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Film / Repulsion

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Repulsion is a 1965 British psychological horror film directed by Roman Polanski, based on a scenario by Gérard Brach and Roman Polanski. It was Polanski's first English language film, and was filmed in Britain, as such being his second film made outside Poland. It is also the first film in his so-called "Apartment Trilogy" (followed by Rosemary's Baby and The Tenant).

Catherine Deneuve stars as Carol, a young Belgian manicurist who lives in London with her sister Helen. Carol seems generally nervous and fearful, particularly of men. When Helen decides to go on a holiday to Italy with her married boyfriend, Carol is left home alone for a few days. It doesn't turn out to be a very pleasant experience. Cooped up alone in the apartment, Carol slowly starts to go mad.


This film provides examples of:

  • All Men Are Perverts: Even seeming Nice Guy Colin has trouble respecting Carol's boundaries, and nearly ever other male in the film is lecherous, condescending, crude, unfaithful, or all of the above.
  • Book-Ends: The film opens with a tight closeup of Carol's eye. It ends with the camera zooming in to the photo of Carol as a child, ending with a tight closeup on her eye.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Carol, the manicurist, bites her nails.
  • Cranky Landlord: The landlord (who else?). In addition to being cranky, he's also a creep who tries to force himself on Carol.
  • Creator Cameo: Polanski dressed as a woman as one of the tenants coming into Carol's apartment at the end.
  • Does Not Like Men: Carol is either this, or just really, really afraid of them.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Really nastily subverted with Colin. He breaks down the door to the apartment, he says stuff about how he can't live without her and he had to see her, and she caves in his skull with a candlestick.
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  • Epic Fail: Carol's attempt to hide the body and the murder weapon. For that matter, instead of simply locking the door, she nails a board in front with a candlestick. And it's not noticeable at all that she overturned the sofa to hide her second body.
  • Eye Open: Starts with A tight closeup of Carol's eye as the entire opening credits roll by.
  • Fingore: Carol, gripped by some fit of mania, slices the finger of a customer she's supposed to be servicing at the beauty salon.
  • Gainax Ending: What the hell happened to Carol at the end? Is she dead, or just in some kind of a coma?
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Carol, apparently much quicker than most people. Then again, she doesn't seem to have been all that sane to begin with...
  • Hair-Raising Hare: The skinned rabbit that Helen plans to cook and that Carol leaves sitting out in the living room.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: One of the first things that disturbs Carol's obviously already fragile mental state is the sound of her sister moaning in orgasm from sex with her boyfriend.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Helen doesn't seem particularly loving or supportive, but her presence keeps Carol (barely) functional, and it only takes about a week without Helen to cause Carol to become totally delusional and homicidal.
  • Mind Screw: The viewer is put in Carol's position of never knowing what's really happening and what she's hallucinating.
  • Mirror Scare: The first sign that Carol is more than just shy and high-strung. She sees a reflection of a man in the mirror, but he isn't there when she turns around.
  • Mundane Horror: Basically the gist of the whole "apartment trilogy". The main character starts experiencing weird hallucinations at her flat, including cracks in the walls and Alien Geometries.
  • One-Word Title: Repulsion
  • Pietà Plagiarism: When she's knocked out due to whatever, one of the other tenants picks her up. Though it's more of a Bridal Carry.
  • Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality: Taken to the extreme.
  • Quieter Than Silence: Carol almost never speaks, so when she's alone in the house, this is natural. But special mention has to go to the Imagine Spots where a man breaks into her room and assaults her. All we hear in those scenes is a clock ticking... and it's terrifying.
  • The Quiet One: Carol fits this trope, to a T.
  • Rape Leads to Insanity: It's strongly implied, in the final shot, that Carol's mental problems stem from having been raped as a girl by a male relative or family friend.
  • Sanity Slippage: The whole plot of the film. It's obvious that something's wrong with Carol by the 30-minute mark, when she sees a crack in the sidewalk and fixates on it, sitting on a bench and staring for over an hour. It gets worse from there.


Example of: