Session 9

Session 9 is a really interesting movie for me. I liked the twist of events, but it all happened too slowly. I know it’s necessary to build up the story, but it still appeared a bit draggy for me. I was bored during the first half of the film almost put me to sleep. They could’ve made it a bit more exciting in the first scenes to keep the audience hanging on.

This film has a unique storytelling format. The tapes Mike found served as the narration of he story. The case of Mary mirrored what was happening to them at that moment. The filmmakers made it clear that there was indeed an analogy going on. It was seen by the way they featured each of the characters during the narration. They were deliberately matching the different personalities possessing Mary to the characters. Despite of that obvious analogy at first, it still got quite confusing in the end. Who killed whom? It was a close call between Gordon and Phil.

The asylum setting was sort of a give-away of what was going to happen. An asylum is a place for mad people; therefore, it’s not going to be a surprise if someone ends up being crazy. For me, it’s a bit cliché to have asylums as setting for psychological thrillers (e.g. The Crazies).

Instead of psychosis, this film revolved around a different mental disorder, which is multiple personality disorder. It was actually a nice break from all the mere psychotic films. Because of this, the hero also turned out to be the monster, and he wasn’t even aware of it. That’s something you don’t see everyday. This makes you wonder; whom would you side with, the hero or the monster? What if they were the same person? The audience is conflicted on how to feel towards the characters.

Who is Simon? He was the very reason this entire killing happened. He wasn’t just another one of Mary’s personalities. He seemed like a demonic possession. Simon is probably a representation of Satan. Simon said that he only refuges in the weak, in those who let him enter. Perhaps Gordon’s problems (money, marriage, and family) opened him up to temptation. He wasn’t strong enough to resist what was perpetrating him.

 

 

Let the Right One In

This movie didn’t appeal to me that much, mainly because I’m not a fan of vampire movies. These blood-sucking monsters are just too mediocre for me. There have been so many versions of vampires that the real essence of one is already lost. The variety of the characteristics of a vampire made it too unreal. When you her all sorts of different things about a certain thing (aliens, for example), you may tend to doubt its existence more.

One of the most striking revelations in the movies is the gender of the monster, Eli. Throughout the earlier parts of the movie, I thought of Eli as a mere little girl vampire. I’m sure it wasn’t only me. It was made to fool the audience into assuming that Eli is a girl. As it turns out, she, or rather, he was a boy. I think this caused a major turn in the relationship between the two. At first, their relationship seemed to be romantic. It seemed like puppy love, considering they were just a bunch of 11-year olds. But at the time of the revelation, it just seemed to be friendship, a deep, deep friendship. One may even think they’re getting in a homosexual relationship. I guess that’s understandable. I myself am on the brink of thinking the same thing. Given this, what’s really going on between the two? Was it mere friendship, or a romantic relationship?

This movie presents a marginalized hero, a kid who’s always bullied. Basically, the hero’s a loser. This kind of hero is quit common in movies, even in those not belonging to the horror genre. The hero is usually an insignificant person who rises up in the end. In this movie, the hero, Oskar, kills someone. If you don’t consider this as a rising up, maybe the scene where almost every one of the bullies gets killed should’ve convinced you. Technically, it wasn’t him who killed them. It was Eli, but Eli did that for the benefit of Oskar, so you can still trace it back to Oskar.

The ending is quite confusing for me. It was open-ended. Was it a tragic or a happy ending? I guess its up to the audience. It can be a tragic one since they seem to have committed themselves too much to each other that they can willingly kill others for the benefit of the other. It has become a quite possessive and obsessive relationship. It won’t be long before things go wrong. Of course, that’s looking beyond the movie, but it’s still a possibility and the audience might still ponder on it. However, it can still be a happy ending because they end up together. Maybe it’s kind of weird that the hero and the monster end up together, but the story evolves around their relationship.

It’s the kind of movie that leaves the audience either the feeling of disgust or satisfaction. It depends.

