Movie: Sucker Punch. Thoughts from a DID/abuse perspective *major spoilers and alerts to triggering material in the movie*

First off let me say that this is not a review of the movie. I did not go to see it because of the story. I’m a huge sci-fi/fantasy/comic book nerd and I only wanted to see the fighting, the monsters and the style the movie was shot in. It’s my thoughts on the movie’s themes based on my own perspective. Let me also say that if you go to this movie expecting great writing and acting…HA! Oh, and I’ll add that my love of comic books, video games etc. prepared me for girls kicking ass in skimpy outfits. What I’m going to talk about is the basis of the movie and the way the characters handle their situation.

I think it’s good to mention that if someone was thinking about seeing this movie but they’re not clear on what it’s about, they should know that it deals with the death of a parent, the attempted rape by a stepfather, being put in an insane asylum and more attempted abuse by the employees there. It doesn’t actually show anything (it’s more like something almost happens but then the person is saved at the last second) but it may still freak someone out. There are absolutely things in there that could trigger people, like cigar smoke and other things. Because I’m discussing the movie elements there will be spoilers. If you don’t care read on.

I’ll try to make the premise of the movie simple or as simple as I can. The main character is a girl later referred to as “Babydoll” her alter-ego (to me her name could be a trigger for some people). Her mother dies leaving her and her younger sister in the care of their evil stepfather. In the beginning it seemed like he was going to assault the main character (I don’t want to use her name too much in case it bothers someone) but, in the last moment, and this freaked me out, he decides to go for her younger sister. I was wigging out inside my head hoping that the director wouldn’t actually go there. He didn’t, she stops him but she accidentally shoots her sister. The stepfather then has her put in an insane asylum and she is scheduled to be lobotomized in five days. Of course everyone who works there is evil except for the “therapist” who uses this common area called the “Theatre” to help the patients deal with their issues. Ha! It’s all very dark etc. She wants to escape and that’s the theme of the movie, escaping and taking back your life by fighting, whether it’s real fighting or metaphorical. I’ll get into that part at the end. This is where the DID/dissociative thing comes into play. The movie is based on there being three worlds, one real world and two realities in her head: the real world aka the asylum, a sub-world which is a brothel in her imagination that represents the asylum and the third world, a dream world where she and several other female inmates wear sexy outfits and fight various creatures with swords and guns. I’m a girl gamer so I get the video game aspect of that and of course it’s supposed to be about battling your inner demons. Ok, so that’s the dissociation part because the heroine (I use the term loosely which I will discuss at the end) uses dissociation to escape what’s happening in the asylum, the real world. She has this “quest” to get items that will allow her and the other girls to escape the asylum/brothel and we see the quest also take place in the other realities. Basically when something bad happens in the real world, she closes her eyes and ends up in the sub-world, then when something stressful or bad happens in the sub-world she closes her eyes and retreats further going into the 3rd world, the dream world where they all fight the mythical creatures.

This post is going to sound weird now because I got called away while writing it and I’ve slightly lost my vibe. 🙂 Anyway, there were several aspects that the director (Zack Snyder who did Dawn Of the Dead and 300) used to show what she was feeling or how she was distancing herself. In the real world, she’s an inmate at the asylum, in the 2nd world, the sub-world, the girls are forced to dance for men who come to visit the brothel. The “brothel” is run by a man who looks like the gross orderly from the real world. The female therapist in the real world, now becomes the woman who teaches the girls how to “survive” by dancing. The main character ends up having the ability to mesmerize men with her eyes or her dancing or something so that the other girls can get the items they need to escape while everyone’s distracted by her performance. So, she ends up using her sexuality to distract men by dancing for them. I’m not sure what the director meant by that aspect. Every time she has to dance in the sub-world, she retreats into the 3rd dream world and fights monsters. Without getting into too much, she and another girl make it to the gates of the “brothel”. Earlier in the movie she had been told that there was a mystery item she would need to find in order to escape. She figures out that the mystery item is her and the other girl gets away. Ok, so now the movie returns to the real world, and we find out that she really did help someone escape the asylum. And then… we see her get lobotomized, old-school style. Basically a small hammer and a spike. Ouch and yuck. This is PG-13 so they don’t show it from the front. Imagine my surprise that this was the ending. Yes, the gross orderly who was about to assault her after (yes after) her lobotomy is stopped and gets arrested. That part freaked me out. He said some stuff to her about her not being allowed to “go away” mentally while he was there…creeped me out. BUT, we find out that she’s happy because she escaped…by being lobotomized…. Huh. So that’s the ideal way to escape a life of abuse and mental problems? And she’s supposed to be the hero???? This movie was touted to be about strong women kicking ass and fighting back so they can be free. Seriously? A lobotomy? Really? I thought that whatever “strength” she had during the movie was completely nullified by this ending. The doctor who performs the lobotomy says that at the last moment she looked at him like she wanted him to do it and we see a shot of her face all peaceful and happy-like. I was peeved. If they wanted to take her out at the end of the movie, they should have had her blow up the asylum.

