Holloween

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One film which indisputably depicts conventions of the Clover’s final girl is Halloween. For the first major minutes, the film closely follows the backstory of Michael Myers and how he came to be known as a cold-blooded serial killer. The main plot of the film involves Laurie Strode, Myers’ estranged sister escaping from his [loving] clutches. Her character is a perfect example of a Final girl. She exhibits the basic characteristics that Clover has coined for the term: for one, she has a shared history with the killer, being his estranged sister for 15 years. Secondly, while she is still depicted to possess certain longings and hedonistic urges, she does not engage in vices such as sex, smoking and drinking as compared to her peers Annie and Linda. She therefore, as Clover points out, does not possess the static feminism and sexual overdrive of other female characters in the film.

The audience will have a shift in affinity for Myers and Laurie in two planes: (1) as a literal focus of the film and (2) in terms of their male and female roles. The first major part of the film focuses solely on recreating Myer’s character. Rob Zombie, himself wanted to “flesh” out the character and provide a backstory in order to tie the character’s origins from a mindless killing machine to that of a psychopath slowly driven to insanity by his environment and his own internal problems. From this, it can be said that the viewer is given more familiarity and therefore forced to provide more empathy for the character. Conversely, the next half of the film focuses on Laurie’s perspective herself as she faces a threat she does not fully understand. As tension rises, she screams, runs and stumbles on her flight to survive.

Another particular characteristic of the film is that it is one of those remakes which provide an origin story of a killer/monster. One could ask if this de-familiarization leading to subsequent re-familiarization undermines the scariness of the monster. Should we know the monster or should we leave it a mystery? After all, doesn’t a certain shroud of mysticism and sense of unknowing add to a horror film and curiosity of the viewer? This could be a topic raised for movie-goers regarding the characterization of their movie monsters. Can we still maintain his/her scariness by want to understand more of the character by introducing his/her backstory? Or do we leave him as a mindless killing machine? Personally I think the answer will depend on the preferences of the viewer. Furthermore, the resulting effectiveness of the character to elicit fear will still depend on other factors of the movie other than this. This remake, for example, even though it allows us to sympathize for the Myers, especially in the beginning, grounds the character closer to reality. There were themes that include bullying, parental verbal abuse and psychopathic tendencies, which are phenomena not really far from what is and can actually happen in real life. Thus, it makes Myer’s story “more frightening” in that sense.

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Innkeepers

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In modern horror cinema, most filmmakers often forget the importance of character development. In slasher films, for example, each particular individual has a preset trait: the jock, the virgin, the smartass, the slut and the joker. These reused and recycled characters are even referenced and made fun of in the film Cabin in the Woods. Such character tropes have been used hundreds of times. As such, the viewer can’t help but feel disillusioned and separated from these characters, instead rooting for the villain as he slaughters them one by one, which is problematic because these characters are the supposed protagonists, the ones we should actually want to cheer for. Hence character development especially of the protagonist is indeed a crucial element in horror. And this is exactly what The Innkeepers provided.

In order to develop a character well, the film has to showcase the personality, quirks and the way the character interacts with others. In order to achieve this, it would also need a longer build up process. Claire was molded perfectly so as a character that the audience can sympathize with from her little quirks, her bored disposition up to her frightened expressions. As such, I feel as a viewer to connect more to the story, much more to “horror” if I am totally immersed in its characters. The plot was simple enough, just another one of the old abandoned haunted locations.

After I thought I would never be traumatized by another horror movie ghost ever again since Sadako from the ring, well The Innkeepers proved me wrong. It is not only how the way Madeline’s ghost looks like but also on the build leading up to her appearance that generates chills. Although some would argue that the film can be draggy at times, I thought that the cinematography was done in good taste. The lingering shots of empty dark corridors, creaky doors, and slow panning of the camera from one point to another resonate fear throughout the movie. In order to the film to work though, I believe you must totally be immersed into the environment to grasp the chilly feeling that the hotel gives off every night. Also I also commend the amazing score which actually comprises more of unrecognizable noises. Part of the film tries to exploit the fact that the audience will try to squint their ears too understand the sounds coming from Claire’s recorder, only for it to actually consist of gibberish noises. Furthermore, part of the film exploits the expectations of the viewer for something to actually appear or happen, making it unpredictable at times.

The Innkeepers is a rare type of film emerging in horror cinema today that does not depict excessive amounts of gore, and I can still say does not rely on cheesy jump scares as its highlights. That being said, it will prey on your senses.  It will unman you with its first few hours of light-hearted comedy, only to suddenly strike you in the gut for the last spine-tingling part of the film. 

May be perfect.

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May is a very peculiar film. Like the movie Halloween, this movie also stars a very mentally unstable person. However, this time it’s a girl and her name, as the title hints, is May. In the movie, May was born with a lazy eye since she was little and had to deal with all sorts of unfavorable circumstances because of the unlucky bodily distortion. This most likely led to her very lonesome predicament as she grew up. Also, another thing to mention about the movie is May’s creepy doll which was given to her by her mom on her birthday when she was still young.

