Young Love

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Let the Right One In has a brilliant take on the clichéd vampire theme. The romantic horror film is a masterpiece because it is very chilling and touching, and boasting with good character development.

The setting is in a very cold and small town in Sweden. At the start of the movie, a man is shown slitting a man’s neck to collect blood, which later turned out to be his regular activity.

Oskar is a young, loner bullied boy who meets an odd girl who turned out to be a vampire. The film destroys the image of the powerful image of men. The monster in the film is Eli, a twelve year old vampire girl who drinks blood to live.   Eli tells Oskar that he should hit back and be more like her.

The film has an excellent character development. Oskar seems very meek yet he collects clippings of grisly murders and pictures of knives. Also, he usually carries a large hunting knife. As a bullied boy, he always imagined how he would take revenge on his tormentors. He was seen stabbing a  tree trunk as if it was his enemy. This shows how a young person can have evil and revengeful thoughts, and Oskar even admitted that he wanted to kill his classmates. On the other hand, Eli’s character is very contradicting, in a positive way. Despite her innocent and sweet look, she can be a monster who needs to kill people in order to live. But, it was revealed that she only killed in order to live, in contrast to Oskar who wants to kill for revenge. Despite being a monster, she has this very affectionate side because she genuinely liked and protected Oskar.

The film definitely had gore in it, but the young romance theme overpowers the monstrosity of Eli and darkness of Oskar. It is quite pleasant to see how young romance develops without being sexual and depicting the usual wild “vampire sex” scenes. The film was able to show how innocent young love is. One of my favorite scenes is when Oskar asked Eli if she could be his girlfriend.  In one scene, Oskar asked what would happen if he doesn’t invite Eli to come in. Eli enters the door as if nothing happened. Then, suddenly blood came out from her eyes, nose, mouth ears, and skin.  A remorseful Oskar apologizes and hugs Eli. Also, the young lovers got each other’s back.  Oskar protected Eli when a man tried to kill her. Eli proceeded to savagely attack the man, and Oskar just shut the door so he won’t see Eli’s dark side. The best scene was when Oskar nearly drowned in pool and Eli killed the bullies, while a severed head and hand is shown. Oskar’s smile when he saw Eli was very emotionally moving.

At the end of the film, Oskar travelled with Eli on a train. This suggests that Oskar will become like the old man who collected blood for Eli in the start of the movie. Clearly, Oskar is an innocent boy overwhelmed by young love.

Indeed, Let the Right One In has been added to my favorite movie list. It is a spectacular movie to end the semester. 

Contagion

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Pontypool is a psychological horror thriller in which a deadly virus has spread in a small town by means of the English language as the vector. When the infected words are understood, the virus infects the host. The witty film has an interesting take on a probable cause of a zombie apocalypse since considering language as a means of infection is unique and symbolical. In addition, there was a metaphorical use of language, how it can be contaminated, infectious and destructive. For me, the film reflects how messages are passed. It can make sense or be misunderstood.

The setting is typical for a horror plot since the story took place in a small town, Pontypool, during a blizzard that caused bus cancellation. There were reports of violence, mobbing, strange speech patterns and cannibalism ─ that of resembling a zombie outbreak. Mazzy, a radio jock, encountered a mumbling woman banging at his car window on his way to work. As the day goes on, they discovered that it is connected to a seemingly violent and destructive mobbing. There was a sense of entrapment since the characters were stuck in the radio station. They cannot go outside because of a terrible snowstorm and the zombies. The setting is very claustrophobic because the radio crew is trapped in the building without knowing any outside information. 

There is a minimal depiction of gore in the movie. The carnage only happened when the infected Laurel-Ann was repeatedly slamming on the sound booth’s window, which splattered blood all over. She also got electrocuted. The scene where she threw up was really disgusting.  

The movie is not really graphic because phone dispatch calls are the only source of the “image” of the monstrosity, chaos, and carnage happening outside the building. As a viewer, not seeing the cause of the threat is really frustrating. Although not visual, the film was able to evoke feelings of fear and suspense through audios that let the viewer’s imaginations go wild to visualize the gore and violence. This mystery, like reading a book, actually adds to the scariness of this movie because the viewer has to imagine the chaos and carnage, like how the zombies were eating people. The particular audio where the person with a baby voice was quite creepy. Despite lack of visual carnage, the audios were quite effective since the viewer gets more curious of what is actually happening.

