The Last One In!

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Let The Right One In is the last movie of our semester. A bittersweet ending, with a beautiful movie capping off the semester of learning about a great genre in movies.

The final movie was like a class of Euro Film combined with Horror Film, I think the movie was nicely made, the music, the camera shots were spot on to convey what it wants to show. The development of the characters was very well done, with Oskar and Eli’s relationship really shining throughout the film. Also beautiful is the relationship between Eli and the man who helps her get some blood. There’s a big dilemma that is apparent in the man, and we aren’t really enlightened on why he is helping Eli. We see a gruesome murder committed by the man and from there you could sort of tell what Eli really is. I can’t shake away the scene where the man is trying to get blood from a boy in a locker room, and he knew there was no way out so he just hid in the other room with the acid. I just found that scene beautiful for some reason, and of course the intention noble.

Of course comparisons are going to be made to Twilight, saying that this movie is a kids edition, along with same quotes like “I’m __ years old… I’ve been __ years old for a long time”. But comparisons to a teen mega hit shouldn’t take away anything from this movie given that it does tell a great story in a beautiful way.

It takes a lot from the usual sense of what a vampire is, what it brings to the table is probably a somewhat unique innocence that only a “12 year old” vampire can bring. As much as she wants to be normal, she isn’t. It made me think when she told Oskar, that he hurts the bully because he wants to, but Eli hurts others because she has to. You feel for her because of her innocence and that she’s in such a tough situation. It is as if she just wants to have a normal life. When she sees Oskar one time and is offered a Rubik’s Cube it is as if she saw it for the first time, and she just wants to play with it like a normal kid, not a blood-thirsty vampire.

I like how it is sort of a nice culmination for our class, because though it seems that having such a horrific side like being a vampire would hinder from building a friendship with Oskar, it didn’t. The conceptual scheme was indeed changed such that they could live together without harming each other. Just like Oskar and Eli, horror movies are in our lives but just because they are different it doesn’t mean that we should shy away from them or be afraid of them so much that we stray away. We can be afraid and still try, just like what Oskar did with his friendship with Eli, of course it is scary to be with a blood-thirsty vampire but they still fought to understand the situation that they are in and in the end worked together. Horror is something that we may be afraid of but once we experience it and try our best to understand the situation we can find out that is an art that we should cherish.

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It’s Only Words

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Pontypool frustrates and clouds your view from seeing all the things you have to see, seemingly on purpose. It was a tough movie to watch at times and it made me look at Canadians as an even weirder bunch of people. But the theme of the movie is really the failure of understanding, and you can see that as you watch it as the characters of the movie are surrounded by mystery as well as the viewers.

From the opening credits we have a narration by Grant Mazzy, at first I had no idea what this godly voice was talking about, but looking at the Youtube clip now of the introduction it all makes sense. It’s actually fun with all the play on words that was being said, Pontypool, the bridge called Pont de Flac (Pont de Pool), and the woman who avoided the cat, Colette Piscine (Colette, which sounds like panty in french, and piscine which means pool, hence pantypool). We also see when the word TYPO first comes out when the title is slowly turning up, you don’t appreciate these funny little details at first since we have no idea what will happen yet, but looking back, I enjoy these simple touches. Some things that you only appreciate when you look back and really listen to it, sort of like languge, which is what is central in the movie. It seems like such a simple thing until you look back and listen well to really appreciate it.

I like how the setting of the main characters played well in the tension of the movie. Being a radio show, we have no visuals on what is happening, just accounts from the people on the scene. With all that’s happening Mazzy and his crew have no idea what is happening, and I like the touch of the BBC news team calling in the radio booth to ask what is happening. It gives a notion that what is happening is really big and what’s scary is that we have no idea what it is. There’s sort of a boy who cried wolf situation here because Mazzy often exaggerates and even crafts stories over the radio so when the news first broke out he wasn’t sure if it was real or just someone playing a prank on their radio show.

