Almost the whole weekend before class I was immersed in studying the biology of conception, neonatology, birth and labour for my human life cycle class. Oddly enough I would find myself still fully immersed in the subject matter in horror class. Included in our subject was the psychological and mental processes that a woman is goring through as she is expecting a child and after the child has already been brought out and I can’t help but be amazed that a lot of the things that I studied even the preeclampsia that Madeline suffers from in the beginning was familiar to me.
More than the interest that was brought about by the coincidental connection with my other class, I was more amazed as to how our discussion in class tied up so very well with the movie. Talking about horror as an expression of the psychology of a society or a certain repression that is concretized really spoke to me through the movie. In the movie we see how there were a lot of things that the main character struggles with. This includes this strong need to be a mother, her strained relationship with her control freak of a mother-in-law, and her past sexuality. In the film I noticed that the opposite of all the things that she was really more of pushing back was personified into her child, Grace. For one thing, it was pretty odd that a vegetarian would be fond of watching documentaries of animal slaughter, as if her desire for meat was always there but she just ignored it. Her daughter would then be the complete opposite, the child of all her suppressed feelings, she would be a blood thirsty child who only drank blood and not milk.
Next, Madeline also seemed to have repressed her real sexuality; she used to have a relationship with her Midwife but later on goes into the heterosexual relationship with her husband. Again, something that is pushed back in order to give the impression that everything is in equilibrium, something that as we discussed is a reason why we repress or hide thoughts and tendencies we think would be too harmful to be expressed.
I also noticed that several times in the movie, there was also a repetitive showing of milk. Her husband would drink milk, Dr. Sohn drank milk and her mother-in-law was also very obsessed with the idea of breast feeding. Perhaps if I were to give my own interpretation, the milk signified a sort of regression of the characters, or going back to infancy, to a state in which nothing is repressed. All their appetites as a child would be given to them, like babies that get what they want, again completely personified and concretized in Grace who always got what she wanted even if it was not milk any more.
Overall I think the horror and the disturbing factors for me in the movie was how taboo several portions of it was, that the film treated something as wonderful and beautiful as child birth into something so horrific and disgusting is what made it effective for me.