Tom Humberstone


horror month - day 23

Repulsion (1965)

"I must get this crack mended."

Quick summary: Manicurist and androphobic Carole (Catherine Deneuve) becomes increasingly reclusive after her sister goes on holiday. Horrific hallucinations, murder, and madness ensues.

Considering Rosemary's Baby is one of my favourite horror films, and Chinatown is one of favourite films period, it's a bit silly it's taken me this long to watch Polanski's first English-language feature. I am now two thirds into his "Apartment trilogy", with The Tenant still on my list (maybe I'll fit it in before the month ends).

There's a lot this film addresses - dealing with sexual assault, psychosis, objectification, and old-fashioned ideas of domesticity. Often, the camera is a stand-in for male character's viewpoints, making the audience feel complicit with the male gaze. At one point, we watch as Deneuve bludgeons us to death. The camera also provides a lot of extreme close-ups - constantly making us feel uncomfortably voyeuristic.

Hands are a big visual motif in the film, with the manicurist occupation giving way to the groping wall of hands in Carole's nightmarish hallucination. And the way in which everything in the apartment decomposes or is turned upside-down is a nice play on antiquated ideas of feminine roles at home. There's so much to analyse in the film and I'll probably need to watch it a few more times to really appreciate it.

Everyone carries a rabbit heart in their bag right guys?

The use of sound is so so good. That incredibly disturbing ticking clock, the pounding drum walk, the train screeching... Brilliant.

Tonight: After a few nights of sixties films, I'm going to try something modern - We Are What We Are (2013).