So I was not fucking expecting this movie to turn my head around and make me have a huge freaking epiphany about horror as a genre.
I literally left the theater shaking from the weight of all the thinking.
So, remember this post? A lot of you gave some really valuable feedback on the Final Girl phenomenon, but I realized we all missed a pivotal point.
What makes these movies scary is not that we think the heroine can't beat the murderer, which is what a lot of people suggested: the idea that if a male character were the protagonist, we would think he had more of a chance against them.
I now think it's more than that. Watching this movie, and yes, I'm spoiling it, because, well, this is the premise of the movie and you can read it in any review, there was a point when I realized that the movie was not frightening because I gave a shit about the teenagers who were running around getting killed. It was frightening because the man doing the killer was their teacher: someone who should have been protecting them, someone who should have been responsible for them.
And that made me think about the killer. And the killer's role. These movies-- we don't have a heroine because she seems more helpless. We always know the girl is going to kick ass. We have a heroine because it makes the villain seem more evil. Because it is about our fear of what we can become on a primal level, of the idea that our own emotions-- love, jealousy, vengeance-- might become so twisted that we would lash out against something we're supposed to protect. A man murdering a dozen men is not as scary as a man murdering an innocent young girl.
One thing that I do have to say for this movie, that really pleased me, is that it reversed the "have sex and you die" trope. The teenagers are victimized at their most vulnerable states, which helped elevate the sense of vulnerability= being betrayed by someone who should protect you and cut out the morality crap you so often get in teen slasher flicks. The rich bitch character? Survives the movie unharmed, when she is totally the stereotype of the first to die. The characters who die include: a girl who ditches her boyfriend when he is being an ass, said boyfriend when he tries to apologize for being an ass, and a girl after she turns down sex with her boyfriend. So, yeah, the opposite of what you usually get.
Don't get me wrong. It wasn't a great movie and I'm definitely not telling anyone to rush out and see it. But wow, did it ever make me think. I don't think I've ever had a mediocre movie make me think this much.