Let The Right One In

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A movie like this makes me reflect on the character ages in all the other horror films we viewed in class. When dealing with children, audiences tend to sympathize more and expect less from their actions. Kids supposedly don’t completely understand the gravity of their doing especially when they end up getting into trouble, which is why when adults punish them, they are told to “think about what they’ve done.” In these horror films, however, children end up playing the braver roles. It is because they don’t overthink situations that leads them to acting on instinct. Twelve-year olds aren’t exposed to the real dangers of the world thanks to the protection of their parents, but if they are to be handed an opportunity to explore something new without their parents’ knowing, they wouldn’t stop.

Oskar doesn’t have any friends in his school and doesn’t actually seem all that dangerous, despite his keeping of a knife with him at all times and his collecting of newspaper clippings of crimes. Although he doesn’t ever tell his parents about all the bullying he receives, his late night monologues tell us his secret desire to seek revenge upon his bullies. As Eli enters the picture, a strange new neighbor whose body is cold as ice and reeks of an odd smell, Oskar is suddenly drawn to this also lonesome kid. Even without knowing her whole background or why she acts strangely, it doesn’t stop him from reaching out to her. This is exactly the difference between adults and children. With all the knowledge regarding violence and pain, adults become more guarded when people don’t act in their own code of what is normal. Oskar doesn’t care that Eli is a vampire because he had gotten to know the person within her monstrosity. 

Just as Barbara Creed talks about women as gendered monsters, this film portrays it in a literal and more exaggerated way like in the older horror films. Instead of Oskar turning into stone as he gazes upon Eli’s eyes, he goes through a more emotional stiffening wherein his infatuation with her causes him to act out of his normal self. The power of even a little girl can cause the opposite sex to change. We see this as he finally fights back against his bully, and as he goes out of his way to learn morse code and teach it to her. With just a few words exchanged during their conversations at night, it is the gaze of her eyes, as described by Williams, which causes them to get into trouble. He ends up becoming the actual victim of Eli as she gets him to decide to leave his old life behind and travel around with her. In the ending we see him in the train tapping to Eli as she lies inside a box. Somehow it tied the entire movie together. As Oskar grows more in love with Eli, he will also be growing old as she stays a 12-year old. It brings us to wonder that maybe the older man who used to take care of her was her previous love who stayed by her side until he was too old to continue killing for her. As he sees that she has found Oskar, perhaps it is what helped him decide to willingly take his own life since he had nothing left to live for at that point.  

To end the semester with this film was a good choice, for me. It helps us reflect on what exactly is supposed to be considered terrifying given a horror plot and it tests us to see just how brave we are to realize that we have our own monsters dwelling within our very selves.

Pontypool

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Despite feeling lost throughout the film, I enjoyed the thrill of not knowing and not understanding what was happening. It was unpredictable and was able to toy with the minds of its viewers with such an odd plot and its use of having only one setting all throughout. It starts off being another regular day at the radio station, with Grant attempting to play around and creating something exciting for the viewers to listen to. Sydney, however, seems to always have a worried look on her face as she tries to control Grant’s childishness. We then see what Creed describes as the simplest way to scare human beings, which is the sudden unwanted change in an understood routine.

During the phone call with Ken talking about a riot at a doctor’s office, the suspense begins for Pontypool. The suspense is interrupted when an Arabian family arrives to sing a useless song that angers Grant especially during a finally-exciting story, which then shifts to one of the Arabian kid’s saying out of nowhere: “I can’t remember how it ends.” Then starts chanting Pra pra pra..

When Steve is finally on the line, it doesn’t seem to work out once again. The music gets more and more intense as they get more phone calls of panic. To be trapped inside a station without knowing what’s happening outside is what suddenly becomes the basis of horror in this film. Hearing crazy stories about people chanting and gathering together makes things confusing for the people in the station. Once they are told about a series of strange riots that no one can explain, Ken gets back on air and is terrified out of his mind. As they all listen to what Ken’s describing, there is nothing safe that seems to be happening in Pontypool. We see here how disorder of whatever is supposed to be natural can stir up huge chaos between even good friends. Without understanding what’s going on outside their station, the viewers and the characters feel so blind and helpless, which makes everyone feel uneasy. “I need to be confirmed” is what Grant shouts. The series of events still have no explanation except become a subject of exciting news to go on air with.

