Paul bought the movie Hard Candy, so I watched it before bed last night, and immediately wished I hadn’t. Because it was plotted, and because none of what could have been graphic is shown on screen, it is not torture “porn,” but it comes from that kind of place I think. There is something deep-rooted in these situations–on one hand the fear of being commandeered by someone who is not controllable, predictable, or swayed by the rules of society–is that titillating in someway perhaps? Maybe the surge of emotion and adrenaline alone is enough to make being horrified pleasurable. And on the other hand, there is the idea of torturing someone else. And is the fact that the someone else is guilty of some crime part of this, or something that we add to make the whole idea palatable to ourselves and others? I don’t know. But at the end of Hard Candy (spoiler alert), we get the satisfaction at the end of knowing the guy that’s she’s tortured is a pedophile, possible accessory to murder, so we feel in some way excused for reveling in the hour and a half of cruelty, because it was justice being meted out.
With a substitution of characters, the situation reminded me of reading the play Death and the Maiden, where a woman is confronted with a man she believes tortured her during the war, and also Extremeties.
Since I’ve been at the film school, with each year’s class, apart from the straight up horror films, there is always someone who does a film where someone who has transgressed in someway is held in the basement while the man of the house conducts some kind of interrogation.
I can’t say what the attraction is…I can guess that it is a catharsis of some anger, or the fantasy of taking control and punishing people who have made us feel out of control and hurt us. And I can’t say why these films really appeal to some people–the numbers who have turned out in droves for each Saw film–and not to me. I have a small list of films I have seen that hardly approach that level of violence–Seven, Last Exit to Brooklyn, and now possiblyHard Candy–yet make me sad and queasy years after viewing them. Am I repressing some core part of myself that would revel in this? Or am I just a wimp–one of the first to go if we ever have to survive in a post-apocolyptic world populated by some mutated race of torture fiends?
How do you feel about these films? Feel free to comment!