Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a tale perfect for the Halloween season as the expected outcome reminds us of something you’d see in a horror film. Although Star Wars doesn’t generally fit into the horrifying genre, there are moments within the franchise that equal some “terrifying tales.” Rogue One does have one a major final sequence where Darth Vader plays the role of devastator, a la Jason or Freddy, but the movie as a whole also presents a lingering ominous tone reminiscent of a scary movie.
Rogue One doesn’t rely heavily on humorous banter, and the playfulness that usually offers a lightheartedness to the Dark Side is absent from most of this film. In its absence, an underlying dread continues to build upon a grim start where our main character’s life is shattered at an early age. Jyn Erso is merely a child at the beginning of the film, and the lasting impression of watching her mother killed and then escaping capture from the empire is felt during the entirety of Rogue One.
Although Jyn becomes somewhat of a loner before being “asked” to help the Rebellion, she’s looking for any opportunity to reunite with her father. The seemingly impossible task of sneaking onto an imperial base in the hopes of finding her father and rescuing him is very on point for the Star Wars franchise; however, the constant barrage of mistrust, uncertainty and gloomy circumstances almost overwhelms the senses to where hope seems impossible.
If that doesn’t scream “I’m perfect” for lovers of Halloween films where the baddie keeps coming back in endless sequels, wondering when almost every other character will die, I’m not sure any other Star Wars film makes a better case at matching such spooky overtones.
Yes, Anakin does his awfulness to the younglings in Revenge of the Sith, but that moment doesn’t feel quite as real since we, fortunately, aren’t witness to that sequence of events. Anakin’s moment happens in the blink of an eye and then it never has a chance to truly set in. Rogue One is like pulling off a Band-Aid over the largest patch of hair, in the slowest possible fashion, with the excruciating knowledge that it’s going to hurt all the way to the end.
How Rogue One leads us on a spooky path toward the horror genre
The horror genre can be filled with devastating gore, and fortunately, that’s not present in Rogue One. What is there is the suspense associated with Jyn’s path. From the outset of her journey, we see she’s impacted by the frightening imagery of her mother’s death and then lying in an underground bunker before being rescued by Saw Gerrera. With such a dark beginning, the knowledge that it’s probably not going to get better serves as a scary warning to what’s ahead.
As the film progresses, we immediately understand that part of this potential warning comes in the form of Cassian Andor. In our first meeting with Andor, he’s in a back alley trying to obtain information for the Rebellion from a source who is clearly terrified to speak with him. Then, when stormtroopers start to close in on his position, he kills this person before making an escape. Is Andor part of the Rebellion or is he double-dealing in some way? Either way, it’s clear that the idea he’s a “good guy” is not something to hold onto.
Another longstanding tradition in any horror or suspenseful movie is witnessing characters get mowed down one after another. There’s this impending sense of doom that comes with Rogue One, simply by knowing that this story leads into A New Hope, but watching the cast go down in such a fashion is devastating to see. Most of the time, you’ll see one villain picking away at a group until there’s some kind of one-on-one scenario, but we’re talking about the Galactic Empire picking off a small rebellion. The odds were never in their favor, and seeing the downfall of these characters feels personal.
Perhaps the opening sequences provide a proper connection to Jyn Erso, and we want to see her achieve her goals. Maybe some of the surrounding cast like Chirrut Imwe, Baze Malbus or K-2SO amplifies wanting to see good things happen in such dark times. They were looking to do what was right despite the cost and without an ulterior motive. Their losses are not only a crushing blow to fans because they’re loveable characters and we’d love to see them again, but the realization of what might’ve been in future missions and how they could’ve helped is equally heartbreaking.
Although we’ll see one character again in the future Andor series, the possibility that we’ll see some “familiar faces” is something to hope for. Will this new series match the intensity seen in Rogue One, or will we see more humor to tip the scales back towards space opera than space horror? One thing is for sure, Jyn Erso and her journey with her “Rogue One” crew leave us agonizing over when and how the end will come. When it does happen, it’s the ending of a horror story and the sorrow felt from these moments is sincere, because it involves beloved connections we’ve grown accustomed to forming in the Star Wars universe.
Does Rogue One fit into your Halloween viewing traditions? Are there other Star Wars films that you feel provide such an ominous tone like what we see in this film? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.