Twiright

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I am not sure if it shameful or a downright insult to even compare the film to a movie like Twilight, but I really couldn’t deny that there were really portions of the film that reminiscent to me of the main framework of Twilight. Only this time, not only was I impressed with the storytelling but also the subtleties that were scattered everywhere in the film.

 

            I was reminded of May when I found out that the female protagonist (or should I perhaps say antagonist) was again the monster character in the film. Again, the actual personification of the monster not just as something the female can identify with, but the actual female herself was reminiscent of how May was also done. But apart from that, the nature of the characters as females was quite different. While I found that the May in all her oddities was really someone to be scared of, the personification of the monster in Eli, who was this 12-year-old girl made the character totally endearing. This time, I felt, that there was a certain irony to the fact that Eli had such strength and agility as a vampire and yet, her actual persona seemed to me fragile and weak. Her vulnerability was something that seemed more exposed than the other monsters that we’ve seen in all previous films.

 

            More on the romantic elements of the film however, the title was totally apt for the backstory of the love of the two youngsters. It is interesting to note that letting the right one in could ironically mean letting something abnormal, something as unusual get into the deep recesses of your soul. And in a sense, it’s like letting the other penetrate you, and this time, openly and willingly. This time, the subject accepts the other, as Oskar did with Eli. He showed no hesitations despite knowing that she was something really different from him. And interestingly enough, this certain power that she had, she didn’t loose but rather, her strength was shared with Oskar when she would protect him during those times when he would often get bullied. It seems like letting this monster be and accepting this monster would not only deemphasize her otherness but moreover the power shared by the two characters when they are able to come to a mutual giving of themselves was something that was so powerful.

           

            I found that the whole film, more than horrifying was just a beauty. I loved how the storytelling was so well put out and it was not overdone at all. I also really appreciated that the characters were these two children who seemed totally innocent and yet, their seeming purity totally makes them worthy characters to portray the sort of love that breaks barriers. And while I found that I was a bit reminded of the whole idea of Twilight, I can’t deny that this was the sort of thing I would have wanted Twilight to be like. A twilight done right. 

Pontypool

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The first few words that opened Pontypool about the missing cat and the last words of Pontypool when Grant and Sydney were dressed up in weird outfits rambing on confusing things pretty much summed up my experience of the whole movie: CONFUSION. Although there were some bits and portions that I was able to comprehend, I don’t think I was able to fully grasp the whole concept of the film until I re-examined some of the ideas that I was able to actually understand. Actually, come to think of it, the word understand which I used in the previous sentence is interestingly a main point of the film (or lack thereof).

 

I thought it was very interesting that the only setting of the whole film was in the radio station. The very medium of radio in itself is not visual and relies very definitely on the use of sound, words and most importantly, the reception of the people through listening. Throughout the entire film, there are so many things that were only left up to our imagination like that Ken Loney guy from the sunshine chopper who we don’t even see, but can only hear as he describes the events that he witnesses. The power that is left for the audience’s imagination makes one think of all the imagery that can fill the gap between the description and understand the situation or try to understand the situation at the very least.

 

The film was quite creative in its play of the form of words, a deeper understanding of the word understanding and the concept of an idea which may sound redundant but totally appropriate for the film nonetheless. In the film, at first, the audience is left to toss and turn in their seats constantly trying to pick up a few breadcrumbs here and there to be able to grasp what was happening in Pontypool and as the story unravels itself and tells itself to the audience, the understanding of the events and the happenings ironically also reveal that understanding ideas and words in themselves is a sort of sickness. In fact, in the film, it is treated as a virus that is totally infectious. The written word seems harmless and totally not threatening until the actual idea of the word in itself unravels for you to comprehend it. And the danger of transmitting the written word to an actual sound, something that they do in radio exposes the people to hearing it, comprehending it themselves and crystallizes in their brains to form the concept and to actualize the concept that they understand. I think the film best portrays this when Sydney almost catches the ‘virus’ when she starts to understand ‘Killing’ and internalize the whole idea. When Grant deconstructs the word to reform it and reshape the concept in he brain and when he tried to confuse the audience through his nonsensical speech at the end, it seems that he was able to find the anecdote. The cure was to not make them understand, destroy the virus of the word. Overall, I thought Pontypool was suc an out of the box and intriguing film that psychological thriller buffs can, watch, comprehend and chew on. 

