I recently had a discussion with myself on my podcast about the difference between a thriller and a horror movie. I wasn’t quite sure where to place this particular film. I hadn’t seen it since sometime in 2004. I decided to give it another view last night.
Before I go further my reluctance to watch it is not based on a dislike or lack of appreciation of the film, on the contrary I loved the film tremendously when it was knew. My reason for avoiding it for so long was personal. I had a good friend and former boyfriend of my baby sister drown to death in the winter of 2004. His body was trapped in the frozen river for over a week. We attended a closed-casket funeral because of the disfigurement his body was in. As such I had a very hard time returning to a horror film that uses drowning as the method of killing. It was too hard to over come.
Enough time has since passed I was able to bring myself to watching it last night. I don’t quite know why I was drawn to it. I was thumbing through my DVD collection and where I normally move passed this film instead I found myself grabbing it, inserting into the DVD player and starting it up in one instinctive motion. It felt like something I needed to do.
I don’t want to spend a whole lot of time talking about my friend. That is in the past. Rather I want to concentrate on remembering how, and why, I loved this movie so much upon my initial viewing. In fact I enjoyed this movie so much I not only returned to theaters multiple times to see it again, I made it a point to bring someone new each subsequent viewing. I had to make sure as many people as possible experienced this harrowing tale. I felt such remorse and sympathy for Samara. My heart ached in a way I can’t quite describe. With each viewing I continued to develop an obsession. I went so far as to drag my mother, who despises horror movies, to see this movie. I assured her it was a movie she needed to see. She didn’t disagree with me. Sadly I had forgotten her own brother drowned to death at the mere age of 11, not far from Samara. It wasn’t the first time I would make this mistake. My mom didn’t talk about her brother’s death with me much before that time. She made it a point to do so afterwards. Even more so once my friend drowned.
In a way I’ve always considered drowning to be one of the worst ways to die. You are powerless yet completely aware. Unlike being shot or killed in a car accident where you could die nearly instantly, this is a cruel way to leave your life behind. The fact the little girl in the film took seven days to do so made it all the more chilling. She had plenty of time to devise her revenge upon those who terminated her brief walk upon this earth.
Looking back at the film I imagine from the child’s mind the betrayal of her own mother, who wanted her so desperately in her life to be the one to end it had to impact her soul. It certainly pushed the spirit of into seeking revenge. I can’t decide if she is sympathetic in the way she allowed her victims a full week to get their affairs in order before taking their lives or if that was a sign of her sadistic nature, torturing them for the week before granting them the relief death provided. The entire movie continues to send chills down my back even to this day.
Every once in a while something will come along in our society that speaks to me or touches me in a deeply personal way. I don’t quite know how to explain what specifically about this movie did so but it really captivated me upon first viewing. Last night, as I was watching it again for the first time I not only fell in love with it all over again, in a way I felt bad I had been away from it for so long. I can honestly say the sting of the death my friend experienced and the scar it left on my psyche have healed I imagine as much as they are going to. In the end the movie continues to call to me in that same subtle way it did over a decade ago. I used to watch this movie easily 3 or more times a week. It was a film I needed to see over, and over a again. I am fairly certain it woke something inside of me this most recent viewing as I am sitting here regretting the length of time it will be before my next opportunity to revisit it again. I am certain it will be sooner rather than later. All of my previous feelings of adoration for this film are now mixed with a powerful twinge of nostalgia that makes for an emotional cocktail I am surely to become greatly intoxicated by what remains one of my top ten movies of all time.