Tag Archives: horror

A Serbian Film: Those Serbs are Crazy

I have to say this right at the beginning as a disclaimer. If you are squeamish, if you find sexualized violence to be perverse and disturbing, or if you find horror in the 1st degree to be mortifying, this movie and this review are not for you. A Serbian film is the tale of an ex-porn star, Milos (Srdan Todorovic). A man of stamina and skill, Milos (pronounced Milosh) is down to no money and has a wife and child to feed. So what does this absurd bastard do? He decides to take one last job. A sort of “final bank job” if you will. What he doesn’t know is what comes to destroy him.

When I first heard of this film, my roommate had just come back from England. His roommate there told him about this film and told me to check out the trailer. I can’t post it on here due to graphic content, but I’ll post the tamer version below:

Anyways, this trailer blew my mind. From the look and sound of what it was about, I figured it was real. This is classified as a “snuff film”. That’s not a joke. The scenes depicted in the film are designed to look as real as possible. And throw in the ridiculous amount of pornographic content and you have one of the most messed up films since Hostel. Wait, scratch that. Since… Ever.

Should I even delve into the mind of this film? Should I tell you this contains quite a few of the most absurd fetishes to grace humankind? Let me reiterate this. There is the issue of child rape in this movie. That alone should say this movie is not for the weak. This movie wasn’t even for me. I consider myself a reasonable guy. I feel I can handle some of the images the world has to offer. But I have opened Pandora’s box of horror. And this isn’t all of it. There is an entire following of “snuff films” out there. This is just… one among many.

See?

A big thanks to ScuptingFragments for posting these videos on Youtube, opening me up to an entire genre of films I didn’t realize existed. You can tell, even from the length (and there’s a Part II to this video) that there is an unlimited amount of films out there about gore/torture/snuff. The names are ridiculous, the premises are absurd, but my eyes have been opened.

There are very few things I can show...

A Serbian Film is just the latest in a series of films that have been coming out for quite some time. Also identified as “torture porn”, this film is meant to unsettle the mind… and the stomach. And, you’ll hate me for this, but… It wasn’t as gory/horrifying as I thought it would be. Despite the ridiculousness of Serbia and the ability for a repressed country to finally make this film shocks me. And yet at the same time, there are films out there that would curb the sex and go for the same amount of torture and violence. I feel, with American films, the pornographic aspect is shunned (but what the Hell? Americans love porn and the sexualization of women…) due to the uncomfortable feelings it brings. A sort of taboo, if you will.

And what surprises me the most is that this film wasn’t trashed by reviewers or critics. Harry Knowles of Ain’t it Cool News said, “This is a fantastic, brilliant film – that given time, will eventually outgrow the absurd reactions of people that think it is a far harder film than it actually is. The film is an incredibly great film, where everything feels correct in the context of the film. It is never exploitive.” He even gave this film his Top 10 of 2010. Others said it was a movie with no substance. A film that defies you to find any deeper meaning. The director of the film, Srdan Spasojevic, said, “”As much as we try to deal with our life in this film allegorically, and with the corrupt political authorities that govern it, we are also dealing with today’s Art and Cinema and the corrupt artistic authorities that govern them in a similar manner here. The films that preach and enforce political correctness are the dominant form of cinematic expression today. Nowadays in Eastern Europe you cannot get a film financed unless you have a pathetic and

There are no words to describe the evil of this film.

heartwarming ‘true story’ to tell about some poor lost refugee girls with matchsticks, who ended up as victims of war, famine and/or intolerance. They mostly deal with VICTIMS as heroes, and they use and manipulate them in order to activate the viewer’s empathy. They make a false, romanticized story about that victim and sell it as real life. That is real pornography and manipulation, and also spiritual violence – the cinematic fascism of political correctness.”  Using the medium of realistic, pornographic violence, Spasojevic attempts to break the drabness of the former “Eastern Europe” in a way that will shock the world. I feel he achieved that.

Now I’m not gonna say whether or not I liked this film. It’s a basic plot. The acting, as far as I could tell from the Serbian language, was decent. The scenes are disturbing and I couldn’t comprehend how they made the sex look so real. But I commend them for going there. At the same time that I condemn them for exposing me to a horrid side of a world occupied by terrible human beings. It’s like a car accident you can’t look away from. Now, Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 4.9 out of 10. I’m not gonna judge and allow you to find out for yourselves, if you dare. All I’ll say is… Newborn infant porn.

 

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I Saw the Devil: South Korea Does it Again!

