It’s not every day that I sit through slow-burning, cerebral horror and find myself totally drawn in and exceptionally freaked out, but this double feature really got under my skin. And thinking about it now, there are some curious parallels in terms of commentary on socioeconomic status and lifestyle.
THE TRANSFIGURATION (2016)
If Vampire’s Kiss had been a fascinating movie, it would have been The Transfiguration.
This dreary, depressing, disturbing film somehow makes you feel bad for the main character while being rather terrified of him.
From the very start, we know that this young black teen who lives in a rough neighborhood with his older brother kills people then drinks their blood. In his spare time, he’s obsessed with vampires and watches mutilation videos of animals.
He’s also lonely, bullied by peers, and terrorized by the local gang.
Then he befriends a white girl who is also lonely and a little weird…but not as weird as him. Even though he’s not actually a vampire, it’s hard not to see this film as an urban take on Let the Right One In. To highlight that similarity, he mentions to the girl that the film is one of his faves.
Contrasting character and gender differences and outlooks, the girl tries to get him to read Twilight. For yes, just as his world is getting darker and darker, she brings light into his life.
As much as I rebel against smart horror, The Transfiguration is a film I couldn’t stop watching because it’s such a compelling approach to exploring social, racial, and even sexual issues. While nothing is spelled out, there are layers here. For instance, the young man almost exclusively targets white men he lures in public spaces like restrooms and parks, and then steals their money after killing them. Even though it’s never presented directly, it gives off both a hustler and rough trade vibe.
And when you see odd glimpses of humanity in the teen, from compassion for others to inner struggles to resist killing, it makes you all that more confused on how to feel about him.
For unlike many horror films presented from the perspective of the killer, which I find takes away the element of fear during kill scenes, this quiet, sad kid becomes terrifying when he goes for the kill. You actually feel scared for victims when you know he’s coming for them. The writing and directing have a lot to do with that, but huge props to young actor Eric Ruffin for his chilling /sympathetic performance.
TWO PIGEONS (2017)
Based on some remarks and comments I saw about this movie online before watching it, I was expecting it to be funny and gross. The gross part is accurate as hell, but I don’t get how anyone sees this as funny, or even a dark comedy. It’s downright disturbing, unnerving, and icky…and gives a whole new meaning to the term “home invasion horror.”
I don’t want to give much away, so I’ll just say a few things. There’s this cute realtor living in a nice apartment, going about his daily business like getting ready for work, eating, jerking off, and showering. Yummy.
Little does he know that when he goes out or goes to sleep, an eerily emaciated man in underwear comes crawling out of the woodwork to live in his space.
But it’s worse than that. This creep does gross things, like using his toothbrush, drooling in the mouthwash bottle, wiping a face towel over unthinkable parts of his body…and it gets worse from there.
And the other invasive things the creep does begin to have a negative impact on the realtor’s existence—using his phone for all the wrong reasons, putting gay porn on a laptop computer, and setting the alarm clock to go off at the wrong times, just to name a few.
We witness the realtor’s life unravel, plus we see some of his most intimate moments being watched by the creep, who is around ALL THE TIME, hiding in the most obvious places.
Seriously, this is a huge part of me always wanting dogs in my home.
It is really chilling to watch, and you just wait for that moment when their paths finally cross—and to find out what this creep’s story is.
If you’re going to check this one out, note that there is a tag at the end of the film after the closing credits.