Do not Let Obaa-san In

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This was something different. For once, we do not get to watch a horror movie, but we do get to watch a supernatural romance movie. It starts off with the story of a young boy meeting a young girl and they start off a romantic yet innocent love story. He likes her, she likes him, boom perfect couple. However, if we go and look deeper into the sweet story of Let The Right One In, we see a much darker side and find that Eli, the sweet vampire girl, is as sinister as the creature she is.
What? No way. Eli can’t be… evil? This may come as a surprise to most, but personally I believe that Eli is a manipulative vampire with the knack of making love-slave boys. Why do I say this? Well, we only need to look at her friend, the old man. If we look at how Eli treats her familiar, she basically owns him. She commands him to get her needed food and to do that, the old man kills innocent people to harvest blood. When he fails, Eli gets enraged and is forced to kill people. However, this gets risky because when Eli kills, she turns into a predator with little to no care for her surroundings, and is thus susceptible to discovery and eventually be exposed for what she is. To sum it all up,  she practically needs a familiar to do the dirty work in order to survive through the centuries. So in order to do that, she must have a perfectly loyal familiar and what better way than to make the slave in love with her. In the past, the old man may very well have been another Oscar and fell in love with Eli. However, as time passed by, the romantic love may have waned and turned into something else, an unwavering protective love which the old man held until the very end. On the night he went out to harvest blood, he was faced with the situation which will surely lead to his arrest. Since he loved Eli still, he chose the only option which will effectively bring all suspicions away from Eli and poured acid to his face which made him unrecognizable as the old man who lives in an apartment with Eli. In the hospital, in his last act of love, he chose to die and cut all strings of investigation which will lead to Eli. Eli, without her vanguard, her familiar which she absolutely needs in a world where in the day, is now extremely vulnerable. But woe behold, as if decided by fate, she meets Oskar. Having been constantly bullied and living a lonely childhood, he almost instantly grew fond of Eli and is in return, responded in kind. Oskar may very well be the next familiar in the long list of Eli’s partners per say. The film also portrays Oskar having a possible inclination to murder which shows that he has the potential to become exactly like the old man. Oskar is happy to be with Eli and Eli is happy to be with a new familiar.

This isn’t to say that Eli is a manipulative and heart-collecting vampire. In fact, she is a good person, with a a conscience. She shows just how much she dislikes living as a vampire in her distaste of having to murder time and time again. However, she is also just like any other living person in how she also values her life. She may have been truly in love with her familiars at some point, which I can say is true with Oscar. It is just that, in the long run, give or take a few decades, Oscar will undoubtedly become the Old man who will just as well offer his life in order to protect Eli. Let the Right One In is indeed a sweet romantic horror story, but the amplification indicate how profoundly disheartening the life of a vampire is in a world where the predators are just as likely to be the prey.

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Ridiculously Scary Zombie

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There is something about Pontypool that makes it almost unbearable to watch for the first half of the movie due to a single plot twist near the middle. At first, we all thought that this was another zombie movie which leans more on the drama side of things rather than the action or horrific images of zombies. When it was revealed that the infectious zombie disease was not spread through the traditional, yet effective method of bites, but by simply saying an infected word, a small part of me instantly deflated of all tension, and thrill. The movie built up so much pressure and when the twist revealed that by saying an “infected” word, you somehow become a zombie, all sense of horror was dispelled as I thought that the rest of the movie will become a comedy.
It just seemed so ridiculous that by saying an infected word, you become a mindless zombie. It was even more ridiculous than the movie “The Happening” released in 2008, which is basically a movie about how plants took revenge on humanity by releasing toxins in the air which somehow make a human kill itself. It was all so ridiculous to even consider, genocidal plants, infectious words that turn you into zombies, all of it
However, when I stop to consider about it and I mean really consider about it, isn’t the whole “zombie bites human, human become zombie” thing ridiculous as well? How could an ordinary virus, turn a dead body into a walking, feeding machine, making it immune to pain and any sense of self-preservation? Isn’t it as ridiculous as infected words?
The thing is, fear is arbitrary for a lot of people. However, there is one kind of fear that I think is universal, the fear of the unknown. If the events of Pontypool actually became reality, right now, isn’t that enough to start your “Oh My God Imma Die” Alarm in conjunction with your “This can’t be Happening Alarm”?
We all express ourselves by using a form of language, and the language of speech is the most easiest and frequently used form in the world. Say one day a horrific event occurs and one cannot speak for fear initiating the infection process through a random word. Pontypool displayed exactly what happens in that event, panic will overcome any other emotion making one more prone to infection. The virus or whatever that is, was even more scarier than imagined for it also infects through understanding the word. If a command was given to you, “Do not think about the word Kill”, of course the word Kill will eventually pop up into your mind. The human mind is so complex that it doesn’t work like you want it to. And if a certain mysterious and unknown virus somehow targets and exploits this weakness directly, isn’t that more dangerous and terrifying than a werewolf, or even a vampire. Those things you can fight against, but the virus which targets thought? Difficult. Extremely so. Pontypool, taken to a deeper level, is truly a terrifying movie that explores how the human mind can deal with something that it does not know to defend against and the movie does it beautifully.

