Voice

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Voice is obviously a horror movie in that it deals with ghosts and supernatural occurances, but it doesn’t quite scare you. It’s more of a sad movie about not wanting to be forgotten, rejection, and revenge. It plays like a melodrama and mystery at times, tugging at your heartstrings rather than filling you with horror. I’m not really a fan of horror films and so I haven’t been that exposed to Asian horror movies, so I’m not so sure if that is really a characteristic of Asian horror films.

 

Horror films tend to focus on the woman as the other, as the monster, and in that way, this movie isn’t really that different since its “monster” or antagonist was female. However, the rest of the characters are also female. There are practically no male characters, as even the minor characters tended to be female. Even the love angle involved no men: the original student with the voice, a girl, fell in love with the music teacher, who was also female. This was quite taboo, since as far as I know, Asian countries tended to be on the conservative side. Plus, that girl was also bullied for being a lesbian. But this issue wasn’t that central to the movie, rather it was something that gave motivation to one of the characters and was the reason why one of the ghosts didn’t immediately lose their voices.

 

Voice begins with the death of the “protagonist”, Young-eon, and then proceeds with her struggle to find out what happened to her. It turns out that she is actually the antagonist, the villain who looks out for no one but herself in the end. The woman who dares to look is usually punished as women are not supposed to look. Here, the women who were punished were the ones who dared to go against norms. The original ghost was punished for falling in love with her teacher, Young-eon was punished for her multiple personality disorder and driving her mother and the music teacher to suicide, and Seon-min was punished for trying to help Young-eon. These were things that all of them were not supposed to do, and because they did, they all ended up punished. Only Young-eon sort of triumphed, but even she didn’t get what she really wanted, which was to live again. She had to possess Seon-min and bring down the very person who was originally the only person who was willing to help her.

 

Horror films tend to be disgusting and disturbing when it comes to visuals, and even though Voice does have its share of “gore”, it was very, for lack of a better word, choreographed. It was all very pretty, aesthetically pleasing despite everything. It’s very different from the other movies that we had watched in class, which are all Western movies. Also, in this movie, horror didn’t really seem to be the objective, but rather a mystery. The audience discovers clues at the same time as Young-eon, and they are reminded that Voice is a horror movie (beyond the ghosts involved) in the end, when it becomes apparent that Young-eon had succeeded in “living” again.

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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.

Let the Right One In, Let the Left One Out :)

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Let the Right One In is one horror movie that probably has one of the most adorable love stories I’ve seen if the circumstances were of a rather normal setting. With my first look at the movie, I just found it as a love story between a vampire and some kid. If it were just about that, it would have been a supremely adorable movie since the moments they had in the movie can be categorized in the Filipino definition of “kilig” moments during that time span two loves would have with each other. However, Let the Right One In, didn’t have that kind of “normal” setting. The movie’s setting for the two had so many restrictions that would categorize their predicament farther and farther from what we would like to call normal. This abnormality in their relationship is what makes their relationship incredibly terrifying and what makes the movie also as terrifying.

Numerous things that made it terrifying were not because of the boy but because of the vampire. In a normal relationship, there should be one male and one female. In this movie, the relationship was with two males. It’s not like it’s not usual in contemporary times but in this movie, it’s scary because the supposed girl in the relationship who is really a guy, looks like a real girl. Another thing in a normal relationship is that the age gap between the two involved should be close to each other, at most probably is ten years but that’s rather close to crossing the line. In this movie, the two supposedly are of the same age, which is 12; but that’s not the real case since the vampire has been 12 for a very long time as said in the movie which makes him a whole lot older that the real 12 year old boy.  It was seen that the vampire was really old in one part of the movie where a snapshot of her old self was seen; and the vampire already had wrinkles. An estimation of their age gap would probably exceed 40 years. That vampire could very well be the boy’s grandparent at that age and knowing that they have a certain kind of relationship is rather creepy and give one that certain scary tingly feeling along the spine.

Another creepy thing about the movie is the vampire’s “guardian”. This guardian is rather old and would makes sense that he could be the vampire’s first lover. If this is true, then the vampire indeed is very sinister for doing that to someone. If there were indeed lovers, why not turn him into a vampire as well so that they could live together forever. That would probably the best way to it if there were indeed lovers. However, through some reading on other reviews on the movie and it turns out, the vampire’s guardian is a pedophile. Because of this, the vampire still has that benefit of a doubt of being a good vampire.

At the end of the movie, the vampire and boy went off to unknown places to get away from the city to probably get away from trouble and set a new life for themselves. There are two things I could think of that may happen. If the vampire is indeed sinister, then the boy would grow old and probably become just a guardian to the girl like the first one was and this would make my first assumption that the first guardian was indeed the vampires previous lover; or the boy would turn into a vampire which would make a better predicament in my opinion and thus proving that the vampire isn’t as bad as she would be aside from being a killing machine.

