Reversal

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It’s like Grace when she grew up to be 12 years old and given to a Swedish family. Eli and Oskar, though children, fell in love in a hopeless place — literally. Eli, though a vampire, was surrounded by love; love from her “father,” which was a selfless kind — he compromised his morals and sacrificed his life just to be able to feed her. The movie gives a twisted kind of meaning to the whole idea of love and life, a warped understanding of what it really means. How pure is love, if it’s for something that may be essentially wrong (someone’s life for another). 

The two ended up complementary to each other. Oskar needed someone to make him a stronger person, which he found in Eli. Eli needed someone to simply accept her without being under nor above her; she needed to somehow have a connection to the human world and a reason to live. I say this because the woman who died (as she was becoming a vampire) was so afraid to fully transform because being a vampire is like death — you have no friends, it will eventually ruin your life. Knowing that, she asked her husband to kill her, to euthanize her. Since he didn’t do it, she planned her suicide by sunlight. Eli would eventually come to this, with no friends and no family. It would have been inevitable. 

The whole idea of vampires was just confirmed by everything that Eli was. She would burn in the sun, she can’t come into places without being allowed in, she can fly and has super strength, and last but not the least, she has a weakness for human blood and only human blood. Again, the very idea of a female being the monster is in itself a patriarchal idea that stems from the understanding of women as the “other,” the “object.” Eli as the monster was still — despite the monster characteristics — the woman. 

Interestingly, the movie can be interpreted the other way around. Gender roles can be seen differently in a sense that the monster, the strongest character in a horror movie, is always manly. When Oskar was the “damsel in distress” and Eli was the only hero to save him, it was obvious that Eli was the “male.” It’s fascinating how this played out, because the ideas of sexuality were overflowing in this movie, from the innocent-ish bedroom scene (where Eli was basically the more aggressive one) to the killing-bullies scene. Oskar ended up taking care of Eli in a sort of womanly way, because as the human in the relationship he had to make sure that her needs were accommodated. Girl power!

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Didn’t understand that? Ok. That’s basically Pontypool’s point — language can sometimes be dangerous. Besides this, however, though it may not have been very obvious, the film had subtle ideas about gender that operated within the plot. It would be best to do this through a character examination.

Men, as theorized, are penetrators. By this, I mean that they always take the more aggressive and forceful role, where they feel that they are permeating another being in one way or another. One would notice this in the film in the way that Mazzy was so dominant a character. Sydney, on the other hand, was trying to get her way in her own “womanly way” — no force, no violence, so to speak. Laurel-Ann seemed more of the submissive type of female (not to be seen as strong in the least), who was naively “in-love” or “in admiration” with Massey somewhat. It was depressing to see her sacrifice certain media ethics in order to please him, as when she sent him news as soon as she received it without confirming the truth beforehand. It’s the same for all the women who find themselves in relationships to be the one who sacrifices, the one who pleases, the one who is compromised. I find that to be monstrous in itself. Laurel-Ann, the weak, submissive, and compromising female character— and it doesn’t stop there. Given these characteristics, she is the first victim among the main characters to get the virus. Sends a message, doesn’t it? Weakness equals monster equals sickness equals death. It’s a little long and maybe even an illogical process, but something the audiences may definitely understand.

And why was it that Massey was the one who figured out the whole scenario? Why was it that it was him, and not Sydney or maybe even both? He seemed like such an arrogant and annoying character to me, since he was all manly and just so overconfident, yet he ended up being the savior of the both of them, maybe the savior of everyone else. Sydney became his “right hand,” as are all women/wives seen. Such an objectified gender, we women are.

And what was that word replacement of kill is kiss? Was it something to lure Sydney in? Was it a beguiling manly way to do the whole “i just want to get laid” objective? Understanding language went alongside the idea of understanding gender and understanding the nuances of male and female interaction. In any case, it was a movie that said much, much more than just a;liwjfaoijc;jal;sjajfiowejfowme.

wREC[2] the notion

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That movie was just really depressing and for lack of a better word, hopeless. I felt pretty hopeless after the film. It took me pretty long to write a blog entry about this just because those were pretty much the only words I had. I can’t say I “liked” the movie in the conventional sense, because I “like” bunnies and puppies, and putting this on that level would just be wrong to do. I must say I appreciated the movie in a different sense than when, say, I appreciate something like Pocahontas (which I love, by the way).

If anything, I noticed one of the trends in horror film that I cannot ignore — why is the idea of a woman as the killer so much more terrible and haunting than a male murderer? I find that people see women as seemingly sweet, innocent, and harmless. So much so that in Rec 2, the devil even used her as a tool to get to the Catholic Church. Both Angela and Medeiros were the very source of the contagion and demonic possession — both women. Is there something about women that they are pointing out? Maybe that we women are barely seen as a threat to society. In a really twisted way, the film shows that there’s more to women than what the eye can see. It shows some kind of empowerment in a sense, because women are rarely ever harmless. We are, in fact, just as harmless as any man (see the irony?).