So recently in the past few years, I’ve been really getting into South Korean films. And not just horror, but action, drama, and

Byung-hun Lee. Complete badass.

suspense/thriller. It all started with The Host (starring my favorite South Korean actor, Kang-ho Song) and has branched into similar movies by director Jee-Woon Kim. And this includes The Good, The Bad, The Weird, A Tale of Two Sisters, The Uninvited, and A Bittersweet Life. And I have just recently added I Saw the Devil, Je-Woon Kim’s latest masterpiece. And I loved every minute of it.

This latest film by Je-Woon Kim is a suspense/thriller with a few elements of twisted gore and horror, the perfect mix if you ask me. Kim Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun Lee), a special agent/detective, has just recently lost his wife was to a brutal murder, not knowing she was pregnant. Upon discovery, Soo-hyeon decides to pursue this serial murderer and get revenge. Once he finds Kyung-chul (Min-sik Choi), Soo-hyeon goes hardcore after Kyung-chul with a fury and vengeance that almost seems unfair.

Using his secret agent skills and the aide of a tracking device, Soo-hyeon proceeds to beat the living crap out of Kyung-chul and then admitting him to a local hospital after every beat-down. With no idea why this is happening, a cat and mouse game comes about for the ages. Who will prevail?

Min-sik Choi. Sick and fantastic.

There are some freaking great aspects to this movie. First of all, the mind game that’s created echoes another film that Min-sik Choi starred in, Oldboy. Without a rhyme or reason to this menacing, violent game, people are killed left and right in pursuit of justice and cold-blooded revenge. What’s nice though, is that there’s a clearly defined line between good and evil. You know for certain that Kyung-Chul is evil and Soo-hyeon is good. What changes is the blurred line between the two and who becomes more evil in the end, and also, more importantly, who has the last laugh.

With the pain and emotion behind the actors, both for different purposes, the hidden killer inside

Thank you for a fantastic movie, Jee-Woon Kim.

everyone is unleashed and survival becomes a determining factor after all. With sick and subtle gory scenes, an occasional bare hands brawl, and even some hack and slash action, this movie goes places where normal cops can’t go. To bring in the bad guy and exact your revenge, just how far would you go to do the deed? A definite 10 out of 10.


The Rite

I gotta tell you, I’m a sucker for exorcist/devil related films. Any horror movie that tries new ways to prove the Devil walks the earth, I’m on board with believing it. These movies are usually more frightening than gore/slasher/paranormal films. Why? There are a lot of people out there who pray for their immortal souls. Why? Because demons and the Devil himself walk among us, waiting to corrupt us and enter our bodies. In The Rite’s case, no human being is an exception. We are all judge and condemned by spiritual forces. By God himself.

Now, I’m a realist. But I love losing myself in movies like this. Any preacher/demon interaction scenes give me goosebumps.

Colin O'Donoghue. Didn't know he was Irish...

A good shaking of the faith scene here and there is good too. And I love directors/writers who push the boundaries on exactly what it means to be possessed. Different symbolical entities that manifest themselves in unspeakable ways are always something of an interest of mine. Without a strong biblical background, I love the ways the Bible is used to push the envelope with demons and what they can do on a mortal plane.

But anyways, enough of my obsession with the possessed. This movie follows the religious experiences of one Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue). I’ve not seen this guy in any other films, but I was quite impressed with his “I don’t believe in faith” performance and the scientific approach he took. But Michael has two options in his father Istvan’s (Rutger Hauer) eyes. He can either pursue the life of a mortician or that of a priest/preacher. Choosing the less morbid/path his father didn’t choose, Michael begins his training as a priest.

Michael's first experience with an exorcism.

But his faith has never taken any form in Michael. And so Michael’s religious teacher, Father Matthew (Toby Jones) (Great little performance from a great English actor.) suggests Michael take an exorcism class in Italy. It is here that, with no faith in Father Xavier’s (Ciaran Hinds) teaching, is asked to seek the exorcistic teachings of Father Lucas Trevant (Anthony Hopkins). And with this, Michael is shown the tricks of the Devil, and the demons in himself he must conquer.

Now, I need to extoll how good Anthony Hopkins performance is. For the first half of the movie, he plays the nonchalant exorcist. This guy goes around curing people of the Devil himself, no big deal. This guy could care less about whether or not Michael believes in the Devil. He plays the carefree teacher who doesn’t care about his pupil. But then, out of nowhere, due to a shaken faith, Anthony Hopkins channels straight Hannibal Lecter. Could not believe where this came from (can’t tell). But you have to watch how amazingly evil Anthony Hopkins becomes. (Interesting note, there’s a mention of a “Welsh priest.” Coincidence that a movie based on true events would include a role with a Welsh older man? Gotta be fate, or gotta be Hopkins.)

