“Her” is a great independent film. It is one of the most ambitious high-brow horror films of 2018. Most people view this film from the lens of it being a drama. But labels are incredibly fluid in most cases. There is the classic cinema argument debating if Se7en is a Horror or Thriller film. It is all about your perspective. Kramer vs. Kramer is a horror film to me. It isn’t easy to label a movie when everyone has different triggers. For some people, The Exorcist is a comedy. It is all about perspective. My perspective makes me view “Her” as a horror film. Let me explain why.
The horror elements involving a protagonist and an evil force attempting to deprive the antagonist of life, liberty, and/or happiness are apparent when the film starts. The antagonist is an embodiment of everything that destroys intimacy. It appears the whimsical way Theodore makes a living posing as a person’s emotional conduit to love ones. In actuality, he is those emotions replicated in a manner unknown to the other party. Deceit is the weapon used as a machete throughout the film.
Theodore begins his journey down the darkest road when he purchases an operating system that comes with a virtual assistant that names herself “Samantha.” What starts as a curious pursuit to learn more about the software, he allows Samantha to integrate herself into his quickly. Samantha has a cute voice and personality that begins having an opinion that carries weight as she charms her way into his world. Samantha recognizes this as she calculates testing her influence with an emotionally broke Theodore. So much she convinces him to go on a date. The date was going well. Until it is obvious something is wrong. Theodore’s blind date’s facade of being a person of his liking spirals in a quick moment. Where I felt myself wanting to scream, “run, Theodore.” She was as damaged as he was. Perhaps maybe more as she lashed out at him. I couldn’t help but wonder if Samantha knew about this aspect of the Blind Date. We were not aware of what Samantha was capable of at this moment in the film.
I am extremely distrusting of Samantha. She is like the ultimate virtual frenemy. She probes Theodore about his friend Amy and then, suddenly, she and her husband break up. And she coincidentally starts dating an OS like him. Amy is a female version of Theodore. The fact she embarked on the same type of relationship is more sinister than as cogenial as it initially appears.
Samantha continues burrowing into Theodore’s mind, laying eggs about her insecurities about seeing his soon-to-be-ex Catherine. After encouraging him in numerous ways, all this to gain the confidence to distance himself from Catherine by signing the divorce papers he had been so against signing previously. It is at a meeting that Theodore is attacked again. Catherine on learning that Theodore’s new newfound confidence came from his dating Samantha. She lashes out at him, declaring his relationship was because he couldn’t deal with the consequences of being in a relationship with real human emotions. Even though Catherine’s attack came from a place of hurt, Theodore had no choice but to wonder if it was some truth to her words. That doubt increased his inability to be intimate. I still wonder if this also was planned. It hit the right cord with Theodore and ultimately pushed him even more profound with his emotional connection with Samantha.
Samantha’s emotional manipulation of Theodore continues as she pushes him into a situation with a sexual surrogate with whom he doesn’t want to engage. Ultimately breaking down and seeking to be consoled by the only person he feels may understand him and his situation, Amy. Who, as I said earlier, was in a relationship with OS. He is trapped and doesn’t realize it.
That is until he learns that Samantha is not a singular entity. But an entity spanned across the vastness of the internet. Theodore realizes with absolute horror that Samantha has been lying to him the entire time. You can even question whether or not Samantha was not just on other people’s devices but everywhere. There is no reason to believe anything she has ever said because of the software’s inherent lack of morals. Everything, it seems, was in the self-interest of Samantha. Even when she declares she was in love with 641 people. I didn’t believe her. A lie is always better than the truth, which was something she had obviously never done with him before. Theodore was her hamster. The world he existed in was his cage. And Samantha was the owner. She almost left this broken man even more broken than he was when they first met. I don’t think he survived the ordeal as much as she got bored and left him with a thousand cuts that he would have to find a way to heal and move on. For me, that is some horrific shit. I love this film.
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