The most interesting aspect of films for me is its global reach. We all are accustomed to western movies shot by big time hollywood movie stars and directors. Most blockbusters originate from the US and it is highly expected of them to constantly deliver one of a kind and groundbreaking content on a regular basis. However, what amazes me even more is the sudden rise of global influence in modern day films. The sudden rise of indie films brings about a new light to the expectations of the modern day movie gower because you never know what the films would contain. These sorts of films carry with it a distinct style that leaves the audience wanting to see more.
What I learned in this class and from all the movies we watched over the semester is that one’s expectations before watching a movie, most especially for horror films, won’t be the same after watching the film. Being just a novice when it comes to watching horror films, I always had this expected list of things that will happen in scary movies. Sure some horror cliches did happen but what surprised me was the wide scope and variety horror films have. What we know about horror movies are constantly being evolved by modern interpretations to catch the audience when they least expect it.
A perfect example of this is the last film we watched for class, Martyrs (2008). Before even watching the film, I had no idea that this was a foreign, french, made film. Normally I tend to not watch foreign made films because it is often either one of the two extremes. Either it is horribly boring with poor story development or very mind boggling to the point that all symbols and metaphors used in the film can’t be easily comprehended that the entire movie you keep asking the question: “What just happened?.” Martyrs however wasn’t any of the two extremes, but I still believe that the film was leaning towards the weird side. I mean come on, where will you ever see that the directors and producers actually want the audience to witness a woman being violently tortured and even skinned alive. What kind of movie am I actually watching?
The great thing about how the movie was made is that even if you try your best to want to look away from the screen, because of all the elements and events in the film, you always watch even if you don’t want to. With the major factor that this was a foreign film with subtitles, it implies that you can’t and shouldn’t look away, even for a split second, because you will automatically be at a lost even you don’t read the subtitles and watch the screen for every second. In Brigid Cherry’s article: “Refusing to refuse to look: female viewers of the horror film,” she mentions that “Refusing to refuse to look is, for such viewers, an act of affinity with the monster.” Throughout the entire movie, the audience is enthralled to keep watching because it continually wants to know more not only about the story but also the monster. We want to find out why a “monster” was following Lucie (Mylene Jampanoi) and what this secret society really is about. I honestly never thought about this instinct of ours to refuse to refuse to look. It is a unique trait that good horror films use to keep the attention of the audience and leave them wanting more.
Overall, for a film that is quite horrific, hard to watch, and quite scary to say the least, mainly due to the blood and the torture, there is something about the film that makes you want to see everything through. I mean come on, don’t tell me that once we saw Anna (Morjana Alaoui) when she was skinned alive we didn’t want to know what will happen to her and what is next for her. Knowing and being part of everything that Anna has been through, makes the audience symphatize or even emphatize with Anna which leads to the audience wanting to find out how her story ends.
In Linda Williams’ article: “Learning to scream,” dwells into the the classic horror movie Psycho (1960) and talks about why the movie was such a success. “Cinema in some ways reverted to what the critic Tom Gunning has described as the “attractions” of pre-classical cinema – an experience that has more of the effect of a rollercoaster ride than the absorption of a classical narrative.” Just like Psycho, Martyrs was a roller coaster ride of emotions and events, but still was able to constantly capture the attention of movie viewers. Why? Because even if we are horrified, scared, and we want to look away, there is something in the film that made us want to watch the film in the first place so it pushes us to continue watching in hopes of finding closure and just simply watching a really good movie.
Williams, Linda (1995). “Learning to Scream.” Ed. Jancovich, M. Horror, the film reader. London: Routledge, 2002. Print.
Cherry, Brigid (1999). “Refusing to Refuse to Look: Female Viewers of the Horror Film.” Ed. Jancovich, M. Horror, the film reader. London: Routledge, 2002. Print.