Ok, so I watched Case 39 tonight and thought to myself, what is more terrifying? The fact that what we define as innocence is corrupted by evil? or is it that evil has a face and that it is the face of a child?
The main child character in the movie named Lilith, encapsulates this fear by creating what we fear into a reality that I would term “our personal hell”.
What is hell exactly? We can take the religious view often treated by Christians as a place of hell fire and endless suffering; or psychologically it could be a place of soulish torment where the mind is unable to free itself from unending agonizing torture from unseen imaginations or hallucinations; or it can be sourced by physical or psychological pain that cannot be appeased by normal medical remedies. Hell in my point of view is not just a place, but it is a state of being in which our notion of peace is absent. I’m not suggesting that I can easily define it to a person how wishes for it to be characterised or described as something tangible or easily understood; however, in this movie, hell is equated to “what we fear most”. What we fear is what hell is for that individual, However, you can only ascertain what you fear by assuming that there is a requirement that you have some level of experience with that fear.
If we assume that what we fear is based on experience, then can we accurately define hell as something we fear ?
I think fear is an aspect that is present in what we define as hell, but I don’t think that fear is hell itself. I know that I’m becoming philosophical here, but I believe that hell is much worse than what we can possibly imagine and this movie doesn’t really put the correct face of what hell really is, in my opinion.
Through Lilith, the movie tries to convey that hell can actually be personified (in this case by a child as an example), but I think that you cannot personify hell by one face since I think that hell is multifaceted and multidimensional to be so easily simplified by one entity. I think Lilith embodies evil personified but does not necessarily embody the definition of hell itself. Hell, however, can be experienced on a personal level and fear is one aspect that is utilized to capture the experience of hell on an individualistic basis as characterized by Lilith’s parents, the case worker’s (played by Rene Zwelleger) friends and peers.
Death in this movie seems to indicate that the experience of one’s personal hell ends at death; however, evil continues to thrive by targeting the weaknesses of others in order to exploit their fears. I think that death in the movie did not vindicate the victims of their fears, but instead trapped them by their fear by dying from what they feared. It gives me the impression that the worst possible end is by dying from what you feared most would happen to you in this life and having it actually happen to you.
A young boy murders his parents in the movie and that paves the way for adults to scrutinize the level of contempt a child could have to perpetrate such a heinous act. The child is psychologically damaged following the aftermath of his deed and while under arrest is sympathized as the victim in this case thus justifying his crime as something explainable by social workers as “a product of living in a bad environment”. This, in turn, removes the level of culpable responsibility for the deed away from the child by citing his actions as a by-product of his unstable upbringing.
The parents of the boy are not regarded with much sympathy as victims of a murder. Instead, the adults in this movie continue to solidify the societal norm of viewing the child offender as the victim of circumstance rather than a child who should be held criminally liable for his actions. Despite the child admitting to killing his parents, the adults in the movie continue to coddle the child as the real victim in this case. This indicates that to a large extent, society fears accepting a reality in that innocence can be corrupted and that by putting a blind eye to that reality is the driving force needed to instill a type of ignorance that conceals this truth. In short … adults are in denial.
We all have our own perceptions of what we deem hell to be. Some thoughts on this area can be religiously based, psychologically based, or cultural. What matters to me after having seen this movie is that I can say for certain that it didn’t necessarily take the notion of evil from a religious point of view. Why I say this is because what I saw could be greatly appreciated by anyone religious or atheist.
However, it is interesting to note that the name “Lilith” given to the main child character of the movie is derived from a belief that Lilith is a demoness written in Jewish mythology found in the earliest Babylonian Talmud, often cited to be the wife that left Adam (the first man created by God in the Christian bible) . She refused to be subservient to him and waited to mate with the archangel Samael thus becoming a demoness (Disclaimer: I wiki-ed this info @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilith so you can google on Lilith to find out more since I will state that I`m not 100% sure of the accuracy of this information).
Evil presents itself as an innocent child that is victimized by the evil projected by the fear characterized in her parents. The outsider looking in is able to sympathize and empathize with the child since the common societal view of children are often perceived to be young, weak, innocent beings that have not reached the age of moral responsibility. However, pardon the *spoiler* the actual fact is that the parents are the real victims in this case. Not only are they the victims of the evil contained in Lilith, they become the objects that reveal her true evil inclinations. Her true nature which is evil.
A child services worker prevents the child from what apparently would have been a brutal murder by her parents who attempt to cook her in an oven when in actual fact, they were in the process of getting rid of an evil entity that took on a form of feigned innocence. Evil lives through the child who manipulates and seemingly appears to have psychic abilities to read peoples intentions and thoughts. Evil can only read what fear it instills in you.
The movie was interesting and quite creepy from a societal point of view; however, it is an interesting piece of work that exploits the ideas of fear, hell, and death and attempts to uncover what is worse in this case. I give it a 6/10.