Besides, how would you ingrain in people’s minds something as intense as women empowerment? Definitely not through something like a Disney movie like Cinderella. Pocahontas was okay, it just didn’t do enough for women as a horror film probably could. That’s the beauty of the genre, I’ve come to realize. It tells you something by scaring you without being moralistic about it. Horror films don’t tell you to “do this, do that,” they mostly tell you how it is in a very allegorical (and very gory) way. REC 2 helps eliminate the notion of women being weak and useless by showing women as monstrous. (I’m not saying that’s how Barbara Creed defines monstrous, but it’s definitely an interpretation worth mentioning.) Women can be feared, powerful, etc. It is, however, such a shame that it may be said in this movie that women have to be “possessed” by something else to be all of the above/taken seriously. Why does there have to be something higher to be thought about when it comes to the power of women? Needless to say, the idea was there and it got across at the very least. I’m not saying that women should be feared or what have you, but there is something that a woman possesses (whatever it is) that can be used to exert power and incite fear in people — just you watch out! It is bound to come, it is sexually specific, and it is gender-oriented.

And that’s how I learned to appreciate REC 2.

Sexual tensions in May

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Source of fear: sexuality may lead to murder. That was a hyperbole, but it may indeed be true with someone like May, who has never felt that she had a real friend before, or experienced sex. What makes psychopaths? If anything, her mother was one person who ruined her life in saying that “If you can’t find any friends, make one” — that May took literally. How impressionable children can be. It brought me to the ideas in Foucault’s A History of Sexuality, where he discussed where and how repression of sexuality came about. Using his methodology, I attempted to analyze May. The society generally doesn’t like the publicizing of sexuality (mostly in the U.S. and conservative countries such as all the countries in Asia, but not in European countries like Germany, where they’re very open about sex and sexuality).

May had a lazy eye ever since she was a child. This lazy eye was an oddity by certain standards — something her mom told her to hide. This is very similar to Foucault’s Pedagogization of Children’s sex, wherein he asserts that children are highly sexual and this is something that was seen to be monitored and controlled. It isn’t repression that fuels this policing of sexuality; instead, it is a way for structures or people to exert power over something. May experienced this pedagogization in a way, as other kids scrutinized her for it, and refused to be her friend. Like over-sexuality of children, her eye was an abnormality.

The hysterization of women’s bodies is also applicable to the movie, as the females were highly sexual. May and Polly had sex and were pretty much seen as sex addicts at one point, since Polly always had to have it and May became obsessed with it after she had it. May, in a sense, killed people in order to release her own sexual frustrations. She killed everyone who she felt sexually tense against and kept the parts which gave her the most sexual arousal. It was disturbing because these parts, which can be called May’s fetishes, are things that she believed could be put all in one person in order to make the ultimate lover. Although she did say “I just want someone to see me,” you can definitely read more to it than you at first might. She was definitely doing some kind of a Psychological defense mechanism, like displacement, to cover up her frustrations both sexually and emotionally. In all her sexual encounters, she never felt truly accepted and truly satisfied. This was her form of vengeance to them. With this act she made a statement: sexuality should not be repressed — it can blow up in your face. Again, that may be a hyperbole, but it definitely happens. Think, for example, about all of the people who were kept from sexual education — they are, more often than not, the ones who end up more sexually active than most once they’ve done the deed (I do have a relative that this happened to, unfortunately).

So the bulk of May is actually a film of sexual sensibilities.

Powerful Women

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The interesting thing about the Inn Keepers was that it was scary without being really scary. It played on the idea of ghosts, but I was never sure if the ghosts where real to begin with. Additionally, the plot only rose towards the end of the film because it seemed so light-hearted with such a sweet-yet-odd character Claire and the monotonous yet quirky Luke. This  To me, the film revolved around the interaction of two important themes: (1)the power of thoughts and curiosity and (2) the proactive role of women and the passive role of men.

With the topic that was seen on the surface — the power of thoughts and curiosity, this was portrayed most in the relationship of Claire and the psychic Leanne. Claire wanted so badly to connect with the ghost of Madeleine O’ Malley she did everything to contact her; from Luke’s paranormal equipment to Leanne’s psychic readings. Be careful what you wish for, they say, and this definitely applied to Claire as se did not understand how much her thoughts brought the ghost to life. What did she even expect to find out from the ghost? Knowing that she killed herself was already enough, yet she needed something more, perhaps something that could appease the questions to her own life. It brings out the idea that when we search for something external to ourselves, we most of the time are searching for something more figurative and internal. The insincerity of her thoughts and her unanswered questions overpowered her in the end, and what killed her wasn’t the ghost but these very things (bringing her to an asthma attack).

A more interesting angle to the story is the perception of females within the movie. What gave the movie depth was the personality of every woman in it. Leanne found what gave her meaning (psychic abilities); Madeleine was the ghost to be feared; and Claire was the lead character, searching for meaning. Madeleine O’Malley may have killed herself, but she continued to interact with the real world, keeping her memory alive. This was a powerful message in the way that feminists see suicide in literature: not to be defeated by the society in the time they live in, women in literature commit suicide as a show of strength and power (i.e. Lady Macbeth, Dido from the Aeneid). The men in the film were the most cowardly, really. Luke ran off at the first confirmation of a real ghost, and Madeleine’s fiance ran away from their marriage and took many years before he faced his transgression.

