|Movie poster retrieved from IMDB.|
|Lucille, Thomas, and Edith movie poster. Retrieved from this site.|
Del Toro immediately sets up the film so that we are suspect of Thomas and Lucille's intentions. There are secret meetings, unscrupulous attempts to raise money and to blackmail others, and an air of suggestive closeness between the two. At first, I thought perhaps they were married and were using a ruse of being siblings to attract dowries from Thomas's future spouses. The audience's mind, even though offered that they are related, first attempts other explanations to explain their lingering hugs, sideways glances, and Lucille's jealousy. When it is revealed in more explicit detail that Thomas and Lucille are sleeping together, Edith at first cannot believe it and shouts that she knew they were not brother and sister. Lucille responds, "but we are!" Confronted with the information directly before her eyes with knowledge of their deformed child, Edith still reconciles her perceptions with anything but incest. Incest becomes the twist, the plot point that was in front of our eyes the entire film, but we could not yet believe it until it is confirmed by Lucille. Incest is a sexual taboo not often addressed in horror films. It emerged in Here Comes the Devil, another film with a Spanish director, but is not a common media trope. Dysfunctional families and families undergoing trauma are often fodder for horror films, such as We Are What We Are, The Devil's Rejects, Red Dragon, The Babadook, and, of course, Psycho. Del Toro's use of incest and elevating the dysfunctional family to the level of incest draws forth interesting thoughts about how society differentiates between sexuality and love. If Lucille had simply loved her brother without having sex with him, perhaps the implications of their relationship would not be so terrifying.
|Lucille taking control. Retrieved from this site.|
|Brother and sister. Retrieved from this site.|
In these three horror films, I find fascinating and interesting themes about female sexuality and how it can be used as a source of power, can be normalized in everyday life, and can be used to invert traditional roles for women. As I've mentioned in a previous post, one aspect that draws me to the horror genre is its penchant for creativity. Many genres become pigeon-holed in cliche plots that never seem to vary from the boy meets girl or person saves someone from place they aren't supposed to be narratives. In horror, however, I find innovation, inversion, and inquiry into the very aspects of what makes us human, and the different ways that people deal with reality and the supernatural. Unlike other genres, I also think horror addresses sexuality and the line between life and death in unique ways. I'm hopeful that the genre will continue to innovate and push our expectations for what we expect films to do.