Pinning down what makes the camera use a female gaze can be a little tricky, as we have all lived within the male gaze for so long. It is commonplace to see women on display disproportionately while male characters go fully clothed. The gaze’s assumption of heterosexuality also carries over to the infrequently used female gaze, making it slightly more visible. It is this consumption of the male body in ‘The Guest’ which initially establishes the film’s gaze as female.
This is not to say that Amelia and Die are not sympathetic characters. Both want to do the best for their sons, but neither can handle the stress and actual responsibility of disciplining them. I do not mean for this to seem like an attack on Die and Amelia’s parenting skills, but rather a way to look at the sudden appearance of women in film who are not good at parenting.
Often in feminist criticism female friendships are discussed as a great barometer for the authenticity of the female characters. Strong bonds and healthy interactions serve the dual purpose of highlighting positive female roles and for showing the many dimensions of women as whole persons. I propose that in order to continue the push to show women as well-developed characters we also need representations of flawed female friendships.
In terms of gender representations, both men and women are shown as the worst possible version of themselves. Barbra swings back and forth from being near catatonic and unable to communicate, to wild and hysterical. Ben even slaps her at one point to get her to snap out of her state. She is weak and unable to deal with the emotions of seeing her brother attacked. Barbra would have already been killed and reanimated were it not for the über masculine Ben to save her from the perils that lie outside.
Guest post written by Deirdre Crimmins for our theme week on Infertility, Miscarriage, and Infant Loss. Content note: Discussion of violence directed at women and violent images ahead. Spoiler alert. Horror films have a unique way of showcasing exactly what we fear, but they often do so in a subtle way. While is it goes without saying […]
Guest post written by Deirdre Crimmins. Though I like explosions and interesting methods of execution as much as any other horror fan, it is always great characterization and relationships that make a horror film great. Actually, great characters and their relationships are what help make any film great, but often they are an afterthought in […]
This is a guest review by Deirdre Crimmins. Singin’ In The Rain (dir. Stanley Donan & Gene Kelly) Though my first love in cinema will always be horror films, I have such an affection for musicals. The glitzy costumes. The aggressively perky and optimistic characters. The song and dance that always seems spontaneous, and from […]
Bellflower (2011) This is a guest post from Deirdre Crimmins. On the surface Bellflower seems very much like a film made by men, for men. Staring director Evan Glodell, and shot on homemade cameras, the film begins by following Woodrow (Glodell) and his buddy Aiden as they build flame throwers from scratch to outfit their imaginary […]
Too often horror is criticized for being antifeminist. Yes, most often men are the aggressors in these films, and women are shown as the helpless, one dimensional victims. Unfortunately the problem of flat female characters and dominant male leads is not isolated to just the horror genre. In fact, that is a major issue for […]