This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Logan Kenny’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
TW//suicide, ableism, sexual assault
love it when movies use bipolar disorder as a scapegoat for murdering your entire family and killing yourself, perpetuating the stigmas that the mentally ill are monsters who ruin the lives of those around them, who kill without remorse and leave trauma in their wake. love lying about people with mental health issues and creating an environment where they get less and less support, more people who hate and fear them, and suffer as a result. love it when movies make a big deal out of conditions that people like my partner have, and treat them like fucking animals. also love it when movies sensationalise the physically and mentally disabled for fear factor, focusing on the deformities of the supposed “inbred” to signify that evil is present and that things are wrong.
especially love it when sexual assault against a man, with the build up of obvious fear in his eyes, coercion into being drugged and engaging in penetrative sex is framed as evil, and his fault for not being strong enough. the pain of someone watching their partner be raped is worse than the pain of the victim, and the victim therefore deserves to be set aflame for their partner’s emotional catharsis. Aster’s framing, shooting the sexual assault, Pugh’s discovery and then the sacrifice in sequential order leaves no other interpretation. the boyfriend doesn’t die because he’s a bad boyfriend, he dies because he is believed to have cheated on her. and there is no room for nuance in the tragedy of that misread, because it is all about the hollow imagery of a smiling woman scorned. thoughtless, callous, apathetic to the already marginalised, actively triggering and repulsive in its depiction of any form of subject.
it has multiple sequences of suicide, lingers on the imagery of a dead girl who killed herself, and brings it back multiple times throughout the film to try and inspire shock from its burned out audience. it cares nothing about the insights of trauma, viewing it only as screaming, lip quivering and flashbacks that make you cry in a bathroom. no empathy or discomfort or reckoning with the brain working against the traumatised, just easily clippable sensationalism. it has no intent of being a movie about trauma, if it does, then it has failed. as someone with trauma, I’ve rarely seen such a botched attempt at conveying its horrors.
if it is purely an aesthetic vision, it fails at that. the shots are usually perfectly symmetrical, often overhead, and signify no sense of place or environment. every movement of the camera, where it’s an elongated tracking shot, shakes to emphasise Drug Trips or the excessive upside down flips for random B roll footage is painful to look at. the light is oversaturated to the point where the images burn your retinas, and that doesn’t add an effect of intentional discomfort because the film has no suspense or atmosphere. there is nothing scary, it picks the most obvious and most flashy visual and auditory decision every single time and that numbs any prospect of establishing cohesive horror.
I don’t even think it counts as a horror movie, I’m not sure where the scares are supposed to be. I wish I could understand the thesis behind this film, because it functions not as a horror film, or a study of trauma, or a relationship breaking down, or really as a cohesive film. it seems only to exist as a vessel of hatred, regressive stigma, monotony and Ari Aster’s ego. this deserves no following or respect and I genuinely don’t understand how anyone can see the treatment of mental health and rape in this movie and not feel sickened at how the entirety of the creative team exploits them. this was approved and adored by so many people and that honestly makes me feel like no one gives a shit about mentally ill people, sexual assault victims or anyone who goes to bed every night afraid of the trauma that could haunt their dreams. this is a pointless waste of time, that will harm so many people, and I’d rather it be burned in an elaborate wasteful fire than continue to exist and make the world worse. fuck this