Life before life

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I would say this underrated French film is a film I have never heard of. Anna and Lucie are two good friends. The story follows 15 years later when Lucie tells Anna not to go to this certain house where Anna’s whole family gets slathered leaving Anna alone and going around the house in shock and in a state of trauma. Soon enough Anna discovers a hole leading to a room down the staircase.

 

I found it creepy that there was an underground laboratory with plastered photos of heavily tortured people. One was obviously burnt to death and one was heavily stabbed. Made it disturbing that these kinds of photo are posted. The room looked very equipped and up to date; obviously it was built for something advanced. The interior is steel and the house seemed pretty modern. This gave me a hint that it is maintained and even though there were no people when Anna was exploring it people work there.

 

Anna discovers a woman, heavily beaten, I could say “almost dead”, slashes and scratches all over her body, and has a metal helmet attached to the very flesh of her skull. For me, my initial thought would be to run away from the girl but Anna’s strong character approached her and held her hand. The victim appeared to be scared and traumatized but at the same time was just longing for someone’s touch. I found this scene very dwindling. The victim looked extremely beaten and I really felt bad for her. In this part of the movie, I thought everything was will turn out fine. Anna was slowly helping the victim and the victim was slowly accepting her help. It was painful to watch Anna take out the helmet with attached with nails and when she asked put her in a bathtub. I thought it was already going well until the victim runs around the house like a crazy person trying to kill herself and ended up getting shot by armed and suited men. Immediately they took Anna downstairs and tied her up to meet their perhaps “boss”. I honestly did not expect an old lady to appear. This scene made me question her role in the movie and her capabilities. Anna was brought to a room and was tied down to a chair.

 

The stages of torture began, getting beaten up; eating the same food (with no time to chew or whatsoever), shaving of her hair, and it goes on. Initially, I thought she would not survive up until the last stage when she got skinned alive. The movie in general disturbed me because of the physical abuse but, to skin her alive? I really thought she was going to die. Also gave me an idea that it was some sort of miracle already. She was able to speak and to a shock that nobody could believe. The people called up the old lady and a gathering in her house was denounced. It fascinated me that they are almost the same type of people, same age group, same taste (vintage Benz), and their fascination of the outcome. Mademoiselle announces that Anna survived Martyrdom and was able to describe “the world beyond life”.

 

I did not expect anything from this movie. I thought it was going to be a chill horror film but to my surprise it was very gory. The amount of blood, chains, whipping, and torture the girl experienced made me cringe every time. It appeared as if the girl had to endure all stages of pain and torture to satisfy an old lady’s search. Anna did and it was a very big astonishment to Mademoiselle and she ended up killing herself. I think she killed herself cause she final found a “witness” (meaning of martyr) of what she wanted to find out which is — “the world beyond life”.

 

Who’s that girl?

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The film Dead Girl is a surprise to me. The film opens with a bunch of male teenagers looking for some “fun” and adventure. Upon their curiosity they ended up in an old barren hillside and to a shocking surprise got welcomed by a girl whom they thought was dead. Wrapped in plastic and appeared to be that she got brutally abused suddenly moves. My initial reaction was that she got imprisoned there, conceivably got raped and, beat up. I felt bad for her because 1) the teenage boys did not bother to help her upon seeing that she was breathing and 2) they mocked her and showed no respect at all. At that point, I knew that they had bad ideas triggered by their teenage sexual attractions. JT knew that he could take advantage of her easily and so he did.

I found it sick and twisted that his imaginations took him as far as calling his friends to sexually arouse the girl. I understood the amount of freedom and excitement he felt when he found that the girl is helpless. All his sexual fantasies and imaginations   could finally come true. This part of the movie made me think about how JT exerted his “male ego” despite the terrible situation because he knows that he can. They brutally abused her, played with her private parts, and treated her with no deference.

I felt the gore in the movie because of the verbal and physical abuse the received from the characters. Overall, I love the film. A majority of people would probably hate on it because they do not see the “horror” in it because if all the porn-like scenes but, that added horror factor for me. It has a very dark approach because of the setting and how the characters acted (with no mercy). I’m a fan of zombie movies and I think I probably watched more 30 films about zombies and read books about it as well and this movie made me think of how likely humans will treat zombies if they had a chance or at least if they will not get bitten. The zombie in the movie is Dead Girl but at some point I felt bad for her, which is unlikely to happen because we all hate zombies. As the movie unfolds it became a routine for JT to have sex with her and he is not ashamed to bring his friends over. I could tell that his character has psychotic problems because he is using someone as his sex toy – with no check up or whatsoever he rides her all day.

