YOU’RE NEXT (2011)


You’re Next is a black comedy set in an isolated location in Missouri. The plot is similar to Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians (1965), the film adaptation of which focuses on ten people invited to a remote location by a mysterious stranger (with Christie’s isolated snowy mountain exchanged for an a cabin estate in the woods). The movies’ shared plots revolve around a series of murders from an unknown assailant(s). You’re Next demonstrates uber-dysfunctional family dynamics from its earliest scene to disclosure of the mystery assailants.


The movie begins with 2 murders at a neighboring estate by unknown assailants while “Looking for the Magic” plays in the background (Dwight Twilley Band). After witnessing the cold blooded murders, we meet the Davisons as each member arrives at a family reunion at their Missouri vacation house. The cold, uneasy interaction of the siblings continues around the dinner table when discord erupts, serving as the prelude to the first kill when Aimee’s (youngest sibling) boyfriend, Tariq, is struck by an arrow. In an attempt to secure safety, Aimee regresses, “You never give me any credit for anything…you don’t believe in me,” and convinces her family that “she’s the fastest” who can reach the car and go for help. Her escape attempt ends in her running into a garrote wire outside of the front door.

With 2 “loved ones” dead, the rest of the party must band together to protect themselves from the assassins cloaked in sheep, tiger, and lamb masks. The doll-faced killers’ sinister motives are strangely balanced by the abnormal behavior of those they hunt as evidenced by Zee intimately telling Felix, “I wanna f* you on this bed next to your dead mom.” The universal fear of masked faces, depicted as “doll’ in Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the how to view private instagram profiles without following no survey Woods (2012), is symbolic of the hidden agenda of “the protagonists.” The specific phobia of dolls, formerly known as pediophobia, is a universal experience that likely has its roots in childhood animism. Jean Piaget posited that a child’s cognitive inability to distinguish the external from the internal world results from animism. While it’s developmentally appropriate for a child at the pre-operational stage (2-7 years) of cognitive development to believe her doll is angry, such would not be the case for the Davison children. Yet, adults universally retain memories of “their maleficent dolls,” which is why movies such as You’re Next resonate with our most primitive archetypal fears.

Crispian’s girlfriend, Erin is identified as having been raised on a survivalist compound, and becomes the leader of the hunted. Her heroics however come at a price, reminding us that even the most peerless women and men who serve and protect are at risk for post-traumatic stress. One of the more defining scenes -“Death by Blender” – exemplifies this [Spoiler Alert] when Erin demonstrates flat and isolated affect when she reveals to Crispian that she killed Felix, “I stuck a blender in his head and killed him.”

Last week’s movie: Halloween (1978)
Next week’s movie: Near Dark (1987)

NEAR DARK (1987)


Near Dark is a 1987 “hillbilly vampire” movie (Rosenbaum J, 2009)that follows Caleb Colton in a small Kansas town who becomes involved with a family of nomadic undead. The movie is about Caleb’s struggle separating from his family, and serves as a case study of the moral development of a conflicted teenager.


While Near Dark aims to depart from other 1980s vampire movies such as Fright Night (1985) and The Lost Boys (1987), its central character is nonetheless a vampire, the apex predator. Inspired by Lord Byron’s Fragment of a Novel (1819), John William Polidori, a physician, conceived the vampire in his novella, The Vampyre; a Tale. Polidori’s creation, Lord Ruthven (also referenced in Byzantium, 2012), depicts a blatant disregard for and violation of other’s rights, cardinal features of Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD).

Building on Polidori’s precept, Abraham “Bram” Stoker was further inspired by texts such as An Extraordinary and Shocking History of a Great Berserker Called Prince Dracula in creating Dracula in 1897. The Count’s imprisoning Jonathan Harker is further testament to the vampire serving as a metaphor for APD. In Near Dark, the gang’s feeding frenzies depict the Freudian id guided by the pleasure principle. Their biological drive to feed is the basic Maslowian need (“A Theory of Human Motivation,” 1943), and conflicts with Caleb’s love and compassion for his sister, Sarah.