Another little kudos for this movie: special effects. There are 3 scenes in which computer graphics are

Anthony Hopkins. Are you scared yet?

employed. That’s it. Everything else: make-up artists/actual tricks of the camera. When a movie can pull of subtle elements of horror without overdoing the special fx function, then it deserves to be noticed. I feel as if this movie was overlooked as far as horror movies go. This movie has a great balance of horror and plot. Something to watch and take stock in. And that’s worth the few intense horror scenes that’re shown. This movie almost felt like it was the prequel/setup for The Exorcist. (Michael Kovak goes to Chicago to be a priest. Coincidence?)

Pray for your sins. The Devil is coming.

Great Italy shots of Rome and Vatican City. Beautiful buildings to function as B-roll between scenes. The buildings looked (could have been?) Actual religious buildings in Vatican City. It was a great visual experience. I give credit to Mikael Hafstrom, the director of this film. Having some horror movies under his belt already, this Swede really has it down in his 13th film. So thank you, all that worked on this exorcism film. It was great. 8.8 out of 10.


Higurashi When They Cry

I love horror movies. The guts and gore, the intense scenes of pain and suffering, even the intense sense of terror it all brings. No. I’m not a morbid person. I think quite highly of human life and its preservation. But I find that now, When They Cry holds a special place in my heart, right next to Saw.

This show, for lack of a better word, is intense. I’ve seen my fair share of anime by now that show the occasional spurt of blood. I’ve never seen an animated situation ever make me squirm though. (Watch the Eye Opening arc and you’ll know. Ha. Eye opening.) These characters, although most in their teens, are some twisted people, although for me, redonkulous at the same time. These characters plot out (and get away with) murders, brutal assaults, and even the occasional torture. But what kind of a reviewer would I be if I didn’t give some back story.

The whole story takes place in a small rural village known as Hinamizawa, the former site of a dam construction that would have taken over the entire town. But, in an odd series of events, all chalked up to the Oyashiro-sama Curse. This is the town’s savior and protector who wards away the demons and keeps the town safe. He’s quite the violent type who kills and spirits away though, all on the town’s only festival, the Cotton Drifting Festival. This story frames all the arcs of the series and lays the groundwork for an all too eerie storyline.

 

Rena and Mion (Sadistic in School Uniform)

There are five main characters the develop the stories of each arc. All five of these character reside in a one classroom schoolhouse of 15 students. First we have Keiichi Maebara, the only of the boys who, for me, plays as the protagonist at least 50% of the time. He has just recently moved to Hinamizawa and usually finds that the village is messed up. There’s Rena Ryugu, the ditzy girl who’s in love with cuddly things. She literally thinks everything tiny and innocent is unbelievably adorable. There’s also Mion Sonozaki, the green haired dominatrix who runs the gaming club at her school. She’s quite the leader and does her utmost to please her family. Along with these three comes what I’d like to call the adorable double: Rika Furude and Satoko Houjou. These two lay waste to everything with their cuteness and great personalities. You could almost call these two half of a whole cuddly teddy bear.

First impressions. I had watched the first episode a while ago and thought, how is this show frightening? You don’t get any sense of foreboding out of any of this. Typical school-age anime. BUT NO. Now that it’s been months and I’ve picked it up again, it’s anything but. Every arc starts off with a cutesy, “relaxer” episode, followed by 4 or 5 episodes of paranoia and fear. The first arc, Spirited Away by the Demon, is my favorite. It mirrors most horror movies I’ve come to love. (i.e. Orphan. And don’t say that movie’s B.S., cause it isn’t.) It was fantastic. Every arc. About the arcs though. Every arc is either a question or an answer arc. One lays out a problem, and another arc, some of them are in the Kai season, answer it.

The anime started off as a video game. Awesome enough as that is. There you go, chew on that, savor it. Just imagine how amazing this video game must be. Well I read it. It’s a purely read and solve the mystery type game. Some people might like that. I also might at any point beat myself to death with my keyboard. Not my kinda game. But that’s for each person to decide.

The animation of the anime is quite good. The voice acting (subbed, not dubbed, mind you) is ridiculously fantastic. The screams and laughs are harsh and evil. Great combo. One arc, and I won’t say which, is just ridiculous. Most horrific thing in the entire first series. I almost felt as if it wasn’t one of those typical slash and hack horror rides. It was more one of those tastefully done twisted rides that doesn’t leave you hating everything at the end. (But I don’t have a preference as far as hack/slash vs twisted. I love Saw for its twisted mentality, but I love The Hills Have Eyes for its hack/slash approach. I digress.)  This series is worth the watch for its plot, its characters, and its mystery. At every point it’ll ask you to question what if? and who? and most definitely why? 8.4 out of 10.