The cat isn’t the only thing that curiosity can kill.

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The Inn-keepers is probably one of my favorite films that we have watched in class. I think I’ve squealed one too many times during the entirety of the film. It’s exactly what I would expect from a haunted house film. The execution of each scary moment was also quite convincing and effective. There was a long suspenseful moment before each and every scare and that made each one increasingly terrifying as the plot started to build up and the ghosts started being more active and showing themselves to the main character. It was a perfectly clear plot arc with a rising action, climax and falling action.

 

It’s also very interesting how the scenes are shot. The camera seems to follow and swivel around especially when the characters are moving. The camera looks for the ghosts as the main character looks for them while going around the house.  We are given the character’s perspective and we see the ghost as they see it.  The scenes always build up the scare to the final point where we are finally shown the monster in all its horrifying glory the same time that the character sees it.

 

This movie reminds us of what was discussed in the Linda Williams article, “When the Woman Looks.” More often than not, female characters are the innocent bystanders, the object of the gaze of the film’s monster. They are constantly hiding their eyes from the monster or even oblivious of their existence, not in direct contact with their gaze. But in this film, the female character, Claire, is not afraid to see the monster. She runs around the hotel with the recording device, actively seeking out the ghost and trying to provoke it.  She’s even more courageous than her coworker, who was the one interested in finding ghosts in the hotel in the first place. When they encountered the ghost in the basement, he ran away before Claire did and he didn’t even see anything.

 

As in the Williams article, the woman who looks, the woman can stare back at the monster, is always punished for her actions.  This is exactly what happened to Claire. She set out looking for something that she shouldn’t be looking for in the first place. When you go looking for trouble, eventually you’re going to find it. For me, it seems like a rule applicable to all horror movies, including the best horror of all, real life. But I guess the point is a woman who stares down that trouble will eventually provoke whatever it is that she is looking at. There were enough warning signals all around but Claire still chose to ignore them all. Claire would still try to make contact with the spirits despite how others warn her. Even in the end, when she could have gotten away with the other people, she still went out looking for other people. She was warned not to go into the basement, but she still went to the basement, thinking that the psychic woman would be there. It does not make sense to look for someone who is warned you about the basement, in the basement. This is also after she saw that person climb up the stairs to the upper floors. It’s either Claire was really stupid to even consider the basement or she really wanted something else to happen to her.  You could say that she was asking for it, asking for trouble to happen. Like Williams said, the woman who seeks the monster and stares it in the face will eventually be punished for her actions.

She gets by with a little help from her friend.

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May was a film that I have wanted to see since I was in high school. My friends had been talking about it for a quite a while, at the time it was released in the cinemas here in the Philippines. They kind of kept bugging me to see it but I never did.  I kept wondering what it was that was so special about this film. While they were “fan-girling” over the film, they managed to basically just tell me most of the story’s main points. They managed to spoil the main plot twists of the film so before I even watched it in class, I knew that she was going to murder people and sew their body parts together. I also knew that in the end, the “doll” would come alive. As a movie-enthusiast, this frustrates me because I now did not have the capacity to genuinely react to these scenes. I already expected these things to happen.

 

What I didn’t expect to happen though, are the most awkward scenes I have ever witnessed in a movie. I think most of my horror for this film was not from the killing and slashing people to bits part of the movie but the part where May had to interact with people. The interactions with Adam were the worst. The film had already built up that May admired this man very much. The first time they met, I felt what people usually call “second-hand” embarrassment. If I were in that situation, I would probably be extremely traumatized by my actions. I felt so embarrassed for her I had to look away or cover my eyes. It was a different kind of horror I felt, but it was horror nonetheless. I guess, in that aspect, the movie had effectively employed the use of affect horror, eliciting emotions from the audience by “horrifying” them with these extremely awkward scenes.

“I never had a boyfriend before”. Oh God.

 

One would expect, initially, a character like May to be the victim of the monster. She’s an awkward, wiry girl who looks like a good strong gust could blow her away.  She’s also got the strange doll Suzie that she talks to, pertaining to Suzie as her best friend. I can’t help but feel that this strange girl, despite the weird quirks, was going to be the victim of the horror story. She looked like she was innocent enough. The doll’s glass case slowly cracking and breaking looked like it was caused by something supernatural. If I hadn’t known about the plot twists in the first place, I would have thought this supernatural force would victimize May.