The concept is pretty unique, it’s basically a zombie infestation because of an infected language. It talks of how language has lost it’s meaning with the infected starting to act weird once they start messing up words that they say. In a deeper sense it does show how sometimes we take language for granted, as mentioned regarding the terms of endearment, they aren’t meant anymore, but just used sort of like punctuation marks. It is very relevant especially today with all these chat and text language. Honestly though I still get confused on how the main characters seem to reverse the infection by saying words mean something that isn’t actually its meaning, like kiss is kill, etc. It may be a little hazy but with a movie with so many weird happenings like the ending credits scene, it seems fit. In the end maybe we are really meant to not understand the movie to prove its point.

Somebody to Love

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May is an awkward yet truly loveable with all it’s quirks and small horrors. You don’t get a sense that you’re watching a horror film because it feels like you’re watching an indie romantic comedy where someone just as awkward as May will come along to sweep her off her feet. But alas, it slowly turns into a twisted display of affection by May. The creepy doll in a box wasn’t a very endearing sign that says this will be just a regular film for you, several close ups with the doll along with some whispers and cracks of glass builds up the tension and gives you some cause to put your hands over your eyes.

I like how it slowly builds up to the climax, throwing hints away from the mother giving May the first doll she made, to May talking about how there are so many perfect parts but no perfect wholes. You get the feeling that something is going to happen especially with the different shots of the different body parts of the different people May meets. From expecting it be a doll-comes-to-life horror movie, it slowly shifts as you get to know May and see the people she meets along with the thoughts that come into her mind.

I see some similarities with May and Halloween in a sense that both May and Michael were seemingly harmless at first. Due to some unforeseen circumstances both of them sunk deeper and deeper into their own thought allowing those thoughts to consume them and carry them out into reality despite the thoughts being wrong. You can say that both Michael and May had their conceptual schemes reformed because of tragedy or heartbreak, that they sought to deal with their new realities but those realities ended up hurting a lot of people in the process.

As I’ve said, despite it being awkward and somewhat creepy, there’s still a lot of fun quirky stuff to please the viewers, from May trying her best to be civil with her first date, and some hilarious moments with Anna Farris. It’s funny how innocent she is and she is thrown in with these people who are different from her and you wonder if they are just using her because she’s so nice and all. In the end though despite seeing how she does such horrible things to the people around her, you have some feeling of retribution along with May, because despite her actions of course, being wrong, you still feel like it’s a victory for this poor little girl. After all, she just wants someone perfect to love, and if amputating different people including yourself and creating a new friend is all that it takes to find that someone to love then go for it. Though looking back I don’t quite see May as a horror movie, but more of a dark comedy of sorts that has slight traces of horror. Horror or not horror, May is an enjoyable movie that shows how desperately searching for that perfect someone can lead to some interestingly gruesome results.

Michael Learns To Kill

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Rob Zombie’s take on the classic horror film Halloween adds more gore and more blood to the original while still trying to maintain the psychotic nature of Michael Myers. The film spends a lot of time building up the antagonist. It shows Michael in school getting bullied because of how screwed up his family is, and at home it gets worse as he gets pushed around by his sister and and stepfather. He finds comfort in his mother and his baby sister, but we still see that he’s had enough with all the shit that he’s getting in school and at home. We’re shown how he starts of slow, getting revenge on the bully who was teasing her mother, beating him to a bloody pulp. Yes he was provoked by the bully but maybe because he’s had enough already. Then at home he kills off his stepfather, his sister and her boyfriend, as we see the famous mask that was popularized in the original Halloween. We have a sense that Michael was doing these things because he was protecting the image of his mother, those he loves, since he didn’t harm his baby sister. I think the mask worn symbolizes how he has truly lost it and escaped those who have tormented him and in turn he sets off to kill them.

It builds up as we see Michael growing up in the asylum and his doctor, who tried his best over the years to help Michael, eventually leaves, which is followed by Michael escaping the asylum and going back home. We are then led to his pursuit of his younger sister, though we aren’t aware of why he is doing this, because we see that when he captures her it looked as if he didn’t want to hurt her. Maybe he just wanted to see a familiar face? This ambiguity is left there for the rest of the movie. Though he doesn’t seem to want to hurt her sister, he does leave a trail of gruesome deaths along the way.

