Hurricane Aaron is Howelling Through

CW: Incest, assault, abuse.

Hurricane Aaron is a film about brothers in tragedy. J.R. Howell’s first feature film takes viewers on a series of twists and turns that may leave some queasy, but thoroughly intrigued about the psyche, and rage, of its main characters, Aaron and Cory. There is more than just horror that lurks under the skin of this film. GenderTerror had a chance to interview the director, writer, and score creator, J.R. Howell about his psychosexual thriller and other upcoming projects.

GenderTerror: Why horror, especially queer horror?

J.R. Howell: My first horror movie ever was A Nightmare On Elm Street, which I saw when I was five years old. I love the thrill that horror movies provide. As I grew older, I similarly fell in love with the science fiction genre. One of the things so attractive about science fiction is the social commentary it provides through allegory or speculation. Truly great science fiction can be mind-blowing in that way. Lately, mainstream science fiction feels like it’s lost its soul and offers up action movies in space with tacky tech without really having any deeper meaning. Films like this seem to be evolving cinema to a medium without narrative. Yet, at the same time, horror is picking up the slack. Over the last few years, we’re seeing films marketing as “high concept horror.” Of course the truth is almost all horror is in some way “high concept.” Nevertheless, some horror films have taken a more overt approach to directly assert their attempt at social commentary, which is an astonishing effort when you think about it. Many criticisms of mega budget films that go on to tremendous financial success is that they’re too devoid of meaning so as to appeal to the widest audience as possible across countries and cultures. Yet, there’s a subgenre of horror that’s openly asserting that its making social critiques, come what may. I absolutely love that courage. So for these reasons I wanted to take on the social issues referred to in the film using horror.

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Gaming in Color: An Interview with Director and Producer Philip Jones

“Prepare to have your assumptions and comforts challenged a bit, and remember that queer people are a part of your human experience,” Philip told me when I asked them what they wanted their non-queer viewers of Gaming in Color to take from the film. Of course the film, which focuses on the experiences of queer gamers in video games, from developers to simple fans, is meant to be about educating others. Philip wanted there to be an easy to consume resource for those who may not be able to influence every gamer they meet to understand the issues queer gamers face.

“Your gaming tendencies will probably feel a bit poked at and criticized, maybe even deconstructed in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. But that’s often how queer people feel just getting past the hurdle of even turning on a game, assumptions are made and questions are asked and you’re never allowed to just exist in a culture that is hostile or at best neutral but aloof to you.” As Philip states here, gaming is not always perfect when it comes to dealing with queer characters, let alone dealing with queer people within gaming experiences. However, not everything is negative when it comes to the intersections of identity and gaming.

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