Thoughts about “Voice”

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If there is one thing that “Voice” reveals to us guys about female-to-female relationships, it is that it’s a much bigger mystery than what we thought it to be. I mean, Young-eon and Sun-min’s relationship felt so intimate that it probably takes just a little push to already call it a homosexual one but it’s not, or I think it’s not. The “I love you” part at the end is more a question than an answer since girls do it all the time to each other as a friendship (?) sort of thing! Also, Sun-min has never even been to Young-eon’s place. Also, Sun-min also never really knew much about Young-eon. All they did was hang-out at school and take an absurd amount of pictures together in one-standings, the usual tradition among females. It’s a triple mystery then for me: 1) are they lovers in the stage of innocence or are they the best of best friends? 2) how are they so close to each other given the previously cited information about them? and 3) why do girls take so many pictures with each other?! Number 1 is very important to us guys since we need to know whether we are being “friend-zoned” or not, hahaha.

I call this whole “girlfriends” thing a “I know why but I don’t understand why”. I just hope my reasoning’s reasonable. Maybe the girls in class who watched this are also puzzled. I don’t know, I’m just a guy in a guy’s world. Maybe the girls are also confused on how we guys treat each other, bro-codes and stuff. Or maybe it’s because it’s the fourth installment in the Whispering Corridors series. Or maybe it’s all solely Young-eon’s fault! After all, she is revealed to be a crazy manipulator of sorts! Maybe Sun-min would’ve acted more understandably to a guy like me if she wasn’t being swayed by Young-eon’s charm.

Who would’ve expected Young-eon to be crazy? I bet nobody! There wasn’t a slightest hint nor reason, it was all just revealed in the end by her supposed alter-ego which no other ghost has. Maybe it was a demon or something, I hope so! I believe the story still holds that way and it’s a lot scarier that way. Cho-ah said that a ghost only remembers what he/she wants to remember. If that is true and assuming that it is also true that Young-eon actually WANTED her mother to commit suicide and she actually WANTED to torment her music teacher, then why did she not remember that from the beginning? Why did she remember loving her mother if her alter-ego said she hated her?

It’s important to note that this is a movie about females, which, I reiterate, still doesn’t shed any light for a guy like me. It’s noteworthy that the presence of males in this film is near zero. I can only remember two male teachers, and they are sleeping in the couch being mocked and ridiculed by their female students. And where the hell is Young-eon’s father? I don’t know if I missed any hint in the movie but I typed ctrl-f-father or ctrl-f-dad in Voice’s Wikipedia article and nothing showed up. There are just mothers, even for Sun-min when she was being picked up near the end.

Overall, I liked this movie mostly for it’s story and most especially the relationship between Young-eon and Sun-min and also Sun-min’s character. Yeah sure it’s hard to understand but at some parts the movie can be heartwarming nevertheless. Sun-min really cares that much for Young-eon that she hangs-out with her as much as possible, even at curfews or closing times, even if Young-eon was reduced to just a voice, just to ease the problematic situation Young-eon’s in. It’s a lot harder than it looks since we the viewers were able to see Young-eon and Sun-min wasn’t. And the part where Sun-min remembers the good times she had with Young-eon and she runs back to her crying out that she will always remember her, I found it really touching. On the horror elements, not so much. Except for the first tense moment where there was a shadow constantly appearing behind Young-eon, everything else was “meh”. But it’s alright since it’s another new experience for me.

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[Rec]ording Reality

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[Rec] is a mockumentary horror film that plays with our notions of structure. Robin Wood mentions that the basic formula in a horror film is one where normality (defined alongside social institutions that support and defend the individual) is threatened by a monster. The monsters in horror films are never really just literal monsters and normal is never really just normal-in-the-movie. It is in fact more intact with reality than we choose to see or believe. [Rec] posts a very interesting query into the normality of our world: how safe are we from the institutions we so willingly venerate?

