I have a hard time categorizing this movie--it doesn't seem to me to be a horror film, but that IS one of the genres it's been lumped into. I can see why, and yet at the same time, I can't. I have a hard time pinning it down to ANY genre, truth be told, unless there is one called "Crazy crazy paranoia."
Plotline: Carol is a manicurist who lives with her sister, and she is beginning to have some sort of nervous breakdown. The slightest look or touch from a man sends her spiraling into madness. When her sister heads off for vacation, leaving Carol all alone, she begins to hallucinate that men are roaming through her apartment, even imagining that she has been raped a few times. When a perfectly benign male love-interest drops by out of worry for her state of mind, nothing good can of course come of it.
Scariness factor: This movie is not scary in so much as it is a shudder-filled look into the mind of paranoia. In that sense, it is as creepy and spooky as they come.
Gross-Out Factor: Everything is left to the imagination, but watching a mad Deneuve hack at her landlord with a razorblade is surprisingly startling and horrifying, despite the fact that none of it is actual shown.
Complaints: No major ones.
High Points: This movie freaks me out. Polanski is a skilled mastermind when it comes to movies about paranoia and madness, The Tenant being another movie of his I just couldn't stop thinking about afterwards. He uses fanTAStic camerawork to capture what madness must look like from inside the brain of the mad. Impressive and fantastic. Clearly movies such as Repulsion and The Tenant have inspired horror-movies to come, in the realm of camera-shots and cinematography--particularly in Repulsion, you will recognize what I can only assume to be the inspiration for the opening "hands-exploding-from-walls-and-grabbing-at-the-main-character" scene in Day of the Dead. The acting is fantastic in this--just looking at Deneuve made me fricking nervous constantly, from the nervous nose-flicking twitch that develops to her dead eyes. And what particularly impresses me about this movie is that Polanski manages to handle the (hallucinated) rape scenes without accidentally sexualizing them as so many movies do--they are nasty, there is nothing titillating about them, and they are disturbing. The men are rough and disgusting (just as Carol perceives all men to be), and there are no tit-shots or other sexualized moments intended to titillate the male viewer. You (for the most part) experience them as the ugliness that Carol perceives them to be. Carol's actions are both at times understandable (especially when men like the landlord only serve to confirm the ugliness of men and almost give her justification for her actions) and horrifying (with regard to what happens to her completely-benign caring love-interest). This movie makes me *FEEL* a bit crazy whenever I watch it, and that in itself is enough to recommend. I can think of very few movies able to capture madness so well.
Overall: Hunt it down and watch it. It may not be your typical "horror" flick, but it will frighten you and leave you shuddering.
Labels: A movies