Suddenly Laurel starts acting oddly, and just in time, Dr. Mendez arrives and tells Grant and Sydney to stay in the sound booth. With Ken also losing himself, the three are now trapped inside with no contact with the outside. The film plays on this danger of not knowing because it can make us lose our sanity. Without being able to talk, the three are caught in a corner with their marker and notebook to communicate, as a parade of mindless zombies surround the sound booth. Even as they finally figure out how to cure this language virus, the American forces outside who do not understand what’s going on result to the easiest way to put a stop to the problem which is, to eliminate all factors.

“When do you call 911?” Is a good line that makes one wonder just how dangerous a situation must be in order for it to be valid enough for the police to step in and save the day. In the present world, we are always within reach of devices that can help us stay in contact with everyone. The moment this access is cut, we find ourselves feeling panic because for some reason, having this connection is what affirms your being alive. People want to know everything. We want to know how bad a situation is so that we know just how scared to be or if we’re just going to continue on with our day. Even with this film, I can honestly say that I still don’t understand the cause of what transpired outside the station and just how scary it was to be outside the station, which doesn’t give me the peace of mind, which I think makes it a very original horror plot.

 

May She Rest In Peace

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This movie, interestingly enough, teaches the viewers the value of family upbringing and the importance of interaction with other people when growing up. May never had any friends growing up except for a creepy looking doll her mother gives her on her birthday. This doll was the only one May would talk to as she grew up while she would also sew her own clothes. With no regular social skills, she struggles in her adulthood as she is finally exposed to the outside where people actually willingly talk to her. In certain conversations with her colleague, she randomly speaks her thoughts out loud such as, “You have a beautiful neck.” She only expresses herself well enough when she’s alone or with her doll, and has trouble conducting normal conversations with people, which simply makes things awkward. The times she does talk, like when she and Adam had lunch, she makes her disgusting stories seem delicious. The saying “silent waters run deep” seems prominent in the film with how May acts because it’s hard to figure out what’s on her mind. The many silent moments in the movie were the scariest because of May’s tendency to suddenly do something abnormal.Thanks to the family upbringing background of May that was shown in the beginning, it gives more sense to how May conducts herself now that she is older. To be in the place of Adam or Polly was difficult since they had no idea what kind of childhood May had.

When Adam shows her to Jack and Jill film, her reaction to it was it was “sweet.” She began showing Adam her real side when she enjoyed his lip blood on her, just like in the movie. Once Adam realized the oddness of May, he seemed to want to steer clear of her, but the only problem was, May was hooked on him and his hands, which put him in a dangerous place. “I successfully escaped that lunatic” was what broke May’s heart. She thought he “loved weird” which made her feel safe with him. When her lesbian friend Polly calls her over during her vulnerable state, May once again confesses that she’s weird but is then comforted when her friend Polly says “I love weird,” thus repeating the cycle of hurt for May.

For someone like May to be rejected by the people who led her on in the first place, was already trauma enough. Her series of killings were the consequences from rejection. Since no one wanted to be her friend, she recalls her mom’s advice to “make your own friend.” This then makes May’s intentions much clearer but more disturbing.

The only thing that wasn’t horror in the film was the soundtrack, which is something I noticed. The use of every-day kind of music made the murder scenes more playful. The music playing during her sewing of her ‘new’ friend was similar to a childish horror story soundtrack, which was still playful. As she hysterically realizes her new friend has no eyes, the beginning of the film was the clue to her next course of action, which brought the film to a bloody end.

The Boogieman

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From the beginning of the film we can already understand the root of whatever misfortunes were about to take place. In Theo classes, we learn the importance of family upbringing to the development of moral character. Michael’s stepfather and sister are disrespectful and abusive. His mother, although a loving and caring woman, is an exotic dancer in their town, which causes Michael to be the center of ridicule at school. With the emotional beating he has at home and in school, it seems as though he releases his anger through violence towards his pets. The mask he wears are said to be a mental sanctuary for Michael. In a conversation with his mother he tells her he wears his mask to hide his ugliness. He repeatedly tells the child psychologist that he needs to get out of the prison as he begins to go crazy within the walls of the building. After killing a nurse, his mother results to killing herself, which leads to Michael’s 15 years of silence under his mask. With his psychologist also giving up on him, we are led to predict an eruption of violence from Michael in the coming scenes.