In [Rec], we did have monsters in the form of zombies or the “infected,” but the questions we had from the start of the movie (i.e. where did this infection come from?) were answered to form an even more ambiguous ending. Apparently, what was seemingly biological in nature was in fact religious. A virus reportedly struck those living in the apartment complex, eventually becoming hysterical maneaters; yet as the plot thickens, we find (or the reporter, Angela, and her cameraman, Paolo, find) that the virus came from a possessed girl locked in the attic by an agent of the Vatican. We see the interaction of two institutions — science and religion — which have constantly been at “war” and now working together in forming a problem that is doubly difficult to solve. How does one get rid of something that has both a supernatural and scientific foundations? Moreover, we see another institution (the government) in the police, who is supposedly the source of protection, is the very reason for the unsettlement of those trapped in the house. This aspect seems a bit vague, in a sense, but it is a show of misguided power that affects the lives of others. With all these three powerful institutions working together against the individual, survival rate is zero percent. By the end of the movie, Angela and Paolo are the only survivors. both are seen being pulled into darkness and we can safely assume that there is no one left alive and all hope is lost.

[Rec] isn’t just any other horror film. It is a film that challenges moral order; it challenges the individual to fight for survival in a world where one is being pushed and pulled into believing something or other. It challenges the strength of one’s will to “live,” to not compromise his position and himself. This is not a film for the faint of heart or the intellectually unstimulated. It is a film that frightens you to think. It is a movie that not only gives you goosebumps from all the “action” scenes — it also gives you a chill in what it stands for. From this movie, we see that horror is not just about scaring oneself from the fantasy world of the screen; it is also about the fears of reality.

Voices of the Dead and Voices in the Head

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Voice is a supernatural horror film that shows the psychological aspect of a teenage girl that gives an understanding to a growing woman’s psyche.  On the contrary, Grace and Ginger Snaps depict women in a biological perspective. The film shows how teenage girls think in an exclusive high school, exploring sexuality and relationships. Voice is a supernatural horror film that depicts how a ghost did not know her identity, as she was trying to discover how and why she died.

I was shocked that Young-eon turned out to be the monster in the movie. She seemed so sweet and innocent, yet she was pure evil. I believed that she was the victim of the music teacher, which was actually the other way around. I was surprised when she said that the music teacher smelled like her dead mother. In addition, she convinced her mother to commit suicide.

The film has an interesting take regarding how ghosts cross over and how people let go of the dead. Using minimal visuals, the film was scary because of the creepy music, conveyed emotions, and my anticipation for the image of the ghost. The setting was the typical school corridor that becomes scary and eerie at night, like most of school ghost rumors. The music was very creepy, akin to that frightening and disturbing music I make up in my head when I cannot sleep. In contrast to the other films watched in class, Voice does not show the image of the scary monster or ghost, yet it was still effective as a horror movie.  At the start of the movie, the imagery was very minimal since only a black walking figure was seen accompanied by the sound of the woman’s shoes as it hits the floor. There were many instances that I anticipated the face of a scary monster to instantly pop up.  Also, I was expecting a surprise element in the elevator scene when Young-eon was hearing voices. As the elevator opened, it was pitch black and nothing was shown. It was only mentioned that something was coming and Young-eon and Sun-min screamed at the top of their lungs.

For me, the film shows how people consider those who believe in the supernatural as nutcases. Sun-min was considered as crazy by her classmates because she was hearing voices and talked to herself. At the end of the movie, Sun-min was admitted in a mental facility. Cho-ah has also entered a nuthouse because she was hearing voices, which she mentioned as voices of the dead. In accordance with reason, I would probably also believe that they are suffering from a mental disorder (such as schizophrenia) since auditory hallucinations are common symptoms.

One thing I disliked about the film was that the deaths very corny and awkward. Young-eon was murdered with an ordinary piece of paper that slit her throat. Choh-Ah had a freak accident with a light bulb that shattered on her face. Then, a broken glass killed her as she slipped on the floor. The music teacher was killed using mutant cello strings.  Overall, I liked the movie except for the parts that were very cloudy.

