What is it about “horror”?

As compared to the other films we’ve watched so far, Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel’s “Deadgirl” (2008) has probably been the most psychologically disturbing one for me so far. Even with the common narrative of the movie starting with conflict between best friends – one being bad and good (or at least the lesser evil rather), the writer Trent Haaga was able to create a bothersome script that continued digging deeper into dark social issues as the film progressed.

Rather than be terrified from this thriller, I actually felt more feelings of disturbance and discomfort especially being a female myself. Violence against women is something that I completely disagree with and cannot fathom how men could stomach acting in ways that engage in such abuse – physically, mentally, and emotionally. I found myself cringing in several moments throughout the film simply because of the abuse led by JT on the “dead girl” which was presented in a way that made it seem like he himself felt that it was completely normal and alright for him to do – given his self-proclaimed “damaged goods” view of himself. The way that the different teenaged boys were just objectifying the zombie like female was just bothering to stomach even if she, or rather it, was considered somewhat inhuman or dead already. Even if this story was fiction, you become reminded of the fact that there are several boys, especially around their age, who objectify women as sex symbols or people whom they can just treat as if they are beneath males. This type of horror movie is not exactly my favorite, however the fact that I was able to feel disturbed whilst watching several scenes felt to me that the director was able to successfully interpret his vision which in my opinion was more of a psycho-thriller. As taken from Andrew Tudor’s “Why Horror: The Peculiar Pleasures of a Popular Genre”, the concept brought about from Noel Carroll’s ‘art horror’ which is apparent in this film no doubt as form the audience’s point of view, emotions are definitely played with. The unraveling events that take places give uneasy, disturbing feelings that rush through the viewers.. In addition, the “paradox of horror” is definitely seen in Sarmiento and Harel’s piece because of the brought about supernatural “monster” in the dead girl. Despite the disgusting, creepy figure that the dead girl demonstrates, as the audience, and perhaps fans of the horror genre, we always end up wanting to know what will happen next which is why we get hooked into storylines that contain such creatures.

It was obvious that despite his troubled life in the real world, Rickie had a side to him that still contained a conscience of doing what is right and you see this in scenes such as when they first find the “dead girl” in the basement and his expression showed worry and reaction was to free her then and there, as well as the scene when he attempts to call the police, and even the moment he gives up his bicycle for the cutter to try and set her free, among other scenes. He struggles with an internal conflict which is apparent as he shows the audience his deep thought in those different scenes with him trying to decide what to do, knowing that he is often leaning towards doing what he knows is right however he struggles to avoid getting himself nor his friends in deep trouble in the process. As the audience I felt a lot sympathized for his constant struggle, yet was not exactly for him especially since he never really had the guts to do the right thing until the very end when things were already too complicated and have had gone too far.

It’s interesting to think how the script writer came up with this simple yet disturbing script that even got to slip in a bit of a supernatural aspect since the “dead girl” was for some reason invincible and contained infectious features which later on was learned to be able to turn others into what she was as well. What I noticed is that Haaga took mental insecurities and turned them up a notch through this movie. An example was during the scene when JT had tied up Joann next to the “dead girl” in hopes for creating another “sex slave” as he liked to put it. When Rickie came to her rescue, JT was playing with his mind by trying to make him realize that in the outside, real world that they live in, they are nothing compared to all these popular teenagers with brighter futures so why not just join in the “fun” and enjoy this messed up situation they’ve created for themselves despite the crazy of it all. In this scene, you notice that Rickie starts to slowly cave in doubting his good side, whilst still trying to fight the bad influence that JT has been timelessly trying to impose onto him. Things escalate from there and the audience is faced with a complete shift in their investment on Rickie because of how he ends up continuing the disgusting cycle that JT had started. It’s quite disappointing that they end the movie on this note because there is no silver lining for the demonstration of woman abuse that they integrate into the story line. It could have been done differently, suggesting the cruelty of such actions and perhaps somewhat defense for the female gender.

Reference:

Tudor, Andrew(1997) ‘WHY HORROR? THE PECULIAR PLEASURES OF A POPULAR GENRE’, Cultural Studies, 11: 3, 443 — 463

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