Right off the bat, since I have absolutely no regard for this film whatsoever I’m just going to go ahead and pass along the spoilers. Read at your own risk.
The writer of the film Kenneth DelVecchio is running for the state senate in New Jersey. He is very open about his pro-life stance. This movie is his baby. If you’re reading this in New Jersey I strongly urge you to take this post into consideration as you cast your ballot.
So here’s the plot twist: the three women all died on the operating table of their abortions in the first trimester. They are in purgatory and given another chance to make the right choice, atone for their sin, and enter the gates of heaven. The adamantly pro-choice victim deliberately attempts to miscarry at 7mos and experiences the joy of motherhood with twins. The other women also give birth after having accepted the notion of abortion as sin and ascend into heaven. The pro-choice victim is condemned to an eternity of pregnancy and childbirth without ever actually getting to be with her children. The other twist: the pro life doctor is actually a woman who committed suicide after her husband left her for a more fertile woman when she was unable to conceive. She’s being condemned to an eternity of midwifery.
So first off, we are still left with this image that the all-knowing, all-loving, merciful God is in fact, Jigsaw.
Not only is God judging you for your sins, he’s also setting you up. That’s right, the author of the universe is just fucking with you. God is incredibly sadistic and hateful to women it seems. Haha, you’re insecure about the infertility that I gave you? It drove you to despair and you chose suicide- now you will be delivering babies in the afterlife FOREVER! And you, little miss choosey, since all women will inevitably feel unimaginable joy when they deliver, even by force, a baby- you will be pregnant and delivering babies FOREVER! Babies that will be taken away from you!
Here’s the part that makes me really antsy. I noticed this comment left on the movie: “Hello all. I am one of the producers of this film and have read all of your comments. All I will say at this time is that this movie is a collaboration among people on all sides of the abortion issue, and people should see the movie before jumping to any conclusions. While the writer of the movie is a staunch pro-lifer, many of us who worked on this film are pro-choice and the arguments on both sides of the abortion issue are clearly and intelligently laid out in the film.” – Nace Naumoski.
Well, thing of it is Nace, the very format of this film makes it totally impossible to clearly and intelligently lay out any kind of pro-choice argument.
First off, you have to accept the idea that deaths during abortions are somehow common or at least an understandable premise. They aren’t. The very premise is fear mongering and a strategy of the pro-life movement. If you want to talk about risk of death, take a glance at maternal mortality rates.
Second problem: “It’ll be a 7 month abortion think tank.” Right, because the place we really ought to be having this debate is with pregnant women kidnapped from an abortion procedure and forced against their will by their captors to continue their pregnancy. You bring out the rational side of the debate with a pastor who calls himself “the jailer.” I’m no sociologist but I have to question whether or not Stockholm Syndrome might skew the findings there just a little bit.
Third problem: Suicide is considered to be a sin equal to abortion. There’s a lot to unpack in a statement like that. To address the mental health paradigm, this reiterates the idea that people choose suicide because they are weak. That’s total fucking bullshit. There is all kinds of stuff happening with mental health. All we know is how little we know. We’re all scratching our heads at the statistics showing us that placebos are more effective against depression than either prozac or prayer. The cultural paradigm that people choose suicide or that depression is a weakness of the soul is killing people. So we have a message that if you’re suffering from depression, you have fallen from God’s grace which is pretty damn archaic or the modern version in which you are advised to “talk to your pastor” about what you’re experiencing.
Religious authority figures generally come out of schools of divinity or schools of theology. These degrees are generally offered in the graduate and doctorate levels. Thing of it is, would anyone advise someone experiencing depression to call up a professor with a PhD in anthropology or history or literature to discuss the issues they are having with their mental health? There certainly are religious figures in all denominations who do have training and certification in counseling. It’s not, however, part of the packaged deal in the curriculum for an advanced degree in a study of religion. It’s just something to consider before blindly advising anyone that their religious authority figures are totally trained and prepared for mental health issues. If you want a therapist who comes from your religious background, you can find that. You can also find kink/poly/sex work aware professionals. You want to find a therapist that meets your needs, but you need to start with the “therapist” part of that sentence.
To get back to the point, considering this film to be somehow even-handed in the debate because the pro-life character is also condemned to an eternity in hell is a bizarre denial of reality. Killing off a character (or condemning them to hell, whatever) doesn’t change the debate about abortion itself. Especially not when the debate has already allowed stereotypes, generalizations, and information into the debate as legitimate arguments.
The most compelling argument about abortion for me has been this: I would no sooner force someone to surrender their body for the development of another human being than I would force someone who was a direct match for someone in need of organs or blood to donate them. For as long as I was allowed by the Red Cross standards for blood donors, I donated blood. I donated all the time. My driver’s license says “organ donor.” I believe that if you can, you should. I do not believe that you must. I believe you own your own body. Pregnancy and childbirth are exponentially more complex both physically and socially. Nevertheless, at no point should the government start mandating that everyone with an O- blood type line up at their nearest hospital because the patients have a right to life and need more blood to survive.
I’m really not kidding. There are way more people dying than there are people on organ donor lists, so if you’re a “right to life” sign waving motherfucker you should be trotting your sanctimonious assess down to the donor registry. If you believe that being capable of physically sustaining life with your own body mandates that you do so, you better be on a first name basis with the red cross phlebotomists.
This isn’t just a crappy movie and its problems number more than 3. The problem is that you cannot come up with any legislative reason why abortion should not be legal in the United States. Ultimately it comes down to a fuzzy intangible thing like faith but that cannot be the basis for law. Political ideology born out of morality is dangerous. If The Life Zone were an anomaly or just a shitty movie, it wouldn’t be an assessment of whether or not they would be a good politician. Just because someone makes shitty horror films does not automatically make them a bad politician. Most politicians don’t even know the first thing about making a horror film. Kenneth Del Vecchio is up front about his beliefs. They’re part of his campaign. Here’s another one of his fine contributions to cinema:
Did you all see that? Now here’s this:
This begs the question: does anyone have a cocktail recipe for a drink that is mixed with tears of bitterness?