I feel like I've given y'all a glimpse into who I am (some of which is, apparently, an American southerner), but I've never talked about the fact that I'm a total cinephile. Well, maybe that's not exactly the right word. I mean, I enjoy some films which have received critical acclaim - though I will never understand The Shape of Water's appeal - but, mostly, I want a movie that entertains. As far as genres, I like all sorts, though I am mostly drawn to action movies and psychological intrigue. That said, I have also been known to enjoy the occasional horror flick. What I mean by horror is a movie with a story, some suspense, and random hits of adrenaline. I have given up on the gore of the Saw franchise.
A couple of decades ago I was at one such horror movie. I cannot for the life of me remember the show, but the experience is one I'll never forget. There must've been a promotion on buckets of popcorn, because we usually get a bag - this is important. There we were, happily enjoying the show when the scary music started and something jumped out on the screen. I, the holder of the popcorn, clenched and squished the bucket into the air. It all happened in slow motion. Noooooooooo... I reached for it, but it was too late; it upended on the nice woman in front of us. Through guffaws I apologised, "I. Am. So. Sorry!"
It didn't even get a smile from her. I tried to assure her that it was OK; we don't get butter on our popcorn, but she wouldn't be assuaged. Meh. Accidents happen. Maybe they were on a date. I bet that relationship didn't last. He laughed his arse off.
Fast forward to yesterday. Who's seen It: Chapter Two? I don't know if there's a horror movie that I have enjoyed more ever. I mean, I loved An American Werewolf in London and all of the odd numbered from the Nightmare on Elm Street series, but It 2 is in a class by itself. First of all, it's (It is :D) three hours long, far too long for any suspenseful movie to be, but, most importantly, it is a psychological romp. Warning: From here on out I will be adding spoilers. If you are planning on seeing It, stop reading now.
The story is a - I don't want to say sequel - it's a continuation of the original story, set twenty-seven years later. The trauma suffered by the fourteen year-old heroes of the original dog them into adulthood. They all suffer from repressed memories. The clown, Pennywise, is the incarnation of their inner voices, the ones that tell them that they're fat, undesirable, and will die alone, or that they are responsible for the death of their brother, or a coward.
Who doesn't have a Pennywise living in their head?
As a hypnotherapist, what struck me most about the movie was the way the characters were able to change, if not the past, then the emotions that they had about the past. Each character bounced back and forth between their fourteen year-old selves and their forty-one year-old counterparts. They were able to rewrite or, at least, understand a new perspective of their memories.
And the final battle? Brilliant. They made Pennywise smaller in their minds. Initially, they thought they would have to make him shrink himself physically, but, no. "There's more than one way to make something small," so they bullied the bully, made him shrink in their own perceptions, and were, ultimately, able to come out victorious.
They even changed the past! The headline from a newspaper article which had been written about one of the guys' parents' death changed from (and I'm paraphrasing because the Google let me down) "Crackheads burn in house fire" to "Local couple dies in electrical fire." It is absolutely brilliant!
Pennywise preys on each character's insecurity. We hear what their experiences were twenty-seven years earlier and how they were impacted through those years. Imagine being the child of one of the only black families in Smalltown Maine. Or being gay. Or abused by your father. Or being the fat kid. Or the brother of a child who died. Or overprotected by your mother. All of those traumas follow the characters and, finally, when they're ready, the adults take back their lives. They destroy the memories and the emotions that are attached to them and free themselves.
That, my friends, is the power of the subconscious mind.
I must own this movie.
Leave the world better
I had a massage client last week who signs her invoices with her middle initial, B. I asked her what the B stood for and she, rather sheepishly, admitted that it was Bertha. She told me that it was her grandmother's name, so she loves including it in her signature as a reminder of her grandmother.
I heard Pennywise's voice in my head when I listened to Dorothy's story. I was honoured with my Auntie Anne's name as my middle name, and, despite the fact that I include the A as part of my signature, I never think of her. Never. Or I didn't. Until now.
My Auntie Anne died by suicide when I was young. Honestly, I don't remember her. Sorry, Dad. I would like to, but all I know of her is that one picture of her from when I was about four. All we ever do is cover the lower half of her face up and say how much she looks like my younger brother, Pete.
I could have/should have had a piece of her twenty-seven years ago - huh. Isn't that an interesting coincidence? - when I was travelling through Europe. I was living in a VW Transporter which got broken into. All of my Christmas gifts - which my parents had entrusted to my girlfriend, Leesa - were stolen, including a recording of Auntie Anne telling the story of the Littlest Angel. Just like her, it was gone forever.
It was all I had left of her. That and Pete's eyes.
What do you want your legacy to be?
Christie Morden is Calgary's premier mental health coach. Her unique and revolutionary Quicknotherapy, a blend of hypnotherapy and coaching techniques, helps her clients achieve results fast and get the healing that they and their families need to break the cycle of generational emotional trauma.