WHERE THIS EVIL HAILS FROM: “Blink,” the 10th episode of Doctor Who Series 3
WHY THIS EVIL MADE ME FILLE THE FEAR: Even at a small first glance, the Weeping Angels are creepy and melancholic, and where we meet them–a ruined old house being explored by curious Sally Sparrow (a pre-fame Carey Mulligan)–isn’t much better. All the horror standards I like, but as the trouble really starts when, as Doctor himself says, “Then you look away, then you blink.”
I’ve always been a fan of simple horror, and you can’t get much simpler than the Weeping Angels. Things that move which aren’t supposed to are scary, things coming after you that you can’t see are too, and when both those things are combined in a creepy and gothic looking form, that’s a recipe for nightmares. When the Angels come after you, the only thing you have to defend yourself is staring down the monster by controlling an involuntary reaction to keep it in place rather than being able to hide from it, which is what we want to do with horror. All it takes is one little second of a slip for them to get you.
The way that they Angels move also adds to their creep factor. You never see them moving, but once you look back at them, you still know what’s happening and that’s almost worse than having actually seen it. In “Blink,”
we, the audience, are part of the experience, as the Angels never move onscreen even when Sally isn’t looking directly at them, but we are. They move in chilling tableaus, getting closer and closer with each blink or flicker of the light. There’s also the way that they transform from a creepy serene face to a feral one just before they’re ready to strike, betraying their true savage nature.
The end of “Blink” features a final warning from the Doctor over shots of various statues, suggesting that any statue could be a Weeping Angel creature in another form. When I was at university, there were three statues outside the library, and at night they were lit up from underneath quite dramatically. They weren’t angels, but if I ever had to walk past them at night, I couldn’t help giving them a little sly glare out of the corner of my eye, just in case.
HOW THIS EVIL STILL DOES: The Angels have made a few more appearances since their debut in “The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone” and “The Angels Take Manhattan.” Both are a lot less effective than Blink in many ways, a decent scary sequence in each aside. Far too many new elements for the creatures are brought in, such as images of Angels being Angels themselves and you turning you into an Angel if you look in their eyes (we have to assume that the Angels in “Blink” were too weak for those tricks, otherwise Sally and Larry would have been screwed). And we are asked to believe that in “The City that Never Sleeps” nobody was looking at the Statue of Liberty long enough for it to move halfway across town. Hmmmmm.
Law of diminishing returns aside, “Blink” still remains an excellent piece of storytelling and showcases the Angels in their purest form and their most terrifying.