May the Force be with you.

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May has definitely become one of my favourites in horror film class. While there have been several female protagonists in other movies such as triangle, this time the female protagonist slowly becomes the main antagonist and monster. In relation to the identification of the monster with female (from Barbara Creed), May is able to actually equate the monster to the female through the main protagonist/antagonist of the film.

 

There has always been a certain level of emphasis given to the hands of Adam, even in the beginning of the film. The attraction of May to Adam was instant, not for the type of person he was (impossible to know from the distance with which she gazed at him) nor his other physical traits, but rather for Adam’s hands. May gazed upon Adam and was constantly obsessed of his hands. If I were to look at the whole film and give my own interpretation on vis-à-vis gender, female sexuality and the identification with the monster, I would hypothesize that the obsession of May on the hands of Adam could be equated to a level of power that the female wishes to have. It is interesting to think that the hands hold so much power in them. The hands are what we use to feel, to touch, to work and to create. May’s constant pre-occupation of Adam and his hands could be interpreted as the female coveting the sort of power that the males hold.

 

            In the beginning, May could be seen as someone who was so inside her shell, so helpless and so weak. Her fragile disposition and her frailty had “victimize me” written all over it. But slowly, as May evolves and is able to come into her own, through her self discovery and sexual awakening, we see how May starts to gain a bit of strength and a bit more power as the movie progresses. In the beginning her coyness was very obvious, but when Adam and her started to date, she gained little by some confidence in herself. As the obsession and their relationship progressed, her stronger, fiercer side starts to pull out of her and rears its ugly head even up to a point where her possessiveness could translate to her wanting to bite him, or in a sense even eat him all up. Of course this could only turn into disaster as the male figure tries to run away from this possession and obsessive compulsion of the female towards him.

 

            Going back to the idea of the hands, at the end of the film, where May really shows here strongest side and in all of her power be able to kill people in order to cut up their parts, May chops Adam’s hands off with all the force and the power of someone who seemed like she had been chopping hands off since birth. Perhaps if looked at a gender perspective, this sort of castration rendered Adam helpless. He is no longer the one in control, or the one in power, but rather he has turned into May’s victim. The female role transform into the monster to be feared and not the damsel in distress. She becomes the one using her hands for creation and productivity and not anyone else.

Masquerade

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I personally am not a fan of the slasher type gore movies. Surprisingly, I found myself appreciating Halloween perhaps because I saw that there was more than the mere visual spectacle of the way the violent murders were done but moreover, there was a certain level of psychological intelligence that I felt it was able to convey.

 

            Here was a boy who looked rather innocent, like any other pre-pubescent boy with weird quirks and habits. Underneath it all however was this massive instinct for killing. The character of Michael seems so complex that sometimes, I can’t help but see how this monster or type of creature could even be pitied rather than feared because he was misunderstood and nobody was verse in his psyche at all. There were points when I just wanted to get into Michael’s skull and understand what it was that made him such a violent killer. Perhaps it would have been safe to say that the type of environment that he grew up in, affirmed this sort of killer identity as a child. His intentions are totally unknown including to the viewer except for Michael himself. But the whole focus on the attempt to understand Michael and his psyche already adds to the very smart nature of the film. While other slasher flicks might be focused on the protagonist and the protagonist’s struggle to survive and escape the wrath of the monster chasing him or her, Halloween is able to take into account the background of the killer, which makes it quite unique. At some point, the gruesomeness of the murders that Michael commits becomes not so horrible when you think about how he isn’t really mentally stable as a result of the abuse and toil that he took with his childhood experiences. And this makes the antagonist someone that I actually pitied, or even identified with. Perhaps the identification with the monster himself is something that works. It is in the sort of appeal to pity through self recognition in Michael himself that I see that we are all misunderstood in one way or another, and sometimes we can all hide behind our masks in order for us to hide our true weak identities, the types of identities that we don’t want. Moreover, the weakness that we possess, as Michael did have as a child, is all erased when our masks are put on our faces. The level of comfort and protection we get from hiding behind the mask gives us a certain level of power just as Michael felt. The feeling of being able to get rid of who you are and not be held accountable for actions because you aren’t you is a power that we all hold when we can pretend and hide behind another face. The switch from helpless to the one with all the power to act and one who is expected to be fearful is now the one being feared and holding the ax. We all play masquerades, not just in Halloween, but all year –round.

