aaron’s review published on Letterboxd:
Somehow, a Hunger Games prequel managed to become one of the most viscerally uncomfortable viewing experiences I've had all year — and I've been watching horror movies back to back for the last four months.
Experiencing this horrific tradition through the eyes of the Capital added a dimension to the franchise it sorely needed — providing a clearer understanding on how something so terrible could ever become so justified, so normalised, in the eyes of other humans. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes constructs a post-war city hell-bent on ensuring that their wealth and their power remains safe from the constantly squirming hands of a violent underclass seen as without mercy or humanity.
For the capital, those from the districts aren't people but animals — and every struggle for resistance, every claw raised against their oppressors, merely reinforces this portrait . By pitting them against each other, tearing away the constraints of social order, they're forced to perform this vision over and over and over — in the shattered rubble of their own making.
It's heartbreaking, it's genuinely disturbing, and it's all too real. So often, we look at the world around us and wonder how such absurd, inhuman atrocities can continue unstopped — how they can be wholeheartedly supported by regular people. Art has, and should, continue to reflect our world in a way that forces us to reckon with ourselves — and Songbirds has brought the Hunger Games closer than it's ever been.
A genuinely discomforting parable about the dangers of dehumanisation and the power of performance — colliding in an arena not far from our own.