Nasty JT

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Deadgirl is a story about two friends who discover a woman’s corpse in an abandoned facility. Surprisingly, the body that appears to be dead was not entirely dead at all ad it was able to move. One of them, JT, decided to use the girl for sexual pleasure, while the other, Ricky, contemplated and decided to abstain from doing so. Tension builds up between their friendship as JT grows to be attached to the girl’s body.

This movie might just be the most disturbing movie in the sense that it tackles a moral dilemma regarding necrophilia. I know that necrophilia is illegal in most countries, but this movie makes you ask yourself if a corpse has more purpose than objectification. As JT always insists, the dead girl’s body didn’t have no capability to restrict nor does it have any capability to be useful in a dignified way. Of course, as a woman myself, I felt very much offended by the movie as it also depicts the powerlessness of women when it comes to sexuality. Men, on the other hand, are depicted as dominant and instinctive when it comes to sexuality. But this does not mean that they are more of a human being than women. It actually denotes that men are just like animals, attacking whatever is in front of them. Sometimes I think that women are more powerful in the sense that they get to lure men into unthinkable things, men are weak for giving into temptation.

Another point that this movie might be trying to tackle is that it is not necessarily based on gender, but that anyone is susceptible of getting sexually abused. The act is fully dependent on the agent alone, since men get raped in real life too. Ricky also had the idea of using the body for his own pleasure as he wanted to do to his crush Joanne, but he thought hard against the idea that he ended up doing nothing at all. JT, on the other hand, was not able to fight his urges and solely submitted to his instincts.

Despite the disturbing imagery, I really thought the movie was okay. It’s another spin to the zombie horror genre, where the man is able to take control of the monster. The acting would have been better, though JT’s performance was remarkable. It was quite uncanny though that a human body is left in the institution. Knowing how strict building policy is in America, I would presume that the body would have been found when the building was abandoned. Also, I didn’t find the film scary, but rather gross. The grossest part would be when the dead girl bit Joanne’s boyfriend’s private part. I thought the ending was the only part where the scary part entered.

All in all, I didn’t really like the plot. It came off to me as just another writer’s shallow fantasy brought to life. Few films are able to transform a nasty concept into magnificent cinema, Deadgirl wasn’t able to do justice to the Frankenstein-like idea.

Inbetween

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I have a love-hate relationship with Asian (Korean and Japanese) horror films. I love them because they scare me so much, and I hate them for the same reason as well. At the beginning of the course, I told myself I expect to stop diminishing the value of a horror film to its imagery alone. Although I have worked on that quite a bit, I still think that horrifying images make my horror experience complete. With this in mind, I was 99% sure that Voice will have some mind-boggling character that will haunt me for at least a week. But it turned out to be more of a haunting voice than a haunting image. Of course, the Asian look always has that creepy vibe even if it’s just a normal character, but I didn’t get the Ju-on type of imagery. The setting was classic Asian film, as it was shot in a high school campus with the elevator and dark corridors.

Although I was disappointed in that sense, I thought it was not that bad. After putting myself in Cho-ah’s shoes, I’d think it would be scarier to hear something and not know where it’s coming from than to see a horrifying face and body. What I typically like about the movie is that the ghost with the unfinished business is not the bad one at the beginning. In most horror movies, it’s always in the perspective of the human being that we see the presence of the ghost. The only movie I can think of right now that explores this perspective is Just Like Heaven, which is not at all a horror movie. It actually surprised me when the original voice they hear is not merely attracting a victim, but actually has a connection with Young-eon. Although it was a bit slow, the inception of voices was a new concept for me. I also liked the part where they say that the soul can only remember what it wants to remember. There’s a concept in Aquinas’ moral theory called consequent ignorance, where one tends to not know something just because they do not want to know. This “refrains” them from being responsible for the actions that they did that may have harmed the people around them. In the movie, Young-eon did a lot of things that have hurt the people around her. She seemed like an innocent soul at the beginning, but the story unravels a different side of her. When she realizes everything that she has done, she turns into someone she had locked in her subconscious.

