A good movie can make you fiend after a good book. I'm not talking exclusively about movies that are based off of books (although I mention a few of those below) but, rather, movies that, through narrative craft, make you excited to read a book.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of watching Southbound, an anthology horror film a la V/H/S (only better!). Well-wrought, genuinely unsettling, and evocative, the whole film reminded me why I love short (horror) fiction so much.
Tonight, I'm going to see The Witch which has got me all geared up to reread one of my favorite nonfiction books, The Devil in Massachusetts: A Modern Enquiry into the Salem Witch Trials. Beyond this single book — which, in my opinion, is one of the best and most exacting examinations of the Salem witch trials — I'm now excited to hunt down more books on the subject. Like I said, a good movie can do that to you.
Because I cannot help myself from writing book listicles and because this is, you know, a book club, here are five more movies that I recommend seeing to spice up your reading list.
Gone Girl + Gone Girl
I went from the theater where I watched Gone Girl IMMEDIATELY to Barnes and Noble to pick up a copy of Gillian Flynn's most well known novel. Mainly, I wanted to experience the details that Flynn had been forced to leave out of the screenplay that she wrote for the film. Gone Girl is such a juicy, captivating read that I followed it up with Dark Places and Sharp Objects, Flynn's other two novels. While they're not as tightly bound or (perhaps) finely tuned as Gone Girl, Flynn's writing is always dark and, as a writer, she takes risks. If you just can't get enough of Flynn, she has also published a short story, The Grown Up, which is a delightful little artifact in and of itself.
I've mentioned Bright Star, Jane Campion's lush exploration of John Keats' relationship with Fanny Brawne once already this month, but I couldn't leave it out of this roundup. When I saw Bright Star in theaters, I wasn't familiar with Keats' biography so I didn't know — SPOILER ALERT — that this love story had a brutal and inevitable conclusion. After the sob-swelling of my eyes went down, I went to the library to see what more I could find out about Brawne and Keats' relationship. For starters, there's a lovely collection of letters from Keats to Brawne, edited by Campion herself, that was published by Penguin in conjunction with the film's release.
The Cabin in the Woods + The Horror Genre: From Beelzebub to Blair Witch
The Cabin in the Woods addresses so many facets of the horror genre, turning on their heads the tropes that accompany it, that I followed up my third viewing (in theaters, yeah, I know, I spent a lot of money on this movie) with The Horror Genre: From Beelzebub to Blair Witch by Paul Wells. Wells' exploration of the horror genre spans multiple historical periods and the social and cultural context surrounding them. It's a comprehensive, imposing volume and features over 300 films in all.
The September Issue + In Vogue: An Illustrated History of the World's Most Famous Fashion Magazine
I saw The September Issue in college and it is partially responsible for my first ever internship in the Teen Vogue fashion closet. It's also responsible for a years-long love of learning about the fashion industry and, particularly, the publications that have evolved with, upheld, and sparked interest in it for so long. In Vogue: An Illustrated History of the World's Most Famous Fashion Magazine by Alberto Oliva and Norberto Angeletti is a great jumping off point. Other great titles, should The September Issue spark your sartorial interest, include Vanity Fair 100 Years: From the Jazz Age to Our Age and Diana Vreeland Memos: The Vogue Years.
The Last Exorcism + A Head Full of Ghosts: A Novel
If I were forced to choose only one sub-genre within the horror genre to watch for the rest of my life, I'm almost positive I would pick exorcism movies. There's something deeply sinister — on a social and cultural level — about demons (usually male) burrowing in young women like ticks and the overtly sexual ways they impose evil over innocence. I'm fascinated — and repulsed — by the implications of exorcisms and Paul Tremblay's A Head Full of Ghosts brings as unique an approach to writing about the possession of a young woman as Daniel Stamm brings to directing a found footage movie about the same topic.
The Hours + The Hours
When The Hours (the film) made a brief appearance on Netflix, I was so moved that I walked to the library after watching it to read Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize winning novel. The novel is just as vivid as the film. Afterwards, I tumbled even further down the Virginia Woolf rabbit hole. Rather than going straight to Woolf's impressive collection of fiction, I delved into her acclaimed biography Virginia Woolf by Hermione Lee and several of her published diaries and essays including Moments of Being and A Writer's Diary.
Has a recent — or not so recent — film spurred on a reading or research binge for you? What movies are inherently better than the book they were based off of or vise versa? Are you as excited as I am for The Witch?
Let's talk about it.