Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Totally out of the blue today, it occurred to me that while I've surpassed 100 horror movies this month, I haven't yet watched a "rape revenge" flick. Typically that's one of my favorite sub-subgenres, so it's usually one of the first ones I go to every year, and I bust out "The Hills Have Eyes" remake, or "I Spit on Your Grave" (original or remake) or "Thriller: A Cruel Picture." I own so many of these flicks that there aren't many I haven't seen. That probably sounds messed up to some of you. For those who don't know, "rape revenge" flicks feature a character who is raped, the character survives, then the character gets revenge on the rapists (or someone gets revenge on behalf of the victim, like the parents in "Last House on the Left" who systematically murder the people who are responsible for raping and killing their daughter). Doesn't sound like fun viewing, and it's not most of the time, because it's harsh and violent and brutal, seeing someone violated like that, and it's hard to watch even the revenge, because it's usually violent and nasty and even revenge can't make up for what happened.
Mostly that's what I need to see in these movies, I think, the reminder that even if we get revenge on those who hurt us, it still doesn't erase the pain we went through, and vengeance is never sated. It doesn't make things better. Not all "rape revenge" flicks get to this deep point, of course, but the good ones, the ones that are worth watching more than once, show me the dark side of humanity and how it can degrade someone, and how even when revenge sounds like a great idea, it doesn't erase the pain the rape has caused to the main character. The good movies show how sometimes we have to fight back, but if we take revenge too far, we run the risk of becoming what we were fighting against in the first place.
Forgive my wordiness. I'm so used to having to defend why I want to watch these movies in the first place that I have these ideas at the forefront of my mind a lot of the time, so I have a response ready when someone vehemently asks "How can you WATCH that stuff?" or something to that effect. I wince, and then I take a deep breath, turn around, and try to explain. Sometimes it comes out better than others, but most of the time I don't think other people really understand, and that's ok. I don't need everyone to agree with me that these movies are good, as long as they don't condemn me for finding value in such films. And "Descent" definitely does have value. I've heard of it before, of course, being something of a connoisseur of such films, but I'd forgotten all about it until recently when I added it to my stash of movies to watch this October, then got distracted by shiny objects and forgot about it again until today, when I read over my list and realized it was missing something. It had MUCH less rape than usual, and that just won't do.
This movie has a lot of rape in it. It's about a shy, dedicated young college student played by Rosario Dawson who doesn't get out much, and on one of the rare nights when she does go out, she is brutally raped. She sinks into a depression after this attack, turning to drugs and promiscuity to dull her pain, until one night, by chance, she gets an opportunity to exact revenge. The movie is difficult to watch. I love Rosario Dawson, and I identified with her character, since I was once a shy, dedicated young college student. It's hard watching her be violated like this, and it's hard watching the pain in her eyes afterward and seeing her try to find ways to escape. Dawson gives a hell of a performance here. everyone in this film gives a hell of a performance, actually, I don't think there's one bad actor in the bunch here.
The performances sucked me into the story, and this is the first film in a long time that actually felt shorter than its running time of an hour and 41 minutes. When you watch 100+ movies in a month, they do start to drag a bit after awhile, but this one didn't. Someone told me how this movie ends, or rather, part of what happens in the end, but even knowing that, I wasn't prepared for the "revenge" part of the movie. I never am. It's pretty harsh, let me tell you. There is a very good reason why this movie has an NC-17 rating. Some movies make me look away or wince, but this one had me staring at the screen with my jaw hanging open, and that's difficult to achieve (I've seen a lot, ya know). I can't really recommend this movie, because it's not horror enough for the people who want to see someone's face get eaten, and it's too rape-y for the average person, but for someone who takes an interest in dark, violent films like this, I will say that the movie has a lot of value. I can't say I "enjoyed" is, but I AM glad I finally checked it out.