This was probably my favorite horror flick I've seen in theaters since Drag Me To Hell. It suffers from some atrocious logical errors, like the evaporating hand (as mentioned above), but I'm willing to forgive all that because of the concept that Sally might be bending reality in order to better reflect her fantasy world -- an idea that was of course explored in Pan's Labyrinth. Here, though, it's much more subtextual (and Sally uses fantasy to release aggression rather than escape dire circumstances), and while I would not argue that the homunculi exist entirely in Sally's fantasies, I think that the movie functions quite well on that level if you choose to make those readings -- especially considering the ending. Spoilers:
Basically, I walked out of the movie with the idea that the homunculi are an outward manifestation of Sally's resentment of her stepmother and, on a deeper level, her struggle with her Electra complex (the idea that movie monsters are our violent urges personified, carrying out the evil deeds one could not otherwise commit, isn't a new one in horror -- The Brood, or even Forbidden Planet, are nice examples of this). The early scenes of the film touch on the nonexistent relationship between Sally and Katie Holmes' stepmother character -- i.e., Holmes often worries that Sally hates her -- and Holmes is an early target for abuse by the creatures. Fortunately, though, Sally is able to avoid blame (and guilt) over the destruction of the dresses by assigning it to the "little things" -- similarly, after Holmes "dies," Sally is free to possess her father and even dodges culpability once again, as her stepmother has become "one of them" and no longer deserves our sympathies.
All the huge logical gaps actually support this reading -- the near-dead caretaker's knife-wounds are written off as an unfortunate stumble? Well, maybe he was never stabbed, and Sally just twisted those events so they fit into her fantasy. The creature's severed arm disappears? It was never there in the first place -- in reality Sally was just making a scene, petulantly grasping for attention on her father's big night. Not a revolutionary reading I know, but I was actively watching the last act or so of the film with these ideas in mind and everything seemed to line up nicely.
But yes, congratulations to Nick, it's a nice film -- imperfect, but head and shoulders above the rest of the horror crop we see these days. And I want to see more of what Troy Nixey cooks up in the future, especially when let loose on a film that bears less of an external artistic influence, even if it's a positive one in the end.
Edited by JMulder - 8/26/11 at 10:37pm