The film is very unique to me. I have never watched a film with a similar storyline like for example, The Diary of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the dead, and a lot more. I like how the characters (JT and Wheeler) appeared to be more monstrous than the actual monster. The cinematography was brilliant and the dark and light scenes are highly emphasized like for example the scenes in school and the scenes with Dead Girl. The story is a bit weird in the beginning but I learned to appreciate where it was going or how out of the ordinary it is. There was no scientific method shown in the film on how Dead Girl was created but it showed how impossible beings are made possible. It left the audience wondering what Dead Girl really, is she really a zombie? I was expecting an explanation but I already assumed that she could be a zombie or my strong bet is that she was used as an experiment. Largely, I would recommend this film to anyone looking for something twisted, bizarre, and unpredictable. The film got me excited and grossed out at the same time. Some scenes are even slightly hilarious and that made the movie all the more open. Even the ending added excitement because Dead Girl did not attack spared a life making it even more complicated as is because she can think and she decided not to kill him.

Deeply Rooted

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The first time I encountered this movie was when I watched Scary Movie 5. I believed it was spoofed in that movie; one of the scenes in the cabin when everyone was getting possessed and the book was being read. On a serious note the movie revolved around friends who went on a trip in a remote cabin to help Mia get rid of her drug addiction. One of her friends, Eric finds a book of the Dead and reads it a loud, slowly saying what he was shading. The film started zooming in and out of the forest to a girl standing by the trees in a dress. Without him knowing that he was awakening a demon.

 

Mia’s character for me seemed to be troubled from the beginning and it was no surprise to me that she got possessed first. The scene wherein she forcefully left the house with car and saw the girl for me was the beginning the end. She saw the girl again and she ended up getting strangled by the roots of a tree facing the girl. The girl released some black substance that entered Anna.

 

The movie was deeply rooted in the friendship however their personalities clash. All of them had the same goal in the beginning and that is to help Anna. In the end all of them got possessed and one by one got killed in the brutal way. Although the biggest plot twist was her friend revived Anna after getting electrocuted. I think this part made me question how she was able to live after her body getting all possessed.

 

I honestly would recommend this movie to people looking for gore fest type of film and bloody to watch, someone who is interested deeply in exorcism and alike. I personally did not like the movie. It scared me a lot and I did not really understand the overall theme of the film besides everyone getting possessed. The theme is very shallow to me but I like how the movie was able to maximize its cinematography and setting. A suggestion would be to add variety to the frame since its only shot in almost two places.

I have seen several horror films about exorcism but this is certainty not the best for me well mainly because I did not comprehend the whole story. Maybe I can watch it again or watch the 1981 version.

Inncrepers

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Follows two ghost enthusiasts (Claire and Luke) trying to unlock the haunted history of Yankee Pedlar Inn. Yankee Pedlar Inn, once a grand hotel but now only has two employees. Both young adults take turn in shifts and handling customers. Every night Claire channels her inner ghost hunter and uses apparatus to track down ghosts. She is very much curious of the legend of Madeline O’Malley, a bride who hung herself on her wedding day. Luke who backs up and continues the story to Claire leaving her more curious about it.

 

The film has a very slow storyline but the characters showed their clear motives; they really want to unlock “hunted legend” and feel the ghosts firsthand. I like how Claire acted in the film, curiously aggressive of finding out what she wanted to find out. She did come off as a strong character (soft spoken and a bit shy) but her actions spoke for her. Considering that she’s employed with just one more person in the hotel she insisted to go around the hotel discovering the corners to satisfy what she wanted to uncover. It became a routine for her; the nightly crawls in the hallway and nights spent in common rooms like the ballroom, basement and washing area. These are the times wherein her character really showed persistence, she really would not stop.

 

 

One afternoon, Claire recognizes a former actress and assists her to check in. She becomes close to Leanne because she admitted to Claire that she is familiar with the medium (connecting with the unknown). Claire later discovers the voices and music in some areas of the hotel and saw the piano playing on its own. Paranormal activities started to occur and clearly Claire was stuck in between getting scared and excited. She tried to tell Luke but he did not want to believe her until he felt it on his own. I like how the movie has a certain feel to it; simple scenes that made the viewers feel more scared I suppose. This part got more exciting on the other note because Leanne started helping Claire. It gave me a sense of optimism that Claire is bound to discover something with her help. Although Claire’s character did not show aggressiveness in the beginning she seemed pretty calm until they both felt something. This part of the film got more exciting because initially I assumed that they would not discover anything. Leanne used her necklace to call on the spirits but the spirits answered back by breaking the glass of her necklace. This part frightened me because it only means that the spirit is very strong. This scene made me contemplate on what their next move will be.

