiar? … Monstrous even?” she says. “Can you pretend that I’m in the room with you?” The version with images – of fuzzy film reels, black-and-white footage from horror movies (including the plughole from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho) and abstract, kaleidoscopic shapes – distracts us from the crisp foley and binaural sounds that accompany Orwin’s voice. The images catalogue classic visual horror tropes, so are necessarily over-familiar, while the abstract patterns appear trite. Even if this is the point, it does not make for an engrossing visual experience.
As Orwin talks of creaking stairs, snapping twigs and the warm breath of unseen beings on our cheeks, she brings in her meta-commentary on scary movies, from false lulls to tension-building and jumpy moments. Alicia Jane Turner’s sound design and music deploys well-worn tricks to build suspense: the heavy rumble and churn of drums, the anxious sound of violins, a heartbeat, an exhale.
The monologue takes a swerve away from classic horror scenarios towards the end, and into our contemporary world of pandemic anxiety. Orwin speaks of imaginary fears around the virus, and this trajectory is original but feels slightly latched on. It ends with what seems like a swell of nostalgia for pre-pandemic times, with colour pouring into the film version and ambient sound that has the peculiarly sleepy effect of a relaxation tape, with its uplifting, synthesised music.
This is a digital offshoot of Orwin’s forthcoming exploration of horror and otherness called Cry Cry Kill Kill, and has the loose-ended feel of a work in process. It is best as an aural experience, raising monsters through words, music and sounds.
Source: The Guardian
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