Pretentious, unique, oddly engaging and OUCH. Fracking ouch.
Julia Shames (the lovely Ashley C. Williams of the ‘Human Centipede‘ fame; the victim who is ‘stuck in the middle with you‘) is an assistant to a surgeon. We do not get to know Julia’s back story until much later; just that she wants Ugly Duckling to never turn in to a Swan, yet she craves companionship.
A drawn, sad-looking, bespectacled Ms. Shames is invited to the apartment of someone she met before the film began. This could be to amaze the viewer with Julia’s desperation of walking into a stranger’s joint and consuming the champagne served by him. You know what happens when dubious strangers make you drinks. Moments later it all turns to the making of a villain. While Katie (Jemma Dallender) from ‘Grave part 2‘ was given copious amounts of ketamine, Julia’s drink is laced with some kind of drug that paralyzes the body but keeps the senses completely functional.
In one scene, while Julia is under the influence, a guy hits her in the stomach with a wooden object. Julia shows no emotion. A few seconds later we see blood coming out of her mouth and her glazed eyes. Where are we going with this? The same place we go every time we watch a film on the verge of becoming sexist, both ways. Taking a bottom-feeding exploitation stance where brutal, anti-feminist attitude is being crushed into a ball and thrown into a dustbin. It is all extremely toxic, both; the ideology and the drink that Julia was made to consume.
The rest of the film is smarter than your typical Rn’R (rape/revenge) presentation in the way revenge is exacted. It is way better than Day of the Woman (I Spit on Your Grave), 1978 & I Spit on Your Grave III: Vengeance is Mine, 2015, and other films made in the category created singlehandedly by Israeli director Meir Zarchi (who is full of bullshit when it comes to getting inspired), forty-two years ago.
It is provocative by way of the cinematic styling and proposes narrative opportunities, however, unfortunately, by how it is shot and structured rather than the thematic plot contrivances which drive the turntable horror films all the way to vengeance hell.
Well, the genre is agitating by the essence and nature and the intrinsic myth that associates with the unreliable narrative, which flickers throughout; never stable and mostly rising from the rudimentary genre trappings, in a process, which director Matthew A. Brown (this is his feature debut) and cinematographer Bergsteinn Björgúlfsson lay out the sequences for their audience to absorb.
‘Never take matters in your own hands or the consequences will be very bad. Do not make it personal or the consequences will be…‘
Yeah got it Mr. Boss of everything Oedipus (Dr. Sgundud (Jack Noseworthy), but hey, you and Julia, and the viewers all know that she will not be restrained, despite the lesbians covered in blood, shower scene. Dykes!
Gloomy, with shadows all over the screen and the overlapping editing and frenzied camera work, which shows flashbacks of Julia being tormented and left for dead, make the film somewhat interesting. Plus the chicks (all of them gay) are super hot. From the bombshell bartender (Kumiko Konishi) to Sadie (Tahyna Tozzi) to random women in cloaks like the ones worn in Eyes Wide Shut sans the ancient, bronze Venetian masks.
The insipid and outright offensive sexuality, the Baise Moi, 2002-like random (trauma-induced) outbursts on anyone and everything male which, usually, mostly, well every time end up taking lives, biting off the bishop and putting our, now, femme fatale in a state of complete blood lust. If it were up to her she would make castration mandatory, something like how the Affordable Care Act made health insurance mandatory to avoid facing a tax penalty. It’s annoying, plus Mr. President had an excuse. Julia has a kitchen knife.
Director Matthew A. Brown gets divided at the twenty-five minute mark. Beginning with farce ideals of male-bonding in these times (there is no other way according to this genre than for successful, good-looking men to force women into submission and use them as playthings), Brown goes on to try and give this Rn’R somewhat of a creepier, more organized thus, a more dangerous feel.
The Blade-like costumes of the revenge squad (Suicide Squad should try a hand at this genre. Ha) are highly ridiculous, especially if you want to be invisible in a very crowded bar. I mean Sadie wears shoulder pads that would make Lucious Fox think again. Julia wears a leather corset with laces and very sexy boots that could have made the great Brandon Lee take a detour to the nearest mall.
However, I gotta tell you this. After the men have acted like pigs (of course, all men are pigs, except maybe the forty-two year old David de Rothschild), and have left Julia dying at the beach, she somehow returns home (walking in a silver space-blanket) and heads for the bathtub.
NO WAY. Dykes!
After bleeding all over the ceramic, the camera closes in on her and she stares long and hard into it, with her beat-up, mascara-smeared eyes, sending shivers down the spine and implicating the viewer in a truly harrowing manner. We are also reminded of The Accused, 1988 but I’ll leave that be.
A mediocre at best film with moments of pure terror and squib in equal quantity. If you want something better, watch ‘American Mary, 2012‘ by the twisted twins (the Soska Sisters) or Audition, 1999 by Takashi Miike.
Ouch, ouch ouch, fuck me. Ouch.
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