Initially, knowing that we were watching a horror movie, the creepy doll was a very good addition to the scenes since it was too creepy and that it fit quite perfectly as a horrific figure. In hindsight, the normal viewer would expect that this doll is going to be the source of all the horrific moments in the film and that there’s going to be some supernatural phenomenon that’s going to happen that would make the doll move on its own and starts killing people. Also, this doll is always inside its box ever since it was given; and all throughout the movie, it had scenes that it would seem that the doll want to escape. However, expectations were ruined as the doll was just a doll and that in climax of the movie; May was the one to be looked out for as she became the cold blooded killer normal viewers would have thought the doll would be.

Referring to Carol J. Clover’s “Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film”, female characters in horror movies usually portray as a helpless frail character who gets to be the last one standing among all her companions in the movie; this presents that in some cases in horror films, it’s not always that female characters are feminine but can also be masculine. Also, in a sense, in some cases as well, there is this change of roles – from someone who is weak and fragile turns out to be stronger than everyone else. In this movie, it presents an extent to the statement. May, being the weak, inexperienced, and highly sensitive girl in the movie, changed into a strong willed, cold-hearted killer in order for her to get what she wants.

There were a lot to think about what was happening in the movie. One instance is the shattering of the glass box where the doll was kept in. Looking at it metaphorically, instead of just looking at what was happening to the doll in the glass, we look at what was happening to May when the glass was shattering. It is possible to say that the shattering glass was not the glass box shattering but May’s sanity. This is possible since the movie presented that the glass box was never really as shattered as it had presented in previous frames.

May presents not only the horror that can be seen in slasher films but also it presents the kind of horror a person may enter once that person goes insane due to unfavorable circumstances in his or her life.

Let the Right One In

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I have never been a big fan of the combination of vampires and romance after seeing Twilight. Because of Twilight, I immediately think that a film containing vampires and relationships would be something very cheesy and romantic. Upon learning that we would be watching the film “Let the Right One In”, a film that involves vampires and love, I was a bit disappointed as I thought that it would be something similar to Twilight. The film was quite different, as still retained the idea that vampires drink human blood. There were scenes showing Eli and Hakan hunting for human victims. Vampires here were portrayed as something scary, as creatures that kill other people, as opposed to Vampires in Twilight who are portrayed as creatures who do not want to harm other people. Aside from this, I also found it interesting how Eli is shown to be both caring and ruthless at the same time. It shows that these bloodthirsty creatures are still capable of affection. At the start of the film, we are shown how Oskar is regularly bullied by his classmates. He can do nothing against them except for plotting his revenge against them. Oskar meets Eli, and after a while, the two form a relationship. In this film, the monster and a human being have a relationship wherein they work together rather than fight each other. They were shown to save each other from harm or even death. When Oskar was being drowned in the pool, Eli killed the bullies. When Lacke was about to kill Eli, Oskar intervened and as a results wakes Eli up. Because of this, Eli was able to kill Lacke. In general, I really liked the film since it is a good romantic horror film. It was nothing like Twilight, which just removed the entire horror factor from vampires. “Let the Right One In” maintained the common notion of the vampire to be bloodthirsty killers while at the same time, gives the vampires a more humane nature, which is to love. It changed my perception on films containing vampires and romance. In this film, there was a scene that I particularly did not understand. It was the scene wherein Eli was shown to have a scar in her genital area. In the earlier part of the film, Eli mentions that she is not a girl. After seeing that scene, I was wondering if Eli was actually a boy who was castrated. In their relationship, Eli was actually the one who acted like the male. She was the one who was strong and dominant. Oskar acted as if he was the female since he was the one who needed protection. He was shown to be weak and powerless against other people.

 

Bad Words

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Pontypool was perhaps the most confusing film that we had ever watched in class. It had one hell of a twist; one that would never had entered my mind. The film starts off Grant driving through a blizzard. A woman suddenly taps on his window and says words repeatedly. At this moment, I was already thinking that this could be a very scary and exciting film. The entire film takes place in what looks like a radio station. They only find out about the events happening outside through phone calls. Ken, a reporter for the station, reports about a riot that is happening at the office of Dr. Mendez. He mentions that there is total chaos and that people are dying. His report appears to be referring to some sort of zombie apocalypse. Ken gets cut off but is able to call back a short while after. Ken reports that there is something odd about the infected people; that they are mumbling words repeatedly. I thought that it was a great idea to have the main characters locked up in a radio station, without any knowledge on what was actually happening outside. The viewers were also limited to what the main characters knew. The film became very interesting to me since the events outside remained a mystery, thus sparking my curiosity. A few moments later, Dr. Mendez appears inside the radio station. He notices that Laurel-Ann is exhibiting the symptoms of infection which leads them to lock themselves in the booth. At this point, I was already on the edge of my seat since it seemed to me that the exciting scenes were coming up next. I thought that they would learn that the people have been infected and that their only chance of survival is to escape from the town. I was really shocked when the twist was revealed; that the English words are infected. From this point up to the end of the film, I became absolutely confused. I did not know how words can infect people. I did not know why only English words are infected. I did not know why speaking in another language could save you from the infection. Towards the end, Sydney suddenly appears to exhibit the symptoms of infections. She begins to say the word “kill” over and over again. For some weird reason, Grant was able to cure her by making her say “kill is kiss”. I did not really understand how associating the infected word with something else could cure a person. Grant, as an attempt to cure other people, begins saying tons of English words. I did not understand why Grant, who kept on speaking in English, remained uninfected. After the credits, Grant and Sydney were shown talking about something that made no sense at all. The film left me thinking in my head, “What was that? What just happened?” I did not really know what it meant and what it was for. I could not say that I enjoyed the film since I did not really understand it. The beginning, to me, was brilliant since the thought having no knowledge of the chaos outside really kept me hooked up on the film. The ending, on the other hand, was just too confusing for me to enjoy.