When they first meet, we see how they stare at each other in the ditch, she looks into Michael and it seems that there’s something similar about them, not just because they really are brother and sister, but because there’s a similarity to them as mentioned in the article of Linda Williams, on how the monster and the woman has some distinct similarities. We also see a form of abjection through all the gore that was seen throughout the film as discussed by Barbara Creed. There’s also some ambiguity that is expected in the horror film, it was never really explained why he went after his sister, and how come Michael seems to be superhuman because he could never seem to die despite being stabbed and shot, but as was explained the horror film doesn’t have that good a relationship with plot.

I like how Halloween tries to live up to the original, while still giving nods to the original as well, it was given a bloody new take by Rob Zombie and just like Michael, the franchise seems like it still has some life in it.

Curious Claire

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The Innkeepers is a very simple movie, the setting is such a simple confined space, and the plot is straightforward. It feels like such a low-budget indie movie, but it works well because of its play on the gaze. Throughout the film, the camera angles are effectively timed and shot to strike tension and fear for the viewer. It plays on the fear of the things you can’t see. They’re looking for the ghost of Madeline O’Malley, they want to contact her to find out what she wants, what she’s still doing there in the building. The main character, Claire, actively pursues the cause of the paranormal activities in the inn, sometimes recklessly so. We see other people trying their best to stop Claire from doing this, saying that she should stop poking her head in things that she doesn’t fully understand.

We see in The Innkeepers the usual images of men and women in horror films. Men usually seen as the logical ones, while the women are those who are simply too curious for their own good. Luke tries to stop Claire from pursuing this paranormal force in the inn even though he was the one who instigated her to actively pursue it. Claire out of curiosity pursues this force as the viewers cringe on her recklessness while doing this. Also, seeing the psychic healer who coincidentally looks like a lesbian, was sort of curious and still rational. She wanted to understand why Claire wanted to find out the secrets of the inn, first she tried to stop her, then she ended up trying to help her. At the end of the movie it was implied that the psychic knew what was going to happen to Claire yet she didn’t do anything about it. She said that there was nothing they could do. I guess it was smart of the psychic to stay away when she knew all her cards were up. Claire on the other hand kept going and going until, as the saying goes, curiosity killed the cat.

I love how the movie really built up the scenes where they were actively looking for Madeline O’Malley. The blind angles, the tense build ups, along with the sound, really made the viewers dread was was going to happen next. Though the old man bit was quite predictable, the lead up to the discovery of what he did was quite tense. The film makers play with the viewers’ emotions, we see in the closing of the movie, with the long pause as the camera sort of stares in the room. It is sort of a metaphor on how Claire seeks to look for the “monster”, but in the end, the seeker gets a shock as it gets what it wants. Just as in the end of the movie, we were expecting something to happen in the last part. We were expecting the ghost of Madeline O’Malley to pop up or maybe the ghost of Claire, we knew we were going to get a final fright and boom, it ended with us getting what we wanted, which is exactly what happened to Claire.

Rec 2, Demonic Boogaloo

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I really enjoyed the first installment of Rec, it was a hell of a lot of fun all the way. I was pretty excited, knowing that we would be watching the sequel of it. I had so much fun watching it because it freaked me out. The only thing worse than a zombie apocalypse is a demonic possession apocalypse.

Compared to the first installment where we follow a woman, we stray away from the motif of our course and we are stuck with 3 SWAT members. Loaded with weapons and armor, it’s hard to feel sympathy for them at the beginning, maybe you even feel sympathy for those they are going to bust a can of whoop ass to once they get inside the apartment. But even though they’re all fit and equipped, you still get the feeling of impending doom once all hell breaks loose.

