Twelve and Holding

I watched couple horror flicks (devil, let me in) the last couple days. But they gave me far less unresting feeling than after watching 12 and holding. The film was in my netflix queue for some time and I just found time (determination) to watch it. I can’t even remember why it was in my queue already. I am not especially a big fan of indie movies in general. I was thinking to just watch the first 30 minutes or so. But I was drawn in very quickly and I ended up watching the whole thing until two am.

It is another come of age story. A boy, Rudy, was killed in a fire accident when some bullies tried to burn down his tree house. The event changed the lives of three 12-year olds including the his timid twin brother, Jacob, who bears a huge birth mark on his face. There are really three parallel stories in this movie. An obese boy, Leonard, lost ability of taste because of the accident but in turn let him realize and face his health problem. The girl in the gang, Malee, got a huge crush to her mother’s grown man patient and started to seduce him. And Rudy’s twin brother, Jacob, tried to get back with his feet and face the world without his brother.

Netflix describes it as a “feel good” movie. It can’t be more wrong. It may be barely true for Leonard’s story (which is interesting but very mild comparatively), but hardly so for the stories of Malee and Jacob. Malee met her mother’s patient, Gus, after Rudy’s funeral. At first, she didn’t like Gus but she got a big crush of him seeing him half-naked working on the construction site where Rudy was killed. She tried to seduce him by all means. Even went so far to stalk him inside his house. Then she realized that he suffered a lot from some horrible experience and she found a gun in his house. As she was afraid Gus might kill himself, she stole the gun and asked Jacob to hide it (which led to some greater twist later). At the end, Malee went to Gus’s house again when he was not home. She prepared everything to seduce him to have sex with her that night. But he refused and called Malee’s mom instead.

I didn’t find Malee’s story “pleasant” but still was rather “mild” comparing to Jacob’s story. Actually, I found the story of Jacob is very disturbing (much more so comparing to horror movies). After Rudy’s death, Jacob started to seek revenge to the two bullies, Jeff and Kenny, responsible to his brother’s death. Jeff and Kenny were put in jail and Jacob visited them as frequently as possible to remind them that they were guilty. But he finally befriended with Kenny after Jeff committed suicide in the jail. At the same time, Jacob’s parents were not able to cope with Rudy’s death and eventually they adopted a boy to the family. Jacob perceived this as seeking replacement of Rudy. He decided to run away with Kenny but he had a big fight with his mom before he left. His mother told him that she was not seeking replacement and she would do anything for Jacob and Rudy, including dying and killing for them. And Jacob told her that Rudy said the similar thing hours before he died.

That night, Jacob and Kenny originally planned to run away. But Jacob was late and lured Kenny to the construction site where the burned tree house was. He killed Kenny with a pistol he got from Malee. He buried Kenny in the construction site where Rudy was killed. The story ended without telling if Jacob was caught or even discovered for the murder. Even if Jacob was not caught, I found it very disturbing that a 12-year old has to bear this sin for the rest of his life.

The director did not indicate very clearly if Jacob had made up a plan well before murdering Kenny or it was just an impulsive act. But there were lots of hints supporting the latter. In the middle of the story, it looks like that Jacob already started to accept that Rudy’s death was an accident. But he probably couldn’t forget what Rudy and his mom said about killing and dying for him. Before that night he met Kenny, he looked into the mirror and only found the reflection of Rudy (the part really gave me goose bumps). He probably changed his mind just then. When he finally met Kenny, Kenny said that Jacob was late. It was probably because Jacob needed extra time for the changed plan.  I think writer was quite cruel in that part. This movie could have had some rather fulfilling happy ending. Jacob could have accepted Rudy’s death as an accident and continued his friendship with Kenny. At the same time, Kenny seemed to be deeply regretted for his sin also. It is sad to see the worst tragedy happened instead.  What Jacob’s mom would think if she realized that his living son’s now a murderer? Would she be happy that he killed Rudy’s murderer? Or would she be extremely regretted for her words to Jacob that indirectly led to the murder? At the beginning, Malee told Jacob that the problems of 90% of the people are that they cannot get beyond their pasts. Maybe the writer just tried to illuminate that sometimes that is very hard to attain even ones desire.

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