 

 

Voice

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They say grief occurs in 5 stages. First there’s denial, followed by anger, then comes bargaining, depression and acceptance. But what happens when the person you lose is yourself?

Young-eon is her school’s best singer, but is mysteriously murdered one night after singing practice. The next day she finds out that nobody can hear or see her, except for her best friend Sun-min who can only hear her voice. The two desperately try to resolve the problem and soon uncover how far the rabbit hole goes.

Death will forever remain an undiscovered adventure into the unknown, for no one has ever come back from death to tell the tale (aside from Jesus Christ, of course). When the spirited Young-eon suddenly loses her life, she is caught in a daze – unable to accept her new circumstances. She reaches out to her best friend Sun-min and pleads for help regarding the investigation of her untimely death. Following Young-eon’s death, more peculiar events occur. The death of her music teacher, and the discovery of Young-eon’s body in the elevator shaft. All these incidents point to the undeniable presence of an other. Something “other” was causing all these events to happen, after all, both Young-eon and Sun-min had no recollection of anything remotely related to those events. In a surprising twist of events, the mystery of Young-eon’s death had finally cleared and it all revolved around Young-eon’s singing voice.

Young-eon had been chosen to sing in place of her music teacher because of her talent, but unknown to her – there had already been someone who was previously “the chosen one”. Hyo-jung had the same talent as Young-eon, and was also singing in place of her music teacher in class. The affection afforded to Hyo-jung was the same for Young-eon, and is rooted from the teacher’s desire for what she had lost to larynx cancer which is a skillful singing voice. When Hyo-jung misread that affection for something more, she was persecuted by her classmates and ultimately killed herself, but could still be heard by the music teacher from the afterlife. All these people wanted a voice, Hyo-jung, the music teacher, and Young-eon, and fought fiercely for the right. Hyo-jung killed Young-eon in jealousy, and Young-eon killed her music teacher in retribution and to silence Hyo-jung for eternity, but death could not stop Young-eon from keeping her voice in the afterlife.

In the film “Voice”, it was revealed to Young-eon and Sun-min that the pair’s strong connection is the reason why Sun-min could still hear Young-eon’s voice. But once the “hearer” moves past this and forgets about the deceased, the deceased will no longer be heard and will lose his voice forever. Loss is very difficult to accept especially when what is lost is the self. Young-eon still had a bright future, but when she was treated as an “other” and a threat by Hyo-jung, it lead to her demise and the becoming of the “other” herself in death. This interplay of the “other” in life and death was very interesting to me. Ghost stories are what I find the most horrifying, because unlike monsters and zombies I find them the most plausible. The possibility of resurrection is so seductive that ghosts most often remain in the realm of the living, but once you are separated from “this world”, how human could you be or ever be again? The presentation of the familiarity of human life, and the otherness of death is what I like about Voice, but I hope to forever remain unexposed to the something “other” in death while I still live.

Deadgirl

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I feel that I have a lot to say about Deadgirl, not just within the context of what has been discussed in class, but also from a production perspective. I have to admit that I did not find the film good technically. First of all, there were a lot of grey areas in the plot, a lot of situations were left unresolved at the end, and most of the characters did not represent real people at all. If Deadgirl’s aim was to show us that in the end it’s us who are the monsters and it’s humans who do the most horrific acts, then perhaps I can accept that the film was made in such a way to give us the most exaggeratedly horrible people it could.

