Escape from New York

Escape from New York ★★★½

"I swear to God, Snake, I thought you were dead."
"Yeah. You and everybody else."

Bumping up the rating because I must've been in a goddamned mood when I last watched this.

The world-building is effortlessly organic – almost unsettlingly so – and it compliments Carpenter's utter pessimism when it comes to American political reformation. The power will stay in power at the expense of all others, not affording the people a shred of humanity (unless it personally suits their own power struggle). Everyone is a prop.

While this wouldn't be classified as straight-up horror it's evident that Carpenter brought his experience of that genre with him, and much to the film's benefits. The nighttime setting and minimal light sources (I'm assuming a large portion of them were natural?) drapes large swaths of the screen all in black, creating stressful voids that engulf our characters and endow us as the audience with quite the helping of anxiety.o

I still think some things could've been less obfuscated (particularly the racial politics), and it's hard to tell just how much Carpenter is actually critiquing the '70s/'80s mindset of New York as some irredeemable, crime-infested cesspool (as a now-New Yorker that whole idea really pisses me off) beyond just heavily leaning into it for aesthetic's sake.

But overall, this was much better on rewatch. And of course, always and forever: ACAB.

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