I’m a fan of Swery but also wish he wasn’t so into dead ladies as an aesthetic and need to speak to figure out if I’m crazy. Content warning for all linked videos, particularly the Deadly Premonition cutscenes for visible (if occult) signs of sexual assault and The Missing for self-harm.
The Missing’s title card pops the scene after J.J. is struck by lightning. J.J. appears to die, however is NOT murdered. But you dismember J.J. to progress across levels; she screams and later explains this is so painful she pisses herself. The story is related to violence in a metaphor spoiler way. Similarly, the other female character is depicted as hanging herself but it’s in the midst of an ~imagery~ very surreal moment. Harm is a game long process but here’s a compilation of some should-be-dead moments (cw: suicide! violence! massive endgame spoilers!)
Is it a given because his games border horror? Lynch does it. Am I seeing faces in clouds? Since The Missing my feelings have been complicated and I really want someone else’s thoughts on this because I haven’t heard any.
I haven’t played enough of Swery to dig deep there, but I will say that there’s something specific to think about with how Lynch does it in Twin Peaks for example.
Twin Peaks is a story about Laura Palmer, her life and death. How it affects other people in the town afterwards and how they were complicit originally.
Something that makes a big difference is whether you’re using a woman as a character or as a prop (see the “Fridging Women” trope) and based only on Deadly Premonition, Swery certainly wasn’t telling the story of any of the women. I found the ending to that game intensely gross for its treatment of women in multiple ways.
Someone may have something more interesting to say about the Missing (which I have yet to play) because it sounds like in some ways that landed a lot better for people, possibly because the violence is actually the story and not just motivating plot points for someone else.
I didn’t play The Missing because it looks like the gameplay is entirely based around mutilating a woman in order to solve puzzles and progress through the level and it looked like the most horrible thing in the world.
I don’t understand how whatever good there is in the story can make up for that fact.
Most of it, I think, is just a fondness for and reliance on the tropes of horror and mysteries. Deadly Premonition is the easiest one to say this for, since York spends every long car ride waxing poetic on 80s horror films that often had murders as a cold open. The Deadly Spawn, Cat People (ish), Jaws, they are in many ways more of an influence on the overall aesthetic of the game than Twin Peaks.
That said, he definitely has formed a bit of a pattern that’s becoming uncomfortable. It’d be one thing if he opened at least one of his games with the death of a man, or even a couple (ala the doomed horny teens of Friday the 13th and its ilk), but the exclusively - often artfully arranged, as in Deadly Premonition and The Good Life - dead women is, hmm, harmful. Worth discussing, criticising.
I get this. I considered buying the game and playing it with sfx off because JJ’s voice actress is way too talented a screamer for me to handle, but… I wouldn’t even be tearing her apart to make it to Emily. There are donuts. If you don’t collect ~200 donuts you donut hear the entire story. Those collectibles unlock old cell phone conversations on JJ’s phone between her and her friends. I cannot snap JJ’s neck an extra 30 times so I can snatch collectibles that require gravity reversal, then go destroy other parts of her body for the remaining donuts.
That opening: Anna’s dead body up in the tree, arms spread, breasts bare, a white serpent moving between them, that’s how you know right off the kind of horror DP’s building. I think the only woman not killed aesthetically was mom, who had a murder-suicide with dad. And those were the only traumatizing deaths until Emily. The other killings were exploitation b-movie inspired, but the instances with “we must purge things from this world because they should not exist” lectures are harder to describe.
Perhaps the dead woman in The Good Life being arranged like Millais’ Ophelia means… there’s a serial killer who recreates British paintings of dead woman! (no)
TBH I think the way David Lynch depicts dead and brutalized women also has a lot to do with the very artsy white dude “Broken Bird” aesthetic. I’m not in the mood to get deep into it but he skeeves me out for that reason and arthouse shit is always going to get less flak for this sort of thing, deserved or not, because the auteurs are understood as these singular and unique geniuses so there always must be something more to it, its always actually a very clever subversion, or commentary, and they’re basically incapable of perpetuating misogynist storytelling or visuals in any ways, because their just…so thoughtful, everything is Considered, they would never do that.