I didn’t actually write this post to do a commentary on the movie, I just felt like putting the story out there because we actually deal with the reality of abuse and dissociation and I felt…I honestly don’t know how I feel about the movie as far as that stuff goes. It wasn’t meant to be deep and believe me it’s not. The acting is hideous and the dialogue is painful. I guess I was more interested in posting about the handling of this kind of stuff by directors or hollywood or whatever. Ok, I guess I don’t know why I wrote this post after all lol! I don’t know, what do you guys think?


About CimmarianInk

Abuse Survivor Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) also known as Multiple Personalities
This entry was posted in abuse, Child Abuse, Child Molestation, depersonalization, derealization, DID, dissociation, dissociative identity disorder, Incest, Mental Health, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Psychiatry, PTSD, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Trauma and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Movie: Sucker Punch. Thoughts from a DID/abuse perspective *major spoilers and alerts to triggering material in the movie*

  1. shame says:

    Thanks for the info. I hope it didn’t effect you negatively too much. It makes a person wonder why they make movies like that. I’m sure it all about the $.


    • tai0316 says:

      Hey jo!
      No, it actually didn’t affect me at all except to annoy me. My husband was really worried that I would get upset or something but I didn’t. Maybe it was too silly to mess with me. 🙂
      It’s always about money isn’t it?

  2. castorgirl says:

    What a weird treatment of a really serious issue. There’s no justice, there’s no kick-arse out for the heroine… I’d equate it to a sort of suicide. Parts of me get that need, and know why they would welcome the pick and hammer… but when the main character is forced to use their body for the pleasure of others, and the only escape is a lobotomy… what the???? Who were the writers aiming this at? Abusers who can wipe away their victims?

    Thanks for the summary tai, and I’m glad it didn’t affect you badly.

    Take care,

    • tai0316 says:

      I know right!? What the??? was my reaction too. I posted it because I wanted to put it out there but I was also curious if my reactions or thoughts were weird or too strong or not strong enough. I’ve noticed this movie was an epic fail money-wise and the actors have been trying to defend the sexism in the movie. I was more concerned with the mental thing.

  3. kat says:

    The whole movie wasn’t even about “baby doll” it was “sweet pea”‘s story. the 2nd world is more of sweet pea’s dream/escape world, the dances you are talking about are when baby dolls get molested/raped by the staff at the Mental institution and she escapes into the 3rd world to deal with it. I loved the movie’s artsy feel and the action was awesome, but the whole mental aspect caught me off guard. The issues could have been handled differently, yes, and maybe not so shocking. the whole labotomy was her getting justice for everyone there. if she had “won” and didnt get it, who is to say that the orderly would have been found out and stopped, there by saving other girls from what happened? or for anyone to believe her, as she is considered “mental unstable” To sweet pea, baby doll is a hero.

    • tai0316 says:

      Hey kat,

      While I appreciated the art and the visuals (the reason I mostly went to see it) I thought that the sexual molestation issues and using what was basically dissociation to escape, should have been handled with more sensitivity. The girls come off as very weak characters, when accodring to the director, they were supposed to be powerful. While it was nice that someone was “saved” in the end, getting a lobotomy to deal with trauma was not a good message. That was my point.

