Movie Review: Innocence (2014)

(No Spoilers)This movie, officially released on 9/5, is much better than I thought it would be.

I know that’s vague.

This is a film for the Twilight, Vampire Academy, Beautiful Creatures crowd. And it starts out similarly to many other YA novels and flicks with a Plain Jane (in this case the “Jane” is Beckett Warner played by the adorable Sophie Curtis), a family tragedy (fridged parents everywhere!) and a move. It’s even raining in the first scene -there was no way not to think of Forks! 

As the movie progresses, Beckett remains reserved- logical for a teen who just experienced tragedy, but instead of being angsty and laying around in the grass; she makes friends with the snarky Jen (Sarah Sutherland, yes she is Kiefer’s daughter) and cute skater boy, Tobey (Graham Phillips). Beckett has friends! A girl who is a friend! She doesn’t just have haters that she’s better than! This is a bizarre thing to be excited about but it is actually very rare!

But things get strange for Beckett right off the bat. The school’s lavishly dressed staff and alumni all seem to rally around Beckett, either to help with her issues after her mother’s death or to hit on her father. Then she catches resident mean girl, Sunday, cutting herself and then Beckett almost gets squished during Sunday’s apparent suicide. After that, Beckett starts having nightmares and seeing ghosts. Her visions alert her to previous student deaths leading her to believe that there is more going on behind closed doors than “alumni book club”. Beckett becomes conflicted and doesn’t know who to trust. Meanwhile, the school nurse (Kelly Reilly, “Black Box”, Sherlock Holmes films) is lounging sexily around her apartment and adults everywhere are trying to keep her away from her new crush. 

This film is not without plotholes. You have to suspend disbelief to make it fit, but it’s good. Beckett isn’t socially awkward to the point of nonsense like Bella, she allows herself to be young and lash out unlike Katniss, her friends don’t just jump in and believe the crazy stuff she tells them like Clary’s friends. It’s like she’s a real teenager. She pursues Tobey. She even breaks into his house. Which I still don’t recommend, but it’s still less creepy than Edward watching Bella sleep. There’s no love triangle. The girls’ uniforms aren’t sexed up like the girls from Vampire Academy:

vamovie

or the Coven Clique from The Craft

thecraft

Beckett and Jen look and act like regular teenage girls without being reduced to boy crazy day dreamers or willed into impossibly cool and bad ass crime fighters. They share headphones, they make mistakes, their parents are clueless obstacles that have no idea what they are going through, they pierce each other. It actually had a little in common with Thirteen that way. And there is no “slut shaming“! There is a genuine teenage feel to this. And if you are into that sort of thing, you’ll dig it. 

innocence-featured-image

The film sets up for a while that Beckett’s problems might be in her head, it’s not till fairly late in the film that the sinister secrets are revealed. There’s a few clues here and there. It’s also a good metaphor about adults, envious of youth, setting unrealistic expectations but then coveting their potential. It’s good. 

It made me interested in the novel as well, I would love to get more into Beckett’s headspace. At just an hour and a half the film is really quick and there’s not as much time for suspicious suicide pacts and exposition. The audience also doesn’t get to know why (if any reason) Beckett gets an elaborate grooming while others had not. I would be interested to see if Jane Mendelsohn dove further into those aspects when writing the original novel. It’s not a series, which is too bad, really.

3.75 plaid skirts!

Penny Dreadful- Episode 5

“Closer Than Sisters”

The pace slowed down considerably with this episode. 

The entirety of the episode takes place in flashbacks to Vanessa’s childhood. The ENTIRETY. For a show with as large a main cast as Penny Dreadful has this is quite bizarre. No monsters. No vampires, no werewolves. No love triangles. No Dorian Gray.

Which means that I have to wait and see what happens with Dorian and Ethan. This show has sucked my in. As soon as I watch; I want more. This show is typically intense with multiple plotlines and motivations intermingling.

So this Vanessa-centric, nostalgic exposition was… different.

