Halloweenathon 2023 · Horror · Microreview · Movies

Halloweenathon 2023: The Virgin Suicides and the Horror of Toxic Masculinity

On the fourth day of Halloween: THE VIRGIN SUICIDES (1999)

On the one hand The Virgin Suicides is a horror story about the monstrousness of silence. All the things that are left unspoken after great tragedy and loss. The answers we will never get. The years we will spend speculating, imagining, reading between the lines. Understanding will always be just out of reach.

On another hand, this is a story about ghosts with pulses. People who have already left the mortal coil while their blood still pumps and their lungs breathe. The hauntings they leave behind when they physically depart.

This tale has tentacles: The Virgin Suicides is also about the myriad ways that men find to hurt women, and the terrible contagion of that violence. How men reduce women to a collection of disembodied parts, valued only by what pleasure men can extract from them. If Trip (Josh Hartnett) hadn’t done what he did, four of the Lisbon sisters might have lived. Women often pay the price for men’s bad behavior.

I also interpret Mrs Lisbon (Kathleen Turner) as a product of that male violence. Why she holds her daughters so close that she smothers them to death: The title of this film is not a metaphor. Horror is being a woman in patriarchal systems that feed on us. Even our memory. How dare Trip say, decades later, he still loves Lux (Kirsten Dunst) when he might have well have murdered her himself.

Like Jennifer’s Body, The Virgin Suicides is about the horror of being a teenage girl. How so many young women don’t survive the experience, like the five Lisbon Sisters and Jennifer Check. And how those who do live carry that trauma for the rest of their lives.

Unusual spooky season fare, but appropriate nonetheless.

✨LUX/5 stars. Highly recommend putting your handprint on a tree. ✨