Die for Grace

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Childbirth is a stressful event for young couples especially when it is their first time to go through such an experience. Although marrying and having kids is still a distant prospect for me, watching the film Grace makes me want to place the mere thought of it on the back recesses of my mind. I am used to violence and gore because almost all movies have some form of it. A part of getting used to it is to believe they would not happen in real life. This mindset is effectively neutralized in Grace because of its themes about motherly love and sacrifice. These two concepts are the driving forces behind the motivations of each character and this makes the movie all too real. I think the fact that Madeline was a vegan was a theatrical tool used to emphasize her love for her bloodthirsty baby. I was amused why, of all coincidences; a cannibalistic child would be born to a vegan mother. But it also makes sense in a weird way. A child who was fed vegetables during her entire tenure in her mother’s womb would crave for something in a normal human being’s diet with a greater sense of urgency. The child’s aversion to animal blood must have come from her mother’s disgust for eating meat so she chose human blood as an alternative. I would not be surprised if Grace would start eating human meat when she grows up.

It may be Madeline’s degenerating regard on how to get food for Grace but it could be also a paradox of vegan practice as shown in the film; I noticed that Madeline showed a lesser amount of guilt when she killed the doctor and drained his blood than when she was draining the blood of the meat she bought. She also cold bloodedly ripped out his mother-in law’s throat and showed no disgust that Grace was practically chewing on her body. This indifference to shedding human blood, coupled with immoral acts by Madeline’s mother in law was the horror factor of the movie. It is horrific how the loving action of breastfeeding and obtaining food are presented in a twisted form. At the end of the movie, I did not hate Madeline as much as the Dr. Patricia because she did not really do anything to provide a solution and chose to run away from the life she established just for a lesbian crush on Madeline. Overall, I liked the movie because it shows the things we do for love and the price we pay for loving too much.

Ginger Snaps!

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Majority of the previous films shown in class were horror films involving the undead or zombies. These films have dead humans come back to life as flesh eating zombies by a contagious virus, by a spell or by a miracle. The film “Ginger Snaps” introduces a horror creature in class; the werewolf. As opposed to zombies wherein you turn into one when you die, the transformation to a werewolf happens while you are still alive. Ginger Snaps is a story of two sisters who find themselves in a situation in which one of them is experiencing changes brought by the transformation. At the beginning of the film, Ginger and Brigitte show a presentation in class wherein they staged death. I found their fascination with death a bit creepy since they not only talk about it, but actually create different scenarios of death. Also, at the beginning, there are scenes that show mutilated dogs which to me, adds some scare factor since no one knew what was responsible for death of the dogs. Later on, while the two of them are wandering outside, they are attacked by an unknown creature. Ginger suddenly vanishes and starts screaming for help. Brigitte somehow rescues Ginger and in the process, kills the unknown creature which would later on be revealed as a werewolf. During those scenes, I was a bit disappointed since the werewolf appeared relatively easy to kill. I was expecting it to be a nearly unstoppable bloodthirsty creature but rather, it died immediately after getting hit by a car. Ginger, having been bitten by the werewolf, suddenly starts to experience change both physically and psychologically. In terms of physical change, Ginger starts to grow fur, a tail, sharp claws and sharp teeth. As for psychological change, she starts to become more aggressive and uncontrollable. As these changes happen, her relationship with Brigitte is greatly affected. Brigitte is doing her best to control Ginger to prevent her from doing harm to other people and at the same time, she is looking for a way to cure Ginger. Despite all these efforts by Brigitte, Ginger still gets mad at her. I believe that the horror from this film is not actually the werewolf, but the drastic changes that comes along with the transformation. It is actually scary to think that you would start to lose control of yourself. As shown by Ginger, as she snaps, she begins doing things that she would not normally do. She starts to kill people, mutilate dogs and have unprotected sex. Furthermore, this lack of control destroyed her relationship with her sister. At the start, it seemed as if the two sisters were inseparable; that they would always have each other’s back. As she experiences change, she fights with her sister and leaves her behind. The film ends with Ginger fully becoming a werewolf and eventually dies in the hands of Brigitte. Once again, I found the werewolf to have died rather easily, which was a bit disappointing. Overall, the film was fun and humorous; however, I felt that it lacked a lot in horror.