The film was very emotional as it tackles relationships, just like most Asian horror films do. The story was a bit of confusing at the beginning, thus lessening the predictability which is actually pretty good. What I particulary liked about the movie is that it bravely added concepts that are not conventionally used, like the lesbian-student affair and cancer patient suicide, to give the film more impact. I would still consider Voice to be a horror film because it revolved around the experience of in-between life and death and how terrifying it is to be stuck in something you can’t completely accept (Young-eon) and to help someone out of distress without even knowing what really is true (Cho-ah.)

You Can’t Snap Out Of It

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Ginger Snaps is a teen horror movie involving sisters Brigitte and Ginger who have made and devoted themselves into a pact about dying together. The town they lived in was roamed by a dog killer, who happens to be the werewolf that bites Ginger on the night of a full moon where she gets her first period. This changed Ginger’s physical body and character. Noticing the drastic changes her sister had undergone, Brigitte ties to find a cure with Sam, a local doper. This film reflects the coming-of-age of a female teenager and how it dramatically affects everyone around her.

I found Ginger Snaps very entertaining. The feminist in me just loves it so much. First of all, it is not so common that the male species is the victim in a horror film. In this movie, we can see Ginger being able to manipulate the minds of teenage boys and attacking them at the end of it all. If we can compare it to a more modern movie, Teeth somehow shows this kind of woman power. Second, it explores the transition from childhood to womanhood as the werewolf transformation metaphorically mirrors Ginger’s menstruation. The last scene was very bloody, which might depict the blood present in menstruation. That was a lot of blood, thus the significant change in Ginger’s character. It is true that women tend to act like “werewolves” – very aggressive and ill-tempered – during that time of the month. We can also see how Ginger finds it hard to accept what she was going through, that she just pushes herself to be normal when she can’t just escape. It is not always that horror films goes into this concept. It’s very refreshing to know that you can still find movies that use symbolism in the 21st century. Third, I absolutely loved the main characters, the actors were able to portray the roles convincingly. The chemistry between the two is just remarkable. This take on the werewolf film is very unique in those criteria.

I kind of relate to the movie in the sense that I, too, went through this phase in life. I didn’t turn into a werewolf per se, but the changes that occurred in Ginger’s life occurred to mine as well. As I grew up, I became distant to my family, because I believe I had so many things to explore in the world on my own. Realizing it now, it must have been so hard for my parents to go through something like that. In the movie, their mother might seem too dumb for her own sake, but she was completely unaware of what’s happening because her daughters were so secretive and ungrateful. It is in Brigitte and Ginger’s will that they be secluded from the usual lifestyle of a family. Having a younger sister who is starting to go through changes as well, I fear that I might feel the same way as mothers do when their daughter goes into womanhood. This relevance to reality added to the success of the movie. It’s not always that you find a werewolf movie to be more relevant than scary. I loved the movie because of the intelligence of the script, and not dominantly as a horror movie.

 

Cabout of the Woods

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The Cabin In The Woods is a different take on the typical slasher film. It starts with a group of friends heading off to a secluded cabin in the woods, despite being warned by a gross old man regarding stories about that part of the town. I say it was a different take because of the plot twist where we find out that they are actually being held captive for sacrifice to prevent the end of the world.

First of all, I thought the movie was more of funny than horrifying. It had its few jump-scares moment, but it was really dominantly entertaining in a comical way. Though the plot was much different that the typical slasher film, it made use of stereotypical characters like the jock, blonde, virgin, and stoner. Of course, there is the classic cellar investigation thing. What I remember mostly is the part where they read the part of the diary which said that they shouldn’t read it. I don’t know if it’s a premise that we should think that the characters in a horror movie have not seen any horror movies at all, thus explaining the ignorance, but I think that part was too overused already.

