A Night at the Movies with Cookie
By Janey Pancake
(This contains spoilers and was written under the assumption that you have seen District 9)
Two things, Reader.
• I was able to watch not one but TWO movies on the big screen; Halloween 2 with Mrs. Frothy (neither of us liked the film, but the company was great) and District 9 with my husband and two dear friends. As you no doubt have concluded, one of those friends was none other than Cookie.
• Cookie is very compassionate, it pains her deeply to watch any kind of suffering – be that of another human being, an animal or even creatures of science fiction. She is also a very expressive person. Classically trained in the art of Theatre, Cookie is possessing of both a voice that carries well in large venues and a Tourettes-like vocal tic that emerges when she feels strongly about something. Whether she is immensely delighted by an experience (like drinking a great glass of sangria, for example) or is vehemently disgusted by something (the infamously unwelcome taste of the Blueberry Birthday Flan* of 2008 comes to mind) you are never left in question regarding her feelings on the matter – which is precisely why going to the movies with Cookie always promises to be an unpredictable experience.
So there we were, sitting side by side in the darkness, waiting for District 9 to begin. Popcorn had been procured and offered among our group, cell phones had been turned off and Mr. Pancake and I acknowledged our mutual excitement over the prospect of attending a movie together. The first preview of the evening presented itself - Legion, I believe it was called – during which an elderly woman in a diner asks her pregnant waitress some pleasantry or another before menacingly inquiring about her unborn baby. I don’t remember the exchange verbatim, but the elderly woman goes on to proclaim that this BABY IS GOING TO BURN, before swiftly jumping on top of a fellow diner customer, biting into his neck and scuttling up the wall and ceiling, tarantula –style. As this event transpired on the screen, a raucous “BAWK!” sound escaped from Cookie’s mouth. As the preview played on, several CG mutations of the human body appeared on screen, each eliciting a voluble stream of unintelligible noises from my companion. I have to say, these special effects were not very good. At best they resembled some of the CG from 1999’s The Mummy – which is to say that I have seen more unsettling stuff growing in my refrigerator.
Conversely, District 9 features very good special effects and happens to be one of the more disgusting movies I have seen in some time – on a par with Drag Me to Hell for purely gross-out reasons. Cookie was audibly upset when Wikus Van De Merwe made first contact with some nasty, alien DNA – the side-effects of which included, but were not limited to: pustules forming on his left arm, vomiting on the street, vomiting on a cake, having a viscous black fluid leak from his nose, losing patches of his hair and several teeth** and – though it wasn’t conclusive – possibly crapping in his pants. At one point our man Wikus – who is enduring a painful mutation of sorts as alien DNA combines with (and ultimately takes over) his own – is able to pull one of his finger nails completely off. Cookie’s reaction to this horror was to make a noise, “baaAAaaWWwwk”, then whisper something like, “I can’t…that was…I can’t…no…bawk…no…bawk…” Just as Cookie was soothing herself with steady, yoga-type breaths, Wikus pulled another of his own finger nails off.
Suffice it to say, things did not improve much from here.
Revolting things continued to happen to our protagonist and others over the course of the film and it speaks volumes of Cookie’s strength of will and emotional endurance that she remained by my side for the duration. While I giggled nervously and gleefully when squishy, bloody, oogey things happened onscreen, my movie companion seemed to be trying desperately to teleport to someplace less agonizing. I really liked District 9, but I am delighted to have enjoyed the enhanced experience of viewing it with someone who squirmed and squee-ed through the whole thing. 3D doesn’t hold a candle to Cookie. Or schadenfreude.
*Once, while eating at a fine-dining establishment, a member of our large group was given several plates of desserts to celebrate his birthday. Believing one of the dishes to be some kind of chocolate sauce covered ice cream, Cookie consumed a substantial bite of blueberry sauce-covered flan (her least favorite kind of dessert and, in fairness, not a very good flan at that) and was grievously and boisterously disappointed.