I’m upset and I’m not giving myself any time to calm down before writing this review. I looked through the most popular reviews on Letterboxd and the reviews from people I follow and a few recent ones but I haven’t really looked all that deeply so maybe this has been addressed plenty and I’m just not seeing it, BUT WHY AM I THE ONLY ONE UPSET (as far as I’ve seen) ABOUT THIS FUCKING TRANSPHOBIC PIECE OF SHIT OF A MOVIE.
It’s not that I wasn’t enjoying the movie until the clumsy and gross reveal with, whatever, 10 or 15 minutes left. I was. That’s exactly the problem. I was somewhere I thought was safe. I was watching a wonderfully creepy horror movie from one of my favorite directors in the world, someone whose skill I’ve increasingly grown to admire and whose name I’ve come to consider a stamp of quality and fun, and then, BOOM. I’ve been Othered. Who I am, and who many of your other fellow human beings are, is being used as a cheap plot twist. Used as shorthand for “fucked up.” Used to scare you. We’re scary. We’re creepy. We’re not normal. That is what this movie is telling you.
The more I think about it, the less calm I get. This is a movie in one of my favorite genres by one of my favorite directors and my guard was down. This isn’t from the 40s! This isn’t even from the 90s! I know horror has had this problem before, but this movie is from three years ago! You have no excuse, no excuse for not knowing better by now!
Everything about this movie was whispering to me that it was for me. James Wan’s deft hand building suspense at a slow burn with the occasional flicker here and there. Patrick Wilson’s unexpectedly wonderful turn as a possessed man, including a bone-chillingly creepy smile I didn’t know he had in him. There is freaking ghost time travel in this movie. Everything about this movie is telling me it’s for me. And then it’s not. It’s so not.
I’m not assigning this movie a rating because what’s the point? Yeah, I could tell you all of the things it does right. I could point out a few key scenes where Wan puts on an absolute clinic on how to conceptualize and execute a scare. But what is the point? I don’t feel like doing that with this movie right now. I don’t think I’ll feel like doing that tomorrow, or in a week, or in a year.
I usually don’t let transphobia or homophobia or sexism or racism or ableism or anything else determine the entirety of my experience with or opinion of a film. I modulate my expectations. I contextualize my experience, express it honestly, then I grit my teeth and talk about what the film did well. I’m not doing that this time. Not because I liked this film less than any of the times I’ve brought myself to do that, but because I was really, really enjoying it and then just got taken completely out of it when everything clicked into place in that horrible moment and I forced myself to keep watching just in case the film made up for it somehow, which of course it didn’t.
This is not okay. Stop doing this. Stop it. Stop it. Stop it. Stop it. We are watching your movies, too. We don’t deserve to be ambushed by this bullshit. We don’t deserve to have something that we’re enjoying turn around and out of nowhere tell us that we’re creepy and gross. If you want to make transphobic garbage, fine. But market it that way. Tell people, “Come watch our transphobic garbage!” Donald Trump’s voters will line up hours beforehand to show their enthusiasm. That’s great. You can have them. They can have you. But don’t act like it’s normal and okay. WE ARE NORMAL AND OKAY. THIS IS NOT.