 

This is one of the few films in class where the main character is the essential monster character, kind of like the film “Voice”. It could be argued that the Frankenstein creation that May made could also be the monster, as it surprises the audience with its supernatural coming-to-life. But the central monster character is definitely May herself. It is definitely the changes in her personality, the slow breakdown of her already fragile sanity, and the actions she made to create her “friend”, that leave the audience in amazement and fear of what human beings are capable of doing just to feel like they have a friend.

Voice

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“Voice” wasn’t really what I expected it to be. This is the first Asian horror film shown in class. I haven’t seen much of the Asian horror film genre but from what I gather most of it involves ghosts chasing around people that have angered them or have people who’ve been cursed. This is the first time I’ve seen the ghost that is the actual protagonist of the story.

 

 There are a lot of questions that the film seems to leave unanswered. I personally have a problem with the plot twist. Towards the end of the film, they suddenly spring it on the audience that it was Young-eon who was responsible for everything. The plot twist seemed a little bit out of the blue for me.  It wasn’t really consistent with what the film has been showing as Young-eon’s character. They’ve portrayed her as this sweet, kind girl who cares about her mother and then all of a sudden they say she is responsible her mother’s death. Some sources I have read about the film say that Young-eon had a multiple personality disorder.  But there isn’t a lot foreshadowing that there might be something wrong with Young-eon. So I kind of found it quite hard to believe that she could suddenly change and drive her mother to commit suicide. The film didn’t quite explain how she could do that and how she could even develop the multiple personality disorder. Sure, her mother’s medical situation might have driven her insane, but the film gave absolutely no clue that she couldn’t handle her mother’s condition. Her character was too sweet, rational and squeaky-clean. It just simply was not that believable. For me, Young-eon turning out to be a psychopath seemed a little bit more like a plug for a hole in the plot.

 

Like the previous films, “Grace” and “Ginger Snaps”, this film was centered on the relationships of women with each other. A relationship, where in these women almost treat each other like family. In these stories, these relationships are tested by the events that put them at odds with each other.  In  “Voice” though, the entire film is completely dominated by female characters. They do not even interact with any male characters extensively. There are only brief interactions with teachers. The only memorable moment where male characters were involved was the moment two men found Young-eon’s body in the elevator.  This is interesting considering what we’ve discussed in class about female characters as the person subjected to the horror experience. Now the entire cast of characters is female and these characters are pit against each other. Because there are no male characters that are perceived as a threat, all the characters are basically on the same level. The perception involving horror film that female characters are physically less capable of defending themselves in comparison to male characters, especially if the threat is masculine/male in nature, affects the audience’s impression of the film. All of the characters are female and the initial protagonist is even on the same plane as the antagonist. They’re both immaterial beings. The real horror is not found then in a typical situation where the antagonist is a threat to the protagonist. The film relies on aspects to deliver their horror.

Ginger Snaps.

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Ginger Snaps didn’t quite terrify me or horrify me as much as the other films did. There were a lot of suspenseful moments in the movie though, like the one where the werewolf attacked Ginger and Brigitte. And all those moments werewolf Ginger tried to attack Brigitte. These moments might squeeze a squeal or a small scream out of me and make me cover my eyes, but there weren’t really any moments that truly terrified me.

It reminded me though of the times when I was going through puberty and how I was kind of mildly disturbed about all the changes my body was going through. Like Ginger, I was kind of uneasy about the fact that I had to live the rest of my life bleeding once a month. That is before menopause comes at least. I was really concerned about the hassle it would bring into my life. I had to buy all these new feminine hygiene products, like napkins, every month. I had to be more cautious with how I moved and carried myself especially during these times of the month. It was kind of a burden for me but it wasn’t as horrifying as some people said it would be. Like Ginger, some people also called it “the curse”.

