The Horror of Culture Shock

While most horror movies present a plot revolving around ghosts and ghouls, masked killers, or otherworldly creatures straight out of nightmares, observer, With Maika MonroeShe chooses a very real horror. Directed by Chloe Okunothe film follows a young couple who move to Bucharest for her husband (Karl Glusman) new job. It quickly turns out that the female lead, Julia (Monroe), neither speaks Romanian nor knows much about the culture. The audience is thrown into culture shock along with Julia.

In real life, culture shock can be extremely scary for travelers to foreign countries. The disorientation that results from the inability to communicate, lack of geographic knowledge, and ignorance of cultural norms can be detrimental to anyone. observer deftly investigates this in almost every scene, constantly putting Julia in situations where she cannot understand the world around her. The palpable presence of Julia’s culture shock heightens the tension surrounding the killer chasing her. While this killer is ultimately the antagonist, the techniques used to convey such a stressful, suffocating environment pave the way for the film to achieve levels of terror that other films cannot.


The terror of isolation

One of the most notable decisions in developing culture shock within the film is the lack of subtitles for the Romanian dialogue. Without subtitles, viewers are forced to experience Bucharest like Juliet, as a constant stream of incomprehensible speech. Although Julia tries to learn the language, it is unsuccessful and she has trouble even ordering coffee in a cafe. Because of this separation, Julia constantly relies on her husband for translation throughout the film, whether it’s to simply understand her landlord or to keep up with the news about the serial killer. Sometimes her husband even denies her the right to understand what others are saying; he conveniently does not translate at dinner parties and even pokes fun at them in Romanian with his colleagues. This lack of subtitles, in addition to such unreliable native-speaking characters, creates a basis of extreme uneasiness for both Julia and the audience.

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Julia’s isolation is another excellent way to show the damage of culture shock. Since Julia’s husband works late into the night, she stays alone in her apartment without anyone to help her get used to a new country. When she goes out, she often makes mistakes that cause her native Romanians to be upset. Whether that’s taking pictures in forbidden places or entering areas in a grocery store that she doesn’t know are forbidden only serves to discourage her from going out in public to find out about Bucharest. With Julia so cut off from society, her anxiety and paranoia escalate, causing her behavior to become erratic and her relationship strained. As her husband increasingly rejects her and believes she is going insane, Julia is deprived of the only person who can help her navigate this strange world. Putting a character in such a remote situation only adds to the buildup of fear observer.

Constantly making mistakes due to culture shock can make anyone doubt themselves. When Julia makes mistakes in a new country, she wonders if she’s really right about the person she thinks is stalking her. All the natives she confides in about the potential stalker don’t believe her and instead of comforting her, they are condescending. Julia begins to almost go insane as she doesn’t know whether to trust her instinct or let it go. Julia’s culture shock ultimately leads her into the hands of the killer.

But was her paranoia justified?

By the end of the film, she’s convinced she’s built this threat in her head. She accepts that she is wrong about the man she thought was haunting her, that she was just paranoid about living in a new country as everyone kept telling her. However, the culture shock itself has made her a vulnerable, easy target for the killer. Already questioning herself, Julia was on the verge of losing her mind and being gaslighted, making her the perfect prey. Only at the end does she realize that she was right all along, and so it comes to the final showdown between her and the killer. However, this can be metaphorical for Julia overcoming her fear of living in a new country and gaining the confidence to be independent despite cultural barriers. By killing the “observer” she defeats the culture shock.

observer shows how dangerous and frightening culture shock can be. The film uses multiple techniques to show this in stages, leaving viewers feeling disoriented and uncomfortable by the end of the film. While other films have placed characters in foreign lands, such as The Green Inferno and hostel through Eli Roth, the horror in these stories tends towards overt brutality and violence rather than slowly growing fear. Because a culture shock hits you much sooner than being cannibalized in a foreign country. While this can still be effective in evoking visceral responses, the culture shock choice will resonate more deeply with viewers.

Culture shock is a powerful mechanism for creating horror, but it is underused. observer is a good example of how effective this can be while also being relevant and thoughtful. In a world of increasing globalization, the film’s exploration of culture shock offers a level of horror that is both timely and relatable, while still delivering significant chills. The Horror of Culture Shock

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