Voice

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If Ginger Snaps is a werewolf movie centered on the relationship of two adolescent teenage sisters, then Voice is a supernatural film that revolves around numerous female relationships in an all-girls high school (Best friends, acquaintances, rivals, lesbian student and teacher, mother and daughter). These relationships fuels and adds to the complexity of the plot. The main protagonist, Young-eon, having been killed earlier by an unseen force, discovers she is a ghost the next day. The only one who could hear her is her best friend Seon-Min. She tries to save her relationship with her by communicating through voices and at the same time unravel the mystery of her death and the identity of her supernatural killer. Her killer turns out to be the spirit of a former student Hyo-Jung in love with her music teacher and possible rival to Young-eon’s voice (they both had similar singing voices), the same teacher that tutors Young-eon. Meanwhile Seon-Min befriends another student, Cho-ah, who tells her ghosts might be lying as they remember only what they want. Things turn for worse as we discover Young-eon has split-personality disorder and caused both her mother and the teacher to commit suicide: with the latter in order for Hyo-Jung to lose her voice.

This is probably the first South Korean horror film I’ve watched. I have this feeling every time I watch Asian horror that there has to be some sort of unexpected twist in the end concerning the main protagonist. True enough, it has met that expectation: Young-eon is evil! As much as I enjoyed this twist, I did not understand how Young-eon could turn so evil all of a sudden. But I guess we have to accept the split-personality disorder angle, highlighted in the scene wherein her ignorant self has a confrontation with her evil version. This was a “WTF!” moment since she displayed the exact opposite traits throughout the whole film.

I did not like the film as much as other Japanese asian horror films. Though one could notice similarities in plot, some parts of it were really fuzzy especially the flashback scenes. The death and scare scenes also came out raw, half-done and considerably boring and negates the great build up provided by the film’s excellent yet haunting score. Among examples were Cho-ah’s death by light bulb, music teacher’s death by cello strings and Young-eon’s at the hands of paper. Paper! They blew it towards the end and I think it lost most of its horrific quality towards the end. The first scene wherein Young-eon was first haunted by a dark outline was really effective and scary since it heightens anticipation of ghost’s appearance. Unfortunately, the film did not capitalize on that and fails to generate anything resembling a genuine scare, attributing to the relatively weak parts.

There is one redeeming factor in the film though, and that lies in the portrayal of life after death. It is rather perfectly poignant that when we die, those who we love are the only ones who could hear our voices. Should they forget us, we shall lose our voices to. This would hit a spot for some aspiring philosophers out there, a topic from which we could derive a deeper horror: it would seem as if our existence would depend on the ability of another to sense, hear, feel and see us.

Ginger Snaps!

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The film Ginger Snaps is relatively old Werewolf movie (2000) that I might have missed out on (Bad Moon, Dog Soldiers, An American Werewolf in London) probably because it was produced independently. As such, I did not know what to expect coming into the movie. It starts off with introducing two adolescent sisters Bridgette and Ginger with particularly weird interests, fascinated with taking pictures of their own setup “fake” deaths. Later on, Ginger gets bitten by a werewolf and her slow animalistic transformation into a lycanthrope begins as Bridgette tries desperately to stop her sister’s transformation.

