|"I am the Devil, and I endorse this message."|
1) I am loathe to call this a horror movie, even though there are horrific things within these 91 minutes. The combination of Neil Jordan’s surrealism, the source material by Angela Carter and the unconventional narrative structure makes this something singularly unique that has to be experienced so that each person can determine what it is to them.
2) And speaking of horrific things--I don’t care how much it’s obviously an animatronic, the transformation of Stephen Rea’s Young Groom into a wolf is absolutely grotesque, and pure nightmare fuel.
3) Of course, one of the amazing things about this film is how Jordan took a feminist sociological text and turned it into a film that thoroughly disguises that it’s an anthology film with big heaping piles of dream logic woven in.
4) Casting Angela Lansbury as Granny was a masterstroke. Lansbury is able to walk the thin line between being a kindly relic of an older age (even in the medieval setting her segments occur in) and being a very sinister presence. Thus we sort of agree with Sarah Patterson’s Rosaleen’s mother that the girl spends too much time with her, but also feel awful when the fate we know is coming for Granny comes.
|"Crackd mirror on the wall/who's the wolfiest of them all?"|
5) I’ll be the first to admit that the dream-within-a-dream-where-stories-are-told structure makes the narrative unclear--but that might be exactly what Jordan intended. He wants us to be disoriented and confused, just as we would be if we were dreaming this narrative.
6) Just as I think Lansbury’s casting was genius, so do I think the casting of Sarah Patterson as Rosaleen is brilliant. She is able to convey that weird mix of awkwardness, innocence and confidence of a girl on the cusp of womanhood, and manages to reflect what others try to feed her--thus she becomes a miniature of Granny when interacting with her mother, and her mother when interacting with the boy in the village who is courting her. It’s a tiny little complex performance that is a perfect fit for what Jordan and Carter are trying to achieve.
7) I think every movie could be vastly improved by having Devil Terence Stamp rock up in a Rolls Royce driven by a female albino chauffer holding a skull to hand out gifts.
8) For a film with a number of werewolf transformations spread out over its various stories, I am struck by how Jordan makes sure each one is unique in and of itself. While most people would remember the ‘wolf out of the mouth’ transformation that became the film’s poster, the one that’s the most visually striking is the mass transform taking place in a shattered mirror. That Jordan was able to give us this variety in a film that’s obviously low budget is amazing.
9) A lot of the main thread was shot on set, as were key scenes of the individual stories....and I think this once more feeds into the dream-like tone Jordan is going for. When the skies are colored just a little bit wrong, you have to accept that you’re not in anything close to reality.
10) The last story, featuring Danielle Dax, is so sad thanks to Dax’s physical performance. And even though the story says more about the teller than the character within, it provides an excellent coda to the film and a rationale for Rosaleen’s decision at the end.
Overall...a singularly original piece of work that weaves a number of disparate elements to produce something that stands out from other horror films of the period. I cannot recommend this film enough.