Over half the people who have read this site are from America with less than 10% from the UK, so what I am going to say will make more sense to some than others. Growing up films were American. Sure there were some British films and as a teenager I discovered European and Asian cinema, but largely what I watched was American. For all the similarities between Britain and America they were different places. Britain was familiar America was a place of wide open spaces, of big cars that look different to what we see in Europe, it was the place of cowboys & Indians and it was the place of slaher movies. When Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) checks into the creepy Bates Motel in Psycho, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is chased by Michael Myers (Tony Moran) in Halloween and Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) dreams of Fred Krueger (Robert Englund) in A Nightmare on Elm Street they all speech with an American accent. There was always a sense of detachment. Was it the gap between fiction and reality or was it geographic?
As I sat watching Hush (2008) on Film4, I couldn’t help thinking that it was all the more real and disturbing because it was so much closer to home than an American movie. It made me think of other recent British horror thrillers like F (known as The Expelled in some countries) and Eden Lake (starring Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender when they were less well known). The great thing about Hush and last years Sightseers is that they take it a stage further, not only do the character speak with English accents, but regional accents and not the typical London accents of British cinema. Then we have films like 28 Days later with Naomie Harris and Cillian Murphy that have the feel of a big international movie but with a British setting. Zombie outbreaks happen in America not England. Then I think back to the horror movies I saw as a kid. The Hammer Horrors of the 50s and 60s were always more disturbing than the more violent American movies I watched. Was Don’t Look Now more disturbing because of the first scene sent I the English countryside on a typically grey autumn day.
Am I alone or have other people had the same thought? Are Martyrs or Haute Tension more chilling to French viewers than to the rest of us?