The plot twist is basically Hunger Games without the characters’ consent. The environment they were in were manipulated by an industrial facility responsible for getting sacrificed bodies for the sake of the world. The ending gave the movie its uniqueness, and I honestly was surprised, but not in a terrified way. I also think it’s nice that they didn’t rely solely on monsters as killers, because that would have been unoriginal. I also liked the part where Dana was the only one left, because it gave the suspense to the movie that I always find important in horror films. But the part where we find out that the monsters were actually caged in the facility and then were released by the two remaining characters was just too funny for me. That’s when it started to shift from horror to comedy. Of course, some of the monsters looked scary, but it was just really really funny, especially the one with the unicorn.

But maybe that was the point of the movie. To point out to the audiences the different cliches that horror movies continuously portray. The two men who overlooked the situation actually reflects both audience and writers who expect the horror genre to portray such overused characters and scenarios. I get how writers want to exploit this idea, but that’s what Scream is for, so no need to repeat such motives. Although I would not say it is a horror film, it’s pretty entertaining without specifically determining which genre it belongs in.

I am not quite sure if this film is considered as a horror film with all it’s funny dialogues and satirical plot, but it just comes off as a money-hoarder, more so because of the famous actors, to viewers who expect so much more than that. I think it would be a great movie for people who are more open to horror films as not being entirely terrifying.

Zombies and Demons

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There’s something about sequels that audiences automatically hate. They just aren’t as good as their original counterparts. With [REC] 2, it’s the same disappointment as other sequels, but I still think it’s scary, not just as scary as the first one.

Just like the first franchise, [REC] 2 uses the first POV and takes off from the ending of [REC], although this time, they make use of two cameras, one of the SWAT and one of a bunch of teenagers. The SWAT team were to administer a doctor to get blood examples from the infected people. Later on, they find out the doctor was indeed a priest who was appointed to get a blood sample of the root of the disease, which is the Medeiros girl. The team violently reacted from knowing about it but soon realizes that they are locked until they get the blood of the girl.

I think a prequel would be just right with the amount of positive feedback that [REC] had garnered from public viewers. Though, I found it a bit forced that they put two cameras in the movie. I thought the teenagers’ part was unnecessary and kind of ridiculous at the same time. How can a very serious case like this just leave an open manhole at the back of the building? I just think it was too forced and pointless. It also ruined the momentum and right pacing that [REC] was originally admired for. The character of one of the SWOT members also ruined the realness of the movie. In no way can I ever imagine a SWAT member throwing tantrums and panicking like that even in the face of strange beings. The religious part for me was just okay. I think it added to the scary factor with the Latin stuff and all. It kind of had a The Exorcist vibe into it that will always be creepy with a mix of anti-Catholicsm as it expounds on the story involving the Vatican. Although interesting, I kind of got lost with the jump from zombie apocalypse to demonic possession. I still think that the vagueness of the first movie gave it a bit more advantage over the prequel.

However, I really liked the part where Angela comes back to the story. Just like in the first one, I really admire how natural her acting is. It also adds confusion to the audience on how she survived getting captured by the Medeiros girl. But, of course, later on, we find out that Angela was actually already possessed by her. Also, just like in [REC], my favorite part is still the last minutes of the film. That dark scene was just too terrifying for my life. The cinematography gave justice to its predecessor, though the weak plot was not aided by the factors, unlike in the first movie. The very ending though was not that full of impact as it is a giveaway that another sequel is coming up.

Of course, there will always be a comparison when it comes to sequels, and it will almost always end up to be a disappointment, especially for horror aficionados. This might not be as scary and as interesting as the first one, but it sure was above par when it comes to sequels.

Radically Engrossing Cinema

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REC follows a young reporter, Angela,  along with a cameraman, Pablo, who document the night shift of the local fire station. Fortunately (unfortunately later on), the boring night became a dramatic one as they get a call from a building about a trapped woman in one of the apartment units. As they walk in the apartment, they find all the residents huddled up at the lobby. When they visited the old lady in the room, they find out that something is obviously wrong with her. The chaotic nightmare starts there as the building gets quarantined due to a suspected virus. This documentary-style of horror film will surely surprise the audience as it takes on a new perspective of horror cinema.

