This is a very strange trend that I’ve noticed. Somewhat lately, in movies where someone cracks up there’s a lot of emphasis on their fingernails, or rather, how they abuse their fingernails. Or someone else’s fingernails.
In Roman Polanski’s first apartment horror movie, Repulsion, we know that the Catherine Deneuve character is losing it because she accidentally cuts a customer’s nail too short while on the job as a manicurist. Black Swan can’t stop showing us Natalie Portman’s hangnails. Occulus has the possessed dad pry his nails off with a staple remover (ew!).
Following those examples, all those comic-relief scenes in other movies, like Oliver & Company, suddenly take on a darker turn when the prissy one wails, “I broke a nail!”
I guess the fingernail thing makes a certain amount of sense. The professional manicurist making an elementary mistake shows that she’s losing control. I guess the hangnails in Black Swan symbolize her internal struggle, like something inside is trying to break out. But as for Occulus… I think they were just going for shock value. But I suppose it could actually be meant to seriously represent self-harm.
It definitely warrants further research….
And now let’s dip our paddies in the water!