Although having a witty storyline, much of the film is quite ridiculous for me since it is very bland and boring. It is annoying how “Kill is kiss” and “Sydney Briar is alive” still keeps on repeating in my head. The audio snippets in and the short video in credits did not make sense to me. In summary, Pontypool is not the kind of movie I would watch again. 

Macabre Ragdoll

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May is a drama horror film about how May, a social outcast, finds a new friend. May is a quirky odd girl who has no friends because of her lazy eye.  Growing up, her only friend is Suzie, a glass-encased doll. The drama revolves around how May wants to have new friends. She wanted to have a boyfriend. She even befriended a loner blind child. The film shows how May explored her sexuality (with Adam and Polly) and tried out new things, such as smoking

 

One of the central theme of the movie is sewing/surgery and macabre. May works at a veterinary clinic, assisting with surgeries. It is evident in the film that may is fixated with certain body parts of the characters.  May said that a perfect friend can only be made of all the perfect parts of people. Since she cannot find friends who would actually like her for who she is, she made her ideal perfect friend by making a Frankenstein ragdoll, Amy, made of mutilated body parts of people: Adam’s hands, Polly’s neck, Blank’s arm, Ambrosia’s legs, and her own eye. The most disturbing part of film is when she removed her eye. In the end of the movie, it was very surprising that Amy became alive.  Indeed, if you can’t find a friend, make one.

 

The film also tackles the concept of the gaze that involves relationship between the looker (powerful) and object of the gaze (powerless). The image of the male gaze is subverted when the guy is not the active looker; instead he is the passive looker. May constantly stalked Adam by following him wherever he goes.  Usually, men stalk women and pursue them. Men are the aggressor in the relationship. In the film, May was all over Adam to the point that she wanted a sexual relationship with him. Surprisingly, Adam refuses to have sex with May even though he easily could have. For me, it is very odd for a man to pass up on such an opportunity. I think Adam was emasculated since May was very aggressive and a more “weirder” or “psycho” than him. May was aroused watching the Adam’s film about a couple who make love and literally eat each other up.   In addition, May got so excited telling the story about a dog she operated whose guts burst and spread all over, while Adam stares in disgust. In summary, the film breaks the image that women are powerless victims. May is a terrifying monstrous-feminine. 

Troubled Child

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I recently read an online article about a 15 year old boy, Nehemiah Griego, who killed his whole family, including his parents and three siblings using a rifle in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He also planned to randomly gun down Wal-Mart shoppers after killing his family. Honestly, I felt shivers down my spine. This news is similar to Michael Myers in the film Halloween.

Halloween is a slasher film about a psychopathic ten year old boy, Michael Myers, who murders a school bully, his older sister, his mother’s boyfriend and her sister’s boyfriend. He was convicted and sent to a criminal facility Smith’s under the care of child psychologist Dr. Samuel Loomis. The film is very brutal and bloody. A murderer child is very twisted and disturbing, not to mention the brutal way how Michael killed his victims. The beginning of the movie was very good, and then everything got too cheesy and unrealistic. The grown up Michael was so tall, powerful and almost immortal. He was like a zombie, which I found corny. Also, his return to Haddonfield to find his younger sister seemed just did not add up for me.

Nowadays, criminals are assessed on their life experiences: how they grew up. Odd behavior (such as killing animals, being anti social and detached, etc.), especially during childhood are used as predictors for categorizing and classifying people as normal or abnormal. Michael is considered to be a born cold-blooded monster because he had the perfect conditions to be a monster. Michael is a bullied boy who has a dysfunctional family. He had a promiscuous sister, a prostitute mother, and a drunkard stepfather. Sex, prostitution, and “fuck” were central themes of the movie. He was a loner who kills animals for pleasure.  He always wears a mask to hide his face. Also, there was something in him that was not right. The doctor said that behind Michael’s eyes one finds only blackness, the absence of light, these are of a psychopath. Hence, Michael was a naturally born monster.

