The opening scene.
|There are probably numerous references to horror films I missed, but let's at least introduce the topic here. As we have discussed previously, originality isn't always a good thing; only very narrow-minded critics look for "originality," instead of searching for the reason why aspects of stories keep recurring. When a film triggers your memory that "I've seen that before," it intends to do it, it wants you to have your memory stimulated so it can incorporate that movie being invoked in with its own narrative, that's how films create inter-textual dialogue amongst themselves; film makers know you have see films, they know you have seen horror films, so not only is it a reward when, as the implied viewer, you can say, "Hey, that's coming from Psycho!" but as well, you can now access a greater piece of the puzzle of the film and include Psycho references as well. Again, I am not going to get nearly all of them, but in the second opening scene, when the jeep drives through the woods, that must be invoking The Shining; the sequences of the demon "running" through the forest come from An American Werewolf in London; when Mia drives the station wagon away from the cabin and sees the figure on the road--this has been done many times--that references The Haunting; when she drives the car into the pond, doesn't that remind you of Psycho? With a name like "Mia" and a needle being stuck in her heart to bring a heroin addict back to life, can you not think of Pulp Fiction? The voice of the demon seems to come straight from The Exorcist, especially some of the things the demon says. Why would a horror film in 2013 be invoking such older horror films? One reason is it wants to say the same things those horror films said. When, for example, you want to make a point, you might quote some famous person to substantiate and validate your claim, it lends credibility to your position, and the same is true of art when it wants to say something, it invokes tradition and great works of art to validate what it's doing. Secondly, it wants to become a part of that tradition which came before it, it wants to invoke its "family tree" of films which gave birth to it and remark on family resemblances by saying its part of a continuation it's going to continue in the arena of art that battles over good and evil. Consider, if you will, the "original" Warm Bodies, where the hero is a zombie, where--traditionally--heroes fight zombies. Referencing other zombie films is rather "illegitimate" because what zombie film would claim such a "bastard" as its offspring? (We have discussed this all ready with World War Z so I am skipping this for now). Anyway, the invoking of Psycho through a not-as-famous scene (the car in the pond) is interesting because it demonstrates the non-Hitchcockian references: there is a shower scene, quite unlike the Psycho scene, during which the possession "process" has started for Mia but she hasn't been "taken" completely; one of the signs of deepening possession, according to the book of the dead, is pouring scalding water over yourself; Mia, showering with all her clothes still on, turns the water heat up full power, turning up the furnace as well and receiving second or third degree burns as a result. The complication of this scene, symbolically, is that the "shower," just as in Psycho, is meant as an act of cleansing (Janet Leigh's character seems resolved to return the money she stole before taking her shower, and can then shower as a sign of her confession and being cleansed of guilt) but it appears to be turned into an act of self-mutilation (the scalding of the skin), which of course is a sin; but is that what this scene means? What if Mia has an intuitive understanding of what Eric has to read in the book, that purgation by fire is a way to exorcise the demon from her, and "burning" herself with the water is a way of freeing herself from the demon's hold? This would explain the camera's cuts to the fire in the furnace, that Mia has placed herself in the furnace which her brother David couldn't do. David breaking in and "saving her," continues the quaking grounds of morality on which the film constantly keeps the audience. Should David have allowed Mia to burn herself to death in the shower? The context of that question surrounds the film in an ever-deepening pit, as a lack of action by the spiritually lethargic characters makes battle against the evil hunting them more difficult with every scene, and also the reason why the film is so genuinely well-constructed.|
As a professional woman in the medical field, (as Natalie blatantly says), everyone is following Olivia's advice on possessed Mia just suffering from heroine withdraw, not that she is demonically possessed. Olivia, in insisting that there is nothing "the hospital could do that I am not doing" for Mia after David wants to get her away from there, allows her professional narrow-mindedness to slowly destroy Mia, which is why possessed Mia vomits blood all over Olivia: Mia's blood is literally "on Olivia" because (at this point in the story) Mia is going to die because Olivia fails in her diagnosis. That's why the mirror of the medicine cabinet shatters when Olivia is looking into it, she's looking into herself, and she sees that she's covered in Mia's blood (guilt) but she won't confess she has done the wrong thing, even though Eric confesses that he "did a terrible thing," Olivia won't confess she made a mistake so she "loses face" and cuts herself with the glass (glass symbolizes reflection of the interior life, while our face is not only our identity in physical terms, but also how others see us). Eric is able to defeat her with the sink because a sink is a part of the cleansing process, so Eric takes the sink (his confession he will make) and beats down Olivia's head (her pride) as she slithers like a snake across the floor to possess him next.
The nameless wife of Abraham's nephew Lot disobeyed God and, as they were fleeing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, she looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. Why? Lot's wife was "preserving" (salt is a preservative) the worldly pleasures of Sodom and Gomorrah, not the mercy of God in delivering them; likewise, after David has the keys, he is walking out but turns back to look at a photo of the five friends and remembers them; if David had not done this, possessed Eric would not have had time to get to David and strike him because Eric didn't have a gun or the nail gun, only the wire cutters, and whereas David cut "the wires" of his family bond when his mother was dying, he failed to cut the bonds to those who have died in the cabin. Yes, I know this seems harsh of me to say, but I am not saying it, the film is, again, if David didn't stop to look at the photo, he could have made it out. As The Cabin In the Woods validated through painstaking articulation, there is an order to the horror-film universe, and each character who dies, dies for a reason, i.e., they are all ready dead, and we the audience have to avoid becoming dead like them, that's why we watch horror films, to learn those lessons. David hasn't learned that lesson, he preserves what should not be preserved, and we can say this because the demon requires 5 souls to feast on for blood to start raining from the sky and it starts raining so that's the note that David did indeed fall to the demon.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner