The obscure 2008 movie “Synecdoche, New York,” written and directed by Charlie Kaufman, originated when Sony Pictures Classics approached Kaufman about creating a horror film. Kaufman, best known for deeply wacky scripts like “Being John Malkovich,” agreed. But he wasn’t interested in making the kind of paint-by-numbers movie for teenagers that appears to take place in another dimension. Instead, he later said, he wanted to make a horror film for adults, “about things that are scary in the real world, and in our lives.”
I can attest that Kaufman succeeded. In fact, I found “Synecdoche, New York” so frightening that I’ll never watch it again. Slasher movies like “Friday the 13th” and its 11 sequels are ultimately pleasurable — they end and you wake up from the dream buzzing with the adrenaline evolution gives you to escape predators, yet realize you are not in fact being stalked by Jason Voorhees. But when “Synecdoche, New York” is over and the lights come up, you understand that what was hunting its characters is hunting you too, outside the theater, in reality.
No other movie had ever given me the same jolt of pure dread until I saw the new Field of Vision documentary “A Night at the Garden,” directed by Marshall Curry. (Field of Vision is a division of First Look Media, as is The Intercept.)