The Horror of Isolation

With wild white hair, dirty bare feet and glassy eyes, Nevin looks like an aging Ophelia. Like so many great horror characters, Edna is both frightening and frightened, lashing out at her relatives, before wailing in tears: “Where’s everyone?” When her granddaughter asks her if she ever gets lonely, she doesn’t even answer. This is a movie about an isolation worse than solitude: that of being separated from your mind.

While there are enough grotesque images to satisfy most horror fans, the most terrifying shots of this movie are Post-it notes Edna places throughout the house, reminders that say “take pills” or “flush.” As the tension escalates, these notes become more heartbreaking, signposts that signal growing tension. The viscerally gross and emotionally complex climax is kicked off when her daughter finds the final one that hits her with a devastating impact: “I am loved.”

If “She Dies Tomorrow” imagines the uncanny despair of knowing you’re going to die quickly, “Relic” shows the pain of dying slowly, how the gradual deterioration of one mind can scar an entire family.

Despite a large female audience, the horror genre has historically and shamefully ignored female directors. Only two years ago, Jason Blum, the most powerful producer in the genre, laid the blame on the lack of women wanting to direct horror films. (After blowback, he apologized.)

These three movies demonstrate how much is lost by showing only male perspectives. Whereas all these movies focus on complex relationships between women, “Amulet” digs the deepest into gender dynamics.

Like the other films, it portrays several figures in solitude, starting with long scenes of a lonely soldier, Tomaz (Alec Secareanu), perhaps suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, standing guard in the woods. Then the action fast-forwards to after the war when he signs up to help a reclusive young woman, Magda (Carla Juri), take care of her invalid mother, who lives in the attic.

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