Fear the Living

Calling the cops, or whoever you could for help would be the most reasonable thing you could do if you found a dead body. However, this was not the case for two teenagers who just wanted to skip school and “escape reality” for a while. What started out as two kids thrashing around an abandoned mental hospital and having fun while they were at it to release their pent up frustrations, ended up in a discovery of a dead body which then led to broken relationships, death of schoolmates, self-destruction, and a birth of a monster.

Rather than being scared, I was more disturbed and disgusted. At the same time, I was dismayed at the character development of Rickie. Since the beginning of the film, I have been rooting for him to become the “hero” in the end. However, he only ended up being one of the monsters. Based on J.T.’s disposition at the beginning, I was already assuming that he was up to no good. However, I was shocked at his transformation. From seeming to be simply being “out of his mind” or too “care-free,” he revealed a more dominant, violent, and greedy version of himself, making him more horrifying than the dead body they have discovered.

Although the events in the film were disgusting and horrifying, the film demanded my full attention. Rather than leaving the room or closing my eyes in most of the film, to which Noel Carroll’s Why horror? shed light on stating that in ordinary and actual occasions, we shun what disgusts us, I was rather hooked further justifying the claims of repulsion and disgust as key elements in the emotion of art-horror. I believe that what kept me from excusing myself from watching was my desire to know whether my assumptions about how the movie will turn out would be proven right.

The existence of a monster was already given right off the bat given the film’s title. However, the viewers’ initial thoughts on what kind of monster exists in this film will further be disputed at the certain revelations and transformations of the characters in the story. I have first heard about this film from a friend. And after hearing about it and his thoughts on it, I have assumed that this will be a zombie-on-a-loose type of horror film. However, this was not how it turned out to be. Rather than the zombie antagonizing other characters and wreaking havoc in the community, it was her captors that were doing the evil act. This film perfectly encapsulated the Filipino saying, “matakot ka sa buhay, huwag sa patay” as it was shown in the film how, despite the dead girl being physically stronger than her captors, the living was far more horrifying than what was obviously considered as the monster at the beginning of the movie. How J.T. was able to use the monster, not only to satisfy his sexual desires, but to get back at his enemies were extremely horrifying and painful to watch.

In horror films, monsters are natural subjects of curiosity. The real drama in a horror film is establishing the existence of a monster and uncovering its horrific properties. It is shown in the film how there are more than one kind of monster – the dead and the living. The first being the dead girl is established as the monster right from the beginning and so as the story progresses, its horrific properties were revealed. It was shown how it cannot be destroyed and that whatever its condition was can be passed on to another. And the second monster, revealed only in the middle of the story, the teens who discovered the first monster. Like the dead girl, the horrific characteristics of the second monsters were revealed as the story progressed revealing what they were capable of doing as motivated by their grave desires.

The movie manages to disturb its viewers with the elements present in the film and at the same time the mentalities of the characters in it. It generated that feeling of pain and dread, however, it gave off a not-in-your-face sense of fear with its lack of jumpscares as it would be expected, especially with what the movie title makes the movie seem before watching it. Although it was a bit exaggerated, the film was able to portray how most teenagers can act without using their heads only to get what they want, bringing out the monster in them.

 

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