The horror of puberty is magnified and exaggerated through Ginger’s case. There is a parallelism between the transformation she is going through as a young girl transitioning to an adolescent, and the transformation she is going through as human to werewolf. All the emotional and  physical aspects of going through a werewolf transformation are clearly symbolic of the changes one goes through in puberty. Not to mention, the cyclic monthly nature of menstruation is akin to the monthly appearance of a full moon. Even the mood swings, the sudden change of attitude towards the opposite sex, and the uncontrollable rage towards anything, are exaggerated symptoms of teenage angst. This may symbolize what Ginger thinks about menstruation and puberty bring: a monstrous change that will forever alter her life.

The transition into puberty  also affects the relationship she shares with her sister, Brigitte. They were so afraid of what might happen when they got “the curse”. Their mother always made it out to be a big change that will make them into young women, prim and proper. Something which to them seems like the polar opposite of they want to be. They don’t want to be like the other girls. They don’t want anything to change. That’s why they made a pact that they would commit suicide while both of them were young. But alas, Ginger hits puberty and the two sisters slowly drift apart. Again, this separation is further exaggerated by the fact that Ginger is turning into a monster. As she slowly turns into a werewolf, it is no longer possible for her to live a normal life with her sister. The growing wedge that Ginger’s condition drives between her and her sister symbolizes the distance created when one person starts growing up and starts leaving their younger sibling behind.

Mother

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The movie “Grace”, in comparison to movies like “Deadgirl”, was actually a little less disturbing. But it was still disturbing nontheless.Though it is a different kind of disturbing all together. The horror of witnessing necrophilia and rape was replaced with the horror of witnessing old people have sex and zombie babies drinking human blood.
I think the most disturbing moment for me really was the old people having sex part. I think its because usually when you think of people who are supposed to be grandparents, you think of them as people who bake you cookies and give you knitted sweaters for christmas. You never really think of what they did that made them grandparents, what they did to produce your parents, who in turn produced you. Part of the disgust can also be attributed to the fact that sexual intercourse between old people isn’t the most glamorous of sights. Usually in most hollywood films, these scenes occur between a  young couple, who more or less are the epitome of aesthetic beauty. Thus, potraying this carnal act as something desirable, appealing, and sometimes even innocent and pure. The elderly, in the sense of aesthetic beauty, are not that attractive. The years have made their skin sag and their hair white. So intercourse between people who far from the ideal of beauty is not something that most people want to witness.
What adds to the intercourse being more disturbing is the fact that it is juxtaposed with the act of breastfeeding. What is supposedly to be a maternal act is turned into a sexual one. This stems from Vivian mourning the death of her son. The loss of her son intensifies her need to be a mother. This need is can be seen as repressed as the years passed by and as her son grows up. She has to let him go and live his own life with his wife. When her son dies, the role of being a mother which was already repressed by the independence of her son, is completely taken away from her. This has been a role that she has been playing for years now and it is her identity. Now that Michael is gone, she loses who she is and her desire to become a mother again more or less drives her a little bit off her rocker. She wants to be a mother so bad that she even brings it into a sexual context so that she could relive the experience of breastfeeding. She is willing to do anything to be a mother again.
Vivian and Madeline have this trait in common. The idea of playing the role of a mother is something so important to the both of them. Madeline wanted to fit into the role of being a mother so badly that she is willing to do anything in order to keep her child. In both cases, these women are not really concerned as to being good wives to their husbands, as seen through out the film and magnified in their intimate scenes.

Demons and Zombies: An Unlikely Combination

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REC is probably my favorite zombie movie. I mentioned it as one of my favorite horror films while filling in the Sir Ty’s info sheet. This is probably the third time I’ve seen it. I’ve seen at least ten or more zombie films, and I have got to say this is my favorite. The zombie movie genre is something that I do enjoy. I think it has something to do with a zombie apocalypse being my worst fear or something. I had spent too much time as a child, sitting beside my cousin while he played “Resident Evil”. Watching each film kind of desensitizes me to the fear of a zombie apocalypse. I feel like I’d be more prepared to handle zombies after each film. But after watching REC, I didn’t feel like that at all. I felt more disturbed.

