The movie “Drag Me To Hell” was a decent entry in the ‘scary movie’ category. I saw it several months ago while it was still on the big screen. About a week ago, I rented it and watched it with Jean. Though she isn’t a big horror movie fan, she really liked the twist ending.
We talked to Lisa about it, thought it might be fun for her too. We don’t watch a lot of scary movies at our house and I thought it might be good to see it together, get a sense of what kinds of things would frighten her, talk her through them. Plus, it was one of the few I’ve seen recently that didn’t either swim in gore or shoot to be terrifying.
Jean and I talked to her a bit beforehand, agreed to tell her when the scary parts were coming, told her there were some funny bits to look forward to as well. We all settled in – lights on, popcorn ready – and turned on the DVD player.
About fifteen minutes into the movie, the major plot is launched: an old Gypsy woman is begging for an extension on her mortgage, the movers are there and ready to throw her out of the house. Alison Lohman’s character – a loan officer angling for a promotion by proving she can ‘make the tough decisions’ – turns the woman down. The woman is devastated and falls to her knees, begging not to be thrown out of her home of 30 years.
Lisa is squirming at this point.
The old woman is reduced to begging for mercy from the young bank teller, who flatly rejects her. Security is called and the woman is dragged out of the building.
The next Big Scene is the end of the work day. The teller gets into her car to go home, but sees the Gypsy woman’s car in the parking structure. Scary music comes up, the camera pans and the Gypsy woman is shown in the back seat – spirited magically into the car (she wasn’t there a minute ago) by her floating handkerchief.
A fight ensues during which the old woman attacks Lohman. The fight goes on for several minutes, but by the middle of it, we’d turned the television off.
I don’t want to get too descriptive for fear of embarassing her, but Lisa made it quite clear to us that she didn’t want to see any more of the movie. She was ready to walk out of the room if we didn’t turn it off.
It wasn’t fear. She wasn’t afraid of anything that had happened.
It was a kind of queasy disgust that the storytellers had taken this sad, broken woman who was losing her home and turned her into the Evil Bad Guy of the movie.
I was completely astonished. What an eye opener. What an education in conditioning. We (OK, I’ll just say “I”) have seen so many movies over the years, have seen so many crazies and plot devices and action sequences and etc that some of the basic features of the stories go sailing right past.
Here we were (the good parents) worried that she might be scared about the shadowy demons, or the quick cut scenes that make you jump out of your seat (surprised, not scared), or grossed out by the old woman toppling out of her coffin, and she responded on a much more human level – it just wasn’t right to make the Gypsy woman the bad guy.
What a treat to see such an honest and human reaction from your own kid.