Vanessa and Mina were neighbors who grew up separated by only an open gate and a hedge maze. We see them first as children imagining who they will marry, frolicking on the coastline and brushing each other’s hair. Vanessa’s crush on Peter. Until one fateful night. The young Vanessa was out in the hedge maze and she caught her mother having sex with Mina’s father, Sir Malcolm. This breech of her innocence causes her to act out in other ways, stealing and other instances of “girlish mischief.” 

Image

As they grow older Mina meets the kind of man that they dreamed of growing up while Vanessa’s budding relationship never blooms. He tells Vanessa he is going off to Africa. Vanessa knows he’s too weak, but she loves him for his weakness. Peter pushes her away. Just before Mina and her officer with the grand mustache are to be married, Vanessa encounters him in the halls and they flirt over taxidermy. Then they have sex. Mina finds the pair while her soon to be husband is pounding away at her BFF and she casts both of them out of her life. 

Vanessa confronts her mother about her infidelity with Sir Malcolm but when Vanessa gets to Mina’s yard she is faced with Sir Malcolm. He doesn’t let her pass and slams the gate. Vanessa collapses.

She treated first for what appears to be epilepsy and then she is taken in for psychiatric treatment for psychosexual fits. Treatments like ice baths and heavy narcotics… but nothing seems to work. The possession continues. Her mother finds her humping the air (Vanessa envisions Sir Malcolm) and faints. Peter comes to visit just before a trip to Africa and Vanessa predicts his death. 

Image

Years later, Vanessa is visited by Mina on a beach. Mina says that she forgives Vanessa saying that her suffering has been penance enough. Mina tells Vanessa about her new husband, Jonathan Harker. But once she lets it slip that Vanessa saw her father being unfaithful, Mina reveals that the Master has told her a lot. And then Vanessa visits Sir malcolm and tells him what Mina has revealed to her.

So let’s talk about it: Women’s sexuality demonized. Literally.

The loss of Vanessa’s innocence leads to her morality spiraling down the drain. Which isn’t supernatural mumbo jumbo. The young Vanessa sees that the adults around her are hypocritical in their religious and pious appearance, that they are sinning and she youthfully acts out. But then as an adult she is jealous of her friend and so she seduces her fiance. This act leaves her open for demonic possession. 

Slut shaming at it’s finest that Vanessa’s betrayal leaves her the property of Satan.

Other than that? 

I’m glad I have incorrectly assumed that Sir Malcolm raped Mina. It appears as though at the seance it was a young Mina’s essence who inhabited Vanessa (or possibly still Peter) but that the “her” was Vanessa’s mother. I hope. Possession is very confusing. 

This episode was comparatively slower to all the other episodes thus far, but it was so bizarre and captivating that it didn’t hurt my enjoyment of it. Eva Green can easily carry a scene and I have to give her props for some of the insane things that she pulled off there. 

I am concerned.

What I am concerned about is this:

Image

Now, I wouldn’t be bothered if Vanessa’s love for Mina is romantic more than platonic. But I will be bothered if Vanessa had sex with Mina’s fiance not because Vanessa was jealous of Mina for having what she envisioned but that she was jealous because she wanted Mina. I don’t need a “conniving lesbian homewrecker” plot. It’s preposterous.Hopefully I am just being paranoid. Tropes make me suspicious. Also, I hate to say it -because I don’t mind a “strong female character would do anything for true love” plot, which this would be if Vanessa had an interest in Mina that was romantic, but can girls just be down for their friends sometimes? I hope.

My Blog is 3 Months Old!

The best book I read this month: Parasite by Mira Grant, out for consumption on October 29th, get ready for this sci-fi tale to eat your brain! In the not so distant future, human bodies are regulated with “intestinal bodyguards.” Sally Mitchell is the first to have her tapeworm save her life after a near deadly accident leaving her an amnesiac lab rat for SymboGen. It’s not all bad for Sal, she gets along better with her sister, has a gig at an animal shelter and a doctor boyfriend. But when people start getting a “sleepwalking sickness” she finds herself in the heart of a SymboGen cover-up. Who’s good, who’s bad? Twist turns and gray areas ensue.

Image

 

I was going to squick you out with some tapeworm photos, but opted for this gem: an ad for a tapeworm diet!

