Predators Vs the anxious [Warning: SPOILERS!]

In Flannery Plath on July 18, 2010 at 2:02 pm



[Note: This is the opening salvo of a whole bunch of Predators stuff…]


I sit down in the cinema with Billy on one side, a woman on the other and right away I know something is wrong. And when the film starts and I see Adrian Brody drop into the jungle from the sky, I already want to leave. Just like the advertisement before the film said, we’re trapped in the cinema.


Adrien Brody gets up and meets some other people. They are surrounded by trees and there’s nowhere to go.


The jungle in the film reminds me of Apocalypse Now. I remember having this exact feeling when I watched it for the first time on a film course back in university. Martin Sheen killing Brando in that dark, depressing jungle. But it was only one scene, and I never felt the urge to leave.


So why does this feeling hit me now? Is it that I might need to cough? Or am I just tired? I don’t know.


I try to watch the film again. But it’s still in the jungle and they don’t seem to be doing anything.

I try to change position in my seat but the back is too short and hard. I try to stretch out my legs but there’s not enough room. I have the sensation that hundreds of bugs are biting my legs and I can’t shake them off.


You don’t have to watch the film, think about something else,” I say to myself. I take a good look at the guy sitting in front of me, and the girl next to him. They seem to be enjoying the film. I make an attempt to count whether there are more men than women in the cinema. The usher in the corner seems to be doing the same. He’s probably the only other one in the cinema not watching the film.


It feels like the seats are too close together.


I turn to my right, trying to measure the gap between the woman’s arm and mine but it doesn’t seem like a gap at all. Her arm is literally on me. She keeps mumbling and explaining the plot to her boyfriend. ‘The alien doesn’t care, it just wants to kill them’, she says. Can’t she shut up for just one second?


She can’t, and she explains more.


I remember another film, another moment: The Hurt Locker back in March. There was a couple sitting next to me and half way through the film, the girlfriend started moving in her seat and later made her boyfriend leave with her. At the time I thought how selfish she was. Now I believe it was much more than mere boredom…maybe she was just like me?


I glance at my mobile. Only half an hour has passed. I think back on the other films I’ve watched and realise this is the first time I’ve ever checked the time. I hope nobody notices the light from my phone.


I shift in my seat again.


I wonder if anyone in here can see me moving uncomfortably and shaking my legs. Maybe I can tell Billy I feel sick? I look at him and he seems to be enjoying the film. It’s not nice leaving him in the cinema on his own and it’s certainly rude to make him leave with me. I reach out for his arm but worry that he may get annoyed. My hand stops in mid air.


I take a sip from my camomile tea. It’s a lie when people say it can calm your nerves because it doesn’t at all. I sit straight, trying to concentrate on the film. If other people can focus on it, so can I. It’s not as if I’m mentally less capable of watching a film.


Lawrence Fishburne appears on the screen. I didn’t even know he was in it. He takes them to some kind of spaceship and I feel more relaxed now the scene is not in the jungle anymore.


Billy gets up and heads to the bathroom. For one split second I think maybe I should just run away but I don’t. When he comes back, he asks me what he missed. I have no idea. I don’t even know who’s still alive.


Lawrence Fishbourne isn’t in the film anymore. I don’t know where he’s gone, and I don’t know if I care.


The seat is uncomfortable again. I regret saying no when Billy offered me the aisle seat before the film…but then I’d feel equally trapped as I’d be on the wrong side of him. There’s really no way out of this.


I look at the screen.


The predators are killing the humans one by one. Or they already have killed some of them. I don’t really know. But the aliens are beyond disgusting. I cover my eyes with one hand and try to sleep but I can’t.


And the film plays on and on. Two more people die but I cannot figure out who they are. They could add more people to the group and I wouldn’t notice.


The Japanese guy fights one of the predators in the field and dies. The woman turns to her boyfriend and says “The Japanese guy just died.” I bite my tongue.


I think the film is going to end soon with Brody fleeing on the helicopter…or the spaceship. But no, he comes back. I grip the arm rest tightly. It annoys me the way he’s trying to save the annoying woman and the annoying doctor. It annoys me the way he tears off his shirt and shows off his annoying chest. It annoys me that the film never seems to end.


The doctor explodes. Brody fights the predator. The predator dies. I check the time again; please God, let me out of this.


The film ends. Thank you, God.


We walk out and I can breathe normal air again.


The cinema used to be one of my favorite places to escape from reality. Not anymore.


I check on IMDB about the film when I get home. Great. 7.5 out of 10. So was I the only one who wanted to walk out?


I go to sleep and try to forget about predators.


But the next day the feeling hits me again. I’m standing inside a packed compartment on the train from Admiralty to Tsim Sha Tsui. Next to me is a loud woman yelling at her son, completely oblivious to the fact that her sweaty arm is touching mine. I move an inch or two away from her but her arm is still there. I feel dizzy and suffocated, praying for the door to open…


The train stops and I escape from the woman, but the feeling is still there.


I go home and search the internet, trying to find a cure for it all and this comes up:


‘A highly sensitive person (HSP) is a person having the innate trait of high sensitivity (or innate sensitiveness as Carl Gustav Jung originally coined it). According to Elaine N. Aron and colleagues as well as other researchers, highly sensitive people, which would represent about a fifth of the population, process sensory data much more deeply and thoroughly due to a biological difference in their nervous systems.’


I’m not sure if this is really me. I scroll down the page and see some more descriptions, but no solutions.


I turn off the computer and go to bed, wondering if I can somehow avoid going to the cinema again.

  1. I’ve felt this same thing many times before. Most recent was ‘Prince of Persia’.

    I sat there hoping there wouldn’t be too many fake-emotion scenes[it’s them that fuck me up so bad]…but there were at least a dozen. Gyllenhall’s brothers dying. The girl dying. The black dude dying. Gyllenhall dying. The brotherly hug at the end.

    It was Hell.


  2. … oh dude, dude, dude… God bless you HSPs and the cinema that rocks your worlds. For better or for worse.
    Given the choice would you rather be numb to all around you all the time or be able to exquisitely feel that inch between yours and the woman’s arm?
    I would choose the arm.
    Much the same as I insist, much to my loved one’s chagrin, on the idea of being conscious for my own death. I want to see it coming. Bam! Like a freight train.
    Hopefully, it won’t be in that claustrophobic, hot, stultifying jungle

  3. Would you like to consciously see a predator coming to gut you?

    I don’t know, maybe i would. But i’d like to go out on my own terms if possible…

  4. Reminds me of the definition of a friend: He’s the guy who calls you and takes you to beer moments before the Celine Dion concert begins. This piece really captures the claustrophobic feeling – well done!

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