L.O.V.E. E.V.O.L.

0

I have always thought about how the perfect example of a human/vampire relationship, is, well, Buffy and Angel. The grand scale of how their relationship was treated in the show was perfectly captured. Oddly enough, their relationship was deemed as the most human. And so when Twilight (and a slew of other vampire/human/creature love stories) came about, I was a sheepishly turned my head away from them, because I knew they wouldn’t give me what the Buffy/Angel story did. Then, I found out about a movie called Let the Right One In from Bloody-digusting.com, and it seemed different, so I decided to give it a try.  

To say that the movie is your average vampire love story is in many levels an understatement. For one, the characters don’t really do stupid things out of their love for each other, and even if one might say that they do, these objections can easily be countered by the fact that they were children at the time that the story takes place. For me, the title is twofold. One meaning might be literal, because as the myth goes, vampires cannot enter a household without having any verbal invitations. The other meaning has something to do with Oskar, and how he feels isolated from his peers. Granted, Oskar does not really have any friends. He doesn’t let people in his life easily, because he has developed trust issues. So when Eli comes into his life, he changes drastically. He learns how to fight for himself, and he learns how to stand on his own two feet. 

The only thing that scared me a bit in the story is my realization that Hakan, Eli’s former “guardian”, isn’t really her guardian, but instead, one of her former lovers. He is keen in keeping Eli alive, even at the cost of his own life. This, while implying the sheer force of the feeling of love, leaves one dark possibility for Oskar: when he ages, he may become just like Hakan, obeying Eli and sacrificing his life for hers.

In a subtle sense, I think that this movie also deals with the concept of love perfectly. There is a scene in the movie wherein Eli is changing her clothes, and Oskar decides to take a quick peek and finds out that there are stitches where Eli’s genitals should be. He ignores this, and continues their friendship. Now, I might be a little over my head here, but I think that the filmmakers wanted to tell the audience that love really knows no genders, and that people, no matter what their age may be, are capable of love. 

 

 

 

Definitely, Maybe

0

May is the kind of horror movie that you think won’t get under your skin, but by the end of the film, you’ll have goosebumps that feel like they’re never going away. It stars Angela Bettis (The Toolbox Murders, Carrie Remake) as the awkward, asocial young adult who never really had any friends but her doll, Suzie, who was given to her by her mother with the quote, “If you can’t find a friend, make one.” 

Throughout the movie we are shown various aspects of May’s life, as she tries desperately to gain friends to stop being lonely. Of course, having very little social contact from her childhood has its downside of being socially inept come adulthood. I liked this idea of combining the trope of the lead character as the underdog and ultimately, becoming the monster. Normally, one would think that the monster is what makes a horror film horrifying, and that the monster usually does not inspire sympathy from the audience. This is where the genius of director Lucky McKee comes in. He decides to mix these two tropes together, and it comes out very nicely. Oftentimes, horror movies who go down this road do not really tie these two things seamlessly. Once the underdog becomes a monster, he loses all the sympathy that he has gained from the audience, because his human part becomes thoroughly drowned by his monstrousness. In May, however, the exact opposite happens. When May becomes a monster, she becomes more human. We, as the audience, are given the chance to see the two seemingly-opposing sides to the character, and I think this is why this horror film works best. May ultimately becomes a monster, but I still felt like I rooted for her. I felt her loneliness during the start of the film and finally, her happiness at finally gaining the “perfect” friend towards the end of the film.

This film reminded me of another horror movie I watched recently, Excision. Both films display a similarity in terms of how both of the lead characters are awkward women, and go through drastic steps in order to have some sense of achievement in their lives. Where they differ, however, is through their intentions. Excision’s Pauline (played by AnnaLynne McCord of the 90210 TV series that nobody seems to be watching anymore these days) does whatever she does because of her obsession with blood. May, on the other hand, just wants someone to be there for her. Ultimately, both of their motivations end up in a body count.

I think May is just a hyperbolic way of portraying the repressions brought about by society today, especially in terms of friendship and perfection. Let’s face it: nobody is a perfect friend. How many times have we thought about having that perfect friend, one who does not have any flaws at all, and one who’s always by our side whatever happens? That’s all May ever wanted. And by the end of the movie, it certainly looks like she finally got it.

