Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Review

A few nights ago I had three separate nightmares over the course of only four hours, and they were all different and equally terrifying. Each time the end result was the same, with my mind racing back to reality as I opened my eyes and stared off into the darkness, overwhelmed with dread. Catch your breath, Scott. Relax. It was only a dream.

The next day at work I was filled with apathy and exhaustion. I had trouble focusing on each task, bothered by the images that danced through my mind hours earlier and craving a full night of uninterrupted sleep. Like a teenager living on Elm Street, just before I closed my eyes that next night I asked no one in particular for a run of peaceful slumber. Enough of these cold sweats induced by my subconscious. Enough of these childish fears of a shadowy corner or a creaking sound coming from the closet. Let my REM be full of smiles and rainbows and unicorns and kittens. Let the next thing I see be the glow of the sun bursting through the shades. A brand new day and a bounce in my step.

So tonight, just before bed, I decide to watch The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari for the first time. It's only 77 minutes, I thought to myself. I can watch an entire film and still get plenty of sleep.

Well, shit. That didn't work out so well.

Sure, it's only 77 minutes, but every single one of those 4620 seconds felt like I was watching cinema that would seep into my mind and never leave. The vision of Robert Wiene is in itself a nightmare, littered with truly haunting imagery and horrifying characters that have undoubtedly inspired other filmmakers for the past 95 years. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari felt like it belonged in a textbook as a perfect demonstration on how to terrorize an audience through atmosphere and set design. 

The next time you ask someone the question, "Do you want to watch a scary movie?", don't go out and rent a copy of a Texas Chainsaw remake or Paranormal Activity 12. Instead find a way to witness the outstanding silent horror picture The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, released in 1920 and perhaps even more disturbing now than when it was released. Rather than feel dated, this is a film that is enhanced by its seemingly ancient aesthetic. The absence of dialogue leads to an abundance of chills running down your spine. Just one look into the eyes of the somnambulist and you will have a far more difficult time falling asleep later on.

I'm thrilled I got to enjoy a couple straight nights of normalcy because that is over now. Soon my eyes will get heavy and I will drift off to a land of dreams, but it won't last long. It can't.

Catch your breath, Scott. Relax. It was only a film.



  1. Here is the funniest thing you will ever see about The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. I love Portlandia.


    1. haha oh man, that is outstanding. I actually have never seen Portlandia before, have heard nothing but good things though.