So by now we’ve seen the Coen Brothers be great at writing/directing just about every genre and sub-genre of movie possible, be it comedy (Burn After Reading), romantic comedy (Intolerable Cruelty), mystery/thriller (Blood Simple), arthouse (Barton Fink), crime drama (Miller’s Crossing), period piece (The Hudsucker Proxy), Noir (The Big Lebowski), or Western (True Grit). Often they’ve blended several of these genre/sub-genres into films that are their own rare breed of beast (Raising Arizona, No Country for Old Men).
Pretty much all that’s left for the Coen Brothers to conquer are the sci-fi and horror genres – and they recently let it be known that they are indeed looking to tackle one of those unexplored terrains soon.
While speaking with Empire, Ethan Coen claimed (when prompted by a question) that he and his brother Joel might be breaking into the horror genre:
“Funny you should ask, yes, we’re working on a couple of scripts now, one of which it would be fair to call a full-on horror movie. Frances McDormand is the monster.”
At the risk of stating the obvious, you probably shouldn’t take Ethan’s claim about McDormand (his brother’s wife) being the monster literally – but the Empire interviewer seemed to walk away from the session with the impression that the “full-on horror movie” script was indeed a reality.
Now, do I think the Coen Brothers should go poking into the horror genre? Absolutely. Let’s lay cards on the table: these guys are two of the best filmmakers there are and their track record is staggering in terms of its hit-to-miss ratio. Not only that, the Coen Brothers do more than make good films in a variety of genres: they set new standards in the genres they work in, and new standards for storytelling through film in general.
These are two guys I would love to see tackle every genre of film – definitely sci-fi and horror. A lot of “Nu Gen” film fanatics will sight the hair-raising silences of No Country for Old Men as their evidence that the Coens can handle tension, suspense and violence; an aging cinephille like myself is probably going to fall back on Blood Simple as THE authoritative proof that the Coens can – and always have – had the goods to be horror movie gods.
I hope this script they’re working on floats to the top of their “to do” pile, I truly do. I would love to see an intelligent horror flick again – one that relies on context and suggestion to scare me more so than buckets of blood or juvenile exercises in taboo (Human Centipede, looking at you pal). I would love to see a horror flick that had some allegory or symbolism at work in it – you know, stories that ye goode olde horror writers used to tell – smart horror – far and away from the Charnel house of Platinum Dune remakes and/or shockandawe indie horror flicks we’ve been getting the last few years.
A Coen Brothers horror film – who wouldn’t want that? If you actually see a downside to this, we’d love to hear why in the comments.