 

 

The Innkeepers

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The Innkeepers was one of those horror movies that like to make you wait anxiously before finally delivering a punch. There were many instances in which one can find himself half expecting a scare that may or may not be given. This was a real contrast to the previous movies like Rec 1 and 2, both of which were adrenaline heavy and had a real rush in the way it was shown and even plotted. The innkeepers used the opposite style quite effectively for me. In making the audience wait, sometimes the moment of impact would give on a greater impression to a person who has long awaited the actual scare.

 

But more than the style of the film in delivering its horror punches, there is more to be said about the film particularly in the way it portrays the female character. Just as discussed in class, the female gaze is a very important thing to consider in the horror genre. The protagonist, Claire could be clearly pegged to be the curious female that tries to explore more than what are bounded to a woman’s role. As Linda Williams’ article discusses, there is a sort of implied subjugation that is granted to the female by the male. And as patriarchal cultures cannot help but exist, the male’s dominance can be seen by the fact that he had the actual power to act on or examine the monster. Well, perhaps in the film’s case it was not technically a monster but a supposed ghost of Madeline O’Malley, but still, we see how the female character, Claire also tries to act or take matters into her own hands. Not surprisingly, she is punished with this curiosity as she dies in the basement. Meanwhile the Male Character is the one that stays alive. Moreover, the power to gaze (quite literally in fact) was given to another female character, the actress who was now a healer slash psychic that can talk to spirits and look into the future. Although this woman had the power and the overall ability to see into the supernatural, she was still in a sense powerless over it and was able to do nothing about the incident. Even as she was talked to by the other innkeeper, she had the resolute answer that there was nothing that could have been done about what happened to Claire.

 

I think movie was overall ok, perhaps it would not be the type of movie that the adrenaline rush junkies would quite like. The pacing was not something that would suite everyone’s taste, it just so happened that it suited mine. 

Rec 2

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My biases and expectations of the sequel of Rec 2 were fully met however; there was some sort of difficulty within myself to reconcile the combination of science and faith in looking at the causes of the so-called infection. Usually, one can notice the separations of the logic that is imposed on the cause of a haunting or the existence of a monster. For example, a story about a ghost can have a supernatural logic like a woman who was frustrated with her unreciprocated love kills herself and haunts the walls of a castle. On the other hand a more not so supernatural or more scientific approach would be for example, the cause of a psychopath’s killing is his psychological imbalance that was a result of his abuse as a kid. Here in rec, it was a bit unclear to me whether the cause of the so-called infection was indeed a spiritual one or more of a biological one. At the end of the first movie, I thought that the zombie virus was just a biological phenomenon that was mistaken to be more supernatural one by the religious sect and then further investigated only to find that it was indeed more of a virus instead of possession. Surprisingly, the second movie sheds a light on the matter by marrying the two causes in what to me was a hard to mesh causality. The infection was in fact a possession that could be passed on from one person to another in a biological means instead of a spiritual type. Moreover, once the possession type virus has infected you, you can now be used as a medium for communicating with the actual demon that was causing all the possession. There was even a portion where the blood that would be used to be a possible vaccine was tested through means of prayer after which it caught fire.  This begs the question then of whether it was quite logical to have a vaccine for demonic possessions. Perhaps, in this case, the biological means by which the possession was transferred could be an avenue to make a vaccine, but that was still quite questionable to me as an audience. This makes me think of the extent to which a horror film can be creative in terms of making the logical plotlines. When is it too much of pushing the boundaries or whether it is even possible to round up or tie up the two together?

 

While I liked the film overall, it had me quite jilted in my seat a few times, I found that it was a bit unsuccessful in marrying biology and spirituality in order to explain the phenomenon. In my personal opinion, I would have liked it if they stuck more to having one or the other as the basis for the whole plotline. I thought the knitting of the story wasn’t as seamless because the interplay of the two factors weren’t integrated as well for me. But again, I still think the film was still a good horror film, something I would actually consider watching a second time around. 