Hallowhine

1

There seems to be a trend in 80’s slasher movies about being warnings about the dangers of sexual activities, and John Carpenter’s Halloween is one of those. I thoroughly enjoyed Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, which depicted the raw and unnerving capabilities of families. Having watched the original Carpenter flick–and being genuinely scared by that one–I already had some hesitation before watching this remake, what with all the slew of the really bad horror remakes made during the last few years. For the first time, my prejudice didn’t prove me wrong.

I still don’t get the point of some remakes. Sure, you can update the story to recent times, and then what? Most of the time, these remakes don’t really add anything new to the table (we get gems like The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes). What made me love the original film is how subtle everything is, even the kills. You don’t see that much blood, and the focus is more on the emotions of the character, instead of the high-pitched sound that comes from the bowels of their mouths that makes even the most deaf of ears bleed. I appreciate Rob Zombie’s effort to provide a backstory for Michael Myers, but for me, it kind of takes the whole mystery to his character away. Now we know why he’s doing these things. He had a bad childhood, and so he started killing. Sure, it does make us feel empathy with the character, but it shifts the focus away from Laurie Strode’s life, and how she is affected by the deaths of her friends. 

What makes the original Michael so terrifying is the fact that we never truly know why stalks Laurie until near the end of the film, when the big reveal is, well, revealed. Also, I think that the whole point of why Michael hides behind a mask is because it’s supposed to convey how his emotions are never truly there. He never feels normal human feelings. He’s asocial, and that’s what adds to the horror of what happens in the movie. 

I get that Rob Zombie wanted to update the story, and even to amp it up, but for me, it doesn’t deliver so well. A rock metal score, even more gratuitous shots of breasts, more death scenes, and a bazillion gallons of blood don’t necessarily make for a good film. It feels like the film was trying to be offensive just for the sake of being offensive. I also felt like Zombie focused the character development aspect of his characters on those who were ill, like Michael and his family. However, when the story takes place years later, no sort of character development ever happens anymore. We are just presented a bunch of “normal” white–and whiny–people who get picked off one by one. That was a very weak spot of the film for me. Danielle Harris’ role in Hatchet proved to be more interesting than her character here (whose name I forgot because that’s how forgettable they were for me).

Overall, I think that Rob Zombie’s take on the slasher classic that is Halloween is anything but.

Aquamarine’s All Grown Up

0

I became a fan of director Ti West ever since I saw his debut film, House of the Devil, back in 2010. The movie was about a babysitting gig gone wrong, and the way West made it was superb. When I heard that he had a new movie coming out, The Innkeepers, I was, of course, excited to eat it all up. Sarah Paxton has proven herself to be a good actress, so I decided to watch this movie.

The Innkeepers is one of the few horror movies that can make some people sleep through the first half. It has a slow-burn first act, where we get to meet normal people and their normal lives doing their normal jobs. But then creepy things start occurring, and said normal people decide to investigate, and end up being given more than what they came there for. It’s very formulaic, but the reason why I think it works is because you don’t really see it done that much nowadays. The characterization of the two leads is just amazing.  We are given extremely long scenes of them doing their menial work, and this I think is the reason why some people dislike this film. Expecting to see a straight-up horror movie, they are instead faced with a slow burning one. However, I think that’s what makes this film even more noteworthy: it knows it’s different, and so it presents itself differently from most horror movies out there.

I like how the film dealt with the reactions and decisions of the normal people when faced with something that’s quite out of their circle of what they deem is normal. Do they try to fight it? Or do they try to assimilate it with their own lives (sidebar: whenever I hear or say the word assimilate, and image of The Thing always pops into my head)? The film also reminded me of (I’m sorry) an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, wherein she tries to save a girl who has been having reoccurring visions that she will die soon, only to die in Buffy’s arms of heart failure. The same thing happens in the movie. Sara Paxton’s character dies not from a ghost’s actions, but from her own asthma attack. The psychic, when asked by Luke near the end of the movie, said that there was nothing that they could have done. This, I think, best sums up the movie’s main point of having the characters deal with abnormal situations, and the fact that sometimes, there’s really so much that you can do. There are events in our lives which we will never gain control of, especially death. Director Ti West seems to have a penchant with these kinds of movies, and I’m sure he’ll be doing even better ones in the future.