Tale of Two Sisters

This psychological thriller really did boggle my mind. I was thinking and analyzing the events throughout the duration of the movie. I know that’s what is expected of a psychological thriller, to mess with your mind, but this one was hard for me. I basically had no idea what’s going on. I was thinking that there must be that twist, but I didn’t even have the slightest hint what it was.

As what the title proposes, this is a story about two sisters. It’s obvious that we expect a story about sisterhood. The two sisters, Su-mi and Su-yeon, seemed to be the best of sisters. They always care and protect each other, especially Su-mi to her younger sister Su-yeon. Their bond may be compared to the one between Ginger and Brigitte in Ginger Snaps. These two movies relay the importance of having a sister who’ll be there you until the end. It’s you two against the world. I myself have a sister, but I can’t say I share the same strong bond. I love my sister very much, but I think the 11-year gap is what’s stopping us from having that kind of bond.

Aside from starring two sisters, another common element in this movie is the evil stepmother. We see that everywhere. We see too much of it that the society already tends to stereotype every stepmother as evil and wicked. This movie didn’t stray from that stereotype. It even took it a little too far. Eun-joo wasn’t just an evil stepmother, she seemed like a murderer. As it turns out, it really was just an exaggeration. It was all in Su-mi’s head. Since the incident, she has pictured her stepmother that way, and she has the reason to do so. Speaking of an evil stepmother, I wonder, why didn’t Eun-joo help Su-yeon? Did she really want her to die, or she just didn’t want to get involved? That moment when she stood at the balcony looking at Su-mi made me think that she wanted the accident to happen. But why? Then again, the stereotype of an evil stepmother comes to mind. She just wanted the father and wanted to get rid of the children.

Psychosis, like in most, if not all, psychological thrillers, is present. This is vital in this kind of movies because only this condition can create gravely unexplainable events that don’t seem to make sense at first.

I liked this movie because it had ghosts every now and then, although it would’ve been better if they put the ghosts in more scenes. I’ve always been a fan of those weird-looking, longhaired, creepy ghosts.

Given that I was in limbo the whole film, the ending was a relief, but at the same time, a very shocking revelation, although it didn’t give me that much needed information. There were still some blanks that needed to be filled.

 

[REC] 2

I really don’t have high hopes for movie sequels since they tend mess up and complicate the pilot film even more. There are times when it is perfectly fine to leave the first film on its own and stop overusing the original storyline by making gazillions of franchises. Watching [REC] 2 made me think twice of this stereotype I have for movie sequels and it never failed to prove so, otherwise. While [REC] left me hanging at the edge of my seat in the final scene, [REC] 2 was able to excellently take over and bring the experience to another level. As much as it was able to add a different vantage point of viewing the story, it still managed to keep the storyline intact. The movie really captured the curiosity of its viewers and used it to drive the plot forward. As Noel Caroll states in his article Why Horror, the power of a horror film lies in its ability to draw its viewers within its plot and take him or her in a process of discovery. Horror movies are sources of cognitive pleasure, which greatly involves discovery, surprise, and even disturbance. The thought of a lanky creature passing a worm-like creature into someone’s mouth in order to have a demonic possession was really intriguing, but at the same time fascinating. In this scene, [REC] 2 was able to give light to the formerly unknown supernatural element from the first film. But as much as it gives answers, only more questions arise and come into play. What was the real deal with the Medeiros girl? What happened to the teenagers? Will this lead to a zombie outbreak? What does Pablo really look like and where is he? All these questions come to mind and it really made me all excited for the next sequel, [REC 3]: Genesis (FYI: it will be released on March 30, 2012).

The REC series was able to utilize scientific and religious elements flawlessly, and combining it to create its concept. It basically revolved around a demonic possession of a girl, which then got out of hand that the case even reached the Vatican. That is how big time it is. In an attempt to cure the girl, some doctor kidnapped her and isolated the virus to find an antidote. However, things didn’t fall into place as the virus mutated and became contagious. So a priest was sent by the Vatican to handle and investigate on the case by getting a blood sample from the Medeiros girl. As the movie progressed, we can see that things didn’t flow smoothly for Dr. Owen since he ended up defeated and killed by Angela. From here, we can see the dynamics between science and religion, and how the former cannot fully explain and comprehend the latter. In this day and age of modern technology, there still exist supernatural elements that are beyond man’s grasp and reason. As much as we want to understand and give solutions to everything, it only leaves us more clueless than before we actually are in encountering something unexplainable.