Pontypool Pontypool Pontypool Pontypool Pontypool

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Pontypool is probably the weirdest by far of any movie genre I have even experienced in the entire life. I know horror films tend to be weird and unexplainable sometimes but this particular horror film is unbelievably weird. I say unbelievably because never have I ever thought of or even had an idea of a word virus or whatever viral infection that was going on in the movie. Another in these kinds of movies is that I would usually identify how one person gets infected. For example, in some zombie movies, another person would become a zombie when bitten or die with the bite. In vampire movies, one becomes a vampire if one gets bit by a vampire. In werewolf movies, it’s also the same – with the bite. However, in Pontypool, even after watching the whole movie, I still couldn’t precisely understand how people get infected with the word virus. Is there a particular word for each person in the English language that’s infected? Do the words get infected because of other people or are they just infected? The more I look into it, the more I questions I get; and at the end, I was never really able to answer all of the questions in my head.

One more thing to look into about infection movies is that when there is an infection, there should be a cure. In most zombie movies, there really is no cure since the zombies are practically dead and those bitten are bound to die eventually. I don’t there’s a suitable cure for death. For vampire movies, vampires are supposed to be dead by they don’t look like it. In some vampire movies, vampires aren’t dead but are just infected and for that there can be some certain cures like burning themselves alive under the light of the sun but not to the point that they would die. For werewolves, their cure is shear willpower or a silver item that they should hold to prevent themselves from turning into werewolves. In Pontypool, the cure the movie presented for the infections the movie had was to not understand the true meaning of the infected word which I find to be rather difficult since it’s rather impossible to not understand what you have already understood. This unless you were wrong about the meaning of the word; but then, if your meaning of the word was already wrong, then you wouldn’t get infected in the first place since it was presented in the movie that you can only get infected when you understand the infected words.

At the end of the movie, Pontypool was bombed and supposedly, the entire place should have been obliterated. However, our two heroes from the radio station lived which I found weird.

Entirely, the movie was new, weird, mysterious, and puzzling. The movie was also very innovative in the mere fact of the idea of the word virus. The most horrifying thing about the movie is the fact that we as the audience can never really grasp what really happened in that place.

Grace

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Grace would, I guess, be a zombie movie. It’s a very different kind of zombie movie, however, since the zombie is more or less helpless and incapable of really doing harm. Grace is almost a dead baby joke gone wrong.

 

Grace isn’t supposed to be alive since she was killed in her mother Madeline’s womb in a car accident, but she’s still carried to term. She came out dead, but suddenly and inexplicably came back to life, crying as a normal and healthy baby would after several minutes of Madeline pleading for her to stay. It isn’t unheard of to have dead people sort of come back to life, since modern medicine has made it possible to resusitate those who have technically died. But those are usually a few minutes, maybe hours after being declared dead. Grace has been dead for several weeks already, and then suddenly, without any resusitation of any kind, is alive. It’s a whole new way of looking at the miracle of life, though this life isn’t what you expect it to be. After all, how normal do you think would a baby who’s been dead for weeks be?

 

What Grace mainly deals with is motherhood, which generally, all women eventually want. Madeline has been trying to get pregnant for the longest time, and when she finally does get pregnant, she does everything to make sure that nothing goes wrong. A mother is often depicted as fiercely possessive and protective of her child, and this is especially seen in wild animals. Most animals would attack and kill those who dare approach their young. Madeline is in a way turned wild by the experience of motherhood, by her desperate need to be a mother. She ends up attacking and killing those who threaten to take away her child. It’s a bit contrary to the usual notion of (human) motherhood, which is supposed to be beautiful and bring people who have been torn apart back together again. Even Vivian, with her supposedly good intentions of raising Grace, is a bit wild in her need to become a mother, having lost her son to first adulthood and then death. Though Vivian is a bit different since she seems to be more fixated on the breastfeeding aspect rather than the raising aspect. Their desperation to be mothers both took them a bit too far.

 

The actual monster of this film, Grace, is deemed completely normal except for her thirst for blood. Not just any blood, but human blood. It’s a bit ironic that Madeline had resorted to a vegan diet during her pregnancy, but her baby ended up with a taste for things that definitely cannot be found in a vegan diet. You already know that something is up with the baby once it cries to life after knowing for a while that it’s been dead before it was even born. However, that seemed to be the only explanation for why the baby was…zombified. There wasn’t really any explanation for why Grace had a taste for blood, why Grace was even alive. There isn’t any strange thing that impregnated Madeline, it was pretty clear that Michael was the father. Grace was just…Grace, and everyone in the movie just accepted her as she is, and despite her monstrosity (c’mon, she was practically chewing off her mother’s breast!) everyone even tries to protect her. There’s some weird reversal. Madeline, as her mother, protects her. Vivian wants to get her in order to raise her herself, thinking that it will be better for her. Dr. Sohn only wants the best for Grace as well. Even Patricia, knowing the strangeness of the baby, still looks after her. Somehow, without really doing anything and purely relying on the instincts of the people around her, Grace manages to “invade” our world.

