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12.08.2007

3 DAYS OF DARKNESS (TATLONG ARAW NG KADILIMAN)

3 Days of Darkness (Tatlong Araw Ng kadiliman)
Directed by Khavn de la Cruz
Written by Alfred Aloysius Adlawan






Nothing quite bashed my young skull in like old school Catholic mindfuck did, all its silt like baby tarantulas in my head- - - the 3D Jesuses, the self-flagellating nutters, the stormtrooper nuns, the injured Jack Chick comics. But Revelation’s freaky grip was special, a trauma lesion. Endtime scenarios spooked the altarboy in me for the sticky claustrophobia it teased out of all that Lovecraftian cataclysm - - -the wrath of God singling me out, getting personal. It’s on you, sisters - - - all that religion’s wire in the blood now. False alarms from pulpits may have made anticlimax out of apocalypse and David Seltzer may have housebroken it into a cuddly subgenre, but these veins of dread run deep. Watching Michael Tolkin’s The Rapture after having thought myself long past its clutches fortified that. That young girl alone, eerily crooning Hark The Herald Angels Sing inside her jail cell as TVs everywhere blank into white noise and distant angelic trumpets blow, has doomed me to never hear that song in the same way again.

None of this gets as scripturally anal- - -or scriptural at all - - -nor is there anything here that can get under your skin as purely - - - what happens when Katya Santos confesses her troubles to a priest is another mode of fuck-you-up entirely- - - but it invokes the same colors of unease : gray and grim, mostly. Invokes Maya Deren and Kenneth Anger and Diamanda Galas and Blair Witch and Wait Until Dark and Rosemary's Baby, too.

Horror in a nutshell boils down to that moment when you’re backed into a tight corner you can't get out of and the bad shit starts having its way with you. This is that moment drawn out- - -ominous calm melting into a din of oppressive hysteria, teasing claustrophobia from cataclysm. The more fragile among you might wilt from the confusion the last half's near-utter sensory deprivation brings- - - more stressful than scary, which amounts to same, which is the point. It's really a siege but seen from what brokedown senses the besieged have left in all this night and all this fever and all this panic- - - and Oggs Cruz's theory that the three girls- - -Katya in her blond wig, half-Japanese Gwen Garci, ilustrado stock Precious Adona - - -are colonial detritus backs this up more than my theory that they're just three variants of ditz.

But there is a gleeful perversity in having these bimbos hole up in a country house to stave off a clusterfuck of demons and does count for most of its grotty glory- - -Samuel Z. Arkoff would've thought the world of it. They all could be hallucinating the invasion, of course, but it's far ballsier to think they aren't. And that the world is coming to an end and it isn't letting us off easy. * * *

12.07.2007

WE OWN THE NIGHT

We Own The Night
Directed and Written by James Gray







A Biblical schism, Luke 15:11-32, triangulates the emotional turmoil here also it's a genre trope long encrusted with mold: a grizzled cop and his two sons, one dutiful, the other wayward. But Gray's bigger fish to fry is a specific permutation of high pulp, not a deconstructing really but more a darkening and deepening and a deromanticizing and deglamorizing, too, of the old saws. If he weren't so unprolific, you could cede him proprietorship for the tendency, gone missing, save for spurts, since the 70s. His works are somber, purged bummers- - -Little Odessa, The Yards, moreso this. Here's the drudgery of the working class cop life. Here's the pyrrhic glamor and decadent void of the thug life. Here's both worlds going nowhere as a prodigal son learns what price to pay for waking up on the side of the angels. And in the gray jungle snarl, all the fight you’ve got going for you is love, but even that can turn as fragile as a heart of glass. Not too many American cop pieces of recent vintage are as fiercely tinged with quotidian weariness as this, are as surrendered to its desolate futility, are as a bitch to shake off. Not The Departed, no, which it's kindred with, which it never gets as quasimythic as, which it beats. The Glass Shield, maybe? And that was, what, 1994? TV seems rife with it- - -David Simon's incessantly brilliant The Wire pops to mind ,as it should. But these tackled more the sociologies of the cop/criminal coin so similarities finish with tone and fierce thesping. We Own the Night may derive its evocative title from an 80s NYPD slogan,and is not above a spectacular rainswept car chase that blows the wheels off every car chase we've seen since possibly when Friedkin did it, but is really less about the vicissitudes of the job than it is about the vicissitudes of family. The inexorable, sometimes merciless hold blood has on us.