May: Lessons on How to be Human

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Is there a class on how to be human? Well, if asked in some places, the answer will be yes, it is called religion or theology or maybe even good manners and right conduct. However, there is a more primal education in the subject matter of being human, something which is at the core of being a human. It is through the contact with other human beings. We as children, developed our personalities by being in touch with other people  There is a saying that tto know oneself, the eyes of a close friend can be the answer because that person must know you a great deal. However, take any concepts of human contact and human interaction, what kind of education on humanity will one experience?
May grew up with an eye condition which basically separated her from everybody else. Because of this condition, she had no real friends, no real human contact which led to her parents giving her a best friend, a doll while saying, “IF you cannot find a friend, then make one”. May, having grown up without any true friends, treated the doll as her only true friend whom she even may have developed split-personality issues for she even consults with the doll for lessons on many aspects of human interaction, basically lessons on how to be human. She did not learn from anybody real, and therefore relied on her subconscious “human” to guide her. Her desire to be normal is strong at the very least and she wants something to hold onto, something that can make her more human, something she always wanted to have. When she fails at her date, she blames her subconsciousness for it and attempts to hide it in an attempt to renounce that which brings about imbalance and hide it in a place, where she may not see it again. As Creed writes about how this realization of the existence of the abjection which is in this case, her doll or her subconscious, may attempts to get rid of it and expel it from her system. She however, in her attempted abjection, ultimately failed in her last and desperate attempt to connect with a human being, she crossed over the boundary that defines the normal and the abnormal, and joined her subconscious and become one.
It was interesting to watch her internal conflicts where one expresses a deep desire to be more human and achieve a definite connection to none other than a loved one, and the other one, well… it is something else entirely. This abjection of the other self is also found in other classic horror stories, more notably, Dr. Jekyll and Hyde where the two have conflicts on who gets to drive the wheel so to speak. It so happens that in May, she came to a conclusion that since she couldn’t find friends, her one and only true self is the one and only abjection. This leads to her being the monster in her causing the conflict between what is supposed to be in order and what belongs to chaos which can only be found beyond the boundaries of acceptance. The movie May, because of the intrinsic properties of the human persona that is May itself, was filled with terrifying imagery, which can only be the representation of the inner workings of the mind that the object of abjection itself.

Halloween

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The Halloween series are known for their work on the Slasher movie horror sub-genre. They, along with hundreds of other slasher movies typically follow a steady and ready-made plot which seemed to be monotonic in nature that the plot will be highly predictable towards the end. This is part of the reason why I abhorred slasher movies after a while. Sure, the first few times were a thrill, and the progression seemed to be meaningful, but after more and more of the same formula came, I simply grew tired of it. In the Halloween movie released in 2012 however, the thrill for slasher movies for me has been rekindled for the movie allowed a whole new dimension to be explored in the concept of the slasher film, which is the slasher himself.

