BRANDED: The Most Terrifying Movie Ever

Blake C. Patria By Blake C. Patria, 17th Feb 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Film & TV>Horror

This is about one of the most frightening and disturbing films of our time.

I've Seen Things, Man

Last night, I saw the most terrifying movie I've ever seen which is no joe-blow statement because I'm pretty sure I've seen what could be classified as snuff films. Have you ever seen a film where somebody is literally castrated by some back-water institution of authority? I have. It was real, but it was not nearly as disturbing as Branded. I'm no stranger to witnessing horrible things in real life either, but that's more of a surreal thing when it happens, and the psychological implications are more simple and primal. That's not like this movie. This movie can haunt you on a deep existential level every time you turn your head instead of those more sparse occasions when you hear fire-works or the words "Uncle Chester".

Introduction to a Nightmare

At first, I saw parts of it on the morning after a psi-trance party (thought generally pleasant and interesting, nobody really comes back from one of those the same anyway). I was mostly engaged in conversation, but I caught little glimpses of the film. It looked pretty good. At some point in the conversation, I looked up at the film, and literally had to say out loud, "It's just a movie. It's just a movie." My assessment of the plot was something like, "Yeah, this looks like a good one! It's all over the place; one minute a guy's in trouble with Russian gangsters, another minute being fat is like the coolest thing ever, and then it looks like the KGB has been testing some sort of psychotropic drugs on this guy." It did look good, and I was assured that it was. So I made it a point to watch it in its entirety as soon as possible.

Meet Misha

My girlfriend had a similar ambition, so we cuddled up with our Netflix account after a long journey back to the dimension we shared with the rest of working-class America. The movie started classically enough: The protagonist is branded with an "unusual life" seemingly by some act of God in a manner that seems like a super-hero origin story. We discover his name is Misha, and he grows up to become some sort of marketing executive in Russia. We learn from him that marketing was invented by Vladimir Lenin which made perfect sense to two people old enough to remember the USSR, but young enough to almost match the pace of Consumer America. Misha is a few years older than we, however, getting his super-hero blessing in the early eighties as a young child. My girlfriend and I merely share the Orwellian birth-year of 1984.

Meet Bob and Abby

Misha's gift for marketing attracts the attention of a shady marketer named Bob Gibbons. It does not take long to recognize Bob as dangerous which stimulates further insight about the inner workings of the marketing field. At this point, we realize that a "marketing guru" living in a mansion on a Polynesian island is mounting a marketing campaign to glorify obesity. Bob, of course, has a niece named Abby who falls in love with Misha much against the wishes and to the dismay of Bob. This creates conflict, and film starts to take a sharp turn.

The Fall of Misha (spoiler alert)

A reality show that Misha is working on centers around an overweight girl who will undergo surgery to become more attractive by the general social standard. Unfortunately, the teenage girl mysteriously goes into a coma during the surgery. Misha thinks it is Bob's retaliation for his relationship with Bob's niece, but Bob denies it, and dies of a heart attack when Misha tells him the truth about the impact of his own marketing. Misha exiles himself, but we find that Bob's motives were far more complicated and sinister. The overweight girl from the reality show was forced into the surgery, and put into a coma to generate a public outcry to kickstart the marketing campaign promoting obesity.

The Red Heifer (spoilers)

Six years later, we find Misha living in a remote countryside herding cows. Abby manages to track him down, but he remains distant. One night he has a dream giving him a message from a cow he saw in the sky as a child. He wakes to perform a ritual used by ancient Israelites to purify those who come in contact with the dead (I'm pretty sure there is also an allusion to The Golden Calf which makes sense concerning the themes in this movie). He builds a giant pyre, and watches his cows until a certain time of day when he sees a red one. He leads the red cow to the pyre, kills it, and then lights the pyre on fire. Then he takes the cows ashes, puts it in water, and baths in it.

Misha Returns from Exile, and Enters a Nightmare (Spoilers)

Misha wakes up in Abby's car on the way to her domicile, and notices a strange creature attached to her neck ("It's only a movie. It's only a movie"). He also realizes that society has totally glorified obesity. When he gets home, he discovers that Abby had given birth to his son while he was gone. Misha sees strange creatures growing out of his obese son's neck too. These "hallucinations" do not settle well with Abby, and Misha notices that the disturbing neck-creatures are related to brands that people are addicted to when he sees his son begging for "Burger" products. His son's neck-creature joins a huge beast at the top of the "Burger" joint as soon as his addiction is sated. Misha sees these beasts everywhere, and other people's neck-creatures feeding them (Imagine, if you will, an entire city of chortling, gurgling titans feeding off of the eery neck-creature manifestations of people's desires). Unfortunately, this revelation does not stop Abby from leaving Misha. I should also point out that almost every form of advertisement features obese people, making it almost socially mandated to consume products that might induce such a physical state. Even Misha's son is in love with an obese superhero. This was when things started to get scary.

Fight Marketing With Marketing (spoilers)

Misha also finds the brand-creatures terrifying, and counterattacks by mounting an aggressive marketing campaign with vegetarian Chinese food company. While hatching another brand-beast, he also orchestrates a beef-hysteria causing people to relate a recent virus to beef. Witnessing his brand-beast killing the "Burger" brand-beast, he predicts that "Burger" will go bankrupt, and is accurate. The "marketing guru" in Polynesia is about to verbalize his counter-strategy to the fast food companies, but he is killed by lightening. Misha uses scare-tactic marketing to turn all of the brand-beasts against each other until the Russian government bans advertising.

Where the Movie Ends, and the Nightmare Begins (spoilers)

Misha is reunited with Abby, is injured in a riot, and enjoys his happy ending with his son and Abby in the same hospital that the girl in a coma resides in. She wakes up from the coma after years, and reemerges into a Russia with no advertising anywhere.

The ending was happy, but I realized that these brand-beasts are totally real, and they are everywhere. I'm probably working for some right now as I write this paper. Maybe one of them is growing your neck creature to the point where you have to grab your favorite soda, or maybe you're hungry for your favorite fast food. Is your kid begging for a certain brand of clothing to better fit in with her peers? I found this all very relevant to a segment in my paper "Everybody Has One", but that was just an overwhelming blur of colors. Now there are huge beasts emanating from them, and the only way to stop them is to become a rogue marketing executive, or feed my Black Velvet neck-creature. If I'm going to get into marketing, I might as well keep doing what I'm doing, and create my own brand-beasts, sicking them wherever I may. It's a real trip examining your life though when you're building a beast out of other beasts. It's even scarier when you consider that Lenin was like Faustus, and Communism is like Mephistopheles. The film makes a point that Communism was the first Brand, the first Marketing. It's powerful. Even more powerful than you might think. Our entire social world is composed of and motivated by it.

Tags

Advertising, Beasts, Beef, Branded, Burger, Capitalism, Communism, Films, Lenin, Marketing, Movies, Nightmare, Obesity, Product, Red Heifer, Russia, Terrifying

Meet the author

author avatar Blake C. Patria
My name is Blake C. Patria. I am a musician, a writer, a philanthropist, a philosopher, etc. I enjoy science and its fictions. I also enjoy philosophy and Punk Rock. My work will tell more :)

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