Posts Tagged ‘hero’

e293f5b0b0159844f92d9bdc72fc904bHave you ever bit down on a sore tooth on purpose? The pressure intensifies the pain, sometimes to the point of almost numbness. David Edelstein asks, in his article “Now Playing at Your Local Multiplex: Torture Porn,” if, perhaps, torture horror audiences have a masochistic side to them. Watching Eli Roth’s 2005 contribution to the torture genre, Hostel, is uncomfortable, to say the least. Too much sex in the first half and too much pain in the second.

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The character that you are most attached to gets mutilated and killed instead of being the hero. His jerk of a friend finds him too late to save him. The girl he does save ends up throwing herself in front of a train. Just when you think it’s all over, there is one more gruesome torture and murder scene, sliding the movie into the rape/revenge genre.

The friend, Paxton, played by Jay Hernandez, becomes one of the members of the Elite Hunting Club, both figuratively and literally. He has to Hostel-Still1kill his own tormentor and one of the guards in order to escape his personal torture chamber. Then he must dress in as one of them in order to pass through the building undetected. He must “play along” when he is confronted and questioned by a new member of the club.

These transformations are necessary in order to escape with his life; however, he chooses to go back and kill the new club member in order to save the girl, and he chooses to follow the The German Surgeon into the men’s room locking the door behind him. He chooses to cut off two of the man’s fingers in retribution for his on lost digits. He chooses to torture him before finally slitting his throat.

Hostel3Edelstein points out that the graphic depiction of sadistic acts torture the audience along with the characters. Also that the constantly shifting POV shots “forces the sinister car of complicity upon the viewer.” In essence, Roth is saying, “Don’t blame me for making this movie; blame yourself for watching it.”

I wonder, like the aching tooth, do we inflict this pain upon ourselves in hopes of numbing ourselves from the reality of violence that makes up the daily news?

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looking upGeorges Franju‘s Les Yeux Sans Visage or Eyes Without a Face is a poetry of images, disturbing images, yes, but also beautiful images. Eyes, of course are everywhere.

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Obsesses eyes, frightened eyes, hopeful eyes, wary eyes, longing eyes, searching eyes, blank eyes, dead eyes, wondering eyes. Edith Scob‘s eyes are the most impressive and expressive because for most of the movie that is all she has to emote with as Christiane Génessier the faceless woman behind the mask.

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Carol Clover points out that, like folk-tales, horror films have a predictable cast of characters, namely the victim, the monster, and the hero (12), but in modern horror films, enabled by the rise of feminism, often the victim and hero combine together to form what Clover calls “the female victim-hero” (4). Clover also discusses the story of Carrie White from the film Carrie based on the novel by Stephen King in which, throughout the story, Carrie takes on all three roles. I suggest that Christiane does the same in this film.

eyes3 In the beginning of the movie Christiane is presented as a victim trapped in her ivory tower by her controlling father and his over-loyal assistant. She is treated more like a doll than a person, and she resembles a doll as well. eyeswithoutaface390Her mannerisms come across as very doll-like. When the mask is on, she does not speak throughout the first part of the movie. When she sneaks out of her room and hides in the garage watching her father and his assistant come out of the hidden passageway, the audience wonders what she will discover and what she will do about it.

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However, her actions upon finding the girl strapped to the operating table reveal that she was aware of the room and it’s purpose all along, framing her as, if not accessory to the actions taken there, at least complacent in them, revealing a monstrous nature along with her monstrous face. The mask takes on a more sinister feel reminding one of other silent, masked monsters.

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WHEN-DOVES-FLYAfter the new skin graft does not take, and she returns to her mask, she once again takes on the role of victim asking the assistant to kill her using the drugs that her father uses to put down the dogs that he experiments on. Finally, she turns into “a monstrous hero” (4) when she kills the assistant imagesCAOOP1ISand sets free the next girl scheduled for mutilation as well as the dogs, who ironically tear off the face of the doctor.

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 But as she wanders off into the night, one wonders what she will become next.

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