Horror is a radical genre because it is political and socially subversive since it shows ideas and practices repressed in the society. We choose what aspects are to be dominant or to be repressed. It is morally wrong to commit murder. Halloween reflects people’s desire to kill. People usually do horrendous acts, such as murder, especially when they are angry. Humans have a tendency to hit someone or throw things to release their anger. I often see on news that the murderer was so consumed with evil that caused him to kill another person. In the beginning of the movie, Dr. Samuel Looms stated that “Inside every one of us, there exists a dark side. Most people rise above it, but some are consumed by it. Until there is nothing left, but pure evil.” The film somehow shows what people might do when they cannot repress themselves and do destructive acts.

Kids are supposed to be blessings, not demons. How can someone so innocent do such evil actions? 

Ghost Hunting

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Innkeepers is the typical horror story having the basic element of the horror genre. The movie is about two employees, Luke and Claire, working in a haunted inn that is about to go out of business. The setting, the Yankee Pedlar Inn, is very eerie and creepy. The plot exactly fits the conventional horror story line:  a haunted place, a bride who committed suicide, and her haunting. In addition, there is also a psychic and an old man who left his wife. Beyond its horror cheesiness, the film was effective in delivering shock and fright.

Luke and Claire go on a ghost hunting spree before the hotel closes down for good. Luke made a website about the haunting of the ghost Madeline O’Malley, who hanged herself in the inn during the 1800s when her husband abandoned her on their honeymoon night. At first, the guy was acting so macho and brave since he seemed so cool with the paranormal. The characters are very interesting, especially Claire’s character who is very quirky and awkward.  Claire is a brave woman, in a way, because she keeps on looking for ghosts despite her fear. She is quite arrogant because she is asking for it, yet she got so terrified when Madeline showed her presence by playing the piano. Men are supposed to be strong and brave, yet, Luke was the real coward in the story. After they went in the basement and Claire saw Madeline, he admitted that he all made up whatever he posted on the website and he does not actually believe in ghosts. To his fright, he left and abandoned Claire in the inn.

The movie breaks the image that men are dominant and strong. However, I did not expect that Claire would die. Women are usually portrayed as victims because women are powerless and weak.  

The film shows an enlargement of the world as the characters knew that there are indeed ghosts. Leanne stated that the world is full of spirits, the paranormal. Claire then discovered that the world is unpleasant as she saw the ghost of Madeline and the old man who committed suicide in the tub.

Victim Turns into a Monster

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Rec 2 is a very exciting, terrifying and suspenseful movie. In the first installment of Rec, I did not like how they tackled the cause of the zombie outbreak by explaining the paranormal in a scientific sense, that it was disease caused by a virus of some kind.  In Rec 2, it was revealed that the zombies were paranormal as the infection was indeed a demonic possession.

However, I did not like how they still put science and the paranormal in the same picture since they are two completely different realms. The group was tasked to obtain a blood sample of the Medeiros girl   to create an antidote that can cure and prevent the demonic infection. The concept of a demonic virus is a bit awkward for me − a virus carried in blood and saliva that transforms victims into vicious and scary demon-possessed zombies. It could have been better if they got rid of the idea that they could cure a demonic possession in a scientific perspective?

Compared to the first installment, I find Rec 2 scarier because they used religion to combat evil. The cliché God versus evil theme really frightens me. For me, the highest form of evil is the demon itself. The 1973 film The Exorcist is the scariest horror movie I have ever watched. I cannot forget the very graphic and disturbing scene where the priest rebuked the demon-possessed girl. In Rec 2, the chief of the three-man SWAT team tasked to go inside the quarantined building was a priest. He was using faith, evidenced by prayers and the crucifix, to fight the blood-thirsty zombies.

In horror films, women are very important since they are usually the defenseless victims. I was very happy that the female journalist in the first installment was able to survive. However, I have anticipated that some twist will be revealed. It was not very surprising that the victim of the first installment turned out to be the monster. This twist made the movie more interesting. Throughout the movie, the tension was building up when the group was trying to find the Meideros girl, the mother of all evil who spread the demonic virus. The tables have turned. In the end, the female journalist was now the real demon.

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.