Amulet seems to be a straightforward film, with supernatural tropes of a scary decrepit house and something demonic hiding in the attic, but things aren’t always what they seem. So, let’s discuss Amulet, its big revelation and what it was really about.
Amulet is a mythological tale about atonement and punishment and a very Greek tragedy driven plot. And although it starts out as a story told from a male’s perspective, it is in fact a very feminist tale with a female gaze that holds-to-account the crimes of men towards women.
Tomaz is an ex-solider who has left his country that was previously at war. Now he is home-less in London until he is noticed by a nun, Sister Claire who takes him to Magda who takes care for her sick and dying mother. Slowly Tomaz’ past is revealed while also is revealed what supernatural forces are at play in the house.
What Tomaz has done
It starts out very clearly that Tomaz doesn’t trust himself at night, for he binds his hands with duct tape. We discover that he worked as a soldier to guard the border along a road through the middle of the forest. When a woman named Miriam comes running towards it, it first seems that he shoots her. But instead he takes her to his cabin and offers her to stay with him until the war is over. She accepts his offer, but after a time she wants to reach the next village where her teenage daughter is so she can be with her. Tomaz begs her not to go, for he’s afraid she gets killed and tells her not to run.
But she does. And that act, is the defining act of Tomaz. He runs after her, not to catch her because he’s afraid that she gets herself killed, but he’s so accustomed to her company that he is too reluctant to let her go. Being all by himself for a long time she was a welcome guest and someone he had to take care for. Symbolizing the male perspecptive of protecting women, which isn’t a bad thing all by itself, but it is when accompanied with the thought that a woman needs a man, it can become a matter of power.
When Miriam runs, she defies that presumption. He catches her, not to take her back, but to rape her. To display his male dominion over her. What happened after that act isn’t shown. It doesn’t become clear if she stayed till after the war as Tomaz’ prisoner, or if let her go, after all.
When Tomaz stays at Magda’s he wants to convince himself that he isn’t a bad man. Even Magda tells him, he’s a good man. By staying with her, he wants to atone for what he has done to another woman. He wants to prove to Magda he is a good man and stays even if she doesn’t want him there. He had plenty of opportunities to go away, but every time he returns to the house. It was his way to make amends, but it wasn’t enough.
Who is Sister Claire
When Tomaz finds out that Mother is an evil being that Magda is hiding in the attic, he is appalled, but still he stays. Sister Claire explains to him that there is evil in the world, demons that have to be contained, but that they need companionship. Magda is a slave who has to take care for the demon till it dies. But as Sister Claire says, no demon lets its servant live if the demon itself is dying. Making Tomaz all the more determined to help Magda.
But Sister Claire isn’t what she claims to be. She isn’t a nun at all, but pretended to be one, to lure Tomaz to the house. In fact she is the human servant of the Snail Shell Godess. Tomaz found an effigy of a Snail Shell Godess in the forest while he guarded the border. The amulet is also seen by Miriam who admired it.
Tomaz finding the amulet can be seen as a foreboding of his true nature that soon will come out, rather than controlling his actions, or acting as a catalyst for his behavior. It’s more of a premonition.
Who is Mother in the attic
First Tomaz thinks that Magda’s mother is possessed by a demon. But soon it turns out that Mother is in fact a man. Despite of Magda’s pleas to handle mother herself, he has made up his mind to kill her, to free Magda. He acts up as man is taught to do, protecting the helpless woman, but by miscalculating the situation and by underestimating Magda, he walks into a trap. Because after he killed Mother, he discovers she is in fact a man. An old newspaper article in the attic exposes Mother as a man who killed his wife and daughter in that house. Now he has been turned into a demonic entity, or so Tomaz still thinks. After he killed the man in the attic, he finds himself waking up in a bathtub full of black slime and a new fate is explained to him by Sister Claire.
What are the bat-like creatures
Now he is turned into whatever they turned the murderous man in the attic into. He now has become the physical embodiment of evil, a demonic-like creature. He is, just as the man who committed a crime against women, now himself the evil that Sister Claire told him about. Evil is eternal, lives forever, as long as gender roles are not converted and many men believe that are entitled to commit a crime against a woman. The companion Sister Claire was talking about would constantly remind him of that.
And so do the bat-like creatures. When Tomaz is transformed into this demonic-like being, he immediately gives birth to such a creature, while being in great agony. It’s a gory bloody mess, when evil is born from his loins.
Who is Magda
But just before he is completely turned he founds out who Magda really is. She isn’t the slave of the demon, like he was being told. Instead she is it’s master. She is the Snail Shell Godess whom he finds residing in a giant Snail Shell. When he crawls in he sees her true guise. She is a Goddess, a vengeful one who punishes evil men who have done great harm to women. Like as Sisyphus or Prometheus he is being punished every day, till his last to pay for his sins and crimes.
In the aftermath we see Magda driving through a different countryside and she stops at a gas station where we find Miriam who is reunited with her daughter. She says she is trying to forget the past and go on, but Magda tells her to never forget and gives her the amulet. It’s a reminder and a symbolic proof to Miriam that she’s not alone, that she’s not the only one and that he has paid for his crime.
And indeed he does, while lying at the back seat covered in a blanket while Magda can’t stop laughing, playing with her victim.