Only 13 days until Halloween! Boy has this month flown by. I am entering the final week of my term, which means of course I am often hunched over my computer, fervently writing term papers while wondering what fresh hell awaits me at work (the holidays are notoriously chaotic and stressful, usually starting mid October and not ramping down until well after New Years). Lately, I’ve been trying to immerse myself in things I really like doing and people I really dig because keeping one’s spirits up as a social worker is impossible without a little self-care! This weekend was supposed to be the storm of the century here in Washington but I didn’t let that stop me from living my weekend dreams (also the storm ended up being a little sideways rain for maybe 30 minutes). Michael and I took the kids to the pumpkin patch for some donuts, cider, and of course pumpkins that outweighed the kids by at least 10 lbs. We took our enormous pumpkins back to my house where the boys created some seriously creative Jack-O-Lanterns. I got a gallon bags worth of pumpkin seeds (yum!). We headed over to our favorite pizza joint for dinner before dropping Michael off at the train station (where he would spend the next three hours after his train was delayed).
Sunday Michael and I had a pretty full day of horror. After doing some homework (lesson plans for him, term paper for me, hashtagpowercouple) we decided to watch a movie on our October movie challenge list (which we are failing miserably at). We watched Witching and Bitching, and HOOOOO BOY it was bad. And not in the hilariously bad kind of way, a rage stroke bad sort of way. After this atrocity of a movie, we went to Shriek and watched the soothing balm that is The Invitation.
So for this post, I want to talk about these two films through a feminist lense. We had all kinds of amazing conversations last night at Shriek about The Invitation and it really highlighted what a piece of misogynist trash Witching and Bitching was.
LIGHT SPOILERS FOR WITCHING AND BITCHING, BECAUSE FUCK THAT MOVIE
Witching and Bitching is a Spanish movie about some nasty, misogynistic bank robbers who stumble across a coven and have to escape so they won’t be eaten. No lie, Michael and I had some really high hopes for this movie; the first 30 minutes or so we meet a cast of men who hate women, and have no trouble saying as much. Their hatred of women is cartoonish, like a caricature of an MRA keyboard warrior*. Everyone from the main protagonists, to the cab driver, to the police hate women equally. We thought surely, SURELY, this movie knows how fucking stupid it’s male characters sound and that the audience (of the variety who believe women are people) is laughing at the expense of these bitter man-babies. I mean, one man brings his CHILD to a pawn shop robbery then laments about how unfair the family courts are because he didn’t get joint custody. How can the filmmakers not see the irony in that? It could have been comic gold. But instead, the filmmakers decided to turn these mens’ perceptions about the world into reality; the women of the film are shrill, unreasonable, basically the straw-man feminist MRA’s complain about. The finale of the film sees our “heroes” escape the clutches of these evil witches, complete with the one hot witch who has seen the error of her ways and becomes a respectable housewife. No, I am not kidding. Not only is the plot deeply sexist, but the writing is terrible (like they had no idea how to move the plot along so just came up with increasingly random shit), the acting is atrocious, and the directing is shit. It’s kills my soul to think I heard at one point this was a good movie. Take it back, Netflix.
In contrast to this complete shit show, The Invitation is an incredibly tense, well-written, acted, and directed movie that doesn’t need to rely on tropes to scare. Women, minorities, and queer folks are all represented and hey, we get to see them as human beings. What a concept. I love that the main protagonist is a man who has characteristics of many female characters (more outwardly grieving, being comforted by others, ect). I love that there’s no cattiness between the female characters. I love that women are shown as complicated, flawed people and not two dimensional shrews, hell-bent on ruining men’s lives. I love that the women, POC, and queer characters are more than props, they’re three-dimensional, real-life people. There are so many layers to this film; how we ignore our instincts for the sake of politeness, what grief can do to people, and what PTSD looks like. It explores consent, corrosion, and painful adjustments to new roles. It will blow you out of the water with sound design and brilliant visuals. The ending is almost a cathartic release after and hour and some change of white-knuckle interactions. It’s amazing. And directed by a woman, Karyn Kusama, which may have a little something to do with why it treats non-straight, white, men like people (not that all women see other women as people, but it really helps to have women telling some stories) I don’t want to spoil it because it really deserves to be enjoyed in person. It’s also on Netflix. Go watch it.
*For those fortunate enough to not know what and MRA is, see here.