You know those movies that people your age always talked about when you were younger? They were movies that technically they should not have been allowed to see and yet those kids always did--and they always talked about it like they were busy throwing back Bud Lights in the back of the school bus. For me this movie was Requiem For a Dream. I remember some boys on the bus talking about how intense this movie was. How completely and utterly messed up it was and how I could never watch it because I was a wimpy girl or something blah blah whatever you guys I play video games...and you're just a bunch of....jerk faces......
........Right so anyways. For all these years now I've always held what I thought was an appropriate opinion of Requiem For a Dream. A movie that largely felt like a nightmare and a movie that was disturbing in every sense of the word. This is why I am in the here and now talking about this film on a horror movie blog. I've seen it on more than a few "disturbing film" lists and it was only appropriate that I examine it for myself.
It's funny because I finally saw Black Swan last night and now watching this, I can see all these immediate similarities. I can only assume this is a repeated theme in Aronofsky's work--this idea that at first we believe other, outside forces are the bad guy when in reality it's an internal struggle that is causing the most harm. Characters always seem to be at war with themselves, and this is clear when we arrive at the final terrifying scene at the conclusion of Requiem For a Dream. I must be honest and admit to you that I felt pretty let down through most of the film. Not because it was bad (It's not) but because nothing was disturbing me. I started to get restless and I just sat there waiting and waiting. Finally--it happened.
If you don't know, Requiem For a Dream follows the journey of addiction. Ellen Burstyn (!!) is an old woman addicted to day time self help shows, her television and amphetamines.
Jared Leto is her son addicted to heroin, while his girlfriend Jennifer Connelly and friend Marlon Wayans follow suit. What happens is a terrifying trip from hope to destruction. We watch simply like any other film but then suddenly realize that our eyes have just been raped. Drugs have never been scarier.
I wasn't expecting the huge disturbing moment to be at the end of the film. All the shifts are gradual, and it's a slow process that shows us how each person is falling apart. That being said, that sudden massive upheaval at the end is still incredibly jarring. It's appropriate of course, as I assume the jump is a way to show how quickly drugs can change everything. Yes, it's a gradual thing, but sooner or later you hit that wall suddenly--and everything is very different.
It is this pivotal scene at the end, that is in many ways is one of the most disturbing MOMENTS I have ever seen. Somehow it continues to stick out to me as just a moment though. This is interesting as I felt disturbed throughout the entirety of Black Swan. Hmmmm. In any case--here is a pictorial example of what I felt like while watching that explosion of horror.
And yes that's right--I had no shirt on... because I fucking vomited all over it.
This last scene is no joke. I say this to you as someone concerned for other people's well being. And I'm about to spoil every single part of it so look away now if you want to see this for yourselves. Over the course of probably 10 minutes our eyes are over come with what is happening. We go from Jared Leto's terrifying open gash on his heroin arms, to Jennifer Connelly being forced to have anal sex with some whore and a giant double ended dildo. Believe me, it's NOT hot for any of you weird freaky deaky people. This scene of butt sex is juxtaposed with shots of Marlon Wayans mashing a giant vat of potatoes up in prison like he is churning butter. Meanwhile Ellen Burstyn is getting Electric Shock Therapy, and our insides are about to explode. The pictures keep getting faster, things are spinning out of control, giant dildos are being lubed up, men are shouting with money, Jared Leto's arm is being sawed off and Marlon Wayans fucking pukes in the mashed potatoes. It is done in such a way that you too feel like you are removed from your own body.
Everything is one giant pile of sadness and revulsion. How did we end up here? It all makes you rather depressed to think about--but I wouldn't go as far as saying that I'm disturbed. I can understand its position on many disturbing lists, but I get the feeling that people are mostly just too uptight about needles. Giant needles being shoved in a giant open wound on someone's nasty heroin arm. I'll be honest, it's probably one of the sickest things I have ever seen--but it's just one moment. It's not evoking an entire disturbed feeling out of me.
So I guess what I'm trying to say to you cool boys on the bus--not that big of a deal. Great film, amazingly effective and entirely overwhelming in its emotional impact and severity--but it won't be keeping me up late at night because I'll be too busy having nightmares about Natalie Portman's swan feet. I guess I just had the wrong idea about it is all. I was expecting to be fully revolted and disturbed but I wasn't.
Just as a note, I really enjoyed this film--but for the purposes of Exploration Disturbia--it does not pass the test. Maybe in another life and another place I can go into detail about what I truly loved but for now---we'll just pretend that Keith David didn't do that.