 

Overall, I liked the movie. The shallowness of the scenes and how the ghosts appeared made it noticeable that it is not a recent horror film. The simplicity of the unforeseen and astonishing scenes, for me, made it scarier. I appreciate the simplicity of the cinematography, some scenes are shot up close and some are shot to show the whole set – for example when the piano moved on its own. I personally would recommend it to someone who is looking for a casual horror movie, not gory at all, not much blood, just a classic film of flashing of scary scenes. I also like how it is very realistic, the technology Claire used could be bought and people really use it to track ghosts. Claire’s character appealed to me even more because I was once curious too and I was once on the verge of doing the same thing in our old house. It reminded back in high school and grade school when “blood Mary” was a thing and people really swore that they saw her staring back at them in some bathrooms in school. Old story but I bet people are still curious until now, I mean I still am. Even though the storyline is a bit shallow, I would watch it again.

Martyrs: Unexpectedly Philosophical

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I thought that Dead Girl was cringe-worthy up until I saw Martyrs.

For the most part of the movie, I felt so lost. It seemed at first, like one of those movies about exorcisms. Then it felt as if a retribution story. And finally, it seemed philosophical to an extent with its finale.

It was such a long struggle to understand just what the monster was in the movie. It had me thinking that it was some sort of invisible entity that would be visible only to a few, just like in It Follows. As we later find out, it is but a conditioned monster imbedded in the minds of those experimented upon by a cult of old men and women, in search for what the other side of life would have in store for them.

The torture scenes from the film felt so unbearable for me. Just the thought of something like this being done in some part of the world made my stomach turn. The more I wanted the violence and gore in the film to stop, the more it fed me with nightmares to remember.

As with the concept of the damsel-in-distress, we find ourselves pitying Anna and the other torture victims in the film. Each passing day shown in the film felt more and more excruciating for the audience. Despite the horror we feel however, there is still this nagging feeling of what all of the torture is for. And we are introduced to the secret society who intends only to find out what comes after life of martyrdom, while lambasting the dignity of these young girls. We find that true martyrdom is found in Anna who willingly risks her life to save her troubled friend from the monsters in her head. This blows over into a full-on torture cycle that almost kills her, but not before she achieves “enlightenment.”

Repeatedly, her troubled friend is shown to be motivating Anna to just let go of her resistance to pain in order to find her peace. Having been murdered by her captors, she only wanted Anna to experience the least amount of pain as possible even in the afterlife.

In the scene where the old lady finds out what’s in store for her in the afterlife, we see that she is readying herself for the proclamation of what it is that Anna had told her. What we did not expect was for the old lady to take her own life. I think that this was such a good move for a last scene because it leaves the audience wanting to know what exactly Anna had told her. Whether it was a trick for the old woman to kill herself or whether it was that enticing to want to keep it to herself even at the cost of her life.

The film makes the audience curious about the “secret” but is the viewer ready to face the tortuous cycle that this comes with? Of course not. That’s exactly why we have the horror film. We want to entertain our darkest curiosities without having to risk anything of ourselves.

The Monster in May

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May was such a peculiar movie.

Seeing as though it wanted to depict this disturbingly awkward and eerie character, I think the film was successful in making its audience feel unsettled. If in most movies, we notice the creepy factors of the film in flashing neon signs like for example in a psychopath or in gore, in May, we see it characterized in a character one would end up feeling sympathy for. We knew from the very beginning that May had  a problematic upbringing. Her mother had this very iconic line which is more or less saying that May needed to “make” her own friends if she cannot find real ones. This dictates whatever else kind of interaction, amiss social cues, and personality May would have towards her journey as a growing adult. She seems to find comfort in the same doll given to her by her mother which is enclosed in a glass case. From this point on, we start to feel sorry for May as even as a child, she could not grasp fully what her condition would be doing to limit her social interaction. Instead of getting their child the therapy and briefing she might have needed in order to understand her condition and to socialize well with others, she was just given a bandaid solution that unfortunately carried over to her adult years.