For example, JT was the high school burnout-turned-psycho. He was probably the kind of kid who would lead a school shooting simply out of boredom. His character is so terrible that I cant ever imagine coming across someone like him in my own school. Then we have Rickie the wallflower. Only, he’s not just like your Logan Lerman type of wallflower (the nice, quite kind), he’s the creepy kid who slinks around in the library stalking your girlfriend, telling her weird things randomly. Lastly, we have Joann, who is probably the character I dislike the most. If Joann is supposed to represent most high school girls these days then I feel terrible for the future generation. Beyond being the most clichéd character in the film, she was nothing but a superficial girl who only cared about her social status. She could barely even stand being caught talking to Rickie, simply because he was that ‘weird kid’. I didn’t like the film mostly because I found no characters to root for. It became a little tiring for me to watch a bunch of kids I didn’t like make their lives more and more complicated by being terrible people. But if the point of the film was to highlight just how terrible people can get when they’re put in certain situations, then I guess it did a pretty good job there.

Going back to the technical aspects of the film, the one thing that bothered me the most was the tone. I felt like the tone that the director was trying to set wasn’t really matching up to the theme of the film. The story was turning into such a sick combination of sex, obsession, deception, misogyny and all of these things, but the music was always this kind of slow piano music and the transitions were always fade-to-blacks and cross fades  and I really felt that a slow and dramatic setting was not a good backdrop for what was going on in the film.

Anyway, moving on from the technicals, I guess I can say that the film is interesting. There are a lot of horror films these days that play around with sexual horror. One film I like to compare this to is Teeth. In Teeth, the main character had some sort of monstrous vagina that she ended up being able to control. She used it at one point to get back at certain men who treated her badly in the past. In this movie, it was the woman who was the monster. At first she used it only as a means of defending herself, but after a while she started using it for more evil purposes A lot of people said that Teeth was the one horror movie that was bound to scare all kinds of men, precisely because the men were the victims here, and the men in the movie were being stripped of their “manhood”. Deadgirl plays around these ideas as well, showing us how horrible humans can become. However in Deadgirl, the men are driven by their repression and their thinking that “it doesn’t get any better than this” for them. It’s a little sad when you think about it.

All in all, Deadgirl is an interesting film in the way it depicts men, women, and gender and sexuality in general.

G I N G E R S N A P S

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At first, when had given the introduction of the movie whilst mentioning the title of it, for some reason, I imagined the sisters, the two main characters, to be blonde and ditzy and maybe even slightly promiscuous. Imagine my surprise when the characters were actually introduced to me and the rest of the class.

The relationship between Ginger and Brigitte is another puzzlingly intense one. Like Grace, it focuses on a disturbingly close relationship between two women, this time, between two sisters. Both Ginger and Brigitte are the outcasts of their school, both incredibly distant from their parents and both only have each other. From cradle to grave, they wanted to be there for one another. This in itself was slightly horrifying for me because I was always a believer in “everything in moderation”.

I was never really a fan of werewolf movies (maybe because Twilight kinda ruined it for me) but Ginger Snaps wasn’t exactly fortunate enough to be an exception. Based on just my over-all impression of the movie, it didn’t compare at all to Triangle or Cabin In The Woods in terms of how deeply it had actually horrified me. To be fair, though, it’s hard to deny that it did slightly horrified me because coming-of-age stories like this don’t take me back to my cringe-worthy days of puberty. In that regard, Ginger Snaps did kind of get under my skin. If 13 year old me was watching this movie, I’d be deeply disturbed. It touches on a lot of issues that were problematic to every child going through puberty and exaggerated it to a horrifying degree. The transformation showed in this movie wasn’t just Ginger’s transformation from a human to a werewolf but from a girl to a woman. Using her transformation from man to beast was an interesting, and largely accurate, symbolism for both sister’s coming-of-age experience. From the beginning of the movie, neither seem interested in boys, in experimenting, in growing up or even living long enough to become grown up. The symbolism of the werewolf aspect doesn’t just symbolize the slow and grueling nature of the experience of puberty but that puberty, more often than not, comes at you unexpectedly. For Ginger it may have been the werewolf bite and from Brigitte possibly the introduction of Sam into the mix. In addition to this, I also think that by Brigitte saying that she would rather die than be like Ginger, it was also symbolizing how some girls are really not ready to grow up, or even refuse to do so. But as we all saw it happen to Brigitte, it catches up with us all eventually. If i were, again, a 13 year old girl repressing her denial of everything adult, then this would definitely hit a horrifying spot.

