Smiley Face Killers
Originally published on 02/11/22 on Letterboxd
Gangstalking: the movie. Went into this as research for another Ellis-scripted project I'm writing about, but discovered in its desolate suburban exteriors and pressingly incomplete interiors something far more unsettling than a mere experiment. What it proposes is nowhere near novel, but that's also precisely why it's so effective- the spiritus mundi of uniformity seeps into the cracks in the glass and in between doors left just a crack open. The same images, same questions, same faces- all of these signifiers of familiarity are slowly but surely twisted beyond recognition in a process of alienation facilitated by not just those around oneself but by the coalescing project of Americana. This project scrubs all deviation- in this case, Jake's repressed sexuality- and eats it alive, repackaging its carcass as a cautionary sale to be bought and sold by corporate purveyors of the image. This process can be resisted, opposed through a blurring of ontological states- that's why the sudden shift in pacing and structure towards the very end of the film is a calculated form of genre confusion, introducing an element of fleeting violent retribution that the scribes of this mythology simply cannot allow. Can absolutely understand why this sort of desperate nihilism- not to mention Ellis' entire brand of solipsism- is so uninviting, but as I grow older I find that such portraits of decay interrupted by fleeting attempts to numb it only ring sadder and more resoundingly true.