The melancholy of liking sexist stuff
There's many a classic I haven't yet seen. Until tonight, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" was one of them.
I'm glad that changed.
As much as I try not to be a cliché, all too often, I am.
I was enthralled with this film. It felt unbelievably fresh to me. A wholly immersive experience that truly crept up on me.
The unremarkable kids, the documentary feel, the slow build-up, the unexpected, brutal twists and turns (I never saw Franklin's death coming! What a scene!), the gruesome, surrealistic last act, the beautiful shots in the end, preceded by more completely surprising, brutal turns of events. I can't say there was anything about "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" that, while watching, I didn't love and admire.
I watched this film with my girlfriend. She had a different perspective.
Before watching "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre", I listened to a conversation between Stephen King and Eli Roth. They both love this film.
In the conversation, King talks about why we love horror. He says (and I'm paraphrasing) that horror gives us a chance to experience fear in a completely safe way.
We're safe from the depicted situations and thus can enjoy the unpleasant emotions horror films evoke in us.
That, of course, is a completely different matter if one does not feel safe from the situations depicted in horror films.
Horror films up until recently being made mostly by and for men, classics of the genre often put us into the point of view of terrified female characters tormented by men. For a male audience, that's probably interesting, far removed from lived experience and very, very safe.
In the past couple of months, during lockdown, femicide in Turkey has gotten out of control.
Horror stories like those depicted in this film are daily news if you follow this kind of thing. That obviously makes it feel different. There's no redemption, no revenge, no justice, nothing of the kind in "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre".
The latter half of the film consists of loud, disgusting men groping and torturing a young girl who just screams and screams and screams.
She never hits back, is never given any kind of agency - She's not even a real character.
She's an object to be humiliated and who gets saved by accident and coincidence.
She's not alone among horror protagonists.
We see women suffer and die in these movies more than we see them be any kind of real character at all.
"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", up until the last third, usually frames its female characters by angling the camera slightly below their bottoms, having their asses in the foreground of every shot of them.
The extensive groping towards the end does not look rehearsed or choreographed. None of the acting does. That's part of what makes the film feel so grimy and real.
It's reprehensible, really.
I deeply love the horror genre. I admire "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" and I think I've learned a lot from watching it.
For the sake of the genre I love most in the world, I hope that many more women start making horror films to bring some sort of balance.
As it is, the genre is inherently problematic and I feel slightly disgusting for liking this film and many like it.