Ginger Snaps would definitely fall under the category of Psychological Horror. Ginger, from when she got bitten until she had completed her transformation, was the human/superhuman monster that represented that part of all of us that was scared to grow up. Or even for adults, I think she could symbolize a fear of change, of moving from a state of familiarity to a state of unfamiliarity. In that regard, I think Ginger Snaps will definitely, though subtly, find its way under a lot of people’s skin.

Echo

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Sound, like light, is one of the few things in the world that can continue to exist after its source has stopped producing it. Try whispering in the halls of an empty old church, a school on Christmas break and an old house and one could hear his voice reverberate through the silent rooms. It is as if after one speaks, the walls begin to mimic what was said and do so over and over again. To me, the movie “Voice” was appropriately titled because it speaks of a human truth that can be described similar to that of an echoing, reverberating voice. That human truth is the truth that deals with death, with loss and trying to cope with such tragedies.

As human beings, we recognize that we are indeed alive, but in order for us to be able to say so, we also need to accept the corollary that one day we will die. We are temporal beings after all and one day, we will grow old, die and eventually disintegrate. The many things, achievements and even people that we hold dear in our lives, we would have to say farewell to one day and how we deal with that loss can vary from person to person. Yes, it may be difficult to accept that we will die, but it is probably more difficult for those who will be left behind to deal with the fact that they have been left behind. And to me, the different coping mechanisms is what stands out as the shining message of this film.

The story begins somewhat at the beginning of a plot, with many questions still left unanswered in the history of the characters that would determine their eventual fates. We are exposed to this budding young girl, Young-eon, who wants to be a successful singer one day. There was also this music teacher who once had an illustrious career but after getting sick of cancer had her dreams cut short. We also hear of the story of this other girl, Hyo-jung who was found dead in the school a few years back.

At the beginning of the story, we encounter this horrific scene where Young-eon is killed by this stranger in an equally strange way. The next day, she realizes that she’s suddenly invisible and that she could not interact with anyone aside from her friend Sun-min. This reminds me of a very human phenomenon wherein when a loved one dies, we try so desperately to keep the memory of that person alive in us to the point wherein we could even convince ourselves that we could still talk to that person. We continue to communicate to the loved one we could no longer see nor touch, pretty much like how Sun-min continues to talk to Young-eon.

Sun-min experiences a loss and tries to cope with it by continuing to communicate to her lost friend. There are other people who have also experienced losses though at a different degree. The music teacher once had a promising career but it was taken away from her by her sickness. She tries to cope by being unusually close to students who have singing voices that reminded her of the voice she once had. These students were Hyo-jung and Yeong-eon. As the story eventually reveals, the music teacher has an unusual relationship with Hyo-jung, the latter falling madly in love with the former. Hyo-jung is eventually persecuted by the whole school and eventually kills herself. After death, Hyo-jung and the music teacher continues to communicate with each other, similar to how Sun-min continues to talk to Young-eon. When the music teacher begins to “fall in love” with Yeong-eon and her voice, Hyo-jung loses the love of her life and she copes by killing Yeong-eon.

Yeong-eon lost something very fundamental to her – her life. And throughout the story we see evidence of her desire to live. There was this part of the story where Young-eon confronts herself and asks her what she really wants. Does she really care so much about her friend, Sun-min or does she just really want to live? She lost her life and copes by taking over Sun-min’s body so that she could continue living. The dead trying desperately to live and eventually succeeding is probably the freakiest part of the film.

The tragedy of life is that there will be moments when we will have to suffer losses. That’s something inevitable. We can never avoid these tragedies. What we can control though is how we react to them, how we’ll find a way to patch up what was lost and to move on.