There’s a recurring problem is a lot of recent horror movies. Some filmmakers have forgotten what really scares and it’s not lumbering axe men, gallons of cheap splatter or endurance tests in visual sadism, it’s having our nightmares played out on the screen. That’s where horror films can truly connect with the audience and burn a permanent lesion on the brain.
Being buried alive or, in the case of The Squad (and Countess Dracula famously) being bricked up behind a wall and left to rot is perhaps a fate worse than death and one that I can’t shake when I see it in a movie. The idea of waking up in a Coffin with the overwhelming sense of weight above you, knowing there’s six impossible feet of Earth between you and fresh oxygen is a thought I can’t deal with. In Fulci’s City of the Living Dead, Tarantino’s Kill Bill, not to mention Grindhouse favourite The Candy Snatchers, live burial is presented as a living nightmare. In Hammer’s Countess Dracula, being bricked up inside her bedchamber was a fate far worse than hanging for the once powerful Countress Bathory.
What is it about this kind of entrapment that disturbs us so much? Is it the long wait of demise after realising your situation? Jason and Freddy don’t leave much time to think before they eviscerate and an effective Zombie attack would render you into meat scraps in a few minutes and at least you can go out fighting in both cases. Internment, whether in the ground or behind a wall isn’t like that. It’s a slow burn, go mad, claw at the walls until you fingernails break kind of death, involving suffocation, starvation, dehydration… Let’s face it, it might not be as visually spectacular as having your head removed by Romero ghouls while your screams rise in pitch out of the realms of human hearing, but as far as ways to suffer on screen go, it’s right up there.
In The Squad, the soldiers find a twisted creature trapped behind a concrete wall, check it out. It’s creepy!