The tale of two Sisters

I believe that this Korean horror film was something that made me really change the view on how Koreans make movies. To be honest, before with the Korean Pop era here in the Philippines all I thought to myself was that Koreans don’t know how to do anything except drama, I would still remember those days that Asian Film started to become popular here in the country, where for Korea drama was the way to go and for Japan horror. Fortunately though, this movie was able to prove me wrong, and make me see that Koreans can make a good story with the genre horror. What I personally liked about the tale of two sisters is the way it was really able to make use of the horror genre. In a way, there is this push and pull strategy that the movie made use of. The story itself is really interesting and it really pulls the viewers to know more about the family, the evil stepmother and of course the two daughters, namely, Su-mi and Su-yeon. The pull here that I felt was more of trying to find out on why Su-mi came from a mental institution and what made her actually see ghosts with all the events happening in her house. On the other hand, the stepmother and why she treats both sisters like this. However, like I said, there is this push strategy as well where it can be evidently seen whenever the disturbed soul, not really sure if that was Su-yeon, would show up. The ghost in the house actually is something shocking because it was depicted as someone or something that just shows itself in one glance and just disappears, unlike in other ghost films where sometimes the ghost is seen for a long time walking or just being there and all. The possibility of being shocked is what pushes us to watch the movie, but looking at it again, it is also the reason why we actually want to watch the movie. I would love to see and find out how the story goes and the element of surprise in a way makes me want to watch the movie more, and this is what the horror genre is all about. I particularly liked the scene when there was a flashback and it explained or atleast it tried to, everything, and how the mom just left Su-yeon to die after having a cabinet fallen on her. I like the scene because it really showed a conflict between two natures, one is that if the step mother really knew if Su-yeon was dying, two if she did, would she save her or not. Apparently, in the movie she did not, and this explains the ghosts here and there. This scene shows how the film has used both a push and pull strategy for the audience and how it encapsulated the genre horror. Truly a horror movie worth watching for me.

Orphanage

Orphanage is all about horror and in the same time feminism. The aspect of horror, to be honest for me was the freaky kid with the freaky mask. Funny as it may seem, but the scariest thing for me is actually kids, or demented kids, not that I do not like them, its just that turning an innocent kid into an evil one just really freaks me out. While I was watching orphanage, I actually had that feeling already and thank God, in a way the Simon was not as scary. Nevertheless it was still scary for me because the fact that an innocent little kid, well most of the time perceived in society, became in a way the ‘devil child’ freaks me out. Another thing I think that is very applicable on the movie is the trope-based horror. I say this because the setting, the orphanage house and even the rooms are scary. Having a chapel in a house is kinda freaky, the old furniture and old orphanage is also disturbing. The setting itself is scary and anything that happens in it can already be considered as horror due to the setting the sotry is revolving around in. Laura, eventually finds her son, but also vanishes, which for me was something that the movie lacked. I mean to do understand that her constant longing for her son was fulfilled at the end, but just vanishing, jut like what happened to Simon, I really did not get the point of it. I guess the movie was open ended and a lot of interpretation can be taken from this. One interpretation though, that I think is that both Simon and Laura, being orphans had that special bond, had that special look on the people around them when they grew up. For both characters it is about playing with their playmates since they did not really have that concept of family before. When they have finally found their playmates, the place they call home, then they vanish from the real society that in a way has rejected them to begin with. This is both the story of Simon and Laura, for Simon to find his playmates, to be in company with his friends, while for Laura, it is finding her son. The mother she wants to be, someone she has never experienced when she was a kid before. This is why when finally Going however to the feminism point of view, it can be seen that Laura was an independent woman who tried to solve the case of her mission son, Simon. It can be seen here the depiction of how different Laura is from that of the “typical female”. In history, we see that females are always treated as the weaker gender and who depends a lot on the male gender. But it can be seen that she even pusher her husband away with the hope of finding her child, Simon. She wanted to eliminate distraction for her, and the act of pushing away her husband just shows that she does not need her husband’s help and she is independent from him.

 

Pontypool

 

Pontypool was the only movie in class that I hadn’t watched beforehand so I had high expectations of it because it’s a relatively obscure title. It’s title was also mysterious and the opening sequence was very freaky so I think I set my expectations to high and this did not enjoy the movie while I was watching it. Sir Andrew mentioned that it was supposed to be an old school radio movie and I initially thought that yes, they should have stuck to radio because the movie was filled with so much dialogue it was exhausting to concentrate on it. There was no visual horror stimuli until about 60% into the film at that point my imagination was working over times picturing what kind of horrors were happening outside the radio station. When it was finally put in front of me I could only sigh at how underwhelming it was.

