2006 was a fun year considering lots of people thought the world was ending on 6/6/06; I remember that day. It was deeply uneventful but interesting because of how many people thought that. I’d already been through this with Y2K, so I was like, “Probably won’t end”. And reader, obviously I was right.
At first, I thought the hospital in this movie was a maze for psychics where the building feeds off of them the deeper into the place they go; I was wrong-it’s both somehow more interesting and less interesting than that at the same time. This is a place where the living can be pulled into a sort of hell-limbo; hospitals are no picnic–they can be places of sickness/death, but this movie takes that fear further. What if this was a place you couldn’t escape? It takes from you (your blood specifically), dries you up, then disposes of you. The fact that this isn’t just a place for the dead but that anyone could be taken there, too, is terrifying. This limbo is happenstance, not punishment. It’s also a time-warp, with outdated language like “merry prankster” and the nurses are wearing outfits closer to Halloween costumes of nurses rather than scrubs. Not only are you trapped in this place/sucked dry, your family can’t find you, so you very literally disappear. Add the “we know you’re awake” during surgery scene and it’s the scariest sentence in the world for someone like me who has a fear of surgery. Clearly, this is a place of pain and suffering.
Here we have a great setup for a horror movie, and yet, it’s overcome with Christian gaze, which is what I call it when it seems like a movie is catering only to Christian belief. This was 2006, so not the most progressive year in the world; gay marriage is still illegal and “gay” was still being used as a slur to insult others. So when you come upon the lesbian blood-drinking monster-women having the orgy, it can be pieced together that this act (the lesbian orgy) is being condemned. Sex here is being equated with hedonism, and with lesbians being so out of the norm, it’s just another indicator of their “badness” and monstrosity.
I feel this is a male-focused scene because other than the blood-drinking, most men would be interested in what they’re seeing (since all the nurses are attractive) instead of taken aback and clearly disgusted as Nick is. The blood is totally gross but it’s the only giveaway that something’s wrong. Sure, maybe not the best place to have an orgy but again, this isn’t a real hospital. Otherwise, mind your own business and quit judging, Nick! Whatever these women are, demons maybe (even though the lore makes them something completely different), them being lesbians is being judged. Not cool, 2006. If you think about it, this scene didn’t really need to be there because there were other ways to denote the weirdness of the nurses-drinking blood alone would have qualified that but no, 2006 had to condemn gay people, too.
We also see the Christian gaze again with the church scene, where the main character goes to get help and demons end up tormenting her in a vision. We also see many terrible visions of death/hideous creatures/disfigurement, which happens early on, making me think Amy is some type of psychic. The true psychic is a tiny Chloe Grace Moretz who helps Amy find Nick. Taking Nick in the first place is clearly a trap to lure Amy there and it’s revealed that it’s because she escaped them and is “one of them”, according to the demon folk anyway.
Now, if you’ve seen my other work at all, you’d know that whatever demons are (we’re not really sure), they aren’t human and never were. Sometimes in Christian-led storylines, people become demons if they’re bad enough and that isn’t true at all. Demons have abilities that far transcend humans in death, so it’s unlikely they’re very similar to us at all–another point reinforcing this is that when a demon is around a human, they cause irreparable damage to the person. Even their presence breaks us down, as does the body when they finally possess people in demonic folklore. The damage, however, starts long before possession takes place.
When we get into the lore of how this place came to be, it’s unfortunately riddled with Satanic Panic, which is a phenomenon that started in the 80s in the U.S., where the media became obsessed with protecting their children from ritual abuse by Satanists that was supposedly happening. The FBI even investigated it and found nothing; people went to jail who didn’t commit crimes because a new form of witch hunt began happening if you wore black and were a little weird (look it up; people went to prison who didn’t do anything all because people thought they did). Satanic Panic can be recognized in movies by a clear dichotomy of good (Christianity) versus evil (Satanic). Evil exists in many forms and in humans, so it can be irritating to watch the same narrative, especially when sex abuse exists in churches.
So I became impatient with the tired “oh it’s because they were Satanists” explanation of villany. The employees of St. Rosemary’s hospital burned the place purposefully to the ground and stayed inside to burn because get this: “devil worship” and “eternal youth rituals”. Essentially, they gave the hospital to Satan as sacrifice? Because that sounds remotely possible that people wouldn’t run out of a burning building as a survival reflex; this act cements these people as the monsters Christianity is painting them as. Now, sacrificing people and draining blood is monstrous–but Satanists, real ones, don’t do this sort of thing. They don’t believe in hurting other people (I’ve read their Bible, too). So Satanic Panic, at its core, is an overinflated fear of what Christians think Satanists are doing in the dark instead of what they actually do. I guess the hospital cult’s reward is that they get to stay in limbo-Hell forever? Shows again Christianity’s view of how Satan rewards people for their worship. I can’t speak for Satanists, since I’m not one, but I’m certain that isn’t how they view anything of their religion.
The big reveal is that Amy pulled the plug on her dying father because he asked her to and my reaction: what kind of shit is this!? She was a child; she doesn’t belong with the Death “Demon” Brigade when her father manipulated her into pulling the plug. Amy didn’t murder him–he essentially killed himself and permanently traumatized his daughter as well. If anything, he belongs there according to the Christian gaze and the assisted suicide question: is it suicide? Is it murder? Many countries including the U.S. still don’t let people do assisted suicide or “assisted dying” as it’s now called. I just think it’s particularly tasteless to bring a child into that debate; what father would do that? It’s horribly selfish.
Then Amy and Nick leave and he really asks her, “Are you sure?” What could she possibly not be sure of? Staying in a hellfire (the limbo-Hell somehow goes up in flames again) with blood-drinking demons? No Nick, let’s not leave. And then she just DIES. After all of that; we also find out the little psychic girl is her guardian angel (and didn’t do the greatest job there). Again, we have a purely Christian message: don’t be afraid of death since something better is waiting for you on the other side.
I think this was a great premise that went wayward and devolved into a purely Christian (and often inaccurate) narrative. If you’re going to use that narrative, spice it up a little like The Matrix did (Neo is very similar to Jesus; think about it). I think it’s lazy writing to blame everything on Satanists who more likely than not, aren’t doing much to take down Christianity. Atrocities are often done in the name of God while they point their fingers at other religions, like it somehow justifies anything. I wanted to like this one, but things got very weird very quick. It probably sounds like I hate Christians/Christianity, which isn’t the case as long as they aren’t being judgy or hateful towards others. Jesus wouldn’t have liked that and God loves everyone. Lots of condemnation of difference and not a lot of loving thy neighbor. What I really hate is Satanic Panic, hatred of others, and lazy writing.
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