As human beings, we believe that there is always some good inside us. In Michael’s case, we hope and root for his conversion throughout the film but we are left heartbroken when he kills the one good friend he had, the janitor.

“These eyes do not see what you and I see. These are the eyes of a psychopath. He was created with interior and exterior factors gone completely wrong, thus creating a psychopath that has no boundaries.” According to the psychologist. The film as a psychological horror is seen as Michael becomes compared to the Boogieman.

This film plays on the entrapment of Michael in his own mind, which no one can understand due to his mental condition. From the abusive home he came from and the un-loving treatment in the mental institute, it’s unfortunate for Michael to have ended up such a monster. The horror in this film is realistic enough to scare the audience with all the blood and screams.

After escaping and going back to his hometown, we watch the monstrous Michael relive his Halloween massacre from 15 years back. His house is invaded by a teenage couple that reminds him of his sister and her boyfriend who of course, get murdered. All Michael has are his haunting memories, which don’t contribute to his improvement. The only reminder he has of his mother and her curly hair is this teenage girl who also has curls who happens to be his baby sister, Laurie. After killing her step-parents, he is on the search for her in hopes to perhaps start a better life with the only right family member he had.

The film reflects the traditional kind of horror plots, especially with a damsel in distress who is forced to man up and defeat the monster. Unlike when men have to shoot a monster, women always tend to freak out more with their shrill screams of terror—as seen when Laurie finally shoots Michael. This film reminds us of movies like Friday The 13th with a troubled boy coming back for some blood-shedding revenge.

The Innkeepers

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The music in the beginning of the film was already able to set the tone of The Innkeeper that enforced the horror element of the movie. From the beginning credits, the background music was communicating that whoever was about to watch this film is bound to get scared. It’s the sound effects and musical scoring of the film that can conduct the mood of the rest of story. Even as the girl walks down the hallway, the music makes it affirm the creepiness of the hotel.

“Whenever something creepy happens, no one is ever around.” Up until she returns to the hotel after getting a “cup of coffee,” the pace of the story begins to slow down as the film focuses on the dialogues happening between Luke and Claire. Lines like “things happen for a reason” pop up and we see that these two characters seem to have no important purpose in life so far. As Luke leaves Claire at the front desk and starts exploring Luke’s website, she then hears a strange noise but isn’t able to record it. It reminds the audience that indeed, no one is ever around when something creepy happens.

The story’s being divided into chapters spoon-feeds us into expecting what we’re going to learn based on each of the titles. In chapter 2, Claire hears the same sound she heard previously when she was alone, but this time she is able to get closer to the source of the noise. Although it was just a bird, where this bird was found was a mysterious door leading to some basement. From this point we assume that there’s a story behind those doors, but Claire doesn’t seem to figure it out herself. The different idle moments such as the EDPs in the different rooms seemed to be going nowhere which, although gets the viewers restless and bored– is exactly how the film’s next surprise will catch us off guard. When Claire hears the piano sounds through the EDP, the story finally begins to show signs of horror-that-is-now-developing especially when some phenomenon finally occurs! If nothing by chance happens, what was the relevance of those certain guests staying at the hotel on its last weekend? During the conversation between Leanne and Claire, they are able to get in contact with the spirits who warn them not to go into the basement, which of course is exactly where the audience wants them to go. Since all we’re doing as viewers is using our sense of sight, the proximity factor being dealt with by the characters in the film doesn’t affect us. So when the dead bride scares Claire, all we have to do is close our eyes and ears for everything to go away.

As we try to decipher the story of the haunted hotel, a final guest arrives who we think could probably be the fiancee of Madeline, insists he stays in the honeymoon suite 353. As it is the last night at the hotel, the two inebriated staff members decide to go and disobey the spirits’ warning. With 30 minutes left for the film, something serious and in relation to Madeline was finally going to happen. The slow creeping in of piano playing made the mood more cryptic, therefore doing what stereotypical horror films do, keeping the audience on the edges of their seats.

