Headline, October 15 2020/ ''' '' WOMEN* FILMMAKERS CAPTURE '' ''' : ESSAY



IF OUR IMAGINATIONS ARE CAPABLE OF CONJURING great horrors as well as wonder, here's a question : Can we pass on our most acute fears, virus-style to others?

The things that scare women the most are already inside them.

MOVIES : Women filmmakers capture the fear of 2020. So what happens when women filmmakers take control of the horror genre themselves.

In her shivery, evocative and sometimes surprisingly funny existential thriller She Dies Tomorrow, writer director Amy Seimetz burrows deep into some of our dumbest 3 a.m. fears, and wonders aloud,-

What if they're not so dumb? Katee Lyn Sheil plays Amy, a young woman who becomes seized with a fear she can't explain : she's certain she's going to die the next day.

In a  panic  she calls her closest friend, Jane [Jane Adams] begging her to come over. Jane shows up and tries to talk sense into her friend - only to return home, get into her pj's and suddenly feel paralyzed by the same fear.

SHE DIES TOMORROW TAKES PLACE in a world much like the one we're living in right now, one that feels untrustworthy. Yet what if it's not the greater world but ourselves we can't trust?

Fear of death isn't specific to women, obviously - the male characters in Seimitz's movie are susceptible to it too. But maybe, given women's often complex relationship with aging, out of fear, our fear of death has a different tenor.

SOMETIMES WOMEN REPRESENT THE FRAGILITY and innocence in horror movies, symbols of purity worth saving; what would King Kong have been without his tiny captive inamorata Fay Wray.

IN AMULET, the directorial debut from actor Romola Garal [who also wrote the script] an ex-soldier from Eastern Europe, Tomaz [Alec Seareeanu], has taken refuge in London, working odd jobs and sleeping in a flophouse. He finds a temporary home in a decrepit house with a young woman, Magda [Carla Juri], who dutifully cares for her ailing mother, kept locked in a room upstairs.

Magda appears to be trapped innocent, the woman who needs saving; she's also a fabulous cook - but what, exactly, is she serving up? Garai has some grim fun with notions of what men expect women to be vs, who they really are

The movie is marred by a confusing coda that muddles its ending, but it doesn't feature one enduring image : a squirmy, newborn batlike thing that emerges from a womb with all its teeth. If that's not a childbirth-anxiety metaphor, I'm not sure what is.

Sometimes the scariest things we give birth to aren't at least literally, living things. In Shirley, directed by Josephine Decker and based on a novel by Susan Scarf Merrell, Elisabeth Moss plays a fictionalized version of Shirley Jackson, the author of the elegantly chilling 1959 ghost novel The Haunting of Hill House.

Moss's Shirley is married to a seemingly jovial Bennoington academic [Michael Stulhlbarg] who actually exerts brutish control over her.

He invites two young newlyweds, Rose and Fred [Odessa Young and Logan Lermaan], to  move into their comfortably ramshackle home, a cheap way of getting domestic help; incapacited by neuroses - and drinking - Shirley can barely get out of bed, let alone make progress on her novel.

In Shirley, the matronly, middle-aged protagonist is not only unable to write, which is the chief measure of her own self-worth, but her husband has also taken up with a supposedly superior woman - and isn't the moment we lose faith in our own magnetism a small death?

Watching our parents age, as Kay does in Relic, is a test of our mettle when we see the traits that have calcified in our forebears begin to manifest themselves in us.

In Amulet, the exhausted Magda has a different problem : she's simply waiting for her mother to die so she can be free.

All of these movies were conceived and made before we had any sense of how a worldwide pandemic would shape and circumscribe our lives. Yet all speak of constricted freedom, of carrying on with life until it decides it's through with us.

They're about all the things we can't protect ourselves from, what we used to call, in more innocent times, fear of the unknown. Now we know what to fear - only to realize that knowing isn't necessarily better.

The Honor and Serving of Great Operational Research on Movies and Women Filmmakers, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Stephanie Zacharek.

With respectful dedication to the Women Filmmakers of the world, and then grandparents, Parents,  Students, Professors and Teachers. See Ya all  prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

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