In the absence of the big-budget action movies that were intended to hoist us out of our drab lives this autumn, horror is closing in. On TV, HBO’s Lovecraft Country has co-opted the monsters conjured by an early 20th-century master of the genre – HP Lovecraft – into a shape-shifting story of racism in mid-century America. In the cinema, the demons are internalised in Saint Maud, the story of a psychotic nurse who attempts to force her spiritual delusions on the dying woman in her care. Unlike your average zombie or space-invader shockers, both deny us the security of an us v them premise, conjuring a dynamic that implicates us all. Racism might have unleashed the demons in Lovecraft Country, but their violence is all-devouring. Maud, meanwhile, is a pitiable, and even relatable, inversion of the idea of nurses as angels of mercy. She’s a lonely young woman who fatally confuses spiritual ecstasy with its more worldly counterparts. The familiar trope of the powerless woman is given a different twist in Adrian Shergold’s Cordelia, in which a traumatised victim of the 7/7 London transport bombings is abandoned for the weekend in a shadowy mansion block by her identical twin, only… Read full this story
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