Although we see may as a capable adult who does her job well, we also see how impaired she still is as a social creature. We see her try her best to interact with her coworkers or passersby but she ends up hurt if others don’t become as understanding. In the end, she is found to be fascinated by the body parts of those around her because maybe that’s just how she can feel or talk comfortably around those people. I think it is very hard to portray such a complex character so I really applaud the actress who had given life to May. We all seem to be able to think of one person in our high school class who might end up having the same personality as May if we were to put the quirks at a larger extent. And often, they are outcasted by the entire class. This is discussed in a number of readings since “the other” may very well be the outcasted, the weird, the socially inept, not because they choose to be but because they are not supplied with the necessary skills to do so. They are at a disadvantage because sometimes they do not choose to be this way, as with her condition.

This is what makes the finale of the movie so much more satisfying. The moment May had adorned herself with the same attire her broken doll had worn, she went into full on go-getter mode. I could feel everyone in the classroom excited about what she is about to do with her sudden change in stance. I find this satisfying feeling similar to what I felt when the formerly utilized Mia in Evil Dead finally gets her revenge on the “monster” who killed all her friends. May goes on this psychotic pilgrimage in order to gather the dismembered body parts she needed in order to make her own friend.

After watching the film, I felt a mix of repulsion and sympathy for the character because even after all the crazy lengths she took in order to make her “friend”, and thus, killing people in the process, we also note that this act was simply within her logic that she only wanted a real friend. A friend who will not make fun of her idiosyncrasies. We see how she wanted to please Adam by copying the film he made. All of her actions are in order to make her lasting relationships, something she never acquired outside her family members.

I think the film really tries to tell its audience that there might be people we encounter that we do not fully understand, resulting in them being outcasted. It is a lesson on how easily we could misinterpret someone’s actions without understanding where they are coming from.

Even at the very end, May tried to give a part of herself to her “doll” in order for it to feel like a true relational interaction.

Pontypool: Interestingly Unique

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Sir mentioned in class that Com majors will either love the movie or hate it. I loved it.

Although there were parts of the film that I felt were unnecessary, I really liked how different and creative it was a horror film. I didn’t quite get why they made use of zombies in the films but I think it would have had a creepier and exciting vibe if the words were transmitting cannibalism instead of Zombies. I find the zombies in the film deader than they already are so I think I little more aggression on their part would have made this film a lot popular. I really liked Grant Mazzy’s character because he was such a breath of fresh air compared to the usual damsel-in-distress or psychotic lead that I would usually find in horror films. He was funny, smart, and strategic. He was the one who cracked the code, along with his supposed love interest in the film.

I like the whole concept of semiotics being used as the  “monster” in the film, mainly because you know that a lot of thought has been put into the curation of the concept. I’m not entirely sure if the film was based from a novel, but it would probably be an interesting read if this is so. What I find disappointing is that although the concept it original, the film’s plot could have been executed better. There were a lot of characters that I would did not appeal to me, like the performers they invited to the show. I’m not too sure if this was for comical relief or not? But I don’t think it was very helpful for the story. The doctor could have been of better use to the plot as well but he was just an annoyance in the film in my opinion. I don’t think his purpose should have stopped at telling them the source of the contagion in the film. I really appreciate the part where they were trying to locate which words are infected and which are not because although it is a very abstract concept, it still provided the same feeling of suspense. Neither the audience nor the character knew which words were indeed afflicted, making the viewers feel nervous for the characters in the film. I find particularly annoying the character of Sydney. I don’t think anyone in the state of panic and fear of her own life would willingly get drunk for the sake of “running away” from the issue. She put her life and Mazzy’s at risk and it just had no reason behind it whatsoever, coming from a film with a concept that seems to be well-calculated. I think that the story itself could have been enriched if there was more depth in characters aside from Mazzy.

While I was searching for Pontypool online, I was a bit taken by surprise by how Pontypool was an actual town and not just some made up place for the film. The very name of the town sounds like wordplay.

I think that the film was successful in making the concept something the audience would be interested in but not too successful in marking it as horror. The zombies in the movie seemed distant to its viewers because they did not seem to pose a real threat to the characters, or at least with how they were portrayed. I do not like how the doctor conveniently was able to enter the radio station in his efforts to escape the zombies. There was no challenge to seek the radio jocks in order to make a public announcement regarding this epidemic. Laurel-ann’s character was very engaging and I think that gave me a lot of expectations to the kind of zombies we would be faced with once the doors of the station have collapsed.

But ultimately, I think Pontypool is a good break from the usual horror flicks I end up watching and I only hope that I am able to stumble upon similar creations in the future that are maybe developed further.