Sex can be constructive and creative. It can be profoundly important or frivolously fleeting. It can be beautiful, clumsy, silly, and surprising. It is none of these things in the following films. These features depict sex as nothing but a destructive act. The sex might not be fun but the movies sure are.
Jonathan Glazer’s visceral film Under the Skin was the most unique cinematic experience of the past year. Scarlett Johansson plays an alien who lands in Scotland and spends her days driving around picking up single men. The men have only one thing on their minds and spoilers, it doesn’t work out like they planned. The film interrogates the male gaze and uses Johansson’s public persona as both a sex symbol and a detached movie star to dizzying ends.
The two versions of the horror film Cat People are very different beasts. The original (and vastly superior) feature from 1942, directed by Jacques Tourneur, is a moody, atmospheric tale of a woman who fears that if she lets herself be “kissed” she will turn into a bloodthirsty panther. The film succeeds in part because it implies its scares instead of shows, which is not the case for the trashy, vulgar 1982 remake from director Paul Schrader. The second version ramps up the sex and violence but doesn’t come close to making the same impact as the creepy original.
Sometimes the destructive nature of sex doesn’t come from the participants but from those that try and suppress it. This is best exemplified in the great Japanese horror film, Onibaba, by director Kaneto Shindô. When a man returns from war and starts sleeping with the widow of his dead friend, the deceased’s mother tries everything in her power to stop them, going so far as to impersonate a demon. It doesn’t go well. The film is a moral tale, just not the one you were expecting.
~posted by Mike S.