With his debut, The Snowtown Murders, based on John Bunting’s (Daniel Henshall) crime spree (see “Bodies in Barrels murders”), director Justin Kurzel goes for broke and pulls no punches, utilizing true performances and even truer performers. Admirably, much of the film’s cast is individuals with little to no acting experience, yet the authenticity does not distract from the film’s effect on its viewership. At two hours, Snowtown is bursting with beauty amidst an undeniably violent and terrifying premise: a house and family thoroughly manipulated by a psychopath, its members unable or unwilling to escape as Bunting commits a host of atrocities rivaling more prominent devils. Read more
When the musical collective Broken Social Scene went on hiatus in 2011, thousands of its fans did not fret or post disparaging comments on the collective’s website, or worse, drum up a tragedy as horrible as the death of Pantera/Damageplan founding member Dimebag Darrell; they did not rush to the record store to buy up the collective’s discography, for fear there might never be another pressing until a greatest-hits compilation was seized upon by Warp Records. It was obvious that the nineteen-piece musical entity could never go in every direction every one of its members wanted, or could, but that its magic had to rest for a bit, so the collective could figure who and where they were now, as their own persons. The collective had been at it for ten great, long years. Read more
French writer-director Olivier Assayas’ (Demonlover, Clean, Summer Hours) film, Boarding Gate, doesn’t sit obediently in its erotic-thriller billing. As anyone might gather from the title, the idea behind Boarding Gate is that some plots may transcend or toe many boundaries or borders, Boarding Gate itself being mainly a crime-laden work, a series of half-examined sexual and entrepreneurial relations—not all, but many ending fittingly with murder. Surely an apt aim for a film whose purported first title was Departed.
Boarding Gate is a film that follows Sandra (Asia Argento), a former escort who’s employed by a couple deep in the black market—the couple smuggles drugs into Paris via various living room ensembles and runs a successful DVD-pirate ring in Hong Kong. Sandra sleeps with her boss, Lester Wang (Carl Ng). One of Sandra’s more satisfied former patrons is Miles Rennberg (Michael Madsen), with whom she had become romantically involved many times over, and inexplicably tries to rekindle her love for at the film’s outset; their shared memories only the kinky sex they had and the word “slave,” which Miles finds turns on Sandra. The effort to rekindle any romance inevitably fails—lo, they are incompatible, and Miles had promised one million dollars that he was never good for. Sandra shoots Miles several times while he’s tied to a bedpost, shouting wildly for punishment, not expecting. In a still crazier turn of events, Sandra discovers there was a hit out on Miles, that he was in debt big to some Chinese suits, and that her boss, Lester, was supposed to carry out the hit. Lester offers to split the bounty and sends Sandra packing to China to collect it. Read more
Modern sharks breathe by ram ventilation, a process that forces water into their mouths and then processes it as they swim forward. When they’re idle, sharks use muscles around the mouth to pull water in and over their gills. Sharks that don’t have muscles strong enough to do the job must take shorter and less frequent rest stops.
Athlete-chieftain Malik (Sinqua Walls), shortly after he is informed of his girlfriend’s death by shark, having lost his right arm to a bloodthirsty beast some scenes prior, adopts a principle similar in objective to lex talionis or “eye for an eye:” the sharks took one of his, so