 

I have a lot of gripes with this film. First off the premise, infecting people because of their language. My initial reaction was “okay I’ll buy it. It’s unbelievable but I’ll buy it” and when it was finally shown to me I just though that this was cheesy and lame. It was like they didn’t have enough budget (they really didn’t I think) to get some real zombie costumes. Instead we see bleeding mouths and people repeating the same stuff over and over again. It was utterly annoying. Second was that there was so much dialogue and so many random events. There was black and white sequence featuring the citizens from town which I thought had no real point or value. For me all it added to the film was minutes and nor real revelation of the plot, no explanation, just “hey lets put in Mr. and Mrs. Nobody to fill the gaps in our film!”. Third it was so draggy; after we see this creepy woman from out of nowhere at the start of the film our expectation is set and then we are treated to an hour’s worth of dialogue and the monsters are left to the imagination before finally the radio tech is infected and we see a crappy zombie. What’s more is that some guy pops up out of nowhere explains the situation and then vanishes! How lazy can you get If you can’t even integrate a character that is vital for the plot into the film. Also after the zombies finally appear, it becomes a love story. Kill is kiss, kill is kiss, please kiss me while I am watching this movie. Quite obviously my initial viewing was very frustrating.

 

Only a week later when we talked about the film in more detail did I understand the brilliance of the plot. When I found out about the secret ending and how it ties in with the infection I was dumbfounded. It was very hard to understand but it was really brilliant. It goes to show that there are still some experimental ways to make original horror films. I still don’t like the movie that much but the ending really impressed me. I would not recommend this movie to anyone who isn’t willing to listen intently to the dialogue but for those who do I believe it’ll be a rewarding experience.

Rec 2

 

The first rec movie was a really good example of the thriller horror film. It had many suspenseful moments, in your face zombies and lots and lots of blood. I am happy to say that the second movie gives us the same action packed thrill ride of a movie and supplements the somewhat lacking story of the first movie. If I were to recommend this movie I would advise to watch it in quick succession with the first one because the second movie starts just as the first one lets off. It is unique because not a lot of movies go into the second part just where the first one left off, and I mean, like within minutes of the end of the first one. That is why watching this as a whole with the first one will give a better experience just because the plot holes that the first one left are filled in nicely with the sequel and the second one still gives a surprising twist at the end despite the continuity from the first.

Those expecting more of the same rec action will may be both disappointed and delighted at what happens in the second one. I myself found the whole possessed spirit thing quite a ways off from the supposed virus the first one had but it gives a fresh take on the first one but is still fits the puzzle as it were. I am a big fan of the first person camera horror movie and this one is one of the best ones out. what is great is that the sequel features 3 cameras instead of one and gives us another point of view with which we can watch the horror unfold. This provides a very good synergy because we see how all the characters interact with each other from different perspectives and then slam together as they battle the monsters for their lives. I noticed though that the monsters were a bit more tame(?) this time around because they weren’t just going around trying to eat stuff. Instead the monsters seem to be orchestrated by one demon and that just gives it whole other level of creepiness. I liked the fact that they actually explained how the infection came about and the story was substantially explained so that those who watched the first one could finally be enlightened as to why all the horror was happening.

 

What I didn’t like about this one were the characters. They didn’t seem as scared as the girl, Angela, in the first one. Unlike her the characters seem to be resisting as much as possible and fight the monsters instead of being scared. I am a fan of the final girl in any horror movie and seeing these men fight it out with the monster kind of ruined it. It’s a good thing that the twist was the return of our beloved protagonist reporter because I wanted to see how things went with her. Although I kind of saw it coming it was still executed beautifully. Rec is definitely a series that stands on it’s own and will be considered a classic by future generations. I myself can’t wait for the third installment but I am kind of bummed that it’s not in first person. time will tell if it can live up to it’s legacy.

Session 9

 

Session 9 was a horror film that took me 3 viewings in order to understand completely. Thankfully after each viewing the experience got more and more delightful. Delightful, which is a really weird word when describing a horror film. It’s delightful because it was like a scavenger hunt for me. With each viewing I realized a little more of the films plot and appreciated the dialogue more. It is a film that needs your whole attention at all times which is a quality that horror movies don’t have that often. It’s more prevalent in love stories or dramas that require the viewer to have a deeper appreciation of what the characters are going through. Most horror movies these days rely on shocking moments that jolt the audience but session 9’s horror comes from the transformations that the characters go through and the result is a good horror film that may not be appreciated by people who simply want to be scared.

 

The film is really slow with most of the story being revealed through the dialogue. The tape recordings that the audience hears provides a good background story that deepens the mystery of the weird things happening in the center. There is a significant amount of time that passes before any horror even begins. I think it’s about at the half way mark that actual fear gets into the minds of the characters. Most of the first part is just background on the characters themselves and the hospital. Perhaps it is even fair to say that at first glance there is no monster to speak of. When watching the first part of the film there is nothing to fear, that is without using your imagination.

 

When we see the “monster” of the film which is for me “Mary” and her 3 personalities it is not scary at all. It is left to the imagination because what we actually see of her is just her scars and her face but aside from being weird there is nothing monstrous about her at all. We don’t even see the events that transpired before her stay at the mental institution. Parallel to her story we also don’t see how the main character Gordon kills his family like most of the tapes we only hear how he kills his family without any visual stimuli. I guess Gordon could also be considered as another monster because he was the killer visually. What I mean is it is him we see that kills his co-workers, making him the monster per se.