      Personally I love dragons and big samurais with machine guns, so those parts were cool. 🙂

  4. San says:

    I think the ending is the sucker punch. I’m not sure about the ending or whether I am right or wrong, but after a lot of thinking I believe that sweet pea was taken on by baby doll as an inner personality or identity. In the real world sweet pea did escape, but the doctor didn’t seem that bothered by that fact which implies she was found and placed back in the asylum. In bdolls mind sweet pea was probably her alter, a strong powerful woman – as she put it herself in the movie – after bdolls lobotomy she was able to lose herself and become sweet pea and follow a type of paradise in her mind.
    I think it is the films intention to do this and make this ending the real sucker punch, there is no real happiness for bdoll. Does this imply that the filmmakers are making fun of victims, or highlighting the true atrocities of abuse? I don’t know, I’d like to think the latter – either way, no one should want to be bdoll.
    The thing that disturbs me the most about the film and keeps me from sleeping at night, is what actually happened at the asylum in the real world – was it all much more disturbing than her dream world – was each dream all an escape or some parts drug induced? I mean its obvious what happened but because you don’t see it in the film it becomes – more disturbing I guess.

    • CimmerianInk says:

      Hey San,

      You brought up a possibility that I had never considered as far as who Sweet Pea could have been etc. Interesting. You’re right too that the end was the “sucker punch”. I agree, the asylum was not a good place. That orderlie guy who tries to assault her at the end? I found that disturbing. Yuck! I just hated seeing Babydoll give in to having the lobotomy and making it seem like that was a good option.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  5. Cav says:

    Found this only recently, so perhaps the conversation is dead. But I had a very mixed reaction as well. As first I didn’t like it much because it all seemed to fall flat. Like striving for a message that never really arrived. But the more I thought about it, the more I came to see it as an encouragement to those with mental illness, though perhaps from a perspective I’ve never seen. Think of the overt statements, which Snyder says he is fond of making: “you have all the weapons you need”, ‘the one who sends us to fight dragons, etc. is you.’ (presumably we send ourselves), and lastly, “Fight!”

    A hero is placed in hyberpolic situations with hyperbolic abilities so that we can aspire to it in our more mundane setting. For people who live with trouble assessing and coping with reality, what better message than to use the weapons we have to fight for ourselves and others. If Babydoll can inspire her asylum of horrifically abused women, bring the abuse to an end, and even free one of them who is capable of coping, from the midst of her “invalidity” How much more can I cope with what I face and even be productive. Even Babydoll’s demise to me was powerful. She doesn’t win. Winning would be too easy…too candy. She gave herself up for others as a martyr. We’re supposed to be disturbed by this. And we can see this as strength despite what feel-good critics who don’t understand the depths of the human mind say about it (you can find them from a quick google search of the movie).

    So yes, it was a bad movie from the perspective of conventional film-making and pop culture. But if you live in hell, or struggle at the brink of it, I think this movie is powerful.

  6. thewuz says:

    it it seems like you all wanted to hero to have a happy ending, But this movie is not about happy endings. Its about harsh reality as seen through the eyes of a dissociative girl. The happy ending for her was helping someone escape, Because the whole group fought to get out and some of them literally died for it. In the end when she didnt make it out, she knew her fate, And after dealing with the loss and abuse of everyone she cared for she knew the lobotomy would be the closest thing to freedom and relief. It only becomes sad when the authorities show up and its too late cuz shes gone. But keep in mind this is after shooting her sister, several possible rapes, And watching her friends get stabbed, raped, “taken away”, And lobotomized. This is not a happy movie. This is a way to show the world a reality it usually wouldnt notice, they just put the kickassness in there to get viewers. But they stay true to reality by only giving a partially happy ending. Because in real life the hero doesnt always win. And as far as why they would make a movie like this… Do some research theres worse out there… You ever heard of “carrie”, “mommy dearest”, “hard candy”? The last is my fave, A teenager goes to the home of a serial rapist, and child killer. Drugs him, Attacks him, Pretends to remove his balls, And convinces him to hang himself, But theres no kickassness to make it audience friendly, Its just raw reality (And full of these so called triggers)

    • CimmarianInk says:

      Hello wuz, you are of course entitled to your opinion as I am entitled to mine. I more than most people know the ‘harsh realities’ of abuse, rape and living as a dissociative person as well as knowing that there are not always happy endings so I don’t require Hollywood to tell me what it’s like. This is a very old post so however I felt about it is how I felt.

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