Voice

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There is always something I particularly love about how Asian cinema. I am not sure how to verbalize how distinct I think it is from western cinema, but there is always that certain feel to it that I really like. More specifically, I personally tend to like Asian horror cinema more than western cinema because I find that the story telling makes it less predictable for me, or perhaps the way the plot rolls on the timeline of most Asian horror movies is different. Watching The Voice, I could see how this element of going back and forth a timeline plays a part in the movie.

 

Taking place in a high school, we follow the story of Young-eon, an aspiring singer whose dreams were shattered with her untimely death of which the cause is unknown. Only her friend Sun-min is able to hear her voice and the two start to speculate on how she died. As flashbacks slowly show Yeong-eon her life, I am reminded of other Asian horror films like the Thai Shutter in which there are several flashbacks that reveal to the ultimate unraveling of how things came about. In the film, it is revealed the Yeong-eon is not who she chooses to remember as parts of her darker persona are shown with her resentment from her mother. Furthermore, it is depicted that she is the one that caused the music teacher’s death, and even showed a sort of jealous nature when a Voice of the music teacher’s past favourite pupil tries to beg Young-eon to stay away from the music teacher. At this point I was confused because I could not reconcile the fact that the evil character in the film was actually the protagonist. Towards the end of it, it became clearer to me that this truly was the nature of the character, when she took Sun-min’s body for her own and it was revealed that her deeper intention was stay alive or by being heard.

 

The film explored good themes such as lesbianism which kind of reminded me somewhat of Grace. All the characters in the story were women and their web of relationships were explored throughout the film. There was also the theme of life after death and staying immortal despite of it. The character of Hyo-jung personified that which did not want to be buried or be forgotten. The teacher was the only one able to bring her voice to life by the fact that she remembered the student. Just as Young-eon needed Sun-min to remember her in order to still exist. It is the same pretty much in real life, when there are people that are important to us or even people that we have not completely reconciled with who die. There is always the idea that physically they are gone but alive in a sense because of us and the memories we have of them keep them existing somewhat, this is a profound truth that I think the movie tries to convey and successfully convey in the end although with a twist, as the characters who pass wish to forever stay and eventually consume those who remember them. 

Ginger Snaps

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I could really make a connection with the allusions that the film made with puberty by using a more unusual comparison of something monstrous like a werewolf. For example, turning into the blood thirsty teen wolf that she was, Ginger started to experiment with boys and started to conform to things that teens her age would normally do. There was suddenly, this need for her to be noticed and to be attractive, something I’m certain even boys go through when they start to shift from those cargo shorts and jerseys to more suave and more dapper looking collared shirts and pants. I also saw the type of confusion she had to go through, the substances inside of her that made her slowly turn to a werewolf were like raging hormones that circulate all throughout adolescent’s bodies. And there are always times when she would be able to get a hold of herself, and times when she would be experiencing episodes of rage and outbursts of violence. What makes the allusion even more apparent, in my opinion at least, was the timely arrival of her first menstruation with the night of her getting bitten. The film treats young adulthood as a sort of curse, also mentioned in the film when she discovers her little red surprise in the park. The sort of monsters we turn into after our years of innocence and childhood in my interpretation is what Ginger represents.

Then there’s also Brigette, As I was watching Ginger snaps, I couldn’t help but think about my own experience of puberty. Experiencing it very late, I went through a really long phase where I almost felt like I was dancing on the very fine line of pre-teen and teenager. Awkward is not accurate enough I think, but it will do for now. I was looking at the character of Brigette and I really identified with her character first because it seemed like she knew how it was to tread in that limbo zone of adolescence, the character who has not fully developed into the monster is a representation of those who are in their sort of untouched and pure forms, full of ideals and still preserved in her state by the lack of experience. Her character is an interesting foil to that of Ginger’s. She is the unselfish hero of the story who really genuinely loved her sister till the very end.

The ending of the film was intriguing to me since there was no resolution of whether Ginger or Brigette will be back to their normal form, or what happens after the gruesome events have transpired. But I think it’s also part of the message to see that there is no turning back after that sort of horrific experience that one goes through during their puberty. There is a sort of sadness at the loss of childhood and the loss of people we knew who change after going through adolescence. 

