Every once in a while, I come across a film which I actually find very difficult to watch – and this really is quite an incredible feat, given the amount of horror films I have watched over the years! I am not at all squeamish about blood and gore, so that has never been a problem for me, but there are certain circumstances which can arise which I find simply detestable to watch. They only come along every so often, but when they do, they’re that type of film which stays lingering on your mind for a good while afterwards. I suppose this is a sign of successful filmmaking, so praise needs to be given to the directors for creating such a harrowing experience, but it’s exactly this type of film which one makes a mental note never to indulge in again.

The first on my list of deeply unsettling films would definitely have to be Deadgirl. This is a bit of an obscure horror film which I happened to stumble on completely by accident, and I ended up being very sorry for this! The basic premise of this story is a couple of teenage boys who discover a ‘zombie woman’ in an abandoned mental hospital. Now, I know teenage boys have a reputation for being somewhat ‘horny’ by nature, but I think this film is a gross exaggeration (well, maybe it’s just that I hope it is!) because it takes just a few minutes upon stumbling across this poor woman (tied up and naked, mind) before they come to the conclusion that they should use her for their sexual needs. Despite the woman appearing to be quite feral and possessed, even, the viewer ends up feeling more sympathy towards her than the actual ‘protagonists’ of this story, and one is left questioning who the real villains actually are.

Taking advantage of someone who is ‘weaker’ than you, in my opinion, is one of the nastier sides of human nature – and this is pretty much what the film’s all about! Who are the civilised ones? The boundaries become increasingly blurred during the course of the film, using the story as a vague interpretation of the classic ‘coming-of-age’ tales. My final gripe is with the ending, which I think is absolutely appalling. When the film was approaching its end, I thought that this would be the time when the director (Marcel Sarmiento/Gadi Harel) could make it up and maybe salvage some nugget of goodness, but no, the ending remained consistent with the tone of the rest of the film. One of the boys turns his love interest at school into the next ‘deadgirl’. I thought it was sickening how he was portrayed as being so kind and lovely by keeping her clean and lighting candles, but the fact remains that she is tied to a bed and basically used as his sex-toy, and since the ‘deadgirl’ is immortal, what happens when he’s gone? She’ll have to suffer the same abuse that the previous one did, and the cycle will start all over again! I found this all most fustrating and just plain wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a feminist at all, but this film was cruel and evil. But, as the film was so vile and unsettling to watch, hopefully it was trying to highlight the inherent wrongness that it was portraying – because if that’s what it was going for, it worked!

Upon watching the recent film The Woman, I quickly made a comparison with Deadgirl as it was similar in lots of ways, for one thing, I found it incredibly hard to watch. Yet again, it appears to be a bit of a woman-hating movie, and I’m not saying that the producers are trying to endorse that way of thinking, but one cannot help feeling a bit deflated after viewing such a film. Why so much hatred towards women? What have we done to deserve this? The Woman tells the story of a family who happen across a ‘wild’ woman in the forest and their subsequent efforts to ‘tame’ and ‘domesticate’ her. It brings to mind questions about what it means to be part of our modern civilised society.

Maybe the only reasons that I detest these sort of films is because I can’t help but take it somewhat personally, but I do think that The Woman seemed to be too blatantly obvious from beginning to end. There was immediately a very overt division of males and females within this film, although in a way each character represented a different stereotype – the dad was the dominant patriarch, the mum a downtrodden, subservient female, the teacher a naive feminist, etc. I kind of think that because this film consisted of such obvious stereotypes that it wasn’t really believable to me, as people don’t generally tend to be the ‘epitome of the alpha male’ for example, people have differing qualities which give them a fuller shape, rather than being such a two-dimensional figure, as I felt the characters in this film were.

Both this film and Deadgirl appear to challenge perceptions of gender, and their relatioship with each other, with quite horrific conclusions drawn. Now, I am not, in any sense of the word, saying that these are bad films – I actually think that they both work effectively at repulsing the audience and provoking thoughts and discussions to be shared afterwards among the viewers.