World Cinema Series: Anguish
||8 October 2013 (Tuesday)
||National Museum of Singapore, Gallery Theatre
93 Stamford Road
Free admission but members only -- flash your membership card to go in. You may bring up to 2 guests if you hold a SFS Reel membership card. Non-members may sign up online or at the door -- we will issue membership on the spot. No tickets will be sold. Free seating.
Director: Bigas Luna
1987 / Spain / 86 min / 35 mm / Rating TBC
Image courtesy of Bogeydom Licensing
A decade before Wes Craven’s slasher film Scream (1996) rose into popular consciousness, there was the subterranean oddity Anguish which provided a meta-critique of the horror genre – a foray that is arguably executed with much more sensitivity and respectability than its postmodern successor.
The film revolves around the story of John, an optician who is losing his eye sight, and his manipulative mother who, in wanting the best for her son, repetitively hypnotises him to commit the ghastly act of excising and collecting human eyeballs. The more eyeballs John collects, the further entrenched he finds himself in a pre-natal mommy-son union, while an autistic shroud casted over everyone else turns them into pure meat and bone, a field of eyeballs for harvesting.
Soon we realise that we are watching The Mummy with a cinema audience whose presence is revealed with sleight of hand. We watch the engrossed and quivering on-screen audience replicating our nausea and repulsion in watching these gory sequences, with their dialogue turning into commentary as the film periodically zooms back in frame to The Mommy. As paranoia builds up to heightened levels, and we get the hunch that perhaps there is something brewing in the theatre. Soon both realities start to mirror each other and all hell breaks loose.
While shot in Spain, Anguish is devoid of any cultural markers that define its locale. Its milieu is strictly the cinema and its screen. Any excursions out this parameter are purely illusion. On top of its cryptic layering and mirroring which provides oblique critical distance, Anguish does not at any point forget that it is essentially a horror film, one which Luna executes with much hellish excess.
This screening is made possible with the partnership of