 

Grace was written and directed by a man, Paul Solet. This is quite an interesting take on motherhood from the point of view of someone who’s never going to experience it, and only has the women around him as reference. Men are after all never going to know what it’s like to carry around a baby, with all sorts of hormones shooting around inside telling you that you must be a mother and do everything in your power to make sure that this baby will be okay. Grace is horrfying in planting the idea that what if I, since I’m a woman capable of childbirth, turn out that way too, going a bit too far in my desire to be a mother. Or even any woman out there now.

Rec

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I had heard a lot about Rec before watching it in class. I had seen a snippet of it in my Com100 class back in second year, and had screamed when something suddenly fell. I was one of those who had gasped when it was announced that Rec would be the next movie to be screened. Rec was the first horror film that I was watching in class that I was actually familiar with, but not so familiar that I was still terrified of what may happen.

Rec, being in Spanish, was subtitled, and it required me to open my eyes for the most part of the movie (which I tend to not do during horror films) in order to understand what was going on. The story wasn’t very complicated, and even though plots are often secondary in horror films, it was still actually pretty good. The explanation behind this movie didn’t feel forced and it didn’t ruin it at all. But of course, horror movies thrive on imagery, and with that, Rec does not fall short.

The found footage format really works for this movie, making you feel as if you’re really in the building along with all of them, and that you’re also running from room to room trying to escape the bloodthirsty zombies or whatever they were. You really get thrown into the film, and it’s quite stressful. I felt like I couldn’t breathe properly for a while after watching the movie, and during the movie itself, I was one of those who’d scream or yelp or cover my eyes and ears when another zombie creature attacks. I think it was a really effective horror movie due to the stress it brought about, but it was still really fun to watch. I think that last bit is due to the fact that I watched with a roomful of people, and all of us were reacting. I think I’d be terrified if I was watching it alone, and I wouldn’t be able to sleep.

When you think about it, Rec can be a bit predictable. There are some set-ups that are so obvious, such as the little girl sort of being the source, the old lady and Colombian woman disappearing after being left in the hallway, and the empty penthouse apartment having to do something with it all. When Pablo puts the camera into the attic, it was pretty much a giveaway to the fact that there was something that the camera will see or attack the camera, but it still elicited a scream. There are so many of those moments, with a fireman falling down, the little girl spitting blood, and the guy in the hazmat suit attacking the vain old dude. A lot of surprises, shocks, “gulat” moments, but there was still the climax and highlight, and even then Rec was still effectively eliciting screams. With you being so involved due to the found footage format, the shockers don’t really disappoint.

Thoughts about “May”

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May is an interesting horror film in that it’s focus and main character is the monster, the abject. Unlike most monster movies, May is not the kind of monster who’s so different from everyone else. She could have turned out to be a socially normal person but she was kept back because of her troubled childhood. To me, May was marginalized at a young age mainly because of her mother’s bad parenting skills. One, the mother quickly assumed that just because a person has a lazy eye means that person will be marginalized. Two, because of that assumption, the mother put a bandage on May’s eye and asked her to pretend about it (which later led to her being marginalized). And three, the mother gave up on May being able to find human friends so she gave her a doll friend instead, with one exception that May cannot touch it. What kind of parent would have such a negative outlook on society? What kind of parent would give up and not be proud of his/her child? May grew up in her mother’s world with her mother’s weird principles, like “If you can’t find a friend, make one.”. Carol Clover refers to this as the psycho-sexual grip that produces the killer’s sexual ambiguity.

May grew up and found physical distance from her parents but she never grew out of them. She’s now an adept at conversing with dolls but still not an adept at conversing with people. She lacked the dynamics of love and friendship. She lacked the physical and emotional intimacy involved in a human relationship. She only had a doll friend and she couldn’t even take her out of her glass box! (I think that her odd fixation on body parts has something to do with that) She grew up following but not understanding the idea of being just like everyone else. This, unfortunately, further marginalized her. People around her were thinking that she’s just like everyone else, only to be made wrong later. This lead to further misunderstandings. In the end, nobody understands May, and May understands nobody. After a few bad encounters, May eventually gives up on hope and and starts killing off the people she couldn’t understand.

This is a horror film wherein sympathy can be drawn from the monster. May’s a modern Frankenstein. While in herself she has the capacity to choose between what’s right and wrong, she lacked the capacity to know which is which. For a world primarily composed of “normal” people, she’s the odd one out. But it’s not just her fault, in fact I dare say most of it isn’t. All she wanted was a friend, and she did what she everything she could to have one using what she has and what she knows. It just didn’t take her far enough in a world she’s not familiar with. Thinking about it, it’s noteworthy that a variety of people were in the movie yet May is the only connection between them. It tells me that there’s a world of different people with different understandings and, combining them, potential misunderstandings. In fact, further thinking about it, everything that transpired in the movie came from misunderstandings. Maybe even May’s mother had problems of her own before, we don’t know. It’s just scary to think how it’s possible that things could end up similar or worse compared to May just because some people didn’t get along.