Gone Girl (2014)
Valentine’s Day is a manufactured Hallmark fantasy realm of sunshine designed to sell bouquets of roses, mountains of chocolate and giant teddy bears that won’t fit through the front door. In film, that kind of sparkly fairytale is reserved for saccharine adaptations of Nicholas Sparks novels.
David Fincher’s 2014 thriller Gone Girl is the antithesis of this. It builds up the illusion of love, marriage and idyllic suburban harmony before shattering it with a jackhammer, forcing a gigantic rift between our expectations and the cold harsh reality. It takes a giant steamroller to the classic white-picket fence storybook home and flattens it.
At first glance, Rosamund Pike’s Amy Dunne feels like the ‘cool girl’ that every romcom wants you and your partner to fall in love with during a romantic Valentine’s sofa sesh. She’s funny, sexy, fiercely independent and outgoing; nothing fazes her and understandably, Ben Affleck’s Nick Dunne is smitten. But years into the relationship, when the fairy dust wears off, their love is shown to be a lie and the whole mirage starts to collapse in on itself.
If you’re looking to get lovey or lucky this Valentine’s Day, best steer clear of Fincher’s uncompromising appraisal of gender politics and the delusion of domestic bliss. It’s ugly, uncomfortable and bloody. In other words, not something that is going to appropriately set the mood on February 14 when you’re trying to get your groove on.
Now, unless you’re dating someone who thinks dead flowers and sex in a graveyard are acceptable Valentine’s gifts, you might not want to choose Eraserhead as a prelude to all the tender love-making, because in this movie, a whole fried chicken oozes blood and begins to dance on a dinner table like that creature at the end of Spaceballs.
But Eraserhead is a sucker punch for couples anyway, because what it’s really about is poor parenting. Jack Nance plays Henry, a father imprisoned by an alien infant that resembles a diseased turkey, whines all day, and eventually explodes. He is perpetually plastered with an expression of intense sobriety and coasts through life completely unmoved. It’s not exactly a training video for fatherhood.
Then again, neither are any of David Lynch’s surrealistic nightmare concoctions. You could play Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, or even The Elephant Man and still end up with no sex on Valentine’s. But Eraserhead is the criminal mastermind; surely the strangest, most perturbing examination of human frailty. It’s a movie I wouldn’t even want to watch with myself.
District 9 (2009)
District 9 is more likely to instigate a political discussion than intimacy, and even then it’s going to be a solemn conversation that’ll put you off your Ferrero Rochers, even more than people exploding into bloody chunks.
Even brutal horror movies can have your partner huddle into you, or even excite them with the gore. Although not a horror movie, District 9 has a protagonist, Wikus, who undergoes a slow, grotesque transformation into an alien “Prawn” that is simply too intricate to be viscerally satisfying. His skin peels off, his fingernails crack apart and he vomits black fluid. Since all these events are specifically happening to our protagonist, each instance is too personally sickening.
Not only does Wikus yell, lie and patronise “Prawns”, including a child, but he is also berated by his boss, a mercenary, a gang leader and even his alien friend, Christopher, who he later knocks out. Even his caring wife’s desire to see her husband is barely a side plot, disregarded too often to inject much, if any, romance into a story more preoccupied with the savage actions of a terrified, shapeshifting victim. District 9 is a good movie, but completely lacks any joy or warmth to bother snuggling up to.
A Serbian Film (2010)
There is no conceivable way you could do any worse than Srdjan Spasojevic‘s classic romantic comedy A Serbian Film on Valentine’s Day. It’s one of the most notoriously heinous and morally depraved cinematic atrocities ever committed to celluloid.
It follows Milos (Srdjan ‘Zika’ Todorovic), a retired porn star who lives happily with his wife and son, but still needs to pay the bills somehow. He’s coaxed back into acting one last time; offered an opportunity to star in an “art film” with the promise of a payout that will secure his family’s future. Milos signs the contract and only learns what he’s agreed to far too late – an extremely demented and reprehensible snuff film – and there’s no way out without endangering his life and his loved ones.
The bottom of the barrel in the bowels of human decency is scraped and splashed across the screen here in graphic detail – brutal murder, paedophilia, necrophilia and more things far too disturbing to mention here are all served up on a blood-soaked, gore-drenched platter. Whatever metaphor for Serbian government and propaganda Spasojevic claimed his film to be about is lost in a nigh on unwatchable explosion of sin. It’s banned in a number of countries around the world, including Australia, so you’d really have to go out of your way to make A Serbian Film your Valentine’s viewing.
Recommended only for scaring off a bad date as fast as humanly possible (though chances are they’d report you to the authorities afterwards).
Images courtesy of 20th Century Fox, Chapel Distribution/Umbrella Entertainment, Sony Pictures, Accent Film Entertainment