Sara Paxton, on the other hand, has proven herself to be a capable actress. Who would have thought she could go this far? The first time I saw her was in Aquamarine and boy, did that blow. She has won me over in The Last House on the Left, wherein she portrayed Mari, the girl left for dead. Finally, The Innkeepers is a horror movie that is worth watching, if you’re really into horror films, like me. This movie is all about subtlety, as emphasized by the last scene in the movie, wherein we are presented with Claire’s former hotel room, and her pale ghostly silhouette looking out the window and then looking directly at the camera until the door slams shut.

TrainREC

0

In my previous blogpost about the first REC film, I wrote about how I have a love-hate relationship with the found footage subgenre of horror films. REC 2, released in 2009, is proof of the fact that there is only so much you can do to a easily-tiring film gimmick before everything turns stale and boring. I think it’s the worst sequel since The Blair Witch 2.

Finishing where the first movie left off, REC 2 finds a team of SWAT members and a medical officer dispatched to the apartment building to control the situation. What they find is are the horrifying remnants of the first movie, and then some. The film tries to explain what happened in the first movie, and that, for me, was what killed the horror. What I loved most about the first movie is the fact that nobody really knew what was happening, or where the virus came from. It plays with man’s fear of the Unknown, and it is this fear that brings about the horror for me. The sequel, however, had us go from a scientific explanation, to a more religious one. Maybe the filmmakers intended it to be a sort of series of twists to keep the action happening, but that certainly killed whatever fear I was having when I saw it. Part of what makes certain horror movies stick and good is the way that they play with the Unknown. Something that is alien to us makes us run like crazy. You never know what is really happening, and you’re never sure if your next course of action would help you or actually kill you. In REC 2, you learn that not all SWAT members are actually adept at gunfiring. Certainly, they don’t seem to know how to shoot these things in the head. Granted, they were taken aback by what they were experiencing, but weren’t they trained for similar situations, anyway? Also, I didn’t understand the way they handled the virus in the movie. Audiences will be left wondering if it ever is indeed a virus, and if so, wouldn’t that make the demon a weak one, because he needed a virus to control other people, instead of just going on an all-out Pazuzu craze on the people inside the apartment? Don’t get me wrong. I love horror movies that deal with religion, but this one just seems too forced. 

However, I liked the idea of switching the perspective of the story from the police to the group of teenagers (who initially seem dumb, but they turn out to be actually dumber). It was the only thing that made me have hope for the movie, but only when it was first introduced. I get the idea of the filmmakers to somehow reintroduce another point of view, but I think that they could have done more with another set of characters, instead of the whiny teenagers. I actually cheered when they died. Really, they were some of the most stupid characters I have ever seen in a horror movie. To me, their characters were, in a way, Americanized (think campy 80’s horror where everyone just gets killed for the purpose of getting killed). Ultimately, the movie was really a letdown for me. I actually found REC 3 better than this one. 

The Asian Twin Peaks

0

I had some trepidation when I found out we were watching an Asian horror film in class. I have never really been a fan of Asian horror stories, because–and I’m kind of at fault here as well–I sort of stereotyped them as having a pale ghost girl haunting some object or place and killing Asian characters who all have the same hair and always speak in tongues. Of course, I trusted that Sir wouldn’t really make us watch a bad horror film (that and the fact that I had no choice since this was a class), and so I let go of my judgments for a while and took the movie in. 

I actually liked Voice. It wasn’t that scary for me, but it had its creepy moments. The fact that it wasn’t very in-your-face when it comes to storytelling really won me over. It also deals with the themes of friendship, secrets, and even a lesbian undertone. I was reminded of both Twin Peaks and (here I go again) the Buffy episode entitled Hush while watching the movie. It was like Twin Peaks in a way that the seemingly-normal characters actually have another dark side which unfurls as the events of the film take place. Some people are not who they seem. You think you know everything about a person, but it only takes one event to make you think twice. I like how the main character, Sun-min, learns about the secret past of her best friend, Young-eon. It’s realistic for me, because in a way, this sort of thing really happens in real life. No, of course I’m not talking about ghosts (but who knows). I’m talking about how two people who have known each other for a very long time still tend to hide certain things from each other, only to be found out after the friendship has ended, or if a similar event takes place. That, I think, is one of the main reasons why the film succeeds in bringing horror to the table.