Mike Myers had what was possibly be, the more atrocious of domestic environments with a seemingly non-existent family. It is exactly this environment which took away all emotion from him and enabled him to to the acts of mass murder. This formula of tragic pasts leading to a psychopath is seen even in other franchises like Dexter Morgan’s for example in the novel and Dexter TV series. The point is that Halloween(2012) gave more insight and possibly even more depth into the mesh of something else in the thoughts of Mike Myers. Of course, in the second half of the movie, we see how Laura, Mike’s younger sister has grown up to be a normal teenager although not as liberated and sexual as her friends. When Mikey escapes, I admit that I was sort of rooting for him because of his unbelievable display of power. I identified with him which was exactly the case in what Clover writes about. In horror movies, the male audiences typically root for and identify with the male characters who display the power and authority like in the case of Mikey. He has all the cards and plays which the whole plot revolves  around, we are simply made to wait and gaze upon what he does next for he holds the power. However, as the characters slowly dwindle due to Mikey’s rampage, we are left with only Laura and the monster that is Mike.

Clover writes how there comes a phenomenon of castration of the phallic power from a male role which is then transferred directly to a female who then holds the power. This is the case when we see how Laura retaliates and how Mike continually fails to kill Laura. Mike’s inability to kill has been attributed to a castration of power of sorts which Laura is now starting to be the dominant role, the male audience then is forced and attracted to the idea of rooting for Laura until she finally conquers Mikey. This critical play on Gender and the workings on the psychology of the male mind is what horrifies us. Without noticing it, the inner workings of our mind and how it treats fear is intertwined with Gender.

 

Inn Keepers

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InnKeepers has been an incredibly interesting movie quite unlike the supernatural ghouls we so often see in Asian horror movies. Don’t get me wrong, I also like asian ghost horror movies because of the thrill and surprise factor. Although the surprise factor is what you get from these asian horror movies, it can be coined as a cheap horror because it utilizes what is known to be jumpscares or simply cheap scares. I really don’t mind the cheap scares because knowing that it exists for a movie makes you focus more on the movie while bracing yourself for what is to come. InnKeepers however, did not have that level of cheapness of horror. More accurately, it had a slow but calculated crawl towards what makes us cringe and surely keeps us on our toes, unable to look away but at the same time, terrified of what we are seeing.
It is interesting to note however that for the woman in the film, the object of horror that is the ghost of Madeline is of great spectacle for her. Williams writes about the various implications of the power of the gaze of the woman. Claire in her own brave attempt at being like Luke, frequently tries to record a possible phenomenon at the Inn they work at. She sees how Luke is brave enough to capture these creepy videos and therefore attempts contact with the other, the abjection itself. She also felt a certain connection with this spirit and took pity on Madeline for her unfortunate and untimely demise which further fueled her activities to make contact. One night, she most unfortunately succeeds in making the connection when she heard what can only be a disembodied music which could only be heard using the most sensitive of equipment. However, as she gazes upon which is the otherworldly, or in this case, the monster that is the spirit of Madeline, she cannot look away and we as the viewers, join along with Claire as she delves further into the mystery. This act of the gaze upon the abnormal by Claire empowers her own status in an attempt to be as brave a person as Luke seemed to be. Of course when it was revealed later in the movie that Luke, the brave brave man who is seemingly immune to horror whom Claire hangs onto the standard of being, actually made the “proofs of Madeline’s spirit” making them fake, Claire must have realized that she must break contact with Madeline and escape from the Inn as soon as possible. She lost her Luke’s standard like how Rome lost its Roman Eagle Standard, and therefore implodes making her panicky and scared of the abnormal. What was their response to this predicament? Suicide that’s what for the decision they reached after confirming the existence of the abnormal is to Split Up which was propably what lead to Claire’s doom in the first place.
Williams writes how the gaze of the woman ultimately can lead to her punishment and soon, her demise as she finally confronts the monster that is Madeline in the basement. And as the spectral horror nears, Claire can only gaze some more upon the figure and subject her fate to the ethereal looming over her.

REC 2- More Zombie-Demons!