Thoughts about Rob Zombie’s “Halloween”

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Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” is an interesting slasher film since it showcases an extensive study of its monster, Michael Myers. This movie is horrifying in the psychological sense that it opens us up to a world where there can be potential killers who are so oddly different, so mentally ill, that they couldn’t be saved once they snap. Michael was closed off for too long that Dr. Loomis eventually gave up on him.

Relating the movie to Carol Clover’s “Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film”, we have a killer who was heavily influenced by a bad family and environment. Michael grew up having an abusive and alcoholic step-father, an ignorant and deviant sister, and a mother who is caring but is not exactly a role model of sorts. On top of that, he was bullied and marginalized in school. Most importantly, he wasn’t given any guidance since he was left alone most of the time. This made him consider torture and revenge as a normal thing to do. This is what makes him different from other horror film killers like Norman Bates or Jason Vorhees. He acts by himself and he’s under no psychosexual grip. We never get to have an inkling as to why he did this or that. He felt so strong and free that he probably did whatever it is he did just for the heck of it. Laurie, Michael’s younger sister, is the Final Girl of the movie. She was initially a feminine character but when her friends and family were killed off one-by-one and she was left to fend for herself, she eventually turned into a masculine character, and in this movie we never get to know whether she actually defeats Michael or loses to him. *SPOILER AHEAD* In Halloween II we eventually know that she eventually kills Michael but she turns into a deranged killer herself.

Honestly, I couldn’t cheer for either Laurie or Michael in the movie. Maybe in the early parts when Michael was still a kid I could relate to him, but then everything got out of hand for him and he was portrayed to be so distant that I couldn’t care less what he does next. Same goes for Laurie. The characters felt so distant, and my reaction to that bothers me sometimes. I couldn’t care less for Laurie, should I? All I wanted was for the story to uncover more and that’s it. It’s just a movie anyway. Should we bother about staged deaths? Anyway, this is a horror film that explores the human psyche, and it shows us that much of the human psyche is unknown, making it worthy to be feared. For one, there are serial killers like Michael in real life. We do not know what makes them tick. We do not know when and where they will strike, and the scariest part about it is that real life serial killers can act so inconspicuously normal that it could be too late for anyone to discover their true nature.

The Perfect Friend

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The film “May” revolves around the story of a lonely woman who is in search of a perfect friend. The story begins by introducing to us a little girl who did not have friends due to her lazy eye. Her mother made her a doll and says to her that if she could not find a friend, then she should make one. The doll, to me, was really creepy. Throughout the entire film, I thought that the doll would move and start killing people who refuses to be May’s friend. The film was pretty funny at the beginning. May is shown to be an awkward person and a stalker. The scene wherein she crosses the road just to pass by Adam is an example of how her awkwardness made the film a bit funny. The film progression also appeared to be very slow. I thought that at the scene wherein she bites Adam on the lips after watching an odd film would signify the beginning of the slaughter. As it turns out, she just goes home and shouts at her doll. She also soon discovers that Polly was with another girl, which enrages her. She kills the cat, but still, she is not yet killing people. Later on, she brings her doll Suzy to the school for blind children. The children try to touch the doll, resulting to the doll falling down on the floor. At that moment, I thought that she would go berserk and kill all the children since they broke the doll, but she just returns home and cries. She later on meets Blank who would eventually call her a freak after discovering the dead cat in May’s freezer. This time, May finally snaps and kills Blank. She also says that no one is perfect and that people only have some perfect parts. At this point, she has decided to create her own perfect friend using only perfect parts from other people. The way she kills people seemed very straightforward. She walks up to a person’s house, tells the person that they have a nice body part, and then stabs the person without any struggle. There were no surprises, meaning that there weren’t really any scary moments in the film. May, now with all the body parts she wants, creates Amy. The doll looked really creepy since it was made up of stitched up body parts. For some reason, May begins to cry and says that the Amy can’t see her. She takes her right eye and puts it on Amy. The scene was very disturbing since I am not a big fan of scenes involving the eye. Up to this point, the film appeared to me as something pretty realistic; a psychologically unstable person suddenly going on a rampage after being pushed to the limit. At the end of the film, Amy suddenly moves and touches May. This scene, to me, was unnecessary. I did not know what it meant and what the purpose is. Overall, I did not like the film but I did not hate it either. The main reason why I did not like it is that it did not have the “on the edge of your seat” factor. It did not appear to be really scary but the story was interesting enough.