I said it reminded me of the Buffy episode Hush, because they both focus on the twofold theme of losing one’s voice. I think one of humankind’s greatest fears is losing one’s senses, especially one’s voice. You can’t be understood anymore. Seemingly, if you lose your voice, you lose yourself as well, and people will forget about you. Young-eon doesn’t want that to happen with Sun-min, so she does everything that she can to continue having her best friend by her side. That’s what’s very dark about the movie. While Young-eon wants to keep their friendship alive, Sun-min also finds out about what really happened, that it all goes back to Young-eon’s sociopathic ways, and ultimately, accepting the fact that Young-eon should cross over. On the other hand, as it happened in the film, even though you might have your own voice, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are telling the truth all the time. I guess the film wanted to emphasise on the importance of our voice. It makes us who we are.

One thing that I don’t get about the movie, though, is the lesbian undertone. I don’t get the point of having it, really. Is it a flip-off to South Korea’s friends up north? It has been a running theme in the Whispering Corridors series, one of which is Voice. Either way, it works because it sets the whole movie up. Then again, maybe that was the point of the whole thing: a plot device.

Overall, I like Voice a lot because it tackles themes that are not really focused on in your typical run-of-the-mill horror movies.  I’m thinking of downloading the entire Whispering Corridors series to see if I’d like it more.

Feminine, But Not Feminist

0

I have always been, and always will be, a supporter of feminism. Those that are portrayed in films and television series, especially. Veronica Mars, Sydney Bristow, and duh, Buffy Summers. When I first heard about Ginger Snaps, I looked up the film online. It had really good reviews, and a lot of people were saying that it’s very well-crafted in terms of its use of the whole werewolf thing for female sexuality and puberty, so I decided to give it a shot. To say that Ginger Snaps is your typical run-of-the-mill horror story would not do it justice, yet to say that the film as a feminist masterpiece is a bit far-fetched.

I don’t think the film really brought anything new to the table. Sure, it used lycanthropy as a metaphor for Ginger’s puberty, but it all stops there. Yes, it’s witty. Yes, it’s smart. But what happens in the end? Just the same body-fearing and sexuality-fearing mindset that the people from all over the world already have today. Human sexuality has always been a staple of the horror genre. Hell, it’s what gave rise to the slew of horror movie “rules” that the Scream quadrilogy and Cabin in the Woods basically revolved around and tried subverting. The rules are pretty simple: you have sex for fun, you get punished, and then you die. The virginal Final Girl almost always seems to survive. I don’t really know where this whole sexuality thing started, but somehow, it’s always there. In the film, basically, what we get is more or less the same: Ginger unwillingly becomes a werewolf. Ginger initially doesn’t know what’s happening to her, but then she begins to get the hang of it and even starts enjoying it. Ginger starts doing even more self-destructive behavior, all in the name of fun. Ginger is offered a solution–a way out of her predicament: to become human again–which she denies. Ginger gets punished, and then she dies. 

You see, she didn’t even choose to be who she is. No teenager is given that choice. Now I remember a quote from Buffy (yes, I somehow always seem to find a way to weave Buffy into things): The big moments are gonna come, can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are.I think this is applicable to the film, not only for Ginger, but for her sister Bridget as well. Okay, so Ginger got bit by a werewolf. That’s done. The event paved way to two roads for both characters. Should Ginger embrace her new-found lycanthropy, her “womanhood”, or should she choose to remain what she was before? Should Bridget just accept the fact that her sister is “growing up”, or should she find a way to get her sister human again? Both characters choose their own paths, and these both inevitably lead to Ginger’s death by the end of the film. 

For me, the use of lycanthropy as a metaphor for puberty is one of the best things I have seen the horror genre do. It’s a very refreshing take on the whole werewolf thing. There was superb acting all around, thanks to the two leads (who were also the two evil step-sisters in Another Cinderella Story–they still kick ass in that one). However, why a lot of people pass this movie off as something that is feminist is completely beyond me. Just because a work of fiction has kick-ass girls in it as lead characters doesn’t necessarily mean it’s feminist. It might just be feminine.