As they are finally in the basement and “in contact” with Madeline, Luke’s storming out of the hotel was a confusing move. Either he’s a wimp or he in fact did feel Madeline’s presence and didn’t want to admit it. After Leanne’s necklace breaks, the climax of the story finally happens and doesn’t stop until the end. With the louder music, all the running around and the dead people rising from the dead, the audience is hanging on the question, is someone going to die? Although it was a much slower-paced movie compared to Rec 2, they were both just stories about looking for answers and getting nowhere close to a happy ending.

(An unnecessary fact about the lead actress, Sara Paxton, is that she was also the lead mermaid in Aquamarine)

Rec It Ralph 2

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From what was established in the story of REC, we know that a young girl possessed by demons was kept for experimentation in the penthouse of this building and she somehow had a virus that spread, which ended up killing everyone who was quarantined throughout the film. There was a blurry explanation as to how this girl herself was infected in the first place and if the cause of the entire situation was a religious or medical matter. 

As a horror fan who enjoys the heart-racing scenes in these movies, I enjoyed Rec 2 because of how it barely had lagging scenes wherein there was just pure dialogue and no action. With the backstory from Rec, the mystery was no longer who’s going to be killed next or is everyone going to die, but rather, what exactly happened years ago that can explain everything that has happened. There was more intensity felt in this film because the characters were set in the scariest parts of the building. In Rec, it seemed as if the ground floor was the safest place to stay in, but with all the zombies in their respective hiding places, not a single room in that building felt safe. When watching these horror films, the location of the characters also affects the audience’s predicting of what could happen. The fact that the priest and his team spent most of the time in the Penthouse was a giveaway that people are going to die. Even when they were in the rooms of the building, it was a guessing game on whether or not there was a zombie there hiding and if they were from the previous film. 

Aside from the character-location aspect of the film, the play on camera perspectives gave the film more excitement because when it shifted to the camera of the teenagers, the story began again from the beginning, hence going into the film from their point of view. From this movie and its characters, I noticed that these types of horror films make a viewer seem like such a horrible person because of how we always want certain characters to die. It makes me wonder if how a person reacts during a horror film describes how he/she is like in certain real-life situations? Just because I wanted the children to die in the film, does that reflect my hate for children in real life? 

This sequel, for me, made an attempt to give the story more depth as compared to the first one. We learn that apparently that the devil can really deceive us all into thinking that possession can lead to viral infections. It was what also made the film confusing because of how it completely turns around and becomes a matter of religious conflict. I find myself more uncomfortable when films have this relation to the devil because if it were just about a virus infecting a building, that was bound to have a happy ending wherein someone would find cure. The fact that the story dealt with a higher power that actual evidence could never explain, the ending was intriguing. 

Asian Voice

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With the pool of knowledge constructed in our minds thanks to all we’ve acquired from viewing other horror movies, one thing we know is that when someone who dies still has unfinished business, his/her spirit will most likely still be around. The story then usually ventures into putting puzzle pieces together and discovering horrifying accounts that explain the reason for the spirit’s death. With some twists popping from nowhere, horror movies like these are always engaging for the viewers as they become part of the journey towards understanding the why’s and the how’s of the plot. In Voice, this style of horror film is seen as two Korean friends search for answers behind the deaths that have happened, with one of them being an actual spirit all throughout the film.

Based on the popular belief that Asian Horror Films, usually Japanese ones, are very well-made and crafted to haunt its viewers, I had high expectations for this movie. It begins in an empty music classroom where we see two young Korean students, one keeping the other company as she practices singing a music piece. The fact that it was already night time was already suspicious enough for viewers to assume that something may possibly happen that will scare us. When Sun-min leaves, Young-eon is finally left alone and is bound to get into some sort of danger with this being a horror movie. Although her death is caused by a music sheet, something out of the ordinary, what’s strange is that her lifeless body is not found– which becomes the plot of the story. Just like in other horror movie, there’s that search for answers and discovery of unbelievable circumstances that make it exciting.

