Horror Film Countdown Day 29 – Movies Anxious Parents Should Avoid
October 29, 2016
Welcome to our countdown to the most anxiety-inducing horror films for parents on day 29!
As you know, we have been covering the films I both love and hate because they’re awesome and they give me panic attacks now that I’m a mom.
Today’s movie is a series, a remake and a video game of glorious terror and deliciously frightening images that no only don’t leave you right away, but love to return just when it’s the least convenient.
Disclaimer: Trigger warnings are a given when you talk about horror, but I’m going to say it anyway. Many subjects covered by horror films are disturbing to parents in ways we can’t possibly understand and each is unique to the parent and his/her experiences. Tread carefully and know your limits. If this begins to be too much, there’s no shame in closing the window. Also, this post contains some spoilers throughout.
3. The Grudge/Ju-On
Most of us saw this movie while relating to the caretaker Karen and her young boyfriend Doug. (I’m going with the names from the US release in 2004, just to keep it simple.)
Most of us think about this poor girl who is only trying to help and has absolutely nothing to do with the situation. Most of us relate to her, or her boyfriend, or any of the others who are victims of this film, but me? Oh no, of course not.
The real main characters in this film are Toshio and his mother, Kayako.
These two have haunted me since I saw the film in a way that almost makes me wonder if the curse didn’t transfer to me when I saw it that first night…
The Grudge/Ju-On franchise is all directed by the same evil genius; Takashi Shimizu, so it’s easy to see parallels and direct cross-overs between the US and Japanese versions. This makes for a beautiful sense of continuity and cohesion between versions which is rare, and also why it’s easy to get them mixed up.
This haunted house story, like most ghostly tales, is a tragic one. So tragic in fact, the stain of tragedy became a curse. The storyline twists and turns as each new person comes in contact with the house, but at its heart, it is the story of a mother and child (and cat) who were all brutally murdered in a fit of rage by the husband. He crushes her throat and snaps her neck, then drowns his son and their cat. After, he hangs himself. The darkness of these murders haunts the home and tortures anyone who comes in contact with the ghosts until they are killed, themselves. As it touches new people like a virus, the curse spreads to everyone around, even those on the peripheral. Eventually, the curse takes what it wants from everyone it has marked.
As is the case on many films like this, we realize there is no solution. There is no bargaining, no freedom, no compassion… there is no way out once you have been touched by it. Kayako will find you, no matter where you go, no matter how far away you get from her home. If she has marked you for death, she will take you. That’s the thing with curses… they’re unstoppable.
This is another film, similar to The Ring, in which the nature the haunting is malevolent, intelligent, demanding and relentless. You leave the theater haunted by a tiny sense of dread in the reality that while you know logically, it’s complete fiction, if there were even the slightest shred of truth to this story, she would now have her icy hands upon your neck, too.
As a parent now watching this, I feel so terrible for Toshio and I just want to hug his creepy little ghosty face and I don’t even care if he meows like a demon cat from hell, the boy just needs a hug, some fuzzy pj’s and a cup of cocoa. I feel so terrible for Kayako and Toshio now and as I feel they are both cast as evil spirits who want to do harm, they are also trapped souls of a mother and child who were brutally murdered and need to share that pain…. in the most terrifying and disturbing ways possible.
We all need to share when we hurt, right? None of this is really their fault and I see their actions as demonic ghosts more like the cries for help in a victimized teenager. Even the horrifying sound she makes is just an echo of the way she died. Just like Sadako/Samara and so many others, the pain they cause is only a reflection of the pain they feel, and that makes me just hurt for them.
On the creepier side, the imagery in this film is severely disturbing and it’s burned into the backs of my eyelids for the rest of time. I think about it, quite by accident, all the time. When the babies were tiny and I’d be up all night with them alone in a dark house, I’d stare into the blackness of my open closet and I’d think about Toshio and Kayako.
Have there been times when I wish I could have duct taped my closet doors shut? Yes, yes there were… I have been known to get up in the middle of the night and close the closet doors, taking care NOT to look into the darkness inside as I did so.
Any time I have had to climb stairs in a stairwell, I also think of Kayako. EVERY. TIME. My OB’s office had stairs like this, fortunately I rarely needed to take them instead of the elevator which actually wasn’t much better, but that’s a whole separate set of issues from Silent Hill…
So, it’s not so much the story itself that disturbed me most with this one… but the imagery and its gorgeous sense of dread that lingers in the back of your mind, always, and when you are a mother of small children, when you own a black cat, when you are sleep-deprived and alone most of the day, these images like to creep inside and play tricks on your mind. Shadows seem to move, get darker, deeper and wider. The light seems farther away and the patterns on the walls seem to move as you are dizzy with exhaustion, holding your fussy baby at the magical hour of 3am… the fight to forget what could be lingering in those shadows gets harder the more tired you are. The reality that these stories are invented by a storyteller doesn’t always help when images like this are what come to mind;
Tomorrow is All Hallow’s Eve Eve! Stay with us for another two days of this, the best is yet to come!