The set-design and soundtrack was insane enough to be fascinating, even though I didn’t totally get what was going on. Somehow it seemed to be playing on an irrational fear of the Roma as witches and members of the occult, the weirdo cook lady being some kind of immigrant from Greece. Also there was a lot of trying to subjugate and control the main character through drugging her food.
Seems like a good method of horror is to play on mysterious things that we fear (duhrrr), but what would that be now? For me it seems like medication for depression and other psychological disorders. We don’t know how they work, if you are in a psych ward you really have no control over how you are medicated, and ultimately the patient may not want to change or may not want to change in the way the doctors want to change the patient.
There’s a way to abstract this enough to make it a horror movie, but the reality of it is pretty scary. People got to the psych ward for a variety of weird reasons: one sent a crazy-sounding email to a girl that made it seem like he was on coke, another didn’t go out one weekend as he normally does and was hanging out on the Brooklyn Bridge … there are a few triggers that make people get there. Once there, there is a narrow range of behavior that is considered “normal” and the doctors will try to get you there. Feeling dazed, deadened, etc. is fine as long as you’re not a danger to self and others. There’s quicker, easier ways to get there other than actually talking through the problems and figuring out where they stem from. Also these problems lie at the nexus of physical (depression often characterized by neuron death in frontal cortex) and emotional. The structure of our healthcare system and the patterns of institutional liability with a university determine how we deal with mental illness more than anything else.
Much of this ground was covered in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but that was much more like a prison. I think with so many people suffering from and getting treated for depression you could do something similar but rather than it being about incarceration, it’s about consuming pharmeceuticals and the health care industrial complex, etc. The “bad” guys wouldn’t actually be “bad” but they would be trying to do what was necessary given their own constraints and their own perspectives on what the causes for mental illness are.
I personally feel like I need drugs, and I actually don’t feel like they change me ENOUGH, but there is so much mystery in this area, and it strikes to our own identities, that it would be ripe to exploit for a horror movie.