The Damned Shows That You Should Be Careful Who You Rescue

Movie poster for The DamnedPossession has been a popular topic for horror over the past few years. The Damned adds its own special twist to this horror sub-genre. David Reynolds (Peter Facinelli) and his fiancee, Lauren (Sophia Myles), go to Spain to collect his daughter, Jill (Nathalia Ramos), so that she can attend their upcoming wedding. But, of course, Jill has left her passport at some godforesaken place out in the country, so they all — David, Lauren, Jill, Gina (David’s former sister-in-law who is a reporter), and Ramon (Gina’s photographer, but also Jill’s Spanish boyfriend) — have to travel back there to retrieve the passport. As they start out, it begins to storm, and even though the police warn them off of the road they have chosen, Gina declares it to be safe and the fastest way. So, of course, they are caught in a mudslide, which injures Lauren and leaves the car unusable. They then hike to the nearest shelter, an old inn, where they are met with less than a welcoming attitude by the elderly owner who reluctantly allows them to come inside. While there, David begins nosing around and comes across a small girl being kept in a filthy box in the cellar. He thinks this is probably not the best location for her and takes it upon himself to free her, holding off the innkeeper at gunpoint, and this is when things go from bad to worse. The girl is actually possessed and the spirit inside her is able to move from person to person. The group is caught without a way to escape, and has to attempt to fight off the spirit and save themselves.

The possessed girl, Anna, in The Damned

NOTE: There are some spoilers below!!

While I won’t say that I loved this movie, I did enjoy it for a few different reasons:

  • The mixing of language was interesting and provided for a more foreign feel. Even though much of the movie is in English, there is a lot of Spanish that is spoken. What is different about this movie is that not all of the Spanish sections include subtitles. It creates an interesting language equilibrium. I know enough Spanish to keep up, but others might find this challenging. To me, though, I found it refreshing and different, and very much enjoyed it.
  • Movement of the spirit from person to person is accomplished in an interesting manner. This aspect of the movie most closely resembled that in Fallen, but the spirit in this movie infects the body of whoever kills the previously infected. So, getting rid of those infected by the spirit is rather complicated.
  • While some of the reviews I read brought up the obvious question — why wouldn’t you just lock the possessed person up again? — I think that this becomes a difficult decision based upon the situation. For the most part, everyone is family (or at least “family like”), so you really don’t want to be killing someone unless you absolutely have to, which, at first, no one knows. Additionally, you’re in a strange, out of the way house, so locking someone up there and then what — leaving them? While these considerations don’t really get covered as much in the film as they could have, I think that they are definitely there and add some complexity to the situation.

So, I would definitely say that this film is worth a watch if you are interested in the possession sub-genre!

Oculus Will Mess With Your Mind

Movie poster for OculusI hadn’t really heard much about Oculus — somehow it flew under my radar when it came out — but I recently watched it and was pleasantly surprised. The movie focuses on brother and sister Tim (Brenton Thwaites) and Kaylie Russell (Karen Gillan), who survived some terrifying events when they were children. Their parents ended up dead and Tim was accused of murder and spent ten years in an institution. As the movie begins, he has just been released, convinced that he has been cured and that everything that happened to him when he was young has a perfectly logical explanation. However, Kaylie is not of the same mind, and is convinced that the problems all began with an antique mirror — one that she has managed to find. Kaylie is intent upon expunging the evil that lives within the mirror and she brings Tim along for the ride.

Brenton Thwaites and Karen Gillan in Oculus

Mirrors and doorways are always fascinating to me. There is a liminality — a neither here nor there — the potential for something just on the other side that is unexpected. The word “oculus” typically refers to a round opening, and the mirror in this movie is just that — an opening to something or somewhere else. There seems to be a presence that lives in the mirror, which can take hold of the minds of those close to it, the radius of power spreading as it sucks energy from those near. It changes people. It also messes with their mind. Often Kaylie or Tim is convinced that one thing is happening, when in reality something entirely different is going on. Or, they think they are in one place when in reality they are somewhere else. The mirror distorts their perception enough that it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to tell what is real and what is fantasy. Unfortunately, many of these deceptions are dangerous, and it doesn’t take long for the situation in the house to deteriorate.

Interspersed with the current attempts by the siblings to rid the mirror of its power are flashbacks to what happened years ago when they were young. Their parents are played by Rory Cochrane and Katee Sackhoff, and slowly we begin to see how the mirror corrupted their minds, caused their deaths, and destroyed the family. There are a lot of scary and disturbing situations in these parts of the film, which help lend to the seriousness of the current task that Kaylie has taken on.

This movie kept me guessing and made me jump quite a bit! If you like movies about haunted houses or possession, then you will probably enjoy Oculus.