Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Identity Crisis in Horror Film

I hate the Identity Crisis in Horror film. I have to deal with it so much that I decided to forgo a review and talk about this subject. It seems like the easiest solution is to simply get a lapse of memory or an identity crisis into a film, before the final twist revealing that the killer is not what you think, it's the protagonist.

The duality of playing the role of protagonist and antagonist is quite odd to me, and it is something that I don't know why is pushed so much in regards to horror. We first started seeing identity crisis in the old Scooby Doo television specials. The villains were always people in the show, but were wearing masks.

We also saw this happen in pop culture, most recently in an episode of American Dad where the space alien was living a double life. Sure that was done for comedic value, but it doesn't stop film makers from making terrible movies about duality and fictitious villains.

So today, I wanted to give you guys a quick heads up in regards what movies have stupid cop out endings like that of scooby doo, but packaged in Rated R formats for reason unknown.

If you don't like spoilers, skip this post....cause I'm going to end it all.

My Bloody Valentine 3-D

My Bloody Valentine 3-D

Oh awesome! The best 3-D movie to come out lately (aside from UP) was a straight forward horror film. However, despite the great pieces of gore and attempts at comedic value with repeating backgrounds, this movie failed to enlighten us all when the twist ending was that the protagonist was disguised as the antagonist! What the hell? Yep. The ending was ridiculous, and really made me hate the genre...for a moment. Sure they aren't the first to do it, but they were the most recent in memory. So that's where we start.

Pinocchio's Revenge

Pinocchio's Revenge

This low budget horror movie had one of the weirdest, almost homo-erotic sex scenes I've ever scene. However, it really punched me in the face when in the end it wasn't a doll that the people were worried about it was a little girl! Come on! I wanted to seriously knock out my television screen. Thanks guys...you ruined an otherwise lackluster movie....a hard thing to do. (note sarcasm)

Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek

So after Pinocchio's Revenge, Hide and Seek decided to come out with some major star power. I liked the premise, however when the reveal at the end turned out that it was the protagonist/antagonist mix and match routine, I got really upset. It's like the film makers wanted to out smart the dumb horror fans, and they sure didn't. They had a copout ending and I can't believe that Robert De Niro signed on to this! Then again, he also did Rocky and Bullwinkle!

Identity

Identity

One hell of a ride with John Cusack NOT playing a love lorned angst ridden teenager or older adult chasing a woman. This time he was dead on accurate as a detective stuck at a motel in the middle of a thunder storm. As things continue, the popcorn kept going in my mouth and then the reveal! WHAT? It's multiple personalities? What the? I screamed like Hugh Jackman in Wolverine. Identity had some good scares, but when it was all said and done it's just another identity crisis film, but then again with a title like that, I wasn't really expecting anything different.

Primal Fear

Primal Fear

While not a horror movie at all, this film was really interesting. A more complex court room drama showed up in this film, creating a nice sense of balance to an otherwise terrible movie. The acting was indeed top notch and Edward Norton's identity transformation was something to believe because it turned on a dime in the end. The clapping to villain, the shyness wearing thin, created one hell of a good moment in movie history. However, this one wasn't the end all, and it was more of a drama than anything horror. There was some nice gore in the beginning sequences, but that's all.

High Tension

High Tension

My friend in college thought this film was amazing. So he dragged me along for a midnight showing and I thought the ending was a complete fabrication of crap. The movie makes no sense if it was all made up, there is a nice long story and plot and it is eliminated completely at the end when things evaporate into an identity crisis for the main antagonist, which was really the protagonist through out the whole film! What the heck? Yes, it's got a lot of great moments, but the ending really makes for a lackluster finish to an otherwise artsy French horror film.

The Machinist

The Machinist

Everyone talks about how Christian Bale did a tremendous job in this role. I don't disagree, I think the method acting in this role was amazing. His weight loss is considerable and horrific, no cg needed. However, the identity crisis that this film portrays is so stupid that it makes me hate the movie. That and the terrible pacing of this film. It's really not that great, but his dedication to the character is brilliant, so you have to see it for that reason alone.

Secret Window

Secret Window

A lonely writer in a cabin is stalked by a writer who claims he plagiarized his story? I like it. Johnny Depp plays a nice little role here however, the slow plotted story doesn't pick up until the end, upon which we discover the inevitable conclusion that we are watching another identity crisis story unfolded. Thanks...but you can't blame the movie writers as this book was a novella by Stephen King, so it's not all bad is it?



Memento

Memento really plays on the identity crisis. However, many will argue that it plays with memory more than identity. However, I argue that identity and memory are hand in hand players. The film is backwards and you really wonder if the memory loss is induced by the main character or not? It's an odd movie, and it kind of works well.



Tenebre

Tenebre is a cool film about a killer. Done in the Giallo tradition of films from Argento, this film is quite good in a lot of ways. However, at the end we have an identity crisis that was either plotted through or simply manufactured for the sake of the story's ending. I really liked the overall tone, but the ending really was a mash up of ideas that were not 100% introduced in the beginning. When the dust settles though, the whole identity crisis thing is at the helm of this story.



Fight Club

Fight Club should be seen as the ultimate identity crisis story. Is there a Tyler Durden? No. The split personality thing gets played so well, that fans of the movie still herald it as better than the book. The book is a short read and well recommended. This of course is not a horror film, but it sure had some horrific ideas.

So there you go, a breakdown of some of my favorite and not so favorite films that circle around identity. The whole thing is played out in horror and there are so many examples out there to back this claim. Do you know of any? If so, let me know, and I just might review it for another day.

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1 comment:

  1. Memento and fight club are brilliant. Secret Window...not so much. The first 10 minutes of Identity are great, but it definitely is a let down.

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