I’ve watched the American remake of REC a few years back so I already had an idea of what the plot is all about. I honestly thought I wouldn’t get scared at all knowing the basics of the story, but I stand corrected. The original version was way more terrifying, mostly because of the language. I always think that there’s something demonic about the Spanish language, maybe due to its resemblance with Latin. Aside from the language, the cinematography is also remarkable. The tight spaces gave me claustrophobia even with just watching. The indie effect and the acting of the lead character also contributed to its mockumentary style, that it felt as though it was real. The shakiness of the camera may be distracting for others, but I thought it gave a surprising effect whenever it suddenly turns into a scary scene.

My favorite part in REC would be the ending. The last few minutes of the movie just gave me the chills of the chills. I imagined the Medeiros girl to look like a zombie girl, but not that kind of zombie girl. For a fan of imagery, that image surely sticked to my mind. The pacing throughout the story was just right to build up the tension at the ending. You can just feel the escalating emotions within the room, both in the movie and the room we’re watching in. In Filipino lingo: Nakakastress.

Not knowing what the very root cause of the infection also contributed to how remarkable it is. Is it a zombie virus? Demonic possession? Zombie demonic possession? It’s not clarified, but that makes it much better. Just when you thought it’s just another zombie movie, the screen blasts out something terrifying beyond words.

I can’t say much about it because it was just really a classic straight-to-the-point horror movie. The plot is not necessarily that strong, but said factors aided the movie to be a really fantastic one – one of the greatest I’ve seen so far. Although there are other films that tried to give the first POV experience (I actually liked Paranormal Activity 3,) there’s still something so special about REC that makes it stand out from the rest. I don’t know about you, but all I’m sure of is I got trouble sleeping or even being in the dark and narrow spaces after watching this movie.

Clingy Mom

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Grace is about a mother, Madeline, who has long been waiting to bear a child, only to find out that she had lost her. Miraculously, her daughter, Grace, returns to life with an appetite for blood. This strange character of her child has led Madeline to do unimaginable things for the love she has as a mother.

I found Grace really disturbing. It is horrifying in that sense. It mostly showed how far mothers would go for the sake of their children. Although the message sounds lovely and inspiring, it also challenges the viewers to ask themselves if the act is justifiable, since mothers are caring in nature, or if she has gone too far. One of the moral questions Philosophy tries to answer is if the act is towards the good, is the act always considered moral? The Machiavellian concept of the “end justifies the means” is related to this as well. Of course, if I were Madeline, I would’ve brought my child to the hospital because it scares me. But I’m not a mother, and I don’t think any mother would just give up on their child that easily. Although the movie might just be an exaggeration of the degree of matriarchal love, point is, this movie made me think beyond what I always think when watching movies (predicting what will happen next.)

Also, the degree of predictability is lower in Grace. The more unique plot may have contributed to this greatly. But even compared to other films viewed in class, Grace has the lowest level of predictability. Even from the beginning, I never would’ve expected the story would be about the baby.

A lot of elements helped Grace distance itself from the typical horror movie. One is there is no killer. Technically there is, but the typical killer would have a motive at the beginning of the story. The motive would always be self-centred, heartless, and usually pointless or shallow. Madeline resorted to killing the doctor and her mother-in-law because she worried about her daughter’s well-being. She was afraid they’d take her to the hospital and be taken away from her forever. The motive was not out of negative feelings such as hate and jealousy, rather it was out of love and care. So, for me, Madeline should not be labelled as a killer. Although the main character is an attractive blonde woman, Madeline was not stupid like how most scary movies portray protagonists. She is actually very smart, because she was able to deceive people around her and was able to keep her child until the end. Madeline showed that not everyone can be easily manipulated. This comparison is quite confusing because Madeline might seem like the “bad guy” and she is the one manipulating others. I guess that factor just adds to how Grace deviates from the normal. The distinction between who is nice and who is not is vague, thus leaving interpretation for the audience. How the film tackled sexuality is also a unique element for me. In Grace, we can see the dynamism of sexuality. Sexuality and relationships go hand in hand. There is homosexuality, women domination (mother-in-law, for example), and husband-wife relationships in the story, which makes the movie more interesting and eventful. I think it is important to tackle such topics, even in horror movies, to depict a sense of relevance for the audience amidst the supernatural events that have occurred.

