John Carpenter has never been a “contemporary” horror director. His cinema has always seemed out of synch with its appropriate climate or era. Usually, it’s agreed that the Hollywood of the 1950s would’ve been a more ideal environment, but is that even true? Increasingly, particularly as the horror genre (all genres) have metastasized in the wake of digital, it has become apparent that Carpenter is a director without an era. Rather, it is critical to his work to both exist post-Classical Hollywood, while never aligning with the trajectories or traits of his peers. Carpenter needs the world to react off of, more particularly the ideologically murky world of the 20th Century and its fallout. Everything that entails, perhaps most critically cinema, is fundamentally alienated from, yet critical to, his work.
The fictional film-within-the-film, La Fin Absolue du Monde, inverts all Carpenter. The omnipresent threat of the unknown, of evil, manifests itself as a film. This isn’t some bullshit, grandiloquent statement on cinema. Rather, it’s a deeply painful, personal look inward at the genre that sustained Carpenter as a director. The end of horror, the direct confrontation with evil that once formed the core of this particular cinema, has become elusive, or outright vanished, in the cinema of his contemporary filmmakers. A gesture of great loneliness.