Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Why don't you BLOG about it, geek?

So, I took Houseboy out for Part II of his birthweek celebration last night, and we went to see My Bloody Valentine: 3D, or as it said on the marquee, our tickets and outside the theater: "My Bloody D," which just sounds wrong.  Afterwards we went to dinner and spent way too much time talking about the role of horror movies in our society and what they teach us about what we value and who is "in" and who is "out" in our culture, given that the other thing we had to discuss was whether the writers actually put any thought into who was going to be the killer, or if they just decided to pick a name out of a hat after they'd written the whole thing.  

More or less, I choose to give the writers the benefit of the doubt or at least accept the assumption that horror movies will have a moral whether they like to or not, because they're part of a genre that doesn't need to work too hard at being original, they just have to help us have a cathartic experience and allow us to fortify the boundaries of our society so that we're more comfortable in having banished the unknowable.  That said, I had enough time to think during the movie in this case that I came up with my theory on what this one was "about" before it was actually over, but I think it still hangs together.  

The basic story is about the son of a mine-owner who works in that mine.  He makes a deadly mistake and there is an explosion and a cave-in and a bunch of miners are trapped.  To save himself, one of the miners takes his pickaxe to all the others and is eventually dragged out of the mine in a coma.  For some reason, when he wakes up from the coma a year later, he kills the shit out of absolutely everyone in the hospital and then heads back to the mine, where the mine-owner's son and his friends are partying in the closed mine shaft.  Coma guy of course finds his mining equipment somewhere, puts on a gas mask and overalls and kills all the teenagers he can with his pickaxe.  Mine-owner's son, his girlfriend, and his friend and the other girlfriend are the only ones to escape, as the cops shoot coma guy and a bunch of rocks collapse on him.  This is all in the first 10 minutes of the movie, so don't freak out that I forgot to say "spoiler alert" or whatever.  

Anyway, cut to 10 years later: mine-owner's son disappeared soon after this happened but is coming back in town because his dad died and he's selling the mine.  His girlfriend is now married to his friend and has a kid, and the other girlfriend is having lots of naked screen time right before she gets ripped to pieces in the same hotel in which the mine-owner's son is staying.  There's a lot more killing by a guy in overalls and a gas mask, who may or may not be the original coma dude, but either way it's pretty well targeted at the people who were there the first time around.  

So, somewhere between the naked screen time and the part where mine-owner's ex-girlfriend gives him a talking-to that more or less reinforces my upcoming points, I came up with my thesis.  This particular story is about how one small mistake can follow you for the rest of your life, and if you don't address it and find a way to deal with it, it will come back to destroy not only you, but all the people you love through you.  

Now, fitting this in with the overall "interstitial nature of horror" theory I've got going here, this makes this a very post-80's movie.  We're not banishing the powerful outsider ("Carrie") or fearing the societies that formed from those we banished ("Freaks," "Texas Chainsaw Massacre"), and we're not worried that our own steps over the boundaries we created will bring our civilization crashing down ("The Thing," "Alien," "28 Days Later").  Instead, we fear our own ability to control our emotions and our inner life.  

We believe we have harnessed our own inner power and controlled the things that attack us from within using therapy and medications and, of course, institutionalization.  No one is really "crazy" anymore, they have schizophrenia or dissociative identity disorder or bipolar disorder, and it can be managed.  But this movie proves that we don't really believe that; we still see our own minds as an enemy, our own experiences and feelings as dangerous and uncontrollable, and we really, really want to take a pickaxe to their faces.


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