The film is notably abundant in dark humor particularly in the scene wherein Ginger distracts her mother just enough for her to not notice Trina’s body in the freezer, a fellow classmate whom they had accidentally killed earlier and whose dog they had previously kidnapped. A couple of darkly funny scenes too include Trina’s frozen fingers found in the lawn by the mother (which is put in a plastic lunchbox thinking it as one their props for the “death project”), Ginger trying to conceal her tail, and the wolf-boy who walks up going to class right after being injected with syringe in his neck. However the film is ultimately a tragedy as both sisters are slowly torn apart by these series of events. Towards the end, Bridgette finds a monkshood cure yet still fails to stop her sister’s killing spree and ends up killing her instead in the final showdown. For these factors I find the film really enjoyable since it was not that heavy, the plot was very engrossing and there were quite a good number of scares. I also liked the fact that most of the “horror” does not show the werewolf clearly mutilating the victim on the screen. Instead it is left to the imagination of the viewer. The camera is shaky, we are not shown fully of the attack and mostly only grisly sounds are heard. This leaves an effective scare for me because we are left only to ponder what really happens, as opposed to scares that derive its power from its shock value and gore.

What I also like is the fact that the character of Ginger is a girl. Werewolf movies I’ve watched often portray men as victims of such transformations. And the main protagonist is usually tormented by the fact that he is slowly turning into a monster. This conflict of hiding his change to everyone familiar to him arises: will he fight to stay human or will he give in to his animalistic urges, which grows stronger by the minute. So for one, it was refreshing to see a teenage girl afflicted with the curse. The viewpoint of the adolescent experiencing puberty draws some characteristics parallel to the werewolf phenomenon (increased sexual drive, bodily transformations, etc.). Secondly, there can be observed a parallel symbolism of the werewolf transformation to the menstrual experience of girls entering puberty, something which the film capitalizes on a few scenes. All in all, Ginger Saps is a great werewolf movie.

Grace

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There is perhaps nothing more pure and unconditional than a mother’s love. A mother is willing to sacrifice almost anything just to be able to satisfy the needs of her child. The film “Grace” plays around this idea and takes it to the extreme. It is a film in which a mother does EVERYTHING just to cater to the special needs of her child. The film starts with a couple shown to be expecting a child. They have a conversation with the father’s parents regarding where and how the baby will be delivered. The father’s parents, mainly the mother-in-law, are strongly suggesting that they should go to a hospital. The pregnant girl, on the other hand, wants to deliver the baby with a midwife. The husband was convinced by the wife to go to the midwife first. After their trip to the midwife, on their way home, they are involved in an accident which kills the husband. The girl is taken to a hospital wherein she was to deliver the baby. She didn’t want to deliver the baby in the hospital so she is taken by the midwife to her clinic. The baby was at first shown to be dead. After a few seconds, by some miracle, the baby seems to have come back to life. At this point, I thought that the baby would turn into a little killer monster similar to a “Tiyanak”. As the film progresses, it was shown that the baby, despite being a flesh eating creature, was the most helpless character in the film. The baby was dependent on the mother for food and protection. The only way for the baby to get food was to cry and wait for her mother to bring her food. The horror in this film did not come from the monster but from the actions of the mother. Her actions, though out of love for her child, are unacceptable in society since they disregard the lives of other people. First of all, she allows the child to suck her blood and eat a portion of her breast just to be able to feed the child even though it was shown to have affected her health. She also killed a doctor to protect her child from being taken away from her and to make things even more disturbing; she cut the doctor up for blood which would be fed to her child. Aside from her, the mother-in-law also takes motherhood to an extreme. After she loses her son, in an intimate scene with her husband, it seemed as if she wanted to breastfeed her husband. Also, she is shown to be obsessed with obtaining the child. The loss of her son probably caused her to divert her motherhood to her husband and to the child. This, to me, was also disturbing since even at an old age, she still has a very strong drive to be a mother; to the extent that she even breastfeeds her husband. The movie, in general, is not really a scary film but rather, a very disturbing one since it pollutes the concept of motherly love, which is generally considered to be pure.

