Summary: Rotten Tomatoes

John Form thinks he’s found the perfect gift for his expectant wife, Mia: a vintage doll in a beautiful white dress. However, the couple’s delight doesn’t last long: One terrible night, devil worshippers invade their home and launch a violent attack against the couple. When the cultists try to summon a demon, they smear a bloody rune on the nursery wall and drip blood on Mia’s doll, thereby turning the former object of beauty into a conduit for ultimate evil.



Nerd Corner:

Horror can be subversive, but it can also reassert harmful norms

Heteronormativity 

Cisnormativity 

Compulsory motherhood- reduction of identity to how to care for others, contained within societal expectations and boundaries 

Spike Lee on The Magical Negro trope: 

“During a master’s tea with an audience of more than 200 students in the Calhoun College dining hall, Lee cited four recent films in which there is a “magical, mystical Negro” character: “The Family Man,” “What Dreams May Come,” “The Legend of Bagger Vance” and “The Green Mile.” In the latter film, Lee noted, a black inmate cures a prison guard of disease simply by touching him; in “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” a black man “with all these powers,” teaches a young white male (played by actor Matt Damon), how to golf like a champion.

The film director, who frequently inspired the laughter of his audience as he peppered his talk with expletives, was unreserved in his criticism of this new characterization of blacks, posing to his audience the question: “How is it that black people have these powers but they use them for the benefit of white people?”

Noting that “The Legend of Bagger Vance” takes place in Depression-era Georgia, a time when lynching of blacks in the South was commonplace, Lee stated, incredulously, “Blacks are getting lynched left and right, and [Bagger Vance is] more concerned about improving Matt Damon’s golf swing!”

Director Spike Lee slams ‘same old’ black stereotypes in today’s films. March 2, 2001. Volume 29, Number 21. Two-Week Issue http://archives.news.yale.edu/v29.n21/story3.html 

 

Roxanne Gay also talks about the trope in Bad Feminist. 

 

Tvtropes: 

“With such deep spiritual wisdom (and sometimes — though not always — actual supernatural powers), you might wonder why the Magical Negro doesn’t step up and save the day himself. This will never happen. So enlightened and selfless is he that he has no desire to gain glory for himself; he only wants to help those who need guidance… which just happens to mean those who are traditionally viewed by Hollywood as better suited for protagonist roles, not, say, his own oppressed people. In fact, the Magical Negro really seems to have no goal in life other than helping white people achieve their fullest potential; he may even be ditched or killed outright once he’s served that purpose. If he does express any selfish desires, it will only be in the context of helping the white protagonists realize their own racism and thereby become better people.”

Evelyn’s only role is to help a white woman and ends up dying to save a white family. Her backstory is only included  to set her up as “less valuable” than Mia. FUCKED UP. Really harmful!

 

“Evelyn is wise, and guides Mia on her journey to remove this demon from her house and ultimately protect her family. Any question Mia has, Evelyn has the answer. She’s knowledgeable about demons and religion and generally seems to know the answer to everything. Sounds nice right? Wrong. It’s actually promoting a very problematic movie trope, one that Roxane Gay looks at in her recent book Bad Feminist, adding onto commentary by Matthew Hughey. That is, the trope of the magical, mystical, black woman. And while it might sound cool, at least at first glance, its roots are in dehumanizing stereotypes of black women. Their supernatural wisdom is only really present to benefit the white characters in the film.”

“And with that trope aside, it only reinforces the horror genre’s tendency to treat black characters as disposable, a topic I discussed in the first Oh, The Horror post. It’s no surprise in horror that black characters rarely ever make it to the end. They’re either killed suddenly and removed from the plot entirely, or die as heroic martyrs for the safety of the white characters. Though the latter might seem better with the whole “selfless characters dies for everyone else” appeal, it’s really just as bad as the former. Both things make it so that black characters are lost to the horror, while white characters thrive and persevere” (Shafi, 2014)



Kate notes:

What type of set has one doll that’s massively bigger than the other two? A doll and her two sons. 

Interesting shot. From one porch to another. Little lands, their own worlds that bump up against each other.

Did 911 actually exist then? Technically yes. But highly unlikely they would have access to it.

UM another woman holding the doll!!!

This movie really asserts law and order.

Ah bed rest, that always bodes well for women. Yellow Wallpaper who? 

They lock their door now. The end of innocence.

This does not bode well. You unplug it from the wall but JOKES ON YOU it’s not powered by electricity. It’s powered by SATAN.

Annabelle, awesome job being a doorstop. Excellent really.

I love how neighbors are up your ass in the suburbs when you’re a pregnant white lady. 

That child looked like a young Matt Smith. I dare you to tell me I’m wrong.

Ornate elevator, spooky basement. The gang’s all here.

Miscreants. You don’t get to hear that every day.

Why do women have to sacrifice everything.

“You too have a purpose Mia, to protect your family.” FUCK THAT

The standing caveat of “fuck your depiction of Satanists”

Ah I see the priest likes baseball. 

Demons notoriously don’t want you to listen to the radio.

Get through the doors father. Hurry babe. Can I call a priest babe? TOO LATE I DID. 

Yeah okay I could have told you that would happen. Even though I…didn’t. 

Ah, a sad nun.



Scariest moment: 

The ELEVATOR SCENE



Books:

The Invisible Heart: Economics and Family Values by Nancy Folbre

Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha



Tropes:

Anachronism Stew

Foregone Conclusion

Haunted Fetter – subtrope of Host



Scale:

Yeet priests



Works cited:

Gonzalez, Susan. Director Spike Lee slams ‘same old’ black stereotypes in today’s films. March 2, 2001. Volume 29, Number 21. http://archives.news.yale.edu/v29.n21/story3.html 

 

Peterson, James Braxton. (n.d.) Why We Need to Stop Talking About the “Magical Negro.” The Perception Institute. https://perception.org/featured/why-we-need-to-stop-talking-about-the-magical-negro/ 

 

Shafi, Hana. (2014, October 10). Oh, The Horror: Annabelle Review. This. https://this.org/2014/10/10/oh-the-horror-annabelle-review/