Session 9

The fact that David Caruso was in the movie made me feel weird the whole time because his acting remains the same for all the roles he takes for either television or film and it wasn’t easy to take him seriously. Despite this, Session 9 was a fun film for me, one that doesn’t really have to make me go through the whole process of thinking things over and over to enjoy the movie. It was interesting to watch the interaction of an all male cast with each other, and how they’re coping with each others’ personalities inside an abandoned building full of asbestos and a certain sense of dread with it being an old mental institution. Session 9 comes from a series of recordings discovered by one of the characters in the film of a person with a multiple personality disorder. What was creepy about it was that the person was able to convincingly change voices to man or a woman with relative ease. Initially, I thought that the main cause of the problem was the fact that the guys were working in a poisonous environment, but it was later revealed that Gordon held an evil personality in him, called Simon which encouraged him to carry out attacks against his own family and his co-workers. Simon said that he lived in the weak and the wounded and it was this phrase that became the turning point of the whole situation, making me think that all this time, one of the guys was the one committing the atrocities. I was disappointed however by the Mary Hobbes subplot, where they were discovering all sorts of artifacts and materials regarding her and her personalities but in the end, it didn’t really have a connection with Gordon’s story. Thus, it’s led me to believe that the fact that Simon was present in both Mary Hobbes and Gordon makes him more than an isolated personality as it actually shows itself to be a consciousness present in different people. Is he an evil spirit or an intangible being that could transmit himself through different mediums? That I wouldn’t know but the fact that this movie is a psychological horror film leads further credence to the possibility that the human mind is capable of things which are unnatural and plausible at the same time. The progression of the story in terms of the eventual reveal of the monster, or the satisfaction of my curiosity according to Noel Carroll was all over the place though. The story had too much weird stuff happening all at the same time that it was really hard to focus on a single person. For example, the conflict between Phil and Hank and Hank’s finding of hidden treasure made me distracted from time to time from the overall plot. The reveal of the killer wasn’t that satisfying but at least they reached that point in the end. Despite this, I loved the imagery and overall ambiance of the film, where it was enclosed, dark and silent all throughout. The imagery of the solitary chair that Gordon sees from time to time may also be a reflection of his state of mind, where it is afar from reality and the use of a mental patient’s chair already indicates that there’s something wrong.  Overall, it was still a fun movie and it was a fitting end for the Horror film class.

Session 9

This movie was another mind-boggling one. In some sense, this movie had a similar plot to that of the previous movie we watched in class, “A Tale of Two Sisters.” I can say this because of the psychological horror that both these films portrayed.

Watching Session 9 kept me on the edge of my seat, but I constantly got disappointed. I couldn’t figure out quite well when and where the monster would be introduced in the movie. Although some suspense  and light conflicts were introduced, such as when Hank didn’t return the next day after the night he went to the asylum’s morgue to collect treasure that in turn caused some arguments and debates among the people, the progression of the movie was slow. But, indeed, this fed some longing on my part for the actual unraveling of the main conflict/horror scenes.

Despite the slow progression, I liked that the clues were slowly being fed to us. I liked the parts where Mike was listening to the sessions with Mary, one of the patients in that insane asylum. This liking started at the moment that they talked about her story. I actually thought that the story on Mary Hobbes would play much part in the horror that would be experienced by the guys who were repairing the abandoned asylum. After all, all of the guys in their crew somehow had encounters with Mary’s old things or records. For one, Mike got hold of the recordings of her sessions with the doctor. Gordon, too, was able to go into her room. Later on, also, they were having more encounters with the No. 444—from records, to the room, up to the graveyard, which was Mary Hobbes’ number. But towards the end of the movie, Mary actually didn’t have much to do with the horror they all experienced, which somehow came out to be disappointing.