Grace

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Grace is one of those horror movies wherein the horror comes not from scary jump-out-your-seat moments but from slow, achingly graphic scenes that might scream borderline cringe torture for some audiences.  As I was watching the film I thought about the similar film with a zombie baby in it entitled It’s Alive, wherein a bloodthirsty baby actually goes on a killing spree. Grace is much different. The baby, whilst a bloodsucker with a penchant for human blood, did not kill anybody at least directly. Instead, all throughout the film I felt the presence of a lingering discomfort especially every time the undead baby Grace is around the mother. We were cringing at the beginning of every breastfeeding scene. In that sense, I would think that the film was effective in terms of evoking strong reactions. Yet as a film of its genre one should have acquired a certain taste in order to find enjoyment. I myself did not film that likable.

Horror could offer a dark interpretation of a common notion or a phenomenon in society. These are hen twisted and pushed to the extremes. In this case, the film offers a view on motherhood and the relationship of a mother and her baby. This undying love of a mother to her offspring is already a well-established fact in society. Any normal mother would go great lengths and do everything in order make sure their offspring would survive. Similarly, albeit in a twisted sense, Madeline made great lengths in order to ensure her baby’s survival, from carrying still-born Grace till the end of her term and to ultimately feeding her blood from her own breast.

Another topic that can be observed in the film was the empowering of women. This was done through numerous references to the breasts. The husband died leaving Madeline to make all the decisions for their baby. Her breasts not only were the source of food but it also symbolized her willingness to raise Grace on her own. Notice too, that the husband’s mother played a larger role in the film, as compared to the father. There was this scene in bed wherein the mother took out her breast and obliged the father to suck it, which he does so submissively. It was a really weird scene but I think it kind of demonstrates this power women have over men. She took control of instigating sexual advances, as opposed to the more traditional role of submission of women to their husbands. Also, it was interesting to take note of the lesbian characters especially the midwife who has taken an attraction to Madeline.

Overall I commend the film for trying to speak not only of motherhood but also of several themes regarding women though they were only snippets and could still be removed from the film without sacrificing anything from the plot. While the style of horror is still something we could all learn to appreciate, Grace is a film that torments women the idea of motherhood.

Mother

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The movie “Grace”, in comparison to movies like “Deadgirl”, was actually a little less disturbing. But it was still disturbing nontheless.Though it is a different kind of disturbing all together. The horror of witnessing necrophilia and rape was replaced with the horror of witnessing old people have sex and zombie babies drinking human blood.
I think the most disturbing moment for me really was the old people having sex part. I think its because usually when you think of people who are supposed to be grandparents, you think of them as people who bake you cookies and give you knitted sweaters for christmas. You never really think of what they did that made them grandparents, what they did to produce your parents, who in turn produced you. Part of the disgust can also be attributed to the fact that sexual intercourse between old people isn’t the most glamorous of sights. Usually in most hollywood films, these scenes occur between a  young couple, who more or less are the epitome of aesthetic beauty. Thus, potraying this carnal act as something desirable, appealing, and sometimes even innocent and pure. The elderly, in the sense of aesthetic beauty, are not that attractive. The years have made their skin sag and their hair white. So intercourse between people who far from the ideal of beauty is not something that most people want to witness.
What adds to the intercourse being more disturbing is the fact that it is juxtaposed with the act of breastfeeding. What is supposedly to be a maternal act is turned into a sexual one. This stems from Vivian mourning the death of her son. The loss of her son intensifies her need to be a mother. This need is can be seen as repressed as the years passed by and as her son grows up. She has to let him go and live his own life with his wife. When her son dies, the role of being a mother which was already repressed by the independence of her son, is completely taken away from her. This has been a role that she has been playing for years now and it is her identity. Now that Michael is gone, she loses who she is and her desire to become a mother again more or less drives her a little bit off her rocker. She wants to be a mother so bad that she even brings it into a sexual context so that she could relive the experience of breastfeeding. She is willing to do anything to be a mother again.
Vivian and Madeline have this trait in common. The idea of playing the role of a mother is something so important to the both of them. Madeline wanted to fit into the role of being a mother so badly that she is willing to do anything in order to keep her child. In both cases, these women are not really concerned as to being good wives to their husbands, as seen through out the film and magnified in their intimate scenes.