When they write the annals of 21st century portrayals of evil, Daniel Day-Lewiss turn as Daniel Plainview will have to come in at the very top. He is unfeeling Capitalism embodied, all callous greed and hatred wrapped in the fire-eyed form of a man. Plainview is a man boiling over with loathing and rage, consumed entirely by the need for more, more, more. Hes an All-American monster, and the central question posed by Paul Thomas Andersons film is whether or not there is anything even vaguely redeemable in this man. Look at the title. Take a hint. Plainview is cancer to community, caring only for what he can snake out of the ground for as low a cost as possible. He only has two intimate, personal relationships and both are founded on lies, and by the end of the film even those are shattered. Indeed, Anderson suggests that all communities exist only insomuch as theyre good for business. In this film, even the church is just another salesman, hoping to get out more than it put in. Theres no respite, no voice of reason, no decent person to redeem these people. The best a person can hope to do is run as far away as possible. Again, its the ending that seals this one as horror. Daniel Plainview wins. He spends the entire film in conflict with the church, determined to prove that his concern for wealth will triumph over matters of the spirit. And he wins. Faith fails. And with that, Daniel Plainview ushers in a world of Gordon Gekkos, a 20th century built on ruthless self-interest that we today are still paying for. MOST HORROR MOMENT: An oil derrick fire is shot and scored as the end of the world.
Brendan Foley is a pop-culture omnivore which is a nice way of saying he has no taste. He has a passion for genre movies, TV shows, books and any and all media built around short people with hairy feet and magic rings. He has a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Writing, which is a very nice way of saying that he's broke. You can follow/talk to/yell at him on Twitter at @TheTrueBrendanF.