MOVIE #1,492 • [NO SCORE] • 03.29.24 This is well-made but I definitely wish it was about something different lol. (Or maybe if the father-...

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The Strange Thing About the Johnsons

MOVIE #1,492 • [NO SCORE] • 03.29.24
This is well-made but I definitely wish it was about something different lol. (Or maybe if the father-son incest was more implied? — I don't know, man, no idea what to write about this!!) There's stuff about parental love and attachment getting mangled into obsession that's interesting, especially from the swapped viewpoint of the offspring as abuser, though I'm not sure it's worth the stomach-churning premise (and I'm not sure what the point of flip-flopping the roles accomplishes, honestly). I actually can't believe this got made. And after seeing a few Aster comments on the project, I’m definitely overthinking it.

The last thing I'll say, and I'm hesitant to even open this can of worms, is why a Black family, man. I know it's fucked up in a sense to bring up but that is a choice for a white filmmaker to make given the subject matter.
I obviously don't have an answer for that one either, but it feels impossible to ignore. Just another lil sumpthin to leave your feeling queasy I suppose. I do want to mention that the cast does an amazing job, going ALL IN on this horrendous material. It doesn't necessarily make things better or worse, but they should all be commended — for having their names forever associated with this in the first place, too.

Here’s the director on the movie in general, which essentially boils down to 7th grade edgelord logic…
I was at AFI, which is a kind of industry school. They're very Hollywood-oriented and they want to train you to become a Hollywood filmmaker, and the films they show the incoming fellows are very politically correct ... Oscar movies. And I just thought, what's the worst thing I can make at AFI? ... To ask, what can't I do? And why can't I do it? Oh, a son raping his dad, we should make that a movie. And then to figure out what makes that palatable and how to make that work.
And here he is on the decision to feature an all-Black cast…

The color of the family isn't important. We certainly assumed that casting black actors in a film that tackles such transgressive themes would create something of a stir, and it would be a lie to say that we weren't hesitant, especially as many people were advising us against the decision.
Now it's time to assess this a score and I simply don't feel like it. No score, for the first time in almost 1,500 movies! That's me taking control of the situation in a way.

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The Strange Thing About the Johnsons is a 2011 American psychological horror short film written and directed by Ari Aster. The film stars Billy Mayo, Brandon Greenhouse, and Angela Bullock as members of a suburban family in which the father is trapped in an incestuous relationship with his abusive son. It was released on May 19, 2019.


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