As movie moves forward with Sun-min searching for her best friend and can only be led by the sound of Young-eon’s ghostly voice, the perspective of the shots shift between the both of them. We have Young-eon walking into replayed memories that are supposedly the dots that must be connected in order to understand her death and who caused it. We also have Sun-min meeting Choh-ah, someone who seems to be familiar with mysterious death situations like Young-eon’s.

Even as the dots are starting to get connected and Young-eon discovers she was actually such a horrible person, the over-all story was still confusing. I only understood really happened to Sun-min and Young-eon in the end when I searched about it. When the lesbian back story was discovered, I was wondering if it was supposed to scare us like as if it were so out of the ordinary. Is it that one of the scares of being in an all-girls school is that one may turn into a lesbian and cause issues?

Several of the victims in the film experience that sense of entrapment that we discussed is an element of horror. What we can see from the film is that anyone who was trapped in complicated problems usually ends up dying, which points out a truth about people today who do not have the emotional maturity to cope with difficult baggage. With a story inclusive of jealousy, unhealthy competition, sexuality confusion, frustration and impatience from the characters, the movie didn’t leave that haunting feeling I usually hope to have which reminds me that the movie, indeed, was horrifying.

Oh snap, Ginger

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“When dangerous play time gets real, everyone suddenly becomes mature.” This is the line I remembered most from the film because it basically sums up and describes everything that happens in the story. We learn from the story that although we may have fun and play around in life, there will come a point when we’ll have to shape up and fit ourselves in this society. This is one of the horrible truths about being an adult, having to conform to what society says in order to survive.

As much as we see this film and think that the source of all conflict roots from Ginger being a werewolf, the dialogues between the two sisters are similar to the ones regular teenage girls have when they’re battling with insecurities and puberty. People do say that teenage girls tend to become such monsters with all their raging hormones and discoveries. Perhaps the film could be seen as literally portraying the monsters girls are on the inside.

“Something’s wrong, like more than you being female.” When Ginger gets bitten, strange changes start to occur with her body and her attitude– which conveniently happens as she is also experiencing her very first period. She starts to be interested in boys and is concerned with her looks– things that happen to most teenage girls, only Ginger experiences this pretty late already. Brigitte, however, finds these changes to be horrible for their sister-relationship and for her sister herself. As Ginger also slowly transforms into a werewolf, Brigitte is the character in charge of finding out how to defeat this horrifying infection. We rejoice when she does find the cure, thanks to the pothead friend of hers that she makes (which is funny if you analyze that just like in Cabin In The Woods, the pothead is once again the savior), but then fall into frustration as she fails at injecting her sister in time. Although we don’t (well, I don’t) understand the ending of the film, whether or not they both died together just as they planned to anyway, we try to soften the absurdity by saying “Awww these sisters just loved each other so much.” 

Another perspective in the film is that of the mother whose role and duty is to try to understand her daughters who didn’t take after her. Like all mothers, she tries to discipline her children without losing their respect or love but ends up letting them do what they want in order for them to like her. The only time we see a shared characteristic between them is towards the end of the film when the mother suggests they burn their house down and run away from town. In a way, her suggesting that was another one of the comical moments in the movie.

“You think I wanna go back to being nobody?” When jokes are placed aside, we find ourselves revealing our deepest truths. That’s what scares people the most, having to be honest with how they really feel because they think it leads to rejection. As we think that since Ginger gets her period first, she is to become the adult-minded one ahead of Brigitte, but as the story progresses, we see Brigitte taking on more responsibilities for her careless sister. When we’re scared of a certain consequence, we find ourselves thinking straight and more determined to getting out of the inconvenient situation. 

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I would also just like to share that these two sister actresses also had another pair role in a movie with a completely opposite genre: Another Cinderella Story. They play idiot- and not-so-evil sisters of the Cinderella in the movie who also try their best to be the “cool” girls in the school by throwing great parties and flashing their wealth. From playing dirty-looking and antisocial high schoolers to loud and energetic annoying teenagers, these two actresses should continue doing more movies together, being the great tandem that they are!

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(Will and) Grace

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“The worst movie I have ever watched” is awarded to Grace, mainly because of the cringing sensation it game me from the beginning, to the increasing need to vomit al throughout the rest of the film. To categorize it, I would place it under Psychological Horror and Fantastic because the monster shown to us is actually the mother, and all the events that conspire are difficult to make sense of.

