Tuesday, June 18, 2013

30 Days of Nightmares #18: AMER (2009)

The Story: Sex + Death, Euro-horror style

Expectations: I rented this movie because it has been favorably compared to the early work of Mario Bava and Dario Argento.  The cover art also reminded me of Jess Franco's THE AWFUL DR. ORLOF.  So basically I was expecting a visually audacious, slightly incoherent, perversely erotic film about horrific obsession.... with lots of water imagery, closeups of eyeballs, and a bold use of primary colors. 

Reaction: There's almost no dialogue in this film, so it lives or dies on its imagery.  That makes it a difficult film to write about.  In fact, I don't really want to write about it at all.  Instead, I want to share what it reminded me of.  I encountered the following story in Ingmar Bergman's autobiography The Magic Lantern...

“When I was ten, I was shut inside the mortuary at the Sophiahemmet… One sunny day in late winter, Algot [the caretaker] lured me into the inner room and pulled the sheet off a corpse that had just arrived.  It was a young woman with long dark hair, a full mouth and round chin.  I gazed at her for a long time while Algot was busy doing something else.  Suddenly I heard a crash.  The outer door had slammed shut and I was alone with the dead… I banged on the door and shouted for Algot, but it was no use.  At any moment, one of them might rise up and grab hold of me.  The sun shone through the milky white window-panes, above my head accumulated the stillness, a dome that reached the sky….The young girl who had just been treated lay on a wooden table in the middle of the floor.  I pulled back the sheet and exposed her.  She was quite naked apart from a plaster that ran from throat to pudenda.  I lifted a hand and touched her shoulder.  I had heard about the chill of death, but the girl’s skin was not cold, but hot.  I moved my hand to her breast, which was small and slack with an erect black nipple.  There was dark brown on her abdomen.  She was breathing.  No, she wasn’t breathing.  Had her mouth opened?  I saw the white teeth showing just below the curve of her lips.  I moved so that I could see her sex, which I wanted to touch but did not dare...

“Then I saw that she was watching me from under her half-lowered eyelids.  Everything became confused, time ceased to exist and the strong light grew brighter.  Algot had told me about a colleague of his who had wanted to play a joke on a young nurse.  He had placed an amputated hand under the covers on her bed.  When the nurse did not appear for morning prayers, they had gone to her room, where she was found sitting naked, chewing on the hand.  She had torn the thumb off and stuck it into her hole.  I was now going to go mad in the same way.  I hurled myself at the door, which opened by itself.  The young woman let me escape.” 

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