A place to discuss movies, new and old, 7 days a week.
Released in 2011
Directed by Lynne Ramsay
TL;DR – A disturbing psychological thriller/horror that is chocked full of so many metaphors, visually and otherwise. This is the direction I hope horror films continue to move in. 9/10
***REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS***
This movie is fucked up. It takes a subject matter we are all familiar with, that being “kids are creepy” and ramps everything up to 11. What makes it so unsettling is that we get no real explanation. There’s no possession, no demons, no aliens or supernatural forces of any kind. This kid is simply just a monster, for no reason at all.
As the film opens, we see some sort of celebratory ritual, people covered and sloshing around in what appears to be blood, gore and guts. This is where we see our protagonist Eva, a tour de force performance by Tilda Swinton.
She is getting passed around in the guts by a crowd of people while she squirms in what appears to be ecstasy.
Then we see a variety of shots ranging from a hospital room with a screaming baby to Eva making her way through a crowd outside of a court room dismissing questions from reporters. It’s very abstract, and draws to mind narrative styles like the ones seen in “Enemy.” There’s a lot of flashbacks and non-linear storytelling so make sure you pay attention to how the characters look. Eva appears to be very unhappy with her life at the opening, her house has been vandalized, people harass her on the street and she seems to be tortured by something that we haven’t seen or understood yet.
This movie is absolutely fantastic with metaphors. The previously mentioned sequence about the ritual, followed by the vandalized house to me symbolized birth, and Eva’s body forever changed. There’s audio metaphors, such as when her newborn son Kevin is crying non-stop, it’s compared to that of a jack hammer on a construction site. These are simple examples but the film is full of them.
We meet Eva’s husband Franklin, played by underrated dramatic actor John C Reilly and occasionally we see flashes of a little girl with an eye patch. Kevin, who is a little boy at this point is a quiet, contemplative and very creepy child. Eva tries desperately to connect, to communicate with him and is met by empty, contemptuous stares. The child actor who portrays him is really, really good. As he gets older and starts talking better, he begins to mess with Eva, making her resent him more and more by being difficult, bratty and doing horrible things such as ruining her personal and business documents. He treats her like garbage and makes an effort to show her how much he loves his dad, which angers Eva even more. She is being manipulated, but for what purpose? That is what makes this film so disturbing. There is no point to Kevin torturing Eva at all, aside from him wanting to.
When Kevin gets older, the film turns in to another animal entirely.
As the film progresses we see Eva at a different point in time, thin, sickly and withdrawn from the world, talking with her mother claiming she’s having a dinner party for the holidays but is actually eating a cheese sandwich with a bottle of wine by herself.
Eventually timelines diverge sort of, and we spend a lot of time with Kevin as a high school kid. This is the lowest point of the film for me. We see a lot of vignettes where Eva gives the look that says “Kevin did it” and Franklin rolls his eyes and tries to explain his actions in a logical way. We see time and time again that Kevin is “evil” and frankly I think it was a bit over done. By the end of the film we get an explanation to why Eva is running down the steps of the court house and why she is so miserable.
This is a film that goes beyond conventional drama, horror and even psychological elements. It’s visually and metaphorically disturbing and it’s cast perfectly. While it does slow down a bit in the 2nd act, the pay off is ultimately worth the wait and the end will leave you feeling… well, hopeless.