Scenes in Near Dark also reveal how horses react when approached by vampires. Such scenes underscore that horses are prey animals with “coherent” heart rates. Since their heart’s electromagnetic field (torus) is 5x that of humans, horses’ heart rates mimic humans’ who are in close proximity. The end product of these dynamics is that horses are exquisitely sensitive to human’s non-verbal communications. While vampire movies demonstrate this by having horses buck, universities such as Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School utilize horses to teach students and residents about non-verbal communication and bedside manners (

Last week’s movie: You’re Next (2011)
Next week’s movie: Children of the Corn (1984)



Close Encounters of the Third Kind depicts the events of Roy Neary, an electrical lineman, who experiences an irresistible impulse to visit an isolated area that he receives in a vision after an encounter with UFOs. In planning our 52in52 itinerary, I should have visited Wyoming before Montana (Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County, 1998) to have remained loyal to J. Allen Hynek’s classification of close encounters with aliens. In ufology, the 3rd kind of encounter is defined when an animated creature is present while the 4th kind is an event in which a human is abducted as the McPhersons were in Week 12.


Two iconic monsters that represent our culture’s fear of the unknown are the Zombie and Alien Beast. While zombies relate to Mood Disorders (but we’ll have to wait 2 weeks for The Crazies), this week’s film highlights aliens and their role in reviewing Bipolar and Related Disorders.

We are first introduced to Roy Neary and his family around the dinner table during a discussion of their planning a family event. Roy’s insistence on seeing Pinocchio is characterized by irritability and verbally abusive language. While we aren’t provided a recent history that allows us to determine if his behavior is a change from previous functioning, the events that will unfold will frame this early scene as a prodrome to bipolar illness.

Following a close encounter with UFOs (rule-out perceptual disturbance) while in his truck, Roy’s behavior becomes erratic, and results in significant impairment in interpersonal (his wife and children leave him) and occupational (he is fired from his job) functioning. Initially, he becomes obsessed with a vision he receives. His belief that he must visit an isolated area in the wilderness to see something spectacular becomes fixed. His grandiose delusion is initially mood-incongruent when he experiences a major depressive episode culminating in his crying inconsolably in the shower. Thereafter, Roy switches to the opposite pole and manifests grandiosity, a decreased need for sleep, pressured speech, and an increase in goal-directed activity in constructing an 8-foot replica of Devil’s Tower in his living room (the precipitant for his wife leaving him).

It is unclear to the audience if the people Roy meets who confirm his reality are themselves products of his own mind. When such is the case in film, it’s interesting to uncover aspects of the movie that are physically impossible, therefore supporting the notion that only in one’s mind can the events be explained.

Type I error: Supporting a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder
Type I error (interestingly called error of the first kind) is the conclusion that a supposed effect exists when in fact it doesn’t. In the climactic scene at the end of the movie, the alien mothership flies over Devil’s Tower. We see the ship’s shadow creeping along the ground despite the fact that there’s no light source above the ship. Similarly, when the brightly lit alien mothership passes directly over Devil’s Tower, the rock formation remains dark despite having the leviathan light source directly above.

Type II error (almost): Supporting a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder
Type II error (interestingly called error of the second kind) is the conclusion that something does not exist when in fact it does. For example, Roy’s joining the aliens is critical in realizing that his behavior is significantly impacted by his delusions. Despite this, Spielberg has expressed that if he were to make the movie over again, he would delete this scene. Additionally, Spielberg intended to cut the entire manic (garden) episode from the Special Edition despite it arguably being the most defining scene in the movie.

Last week’s movie: Carnival of Souls (1962)
Next week’s movie: Badlands (1973)



Incident in Lake County is a larger-budget version of The McPherson Tape which originally aired on UPN on January 18, 1998. Despite The Blair Witch Project (our February 27 destination) having been credited with the found footage explosion, Alien Abduction actually predates SaI?nchez and Myrick’s work.

Alien Abduction is presented as a video tape made by Tommy, a teenager in Lake County, Montana, during his family’s Thanksgiving dinner. This week’s 52in52 blog will focus on Tommy and his family’s close encounter with an alien invasion as well as the original mockumentary which is purported to be from the Northwoods, Connecticut U.F.O. Case 77.


Classified as “Alien Beast” on Joss Whedon’s Big Board in Cabin in the Woods (2012), the alien invasion/abduction subgenre captures our culture’s universal fear of the unknown. This archetypal fear can be traced as far back as the 17th-century when Charles Perrault wrote his folkloric tale, Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (Little Red Riding Hood), a prosocial warning not to wander into the unknown. Its alien inclusion occurred in 1938, when H. G. Wells’s novel, The War of the Worlds, was broadcast on radio on “Devil’s Night” (October 30). The beginning of the radio drama was presented as a series of news bulletins reporting the invasion of Martians. Similar to the radio broadcast by Orson Wells, which threw the town of Grover’s Mill, NJ into widespread paranoia, The McPherson Tape also created controversy, as it was created to appear as a genuine home video.