I think the most important element in Grace is the dilemma of the protagonist. It is very unique for a mother-newborn bonding to be the center of a horror film. I guess that’s what made it more disturbing. The movie was able to exploit the wonderful experience of a mother in taking care of her child and turn it into a nightmare of obsession. It is horrifying to think that a mother would kill for her child, but I think it does apply in real life.

When Darkness Fell, He Arrived

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Halloween is about a boy named Michael Myers who grew up in a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic father, a stripper mother, a rebellious older sister, and a baby sister. He spent his childhood mostly alone, spending most of his after-class hours getting bullied. All of this triggered his strange mentality about life and death. One Halloween night, everything changes as he murders his father, sister, and her boyfriend in their own home while their mother was working. He was then brought to a correction institute where a doctor/investigator named Dr. Samuel tried to penetrate the mind of the killer and alter his psychological discordance. While in the institution, his mother commits suicide, thus adding up to the compiled issues that Michael had to digest. He grows up to be much bigger and stronger and much quieter at the same time. He was able to escape as some maintenance staff were fooling around in his room. He then goes back to his hometown and stalks his younger sister just to find out that she didn’t want to accept him as a brother. After failing to keep ties with his sister, he goes back to his old self and tries to kill his sister as well.

As bizarre as it may sound, serial killers were very apparent in America that a lot of horror movies derive from real lives of such deviants. Most of their killings are results of childhood trauma, maybe from bullying or sexual abuse. In this movie, it is a mix of both bullying and filial problems that had caused Michael to act and think like he did when he turned into the Halloween killer. Though, I believe that his conscience was not completely blinded for he was still able to try to reconcile with his sister, even if everything ended up so badly. I found out from a documentary that you’d know if a killer has no conscience at all if you see no guilt or even any feeling of regret in his eyes. With Michael, I thought he has turned into a complete psycho when he brutally killed the janitor who treated him as his own son, but I felt that he still had a bit of feeling towards the notion of family when he was finally reunited with his sister.

I understand where Laurie is coming from when she decided to reject Michael’s invitation. Most obvious reason is she was too startled by the suddenness of everything. Another reason might be that she didn’t quite understand how this person who killed everyone that she loved is so eager for her to accept him.

I thought the movie was okay. It was entertaining and kind of heartbreaking. I adore the little boy’s acting skills. The documenting part of the changes he underwent in the institution gave me the creeps. There are parts I disliked, such as how Michael easily gets out of the institution because of unprofessional staff. It would be such an obvious management decision to maintain a good labor pool in such institutions. Of course, the scene where they just left the body in the pool without even double checking if he’s really dead is just a classic sign that someone’s going to get killed. I also didn’t like how Laurie tried to hide inside the house instead of running in the streets. It was a small house, and again, it’s just too obvious. It was an okay film for me. But I guess it takes the fun out of everything when you start to analyze a slasher film.

Whatever you do, don’t go to the basement

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Innkeepers was set in The Yankee Peddlar Inn, a haunted hotel on the verge of business failure, where two innkeepers, Claire and Luke, are both interested in documenting the paranormal incidences that have occurred in the hotel. With only a few days left, the main characters are eager to get something freaky while still manning the front desk and handling the last few hotel guests. Their last few guests include a depressed mother, her son, a celebrity-turned-ghost-whisperer, and an old man who turns out to be the runaway groom of the widow of the Pedlar, Madeleine Mallory. This horror movie has a hint of romance as Luke comes out to be a secret admirer of Claire just before the climax of the movie. The ending makes the movie scarier and heartbreaking as viewers find out what really happened with the life of the widow.

Honestly, I thought that I wouldn’t really like the movie because it was borderline horror movie and romcom. But I kind of liked it. The quirky character of Claire made the film look like an interesting life of a curious teenage girl and it contributes to the building up of the story from a funny beginning to a really terrifying end. It had just the right amount of gore in the end as we see Madeleine and the old man who committed suicide. Sometimes a horror movie spoils itself when it starts off with a series of bloody murders or a terrifying ghost experience. Innkeepers was able to tickle the audience’s mind as the movie teases them little by little with bits of paranormal activities and putting a big bang of horror in the end.