Keeping in mind the history of females in Inn Keepers, the movie was more than what it is first perceived to be.

Guiltless Little children

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Always thought of as innocent, children seem to make the most terrifying murderers. In the past few months, there have been quite a number of shootings in U.S. schools, the shooters being 15-year-old teenagers or somewhere around that age. You would think that only old men who have no purpose in life would do such a thing. With the advent of such murders, there’s already that thought on how we don’t know how to handle our children anymore, or worse, that we don’t know who our children are despite raising them “well.” Children make the most horrifying pictures of evil because they hold no perverse thoughts, or have little experience with evil. The writers of Halloween understood this irony.

When 10-year-old Michael cleans out a bloody knife at the start of the film, I thought he had been cutting himself — something that troubled kids do sometimes. He seemed like the sweet middle child who was typically awkward at his age. I start to see the oddness in Michael when he starts being aggressive towards some bullies and then against the principal of his school. The psychologist shows Deborah (his mom) the pictures of his murder victims, little animals that she thought Michael actually loved and cared for. This part reminded me of Dexter, the TV series of the ‘good’ kind of murderer. Michael just liked killing, I guess, so he killed those who have wronged him. He killed the bully, he killed his mother’s good-for-nothing boyfriend (which I enjoyed), and he killed his mean older sister. He kept his little sister safe, however, and this part was puzzling throughout the film. It begs the question: does Michael kill because he loves killing, or does he kill because he thinks his victims deserve to die, in that case is he just a kid with the worst anger management issues?

I think the answer is all of the above. Years later, when he’s around 30 years old, he gets out of his cell because some guys rape a girl in his cell, touching all of his home-made masks (another idiosyncracy of his). He kills these guys and he then kills the janitor who has cared for him since he entered this prison. It is here that I thought he killed for pleasure. Then he seeks out his little sister and I don’t know what he intends to do here because she kills him before we really find out.

Michael brings out the killer in all of us, I must say. Some people in the film “deserved” to die (on Michael’s terms, of course) and some people didn’t. We all say “I’m going to kill you” in our heads at one point, but we never really do it — Michael does that. He doesn’t even think about it anymore, and he doesn’t feel guilt. With his case, we feel a certain chill in the thought that if we didn’t have certain values that we grew up with, would we be doing exactly the same thing?

As a Psychological thriller, this movie is bound to make everyone scared of troubled 10-year-olds and the environments they grow up in. We never really know what affects the little kids until they do something this crazy.

World vs Us vs World

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Gingersnaps is a movie of two sisters (Ginger and Brigitte) in their adolescence — two close-knit, bonded-by-blood girls seeing the world as something they have to face together. Though categorized (and rightly so) as a horror movie, this wasn’t the regular fear-inciting supernatural storyline we usually see. What we get instead is a normal little town with a beside-normal problem: a monster lives in the forest, attacking dogs at night. Everything seems normal at first, except that the two sisters haven’t gotten their periods yet (late for their age) and that the two share an interest in macabre things like death.

This so-called normal world is interrupted by a freak incident. The conflict begins when Ginger is attacked by this monster (apparently, it’s a werewolf) one day — around the same time that she gets her first period. At this point, she starts acting very differently. She starts to like guys, she shows interest in sexual activities (though they both used to think it was repulsive), she wears clothes of a tighter fit, becomes much more aggressive, and last but not the least, she strays from the “us-against-the-world” pact with her sister. It’s all some normal growing-up stuff, but at the same time, Brigitte attributes Ginger’s behavioral oddities (Ginger “snapping” in other words) to her having been bitten by a werewolf. So what was the cause, really, the werewolf or the hormones? Somehow by asking that question you already see the comparison or the metaphor of being a pubescent teen with being a werewolf. Horror films attack those mundane experiences and capitalize on those because they already incite fear to begin with.

As Brigitte tries to find the cure to Ginger’s werewolf-ness, we see one of Noel Carroll’s points: that horror is driven by the desire to know. How do we defeat this werewolf? Silver bullets? She searches for a cure with the weed vendor and they find that injecting this flower extract works. However, she injects the Ginger’s first victim (who is also turning into a werewolf) and fails to administer it to Ginger. Ginger gets worse and attacks three more people while Brigitte tries to isolate and protect her. In the end, they are unable to give Ginger the cure and there’s another cure to it: Brigitte is forced to kill her own sister. We do find out the cure to our main problem, but one of the movie’s essential questions comes at me at this point: how far are you willing to go to save yourself and everyone around you? Will it mean going against your promises and going against the person dearest to you? We see two answers to that question, the first being “everything for the greater good” in Brigitte’s decision to kill her sister in the end, and the second being the opposite of that as seen in Brigitte and Ginger’s mother saying that she would torch the house down just so her children don’t go to jail for killing a girl.

As a moral allegory, this movie makes completely perfect sense.