 

What’s brilliant about the plot is that if you don’t pay attention to the film you can assume that Gordon just went out of his mind and started killing his co-workers because of the pressure that he felt when he had his new baby. If you listen closely though, as pointed out by sir Andrew Ty, “Simon” sounds like he isn’t a personality disorder and is a real spirit. The multiple personality disorders “Billy” and “Princess” then, can be considered as Mary’s anti-bodies, defense against the foreign invader that occupied her body. Although it is not the most scary film ever Session 9 has one of the most brilliant plots I have ever seen and is truly an expression of art horror.

A Tale of Two Sisters

 

I saw this movie when it came out in the cinema and I thought it was a waste of money. When I saw it in class I thought it was a waste of time. While watching it It felt like I was watching a Korean-novela, not because they were all Korean, but because of the melodrama that came with the horror. There was not much horror to speak of aside from a hand. Dead birds and a bag with blood, the movie didn’t have enough shocking moments and instead felt to me like a drama story. Yes there was a ghost in the end but in truth it was just an exploration of how the two sisters were mistreated and how they died. The haunting and supernatural part was lacking also, there wasn’t enough visual stimuli for the audience and instead there was just long draggy dialogue and really short bursts of horror.

 

There are some merits to it though. It works by using subtle hints or horror with the drama unfortunately I don’t think subtlety is good for horror movies, especially when it’s this subtle, other Asian horror movies are also subtle but it

Has enough substance that it sticks to the viewers mind. for example the ring has the epic moment when sadako comes out of the television and this it creates something to think about when the movie the ring is mentioned. The plot of the movie was also good and well thought out. when we see the smile on her face while her family members died in the end it was story telling gold but it just wasn’t horror for me. There was also promise at the start when we see her in the mental institution, I think some more scenes in there would benefit the film and show her having an actual psychotic episode could have really given the film something memorable.

 

What I didn’t like was that there was so much dialogue. Given that it was also in Korean I think people will understand the frustration of reading long lines of text while trying to enjoy the movie. It is bad enough that there are subtitles we don’t need thousand of lines. Using visual cues for story telling would have been better. The music of the movie was also horrible. I swear hearing the bgm for this film is like a lullaby. That plus the cool room in the socsci building equals quick naps while watching (I did watch it again before doing this blog entry though).this would’ve worked better as a tragedy drama movie or something like that because classifying it as horror just because there’s some blood and some spirits in it isn’t fair.

 

I wouldn’t recommend this to any horror fan especially if they’re expecting Asian cinematic gold like the grudge and the ring. I just feel that it isn’t substantial enough to be considered as horror and it fits more to a chick flick that’s kinda sick. Nomsayin?

Let the Right One In

 

Vampire movies have always been classic examples or a good horror movie. There is a monster, a damsel and someone who tries to be a hero. It’s a simple formula but the ways it can be executed are endless. The “vampire” incarnation typically always has something that can make it different from other vampires in other movies. For example, the craptastic vampires of twilight sparkle their enemies away, vampires in 30 days of night only come out at a specific time of the year and vampires in Van Helsing can only be truly killed by a werewolf. Ellie, our vampire in this movie has some special characteristics too, first off she is a small “girl” which is not portrayed in many vampire movies.(maybe due to the restriction on children portrayed in film and the fact the most vampire movies have nudity in them). This gives her an advantage because she is a lovable vampire, meaning she grows on the audience more easily because she is not as monstrous as other vampires (Nosferatu for example is harder to side with because of his appearance) another thing is that she can be portrayed as an innocent. As if she wasn’t a blood hungry monster that murder people in cold blood thus she can be paired romantically with a small boy in this case Oskar.

 

The dynamic of their “love story” is given much focus on the film. Think of it as a twisted puppy love story.  It is refreshing to see a vampire movie that doesn’t so much focus on hunting the vampire and defeating it. Instead the movie focuses on how one character can fall in love with a monster because of the fact that he is an outcast himself. Although the film is a horror movie much of the fear is gone because in this case the audience is inclined to side with the monster of the film. Although it is weird to watch a horror movie with a love story theme, this love story may be considered as another reason for this movies to be considered as a horror movie because of the “out of the ordinary” love that develops. It is a taboo, something that is repressed by society and is considered as vulgar.

 

This vulgarity is exemplified by the fact that one, Ellie and Oskar have the bodies of children but Ellie is older, thus it may be a metaphor for pedophilia. In one scene I swear I saw Ellie turn into an old woman in the scene when they were both in bed. (was it the lighting? I’m not sure because it was only for a split second. did anyone else notice?). Another is that Ellie’s handler is an old man but their love isn’t as a parent loves a child but a romantic love which is another case of pedophilia. Another taboo is that they are both male which obviously society frowns down upon and is a hotly debated issue. The film shows us taboos in a symbolic way (there is also reference to stigmata) which helps us see the repressed in society and helps form in our minds what is right and what is wrong.

 

The title “Let the right one in” begs the question in the ending, did Oskar let the right one in? My answer? He will find out when he is old and useless.