Brandon, I think that I think that Wolf Creek is a well-made film, and for me (as previously stated more than once) one of the most effective TP films out there. I think that may be why I finally had to ask myself why I was watching these films. When this sort of thing really happens to people who have done nothing to bring it upon themselves (like our sex-crazed teenagers in the Jason films) or who don't represent archetypes that need to be put in their place (so aptly and humorously done in CITW), why am I watching? Perhaps it hits too close to home for this voyeur masquerading as a horror fan, or perhaps it just crosses a line that entertainment is not supposed to cross. When horror is even a step removed from reality, I can still distance myself enough from it to be an armchair QB--that's part of what makes it fun. But when I'm not able to do that anymore (I Spit On your Grave is another fine example of a film I will never watch again and question my motives for watching it in the first place, yet is chillingly effective in its realism), and I'm actually in the film, as a participant--well, quite simply it's not fun anymore. I think that every horror director who is not trying to shock to get himself some extra recognition realizes that, ethically, he must respect that distance between the horror and reality. So whether or not he is genuine, McLean isn't respecting that distance. And yet, an individual's ability to distance themselves from horror varies, which is why some people can't watch any sort of horror at all and which is why there is disagreement about where exactly that line is. The perpetual subjectivity leaves the criticism of horror in constant tension, and I like that about it. Horror constantly flirts with boundaries, which makes it exciting, but it also practically guarantees it will never completely be taken seriously. Am I making any sense here?
You mention Peeping Tom, which in my opinion allows sympathy but not empathy. We can somehow understand how this lonely young man arrived at his obsession, but we don't feel what he feels and we can never condone his behavior. Freddy, Jason, Pinhead, Leatherface--they will never get that sympathy. Okay, Leatherface is clearly mentally retarded (in the clinical sense) as well as mentally ill, so maybe him. Maybe just a little. Now that I think of it, Jason is too, ever so slightly. Poor guy never got over being drowned. But Freddy? F$%k him.
Now there's another great topic for discussion: horror and its treatment of the mentally ill and developmentally disabled. Want to create a monster who can kill senselessly and not be held morally responsible? Make him a retard.
Discuss amongst yourselves.