The Moment I Turned Off I SAW THE DEVIL


I’ve never liked slasher movies.

I can recall one of the first times I went into The Big City (Boston) with some adult friends. I was 13, and I got out of the car, looked across the street at a movie theater (there wasn’t one in my home town), and saw a poster. Obviously, it left an impression:


I loved horror and sci-fi–never liked Tolkien-ish fantasy, then or now, but loved Harlan Ellison/Poe-esque horror, ‘dark fantasy,’ whatever it’s called. The poster looked kind of cool, but even then I had zero interest in the movie.

I’ve never gotten the attraction for slasher flicks. I bought FANGORIA magazine starting with issue #1, with Godzilla on the cover. Eventually, it became a magazine about nothing BUT gore, so I stopped reading. Lately I find horror fans casually talking about “awesome kills.”

I don’t get it. I understand the thrills gotten from watching chase scenes and shoot-outs; I get involved in the story or I’m enjoying the movie-making–how the chases are shot, etc. I understand watching sex scenes, though like David Mamet I think sex scenes in non-porn movies pull me out of the story as I think, “I’m watching two actors trying to convince me they’re fucking.”


I don’t get any entertainment from watching people being chopped up. I have nothing more profound to say about the subject; I don’t like it, especially when it’s being done to scared, helpless women and girls.

I wish there could be a separation between slasher movies and supernatural horror, instead of calling them all Horror Movies. Ain’t gonna happen. I guess I’m asking for something like the separation of country and blues nearly a century ago, which was done explicitly to drive a spike between ‘white’ country and ‘colored’ R&B, except I’m aiming for clarity of purpose, not the separation of people. I’m getting too deep.

I’ve missed a ton of horror movies in the last twenty years, so I’ve been catching up. The advantage of this, of course, is I can pick up the cream, the ones that might’ve failed and were later discovered on video, without learning too much about the story so I can be surprised. (Seeing my error here?)

One movie people keep recommending to me: I SAW THE DEVIL. Horror, tons of love, let me check it out.

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It’s well-made. I was gripped from the opening scene of a young woman in a stalled car. The attack on her is brutal, but who am I to complain? I loved SEVEN from opening day. I’m not going to mention Seven again, it’s too easy.

We don’t cut away from the attack to the subsequent inevitable discovery. Turns out the girl who was attacked isn’t dead. She’s in the killer’s basement. She’s brutally attacked again.

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Sure, I’ll take a ride from this guy. What could possib–
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Whoops, wrong movie.

THEN we are with the searchers looking for her body. They find her head. We see her father’s and husband’s/fiancee’s anguish.

I stuck it out because the acting and photography were excellent, the pacing was perfect for this sort of thing–not too slow, showing us just enough of each person impacted and how they respond–and then the hero’s attacks on suspects begin with a guy having his balls hammered.

Why am I supposed to be enjoying this?

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Lemme guess: The “Oh God, Have I Become That Which I Fight?”/Stare Into the Abyss moment?


I don’t get scared by 99% of horror movies. I don’t get squeamish at movie blood or dismemberment. Nothing on-screen until the attack on the girl bugged me.

Horror isn’t about revulsion, to me. Horror is one of the few ways we can deal with the darkest questions of life, especially the uncertainties and fears. It’s also a way we can grapple with the awe-inspiring, the terrifying.

Terror–that’s the key word. There is an element of the unseen forces of the universe in terror, the contact with powerful things.

I can watch that sort of thing all day.

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The killing of a young woman waiting for a bus was both stupid (I’m unconvinced this young woman would’ve taken a ride with this creepy dude) and genuinely suspenseful (once she does, we wait for the warning signs). The killing is like the doorway killing in TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, abrupt and startling, and then it’s over–BOOM.

At about the forty minute point, we see the villain is the driver of a school van.

THEN the villain is shown to be driving school girls. THEN he has a school girl in his lair, in her uniform, like so much Asian…stuff.

The villain pulls off the young girl’s underwear.

And that’s when I turned off I SAW THE DEVIL.


Because life’s too fucking short.

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