Top Posts this month:

Rachel Deering’s Anathema Vol. 1

Movie Review for Elysium

Discussion: The Slut Shaming of Buffy Summers

That’s it for August! What will September bring?

Image

The Slut Shaming of Buffy Summers

It’s my day off! Gourmet breakfast and a Buffy minimarathon ensues! This show is jam packed with problematic nonsense. I know, I like this show, too, but it’s true. Don’t get so defensive.

Before we begin: What is a “slut”?

No one seems to actually come up with one cohesive definition of what is and is not “a slut” factors can vary because of age, social circles, class, religious belief, the season, the fashion. Whatever. A slut is someone who “sleeps around” but how many people is required to be considered “sleeping around”? Is it based on relationship status? People will call a female “slut” not only because of real, perceived or rumored sexual prowess but because of how they look in leggings, what color shoes they have on or if they are wearing “too much eye make up” or the size of her breasts.

 What is “slut shaming”?

Harassing, insulting or judging a woman, labeled a “slut” by the afore mentioned waffling definition.

Image

 The whole plot of Buffy Season 2 is an anti-teen-sex PSA. Let’s just get that out in the open, in case some how you didn’t get that. The episode where Buffy has sex with Angel (Season 2 Episodes 13 and 14), he loses his soul, and becomes a whole different person. Literally “men treat women differently after they have sex.” Then her mother says she seems “different” just by looking at her.

The virginal Willow repeatedly calls Cordelia a “skank.” Because let’s face it, when a woman goes after what she wants, and what she wants is a man, even if he’s without relationship status, she must be a skanky slut whore. But that’s not who I’m here to talk about. While Cordelia may or may not have even slept with anyone, Buffy slept with exactly one person before she was slut shamed, judged negatively, deemed inferior and deemed unable to make competent decisions.

Image

In Season 2 Episode 17

This is the most egregious of the examples. Angel is breaking into Buffy’s house at night and drawing creepy pictures of her while she sleeps, petting her hair and leaving notes on her pillow. Creepy stalker abusive exboyfriend behavior x4. When Buffy discusses with the Scooby Gang how to revoke her invitation and keep him out, Xander says, “That’s what you get for inviting strange men in.” Then later, after Angel creeps out her mom and tells her that he and Buffy ‘made love’ her mother says “He’s too old for you, and obviously unstable. I expect you to make better choices.” Really? Are 16 year olds well known for good choices? A teenage girl should obviously realize that men turn into stalkers and psychopaths as soon as they let the man “get the milk for free,” it’s clearly her own fault. Yikes. This is what girls are told. Buffy’s friends and her mother blame her for getting stalked. They blame her for getting stalked! And no one points out how effed up this is!

And I would like to point out also, not that I needed to, but Angel was a creepy stalker when he still had a soul. He stalked Buffy before she even came to Sunnydale. And then he pops out of the shadows throughout the first two seasons. He follows her because “she’s going to need help.” Yeah… help to get away from you, creep.

 In Season 2 Episode 18

This one’s light on the meta plot, Buffy’s in the hospital with the flu. Xander stands watch to make sure Angel doesn’t come by, being a public place he needs no invitation. Angel calls Xander out on still being in love with her. Xander tells him, “You’re going to die and I’m going to be there.” Angel calls Xander “Buffy’s white knight.” Xander, even though he’s with Cordelia, is still mad he got “relegated to the friendzone” and incessantly stakes his claim on Buffy. Xander, who last episode blamed her for getting stalked is now her protector. Because he’s such a “nice guy.”

Image

No. Fuck you, Xander Harris. 

In Season 2 Episode 19

Buffy dates a guy on the swim team, he gets pushy with her and she bashes his head into the steering wheel. The school officials are all “poor this guy” and then when Buffy says he deserved it, and it was just a sprained wrist and a bloody nose. Everyone gives her the side eye and then she says “granted there’s not a scratch on me, that doesn’t help my case.” So Buffy should have allowed a man to force himself on her and leave marks before she defended herself? This reeks reminiscently of “forcible rape” dialogue and victims being interrogated when they bring abuse/rape charges against someone, which happens in the real world too damn often.