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In many movies, there have been unbelievably great movies which inspired sequels to be made. They were too much of a great material that to let it end just like that seemed inadequate and incomplete. Most of the time however, they fail in comparison to the success of the first movie, the Big ONE so to speak. The first movie pulled out all the stops, all the cards in the deck. However, REC 2 didn’t feel like that at all. REC 2 just seemed like part of a package deal. To watch and experience REC is to watch REC 2 as well, they had to go together because REC 2 fills up the plot holes, REC provides the atmosphere. One key difference between the two is how they start. In REC, the audiences’ eyes are forced to use the eyes of the duo of a local news channel who are ordinary citizens by any standard. They were simply doing their job and their job for the night was to see what life was like for a fireman. They followed them to a unit building believing that it was just a routine checkup for a cry of help. However, hell came up in the form of zombie demons and chaos ensued. It was more terrifying due to the fact that the face of the monster is still hidden, mystery clouds the monster and they simply aren’t equipped to face the demon-zombies.
REC 2 however fills the gaps of mystery surrounding the horror and answers the question, who is the monster. This time, a group of trained soldiers enter and a sense of expectation is felt. We as viewers identify with the powerful male leads who are trained soldiers so we expect that they will be able to handle anything.Furthermore, they are joined by an expert which allows us to conclude that things will turn out differently than for the reporters. To an extent, they did manage to fend off numerous demon-zombies and are brave enough character to do which normal citizens cannot. However in the end, all still fail when confronting the other, something which should not have existed in the first place. The horror then comes not anymore from the thought of zombies tearing through your flesh, but the horror comes from with a greater degree. These zombie-demons are no longer purely physical in terror, but also spiritual for something other than the normal is occurring and no one can stop it.
Another part of the movie which although may be unnecessary, shows just how much humanity can subject itself to its own doom. We see it time and time again, how people, mostly teens, through their own arrogance and stupidity place themselves in danger itself. This is somewhat the subject Noel Carroll writes about in the discussion of the gaze. Humans find themselves unable to look away from that which horrifies them. That is what happened to the young teenagers who saw danger from a distance, yet felt attracted to it like moths to a flame. They seek to have a closer look at the monster which has caused quite a commotion to the city. Even when what they saw must be terrifying, they needed to have a closer look which may as well have costed them their lives.
Overall, although REC2 wasn’t as horrifying as REC in terms of progression, it covered it with horrifying imagery and the fear of something not physical which were demons.

The Voice

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The five senses are what we use to detect the world around us. It is this detection which allows us to then comprehend the information one gathers and then create the act. Even for human interaction, we use these senses to communicate with one another which allows understanding and then co-existence and company. It is only when one dies which ceases this communication with the use of the five senses. However, the Voice plays its chords of horror in using one of the five senses to allow communication with something which supposedly cannot, which is more precisely, a dead person.
The Voice is fairly interesting for a horror movie because the lead character is the abnormal, something which supposedly does not exist. Young-un was just a seemingly ordinary yet earnest student who is a dedicated singer. All of a sudden, she dies of paper and is left both confused and scared as she slowly realizes that she is a ghost who has lost the ability to communicate with the five senses because to lose the ability is to be in a way, dead. This of course would scare anyone for death is unknown territory with its depth and darkness. Therefore, Young-un clings to that which can allow her to be still alive which is through her friend Sun-min.
If there is something more scarier than seeing a monster, it is hearing a monster where you have no bearing as to where it can be. The sense of hearing something but without the knowledge of the source, is horrifying to a great extent. That is why when Sun-min first hears this disembodied voice of Young-un she was greatly terrified but soon realizes that she knows that voice and immediately identified it to Young-un. Throughout the movie, we see how hard this is on Young-un, how she constantly has to deal with all of the pain and fear without any explanation of any sort. Being a defenseless little ghost, we sympathize with her and root for her. However, it was not as it seemed as Cho-ah, an awkward yet experienced whisperer herself told Sun-min that ghosts only remember what they want which would mean that Young-un’s memory might be tampered. After a series of events, and the revelation of the true events lead to a chorus of “What the Fudges”, Young-un herself is portrayed as the object of horror as we realize that she was the source of evil. But when she died, she forgets everything that which portrays her as something other than being a perfect student, a great daughter and a talented singer. A brand new persona is created but the leftover evil remains in the form of the other half of Young-un. It was refreshing to see how such a development took place. This was something new to me as the Voice showed us how the typical monstrous ghosts, the vengeful spectral horrors are born. Through Young-un’s fear of death, and fear of what awaits her there itself, she wished from the bottom of her entire existence to simply not die and to do that, she must live. Those are the thoughts of a monster who thinks about herself which allows her to sacrifice anything to live, be it her humanity or the quality which makes her human, or the life of her friend.