Like the zombie, alien beasts evolve along with a culture’s fears. Therefore, a post-World War II variation of the “unknown” theme includes the idea that “they are among us.” This is depicted in Who Goes There?, a novella by John Campbell that was adapted to the screen as The Thing from Another World (and remade in 1982 as John Carpenter’s The Thing). In Carpenter’s film, members of an Antarctic research station battle an alien life form that was awakened from its dormancy deep within the ice. Since the alien can assimilate at the molecular level, the researchers grow paranoid of each other, any one of whom can be the alien, phenotypically disguised.

This week’s movie also depicts extreme denial best demonstrated by the family’s intention to leave the house – “will you be by tomorrow for breakfast?” – despite just having spotted a gray in their backyard.

Men in Black (1997) merges this ego defense with the above “they are among us” theme: “There’s always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague that is about to wipe out all life on this miserable little planet, and the only way these people can get on with their happy lives is that they Do… Not… Know about it!” (Agent K).

Another ego defense, dissociation, is manifested by Rene (then the grandmother) when she’s described, “like you were sleepwalking” and doesn’t remember how she got from the kitchen to the door. Interestingly, it is during one of these dissociative episodes that the grandmother attempts to open the door for the aliens (paralleling having to invite a vampire into the home). This scene further pushes the “aliens are among us” narrative forward as it implicates us as an active participant in our own demise (abduction).

The film ends with an announcement to contact 800-555-7070 with any information of the McPhersons’ whereabouts.

Last week’s movie: Leprechaun (1993)
Next week’s movie: Idaho Transfer (1973)


Last week’s movie: Badlands (1973)


The Crazies is a 2010 remake of the 1973 horror film of the same name by George A. Romero. The film takes place in the fictional Iowa town of Ogden Marsh Township, the “friendliest place on Earth,” and portrays an epidemic caused by the Trixie virus. The town sheriff’s attempts to control the water-borne virus is thwarted by the Ogden Marsh Township mayor who, similar to the mayor of 1975 Amity Island (see our post on July 25), decides the “water stays open on.”


The Crazies (discriminatory use of the word notwithstanding) serves as an opportunity to review the case formulation of psychosis, rule-out Schizophrenia. Here, we’ll define psychosis by a) negative symptoms (e.g. flat affect) and b) positive symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, and grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior.

In an initial scene, Rory presents with bizarre speech and behavior when he walks onto a little league field in a catatonic state that is described as appearing drunk. After he’s shot, the medical examiner (ME) orders a blood alcohol level (BAL) and toxicology screen to see if Rory’s behavior is due to the direct physiological effects of a substance. This early scene establishes that consideration of a substance- or medication-induced psychosis is integral in the initial work-up of new-onset psychosis.

Soon after, Bill presents to Judy, his primary care physician (PCP), for evaluation of flat affect, disorganized speech (non sequiturs and perseveration) and behavior. Judy’s treatment plan includes a CT scan of the head. Her formulation is accurate in that one must consider an underlying general medical condition (GMC) as the cause of psychosis before attributing it to mental illness (such as Schizophrenia). Unfortunately, Bill’s bizarre behavior culminates in his setting his house on fire.

Interestingly, both of these cases foreshadow the cause of the zombism depicted in The Crazies. The ME’s provisional diagnosis of a substance-induced psychotic disorder is accurate when it’s discovered that the cause is a weaponized virus (toxin-induced). In a similar context, the discovery of the Trixie virus also allows for the conceptualization of a viral syndrome (i.e. due to a GMC) as the underlying cause. After an incubation period of 48 hours, the virus gradually induces a psychotic state in infected individuals.

The original version of The Crazies (1973) demonstrates a deliverance from the counterculture of the 60’s with its depiction of “normal” people from the “friendliest place on Earth” turned into perpetrators of violence. The zombies therefore are not true zombies, but living people turned zombie-like (Vuckovic, 2011). As such, like all zombie films, its message mirrors the theme of the decade also depicted in Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1972), Shivers (1975), and Blue Sunshine (1977).

Next week’s movie: Halloween (1978)