Grace

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Almost the whole weekend before class I was immersed in studying the biology of conception, neonatology, birth and labour for my human life cycle class. Oddly enough I would find myself still fully immersed in the subject matter in horror class. Included in our subject was the psychological and mental processes that a woman is goring through as she is expecting a child and after the child has already been brought out and I can’t help but be amazed that a lot of the things that I studied even the preeclampsia that Madeline suffers from in the beginning was familiar to me.

More than the interest that was brought about by the coincidental connection with my other class, I was more amazed as to how our discussion in class tied up so very well with the movie. Talking about horror as an expression of the psychology of a society or a certain repression that is concretized really spoke to me through the movie. In the movie we see how there were a lot of things that the main character struggles with. This includes this strong need to be a mother, her strained relationship with her control freak of a mother-in-law, and her past sexuality. In the film I noticed that the opposite of all the things that she was really more of pushing back was personified into her child, Grace. For one thing, it was pretty odd that a vegetarian would be fond of watching documentaries of animal slaughter, as if her desire for meat was always there but she just ignored it. Her daughter would then be the complete opposite, the child of all her suppressed feelings, she would be a blood thirsty child who only drank blood and not milk.

 Next, Madeline also seemed to have repressed her real sexuality; she used to have a relationship with her Midwife but later on goes into the heterosexual relationship with her husband. Again, something that is pushed back in order to give the impression that everything is in equilibrium, something that as we discussed is a reason why we repress or hide thoughts and tendencies we think would be too harmful to be expressed.

I also noticed that several times in the movie, there was also a repetitive showing of milk. Her husband would drink milk, Dr. Sohn drank milk and her mother-in-law was also very obsessed with the idea of breast feeding. Perhaps if I were to give my own interpretation, the milk signified a sort of regression of the characters, or going back to infancy, to a state in which nothing is repressed. All their appetites as a child would be given to them, like babies that get what they want, again completely personified and concretized in Grace who always got what she wanted even if it was not milk any more.

 Overall I think the horror and the disturbing factors for me in the movie was how taboo several portions of it was, that the film treated something as wonderful and beautiful as child birth into something so horrific and disgusting is what made it effective for me. 

Rec

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In all honestly I have not seen my fair share of Zombie movies to judge whether I am fan of this type of horror or not. But after watching Rec, I would probably say that more than the ghost type of movies, zombie movies are just my cup of tea.                                   

For one thing, liked how the film adapted the sort of raw and handheld camera technique that movies such as The Blair Witch Project try to achieve, like the cousin of the Paranormal Activity movies which use the CCTV camera technique to enhance the feel of the film. The way the illusion was made that scenes were captured with just that one camera and the overall shaky and very chaotic movements that come with the running and climbing and panicking of the cameraman makes me feel more inserted into the whole picture. This really gets not only my attention and my full reaction whenever the scenes would try to elicit that horror in me. I also liked how the film mixed in just the right amount of gore and startle tactics as opposed to the subtle sort of chills one gets with other types of more psychological thrillers. Moreover, the way the make up was made was also quite good, seeing that what puts me off with other horror movies is the way the make up would seem so obviously fake, and I guess the way the zombies would eat the flesh or bite the characters were more natural.

 

            Maybe this is just the Health Sciences major in me, but I quite liked that it wasn’t so supernatural and that they attributed the events to something health related like a virus instead of some sort of curse. There were parts of the film that gave me flashes of Contagion, the film about the unknown virus that became a worldwide pandemic. And again the way it is weaved into something realistic like a disease that could spread makes it more interesting to me.

 

            Looking back however, I guess the zombie movies would not rank as high on the scare meter for some people, specially those who consider zombie movies too overrated due to its rampant usage in media. And maybe that’s also perhaps why something more supernaturally terrifying like a ghost haunting could be more effective in horror for some. Perhaps audiences like to look for things that cannot necessarily be explained or something that cannot have a scientific rationale like a virus causing people to be flesh-eating zombies. In this case, stories of hauntings by spirits or demonic possessions might provide the audience with the sort of chills or nightmares they expected to after watching a film and not just the occasional startle, scare or surprise. Rec however still gets great credit to me thought because it really was intelligent in its use of techniques that was able to make the film equally if not more frightening to me than most of the horror films I’ve seen so far in class.