When this film was first released I went to see it with the cinemas, expecting just a typical horror film. The majority of the film lived up to the usual kind of things you would expect from a horror film, exciting chases, a suspicious character, bit of violence here and there. It wasn’t until the very very last scene that everything within the film made sense and that is exactly what sets this film apart from others. Not only is this twist one which makes viewers shocked in a different way to many of the usual ‘its not this person its that person’ it gave them a real sense of a true psychological thriller, which is also based from what I can tell on actual events.
The twist is that the male who the main character is warned about, is actually someone who’s parents raised him as his sister when she tragically died, and as a result of this severe psychological trauma he kills his parents and then holds females captive in his basement, drugging them and treating them as if they were her, as the story the people who live around him know is that his sister killed their parents and he was taken away. As the bizarre events of the film come together the audience is left to consider all of the different parts, although some people may not have understood the plot twist as some youtube videos seems to point out, one of which involves some young girls laughing at the scene of the male being called his sisters name by his mother whilst dressed up as her.
That reaction video in particular disturbed me, because I know that there is a case of this being genuinely done to a young male, being raised as a female by his parents after advice from a psychologist and it resulting in utter devastation for the family. Obviously this isn’t the young individuals fault but the fault of society for their ignorance to such important cases and stories.
The original story began with a routine circumcision for male infant twins, however one went horrifically wrong and resulted in Bruce (later David) Reimers penis being burnt off. Psychologist John Money advised the family to allow further gender reassignment therapy, operations and to raise David as a female for the rest of his life, keeping him utterly oblivious to the incident and the fact that he was born a male. However despite surgeries and the therapy including regular meetings with Money who was composing a huge report on the case, David (now Brenda) reported that Money forced the two boys to engage in dreadful therapies in order to continuously reinforce Brendas position as a women, this included making the two boys recreate sex positions in which Brenda was the female role and her brother Brian was the male and also making them engage in genital inspections. From the age of 9 Brenda struggled to identify with her new gender, through extraneous variables like experiences at school and preferring things her brother was doing as opposed to the feminine things her mother was trying to engage her with. At 15 after being told by her parents exactly what had happened Brenda decided to return to being male and called himself David, however at this point his brother had already developed schizophrenia, he later committed suicide, and despite David getting married and leading what seemed rather a ordinary life for two decades, two years after the death of his brother and after his wife decides to separate David also commits suicide. The mens mother is left taking a huge amount of antidepressants and in interviews is seen to be permanently shaking from the trauma and guilt of what has happened to her sons.
The film itself really encapsulates just how dramatically wrong peoples lives can go when tampered with by external forces like their families at a young age, and this is why it was so interesting to me. The Brenda/Brian story became known to me during studying psychology in high school and was always of interest to me, but to see such similarities from this film was why it has stuck in my mind so much since watching it.