Of course what’s most memorable is the classic basement scene. In horror movies, something always goes badly when someone enters a basement. Doesn’t matter if it’s your house or a hotel, some supernatural thing is hanging out in that basement. No matter how used that horror style is, it still gives me the creeps.

Although the cinematography and SFX were commendable, I got lost when the ghost and the old man started to go and try to kill Claire. Why did they want to kill her? Is it because she got in their way? But Luke also participated, so why her? Maybe it was all in Claire’s mind. She had this great love for the paranormal that maybe she found  it hard to separate what’s real and what’s not. If this is the case, then Claire must have died of an asthma attack, knowing that she dropped her inhaler before her final appearance. That unclear part of the plot made the movie less appealing to me. I would have wanted more action, a bigger bang. The psychic also seemed like a fill-up role, meaning she just filled up the role of a person who is tasked to tell more about the story of the ghost just because she can communicate with her. It was just so strange and random that from a celebrity she turned to a far different career. Maybe it’s just part of Claire’s imagination.

Whether or not Claire actually seen everything, Innkeepers gave me goosebumps. I had a few jump-scares, but I think it would have been better with a more dynamic plot.

To understand is not to understand

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Pontypool is one of those films that will leave you confused and devastated at yourself for not being able to understand the main point of the story. Although I found it hard to understand, Bruce McDonald’s very unique take on the zombie film genre made the film more interesting and entertaining.

The film was set in Ontario, Canada, where a deadly virus was rumored to be spreading through the English language. This rumor was confirmed by a radio station, where most of the story took place. The main character in the story, Grant Mazzy, was a radio host who had bad work ethics that led him to getting rejected by big-time shows, thus leading him to work in an early morning show in CLSY Radio in Pontypool. It started with a pre-recorded tape of Grant playing on the radio about a missing cat. Grant arrives in the station and started to report ordinary news that seemed to not interest him at all. What made everything strange is that incidences of riot and chaos were reported to the station by their traffic reporter and they also received calls from listeners about it. For a boring old town, everything just seemed to change dramatically for Grant and his producer, Sydney Briar.

Weird thing about this film is that the zombie virus was spreading through language, and one of its symptoms were endless and repetitive phrases blurted out by the infected. Once infected, the person attacks just like any other zombie. The root of the problem I seem to not understand. Some foreign authority and a foreign doctor just vehemently tells us that the infection is caused by the English language. But why? What’s even more perplexing is the scene at the end of the credits. I just left the room feeling brain-damaged.

At first, I thought that the film was trying to make a point about how people nowadays use the English language to prove shallow and unimportant things that it led them to being cursed to say non-sense for the rest of their lives. This makes sense because it’s the French language that seems to be more powerful in the movie for not being vulnerable to language virus. Way before the modern era, language was a vessel for art. It was used to express abstract emotions by philosophers, politicians, poets, and other artists. Now that modernity has heightened our use of material things, we resort to using our language as a means of simple communication and not as an expression of deep thoughts and emotions. Artistry now is always associated with the European culture, like French. Since the English language is a universal language, this tendency to use the language to speak and not to express has led the people to the infection. This may be true but I have this strong feeling that it’s not. The movie is just too different and ambiguous, that I think that is the point of the movie. If the transmission of the virus was caused by understanding the language, then one must not understand to avoid infection. The audience, in this case, is actually part of the story. For me, the whole point of everything is for us not to understand in order to live, which is quite funny but enlightening at the same time. The last spiel of Grant Mazzy prevented the prolonging of the virus as he says:”Well, what the fuck happened today folks? Someone took a buzzsaw to your middle, and they pulled out a wheeling devil, and they spilled it right across your anthill. But you know what folks? We were never making sense. We were never making sense.”

Now that I understand, I don’t know. Know. Know. Know. Know. Uh-oh.