REC is the only zombie movie that truly haunted me at least a couple of days after watching it. The first time I saw what I’d like to call “The Penthouse Zombie Boss”, the mere image of her in my head scared me. I don’t want to even recall what she looked like. This is one of the things that really made REC stand out from the rest of the zombie movies out there. The unexpected, unique twist of the ending creates a sort of bridge between genres. This movie, by the end, is no longer just a sort of sci-fi movie about a zombie disease outbreak but it becomes something that also involves supernatural forces. This actually creeps me out more because the problem no longer becomes a semi-explainable, semi-controllable situation. In comparison to the supernatural, a deadly disease that turns people into monsters seems like a situation that one can more or less keep under control. What could be scarier than a zombie outbreak? Well, the answer is a zombie outbreak caused by demonic possession. There are no longer limits to what the “disease” can do. We are left to wonder what else could possibly happen. It is something supernatural so it can transcend the laws of biology or physics. A zombie outbreak is scary enough on its own. Now if you add a demon that can make the uncontrollable even more unstoppable, all hell will break loose (Pun not intended). Diseases and contagion are something that people know how to deal with. The supernatural is a whole other thing all together. We do not know anything about the supernatural. It is something way beyond our knowledge and our control. It brings the horror factor of this movie to another level all together.

I may be focusing too much on the movie’s ending but for me this was really what sets it apart from other films. Though some early zombie movies also use the supernatural as their cause, they are mostly about curses or voodoo magic. Sometimes these curses can even be broken. It’s just something that unfortunately befalls the main characters. But a zombie outbreak caused by something that intentionally wants to wreak havoc on innocent people is a whole different take on the genre. Involving the war between heaven and hell into the whole zombie equation, and also taking into account the awesome mockumentary style of shooting and incredible plot; I would like to think that REC revolutionized the zombie movie genre.

Abnormal normality.

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The movie “Deadgirl” can be described in simply one word: disturbing. The incredibly graphic imagery tends to stay with the mind even long after they roll the ending credits. For some reason, the image of deadgirl’s face haunted me for at least a day and a half. I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that she was following me or that when I turned the corner there would be a naked corpse with disheveled hair walking, no, running towards me, wanting to tear out my liver. There is just something about those snake-like eyes and blackened teeth that give me the creeps. This movie is probably one of the most disturbing, sickening movies I have ever watched.

The movie, much like the previous movie “Cabin in the woods”, revolves around the idea that the real monsters of the film are not the zombies, or ghosts, or mermen even. The real monsters are people, sentient human beings, who manipulate other people and situations for their own benefit. Especially in “Deadgirl”, the characters’ biggest problems do not come from the monster of the movie, but arise from themselves.

I think one of the biggest factors that contribute to “Deadgirl” being so disturbing is the horror of witnessing someone do something so inhumane and animalistic, without so much as a hint of remorse or self-doubt. No one really likes being reminded that human beings have the capacity to do such horrid things if they chose to. The characters deem abnormal behavior as something normal and acceptable. The familiar becomes something unfamiliar. What are they willing to do next? What limits are they about to test, or even surpass? It becomes something so unpredictable that it effectively scares the viewer. We don’t know what kind of horrible act we’re going to witness next.

The acts they commit make them more monstrous than the dead girl. One can almost feel pity for the dead girl when JT and other boys rape her. That’s one of the reasons why I personally feel bothered by the presence of the dead girl. This corpse, or whatever it is, seems a bit more sentient than the unfeeling object the characters try to portray her as. When she touches Rickie’s hand when he was trying to free her, we somehow feel that she understands what is around her. This also happens when she leaves Rickie unharmed as she escapes from the mental facility. But then again, we are often reminded that this thing is more monster than human. All it knows is to attack and kill people. It doesn’t really care what it is being done to it. Whether it is being raped or harmed, it doesn’t seem to care. The fact that I could momentarily feel pity for a rotting human corpse then immediately be reminded that it is a monster in the shape of a human being quite disturbs me.

Watching this film, as a woman, makes it more uncomfortable in my opinion. You see this thing which isn’t human but is in the shape of a woman get violated over and over. But it doesn’t seem to mind or doesn’t seem to care. Heck, it could even possibly enjoy it, based on one of the first scenes where Rickie and JT visit the dead girl. This is unsettling not only for the reason that women are disturbed by the image of a girl getting raped, but also for the fact that it doesn’t seem to be too concerned about it. Once again, something abnormal is made normal by one of the characters. And that is something we can’t really accept and we are all the more horrified by it.