Norma Bates: Fiction’s Fearless Females

One thing worth noting about the horror genre is that it produces images that resist quick mental erasure.  From the statuesque model who turns into a decrepit, decaying old woman in the infamous shower scene of The Shining to the bloody womb hanging limply outside the skin of Nola Carveth in The Brood, horror does nothing if not supply us with grotesque images of often monstrous women.  Psycho’s Norma Bates, then, is no exception.  In Hitchcock’s original film, Psycho, we see Norma not as a mommy so much as a stereotypical mummy; all that is left of her is a skeletal, eyeless frame and some tousled hair pulled back in a bun. We hear her character, and therefore understand her character, only through Marion Crane’s ears as the delusional Norman voices her from afar in the antiquated Victorian house on the hill outside Bates Motel.  But Norma is a famous mummy, and a famous mommy, to be sure, one who lingers in the mind of the viewer long after the theater lights go on, and one who has lingered in the cultural imagination now for sixty-one years and counting.  Significantly, Norma Bates didn’t get to speak for herself until 2013, when the hit TV show Bates Motel rescued and re-invented her character through Vera Farmiga’s portrayal of her as Norman’s mildly cooky but vivacious and loving mom.  As a woman who navigates an excruciating past, a corrupt, drug-infested city, and a psychotic son with surprising sangfroid, Norma Bates in Bates Motel is who I choose to feature this year for the annual Fiction’s Fearless Females blogathon. 

Continue reading “Norma Bates: Fiction’s Fearless Females”
Norma Bates: Fiction’s Fearless Females

A Scarier Sequel: Drama and Anxiety in The Conjuring 2

Conjuring yet again
Photo Credit – The Conjuring 2

As I watched The Conjuring 2 this afternoon, I found myself spastically reaching toward Michael’s arm and clasping his hand during the film’s intensity peaks.  And when we were in the middle of a jump-scare, my startle was often augmented by Michael, who would grab my hand and come close to squeezing it off.  In other words, The Conjuring 2 is scary, so unless you’re really emotionally stoic and relatively immune to anything horror, The Conjuring 2 promises you a few unsettling moments – at leastMichael, who has been seeing horror movies with me since we started dating over a year and a half ago, said that this was the most afraid he’s been since he got used to seeing films from the genre.  I was scared too, but also intrigued.  In fact, I was not just intrigued, but impressed, as we watched the film.  The Conjuring 2 does not rely on fear alone, though the movie is scary.  It manages to be an incredibly satisfying, even emotionally moving story, at the same time.  In other words, the plot isn’t a mere vehicle for terrifying moments.  The Conjuring 2 is a well-developed film with a unique story line that “happens to have” a lot of scary parts.  And – bonus! – it’s based off a true story. Continue reading “A Scarier Sequel: Drama and Anxiety in The Conjuring 2”

A Scarier Sequel: Drama and Anxiety in The Conjuring 2