As the movie began, I wasn’t so fond of the visuals because some of them seemed so randomly placed and overall disturbing. The black cat appearing sporadically also caught me off guard, as well as Madeline’s being a Vegan so hooked on her favorite “horror” animal planet channel. Could these be significant elements in the film? Another contribution to the film’s peculiarity was Madeline’s lesbian past, the old couple’s sexual engagements in possible hopes for another child, and of course the obvious weird relationship between Madeline and Grace. The names chosen for these beastly characters seemed hardly appropriate for the roles they played. In most scenes, my seatmates and I were not even interested in finishing the film because of how messed up the storyline was getting. The idea of having two miscarriages and just another failed one on its way was hurting my heart and bringing pain to my own lady parts—especially during the water birth scene.

 The main source of horror for me was the fact that we couldn’t understand what was going on most of the time and where the story was leading to. It was the kind of horror film that kept ones mind far from peace because halfway into the story, it felt like there could be no possibly alleviating ending. Madeline seemed to be a bit crazy with how she was repressing her depression over her husband’s death, and her hiding of the fact that there was something wrong with her monster of a baby. Her seemingly calm attitude during most of the film was also what was grossing me out. How despite all the blood, the surroundings were still tainted with pastel colors and delicate fabrics. Add to the disgusting flow of events is the very appropriate soundtrack used al throughout the film. This was another movie that was more painful for women to watch. For me, this was far worse than Deadgirl. The movie did a good job making me feel uneasy and horrified of the realities of repression, child birth and lesbian midwives. Its story deals with an actual stage in women’s lives when they have children of their own. Could it be that all women have this tendency to go mad for the sake of keeping their children? How would the government disallow a mother from keeping her monster baby if they see it just as a mother wanting to love her child?

I did not want to finish the movie at all. I don’t even feel happy to have finished it as well. Movies like this one clearly aren’t made to entertain the general public. Although I claim to be a horror fan, I cannot immerse myself in films like Grace or Deadgirl. 

REC It Ralph

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Foreign Horror movies with subtitles tend to have a prevailing impact on us— us Filipinos or us people who speak English. Even just as the movie began and the language barrier was established, I for one made a comment to myself that maybe this film will be extra scary. It keeps our eyes glued to the screen the whole time, and for some, closed during the graphic bloody scenes. The method of taping chosen for this movie also made movie-watching experience and story feel realistic, which for me was very effective despite the dizziness it had caused me a few times. The local reporter, although doing her job as a journalist documenting the truth, was painfully loud with her Spanish words piercing through my ears and hurting my head. Add to that the many layers of people screaming during several scenes. Although I myself was very caught up in the film and screaming along with everyone else, several moments in the film were predictable. That’s once tricky part about horror films. Everyone will be trying to predict the culprit or the cause of everything. There was even a point my seatmate Amanda and I predicted the old man left in the Asian woman’s room was also a zombie, but sadly we never actually found out what had happened to him. The only comedic break I had from the film was the short scene wherein the Asian woman was being interviewed and speaking fluent Spanish. (Oh, the irony.)

After all the suspense that had occurred in the first 30 minutes of the film, there was around 10-15 minutes of composure but at the same time a good tactic in good Horror films because it keeps the audience more watchful of what could possibly lurking around the corner waiting to surprise us in the next second. These idle moments were actually the worst. All the deaths happening one after the other, just as sir said, was getting us excited because the story was going somewhere and the predictable ending would be for everyone to get infected and die. It was finally the kind of Horror film, I think, most of us were expecting to see— the type that would lead us to constant shouting and uncontrollable loud comments in between scenes, a movie wherein everyone just dies in the end. The only question in my mind was if and how the policemen and scientists were able to put a stop to the mutating-contagious disease.

As much as my racing heart and I loved the movie, there was no profundity to the story. It didn’t leave me torn between decisions that would change the course of my life, unlike the last few movies we watched. The entrapment element in this movie was very perceptible. It’s definitely a story that interrupts our daily patterns, as seen how the storyline shifts from at first being a documentation of firemen’s night lives on a “regular” shift. As shallow as I am, I fairly enjoyed the film because I was able to do some shouting that I’ve been preparing myself for since day 1.