Released: 14th June
Seen: 27th June
I was roughly 9 years old when I had my first epileptic seizure. I was asleep in the top bunk of the bunk bed that I shared with my younger brother when I had it. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a seizure but I really do not recommend it. Imagine every single one of your limbs clamped to your sides, unable to move an inch or control what happens. Imagine laying in bed looking straight up in pure darkness and unable to scream for help. Imagine feeling like you can’t breathe, no matter how hard you try you just can’t inhale. For the official record, I was later told by doctors that I was breathing at the time but from where I lay it didn’t feel like it. It felt like I was trapped in my own body, limbs locked, breath stopped, I had no control as I heard my mother screaming my name and my mother, who at the time had an incredibly bad back, leapt up onto the bed to try and help me. Imagine how terrifying that was for me as a child, to be laying in bed unable to move or breathe and having my mother seemingly hovering above me screaming in terror about her child having a seizure in the middle of the night. After that night I was on several medications for a very long time and had a few smaller seizures since then but good news, I haven’t had a seizure in almost a decade now… seeing The Incredibles 2 almost broke that streak.
I could tell you all about the truly interesting storytelling and how they used a superhero story in order to discuss changing family dynamics and how that is altered when mom is the one who decides to take up the role of breadwinner. I’d love to talk about the genuinely great way this story builds from the ending of the last movie and explores how it must feel for someone to experience a taste of being themselves, only to be ordered to suppress it again. I would enjoy nothing more than to describe, in vivid detail, the hilarious sequence known as “Edna Mode Babysits” but I can’t because instead, this review is going to be me ranting on about how this film is an actual danger to people’s health and how goddamn irresponsible it was for Disney to allow this to happen and you have no idea how much it annoys me to have to do that but, frankly, someone has to say something about this and I guess I get that job now.
In this film at about 4-6 different moments, there are large bright flashing lights taking up the screen. These lights are the hypnosis tool by the main villain of the story. Those lights are also known to potentially trigger seizures in certain kinds of epileptics, or indeed just in random people in general who may not have epilepsy but they will sure as hell experience the fun of “Why can’t I move or breathe?”. This isn’t an unknown phenomena, it happened in 1997 when an episode of Pokemon aired in Japan called “Cyber Soldier Porygon” that contained a single scene that had red and blue flashing lights for roughly 6 seconds and what followed was 685 people having seizures that required hospitalisation, a further 12,000 had various other symptoms . Several other people experienced headaches, blurry vision, dizziness and nausea. People lost consciousness, had temporary blindness and at least 2 people spent 2 weeks in the hospital. Not all of those children were actual epileptics and most never had another seizure again, but one 6 second flash of those lights set off nearly 13,000 seizures or other illnesses. As I sit here typing this I currently have a headache and experienced dizziness shortly after leaving the theatre. As yet I do not have nausea, but the night is young so who knows. Key point is that flashing lights of this nature can cause serious illness and you know who should know better? Disney.
And guess what? People have already had seizures watching this film. Imagine that for one minute. Imagine that you went to see a movie that you have waited over a decade for, you sit down and after the genuinely adorable short (Bao, it’s precious) you get ready to have a good time and enjoy superheroes kicking ass and solving family problems… and then you collapse on the floor and hope you don’t swallow your tongue while you convulse in the middle of a darkened cinema surrounded by people who will undoubtedly have no idea what’s going on and will just make things worse with the inevitable panic. You got that? Great, now imagine the one who has the seizure is a child. I had my first seizure at 9, kids even younger than that have them AND I promise you that no one in their family will know they have epilepsy. They will just see their child convulsing, their child will be terrified because they won’t really know what’s going on. Somewhere, I promise this, a small child will go to Incredibles 2 as happy as can be and they will come out on a stretcher after going through the most terrifying experience of their young lives and be subjected to a battery of tests before taking medication for, potentially, the rest of their lives.
Why the hell do we even need strobe lights for this kind of work? The strobes are there as part of the hypnosis sequences in the film… because a swirling black and white circle wasn’t cool enough? Because a swinging watch wouldn’t have worked? A weird sound? Get Out pulled off hypnosis with a goddamn teacup, you want to tell me Disney couldn’t find a way to do it without giving the audience a seizure? You want to tell me that Disney, the company that owns literally everything and has some of the best creative minds on the planet at their disposal, couldn’t think of a way to make sure they didn’t potentially harm their audience while telling their story. Because that’s what this will do, this will harm people. This is not one of those stupid bullshit “Oh violence in movies hurts children” things. This is “A child is very likely to have a seizure and collapse on the floor, injure themselves, be on anti-convulsants for life and depending on how serious the seizure is, they could goddamn die”.
No film needs these stupid lights. None. Literally, none have any need for it. Beyond the fact that it will cause large amounts of their audiences illness… actually, no, I don’t need anything beyond that. It will cause their audience to be physically ill, I’m literally sitting here with physical illnesses due to the movie deciding that a bad looking effect was somehow more important than the health of the people who went to it. I genuinely don’t even care about the movie anymore, I want to. There were some genuinely funny moments and some ideas I really liked, it was a good film… that decided that the health of its audience wasn’t important. In my mind, that is appalling. I’m disgusted that Disney would think that it was OK to jeopardise people’s health like this and I for one am not going to ever watch this film again. I wasn’t this upset after seeing Fifty Shades Freed or Dog’s Purpose or any awful movie I’ve sat through since I started reviewing. Those movies were bad and offended me on a taste level, this movie actually attacked me and will cause children harm and for that alone, I wouldn’t tell anyone to go and see it.