Nonetheless, the sort of connection that was portrayed was still interesting. Listening to the recordings, we saw the different personalities that Mary possessed. She was Princess, when she was a blabber-mouth; and she was Billy when recounting things that were seen. And there was another character, which Billy only knew and not Princess. And it was only during the 9th session that Simon was “woken up.” As expected, it was Simon who said the most important, and the turning point of things. He himself was the one who told the Doctor where he resides: “…in the weak and the wounded.”

Simon was the connection that we were looking for between Mary and the guys, more importantly with Gordon; of course, this wasn’t necessarily the same Simon. This was a psychological Simon. Apparently, it was Simon’s voice who called out to Gordon during their first day in the asylum. It was Simon whose voice Gordon could hear popping in and out. The horror was also Simon’s doing—or really, really Gordon’s doing but was reinforced by Simon’s darkness. Because Gordon was weak with dealing with the realities of his baby and wife, he ended up killing them; because he couldn’t cope with life, he ended up killing everyone else in their crew. And he only found out when everything was too late. This was the point where we saw Simon’s diegetic role in this movie—how he somehow narrated what was really happening. In the end, despite Gordon’s waking up from the illusions that he had, he still couldn’t accept what he did. In face, we saw this when he “called” his wife to talk to her, but with the use of a broken phone.

This movie, indeed, had a very interesting twist. Although my disappointments with not meeting my expectation that Mary would have a more active role in the horror in the movie still hold, at the end of the day, this was art horror. And we saw how boundaries were, indeed, broken. It wasn’t the usual horror, once again.

A Tale of Two Sisters

This movie was one of the most mind-boggling movies I’ve ever watched. But this was also one of the best movies I’ve ever watched in class.

A Tale of Two Sisters presents to us something that I never saw before. It started with a scene wherein Su-Mi was face to face with a doctor or inspector. As the movie progressed, this somehow suggested that something traumatic happened to her; hence, the medical attention.

But we were both wrong and right.

Watching this movie was like solving a puzzle that was hard to piece together. I found it hard to determine what/who the “Other” in this movie really was. At first, it seemed that the stepmother was the psychotic person in the movie. It seemed that she was responsible for inflicting pain to the two sisters, and hence, the horror in the house. Later on, however, both Su-Mi and the stepmother seemed to have found ghostly or paranormal encounters, although it seemed that Su-Mi experienced them through her dreams. We saw how the stepmother had a freaky experience during the dinner she prepared with two other visitors. On the other hand, we saw how Su-Mi experienced her own encounters with the paranormal wherein a girl with hair covering her face, suddenly appeared and approached her in a fast and staggered pace. Because of this, determining which one was the “Other” became harder. In fact, it seemed that the mother was either psychologically deranged, hence she might have been seeing things; on the other hand, she may have induced the seemingly mental problem because of the ghostly encounters she had. However, neither one of these explained why Su-Mi also saw ghosts. Whatever the case, the point is that there was something wrong, and horror was written all over it—especially Su-Mi and Su-Yeon’s aversion towards the cabinet, which later one revealed something important.

Of course the best surprise and twist to this movie was seen towards the end, when things were getting all bloody. I loved how this surprise was played out and unraveled in the movie—with the stepmother who was sitting on the chair, being asked to take the medicines, while another person walked into the room… but turned out to be the real stepmother and that the person sitting was actually Su-Mi.

Then everything became blurry.

But everything made sense. With the twist, things fell into place. What happened was apparently Su-Mi’s psychological problem’s entire product. Su-Mi turned out to have had trauma from the neglect that she caused her stepmother that led to Su-Yeon’s death. Su-Mi’s guilt created all these delusions and stories, especially the one regarding the cabinet—that her stepmother would lock Su-Yeon up in the cabinet. Su-Mi got a mental problem because she couldn’t accept what she had caused to happen. The ghostly encounters were probably real because of the dead sister’s haunting; but everything else was what she could “remember” happen. No wonder her father only talked to her—because there wasn’t any other person in the house! No wonder it was only Su-Mi’s name that he would speak out.

We can see, hence, how this movie’s filmography and the sequencing of events was important in conveying such a complicated plot. And because of this, I liked this movie a lot.