I like how it integrated itself with the first movie, as it was happening just as the scenes from the first movie were ending. It also tried with different perspectives with the arrival of those pesky teenagers. It just was a bad day for the SWAT members, and it was comforting during those stressful times to see the fate of the teenagers in the end. I think the movie did so much to make everyone hate the teenagers. The three of them did so much stupid things, causing so much chaos around them, and in the end, the movie gives you a sort of compensation for all the stress that you watched by sacrificing the teenagers’ fates for the sake of the story.

We see in Rec 2 another breaking of conceptual scheme, something that we’ve seen throughout the movies in class. The SWAT team were there expecting just a breakout of something dangerous for their health, a virus that could cause harm once it goes out of the apartment. They go inside and realize slowly that everything that has been told to them was just a lie, just to cover up the truth that the apartment is indeed filled with possessed people, that once it goes out, it could also cause great harm to the people around them. They realize that the doctor that they have with them is actually no doctor but a priest. It unfolds as they are already trapped inside and they really can’t do anything about it anymore. They adapt to the change in conceptual scheme, and they try their best to reach their end goal, which as we know would lead to failure. So many secrets are uncovered throughout the movie, so many lessons learned for the characters and thinking about it know, it looks as if they were meant to fail from the beginning, with the powers so stacked against them. I think the franchise plays with the concept of the gaze. It relies on the video camera, trying to capture what they see inside the building, but they do not know that an something evil also has their gaze upon them and it ultimately catches up to the active seekers in the end.

Don’t You Forget About Me

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The first Asian horror film to be shown in class, Voice, strays away from, at least for me, what Asian horror tends to produce. Haunting images are usually expected with films like The Grudge or The Ring. Voice focuses on a more psychological fear, for me, the fear of being forgotten, the fear of not being heard. Young-Eun’s mysterious tragedy unfolds slowly, with her relationship with Sun-Min, also slowly deteriorating because of the psychological toll it takes on her. It’s an intricate story and by the end you’re still not sure what happened. Throughout the movie the audience, just like Young-Eun is kept in mystery as we both don’t know what is happening. Young-Eun tries to adapt to every day life even as a spirit. This change that occurred in her didn’t stop her from trying to find out what happened, trying to get back to normal.

Where other mainstream Asian horror films go to visuals for horror, Voice goes for sound, and throughout the movie, we get this eerie vibe where something strange occurs with sound, whether it be Young-Eun practicing and she hears a different voice singing with her, or when they went up the elevator, shrouded in darkness and a high-pitched scream rockets toward them. This plays along with the title, and the background of the characters, Young-Eun being a singer, Sun-Min a DJ. I honestly had a hard time trying to piece together how all the mysterious things came about. When Young-Eun was talking to the spirit who explained what happened, I didn’t know which was real anymore. It could be that it is really meant to be confusing or that I really just didn’t get it. One theory is that the spirit possessed Young-Eun to try and get retribution for stealing the attention of the music teacher, one way it manifested itself was when Young-Eun forced her mother to jump off the hospital, now I’m not sure if this is just the spirit trying to mess up Young-Eun, if Young-Eun really did it, or if she was possessed. I guess it all applies to what Cho-Ah told Sun-Min, that a spirit remembers what it wants to remember, it’s all confusing because you don’t know if Young-Eun is the one who distorts the truth, or if the spirit is the one that distorts it, I guess iust adds to the mystery that the film wants to build.

As i’ve said earlier, it also plays with the fear of being forgotten, being left behind by others. Throughout the film we see Young-Eun being overly dependent with the people in her life. First her mother, being diagnosed with a sickness, then after her fall, Sun-Min did her best to be there for Young-Eun in spite of her mother’s loss. When she mysteriously becomes a spirit, she desperately tries to keep in touch with her bestfriend, because once she is forgotten, then her spirit will lose it’s voice. It hits home because there is that lingering fear of being forgotten, that sometimes you are being too much of a burden for those you love that you feel they would rather forget you. There’s that fear that when you’re gone, will someone still remember you? These feelings are brought about by the film even if it does so in a slow pace. Though Voice’s concept is a little confusing for me, it did allow me to offer some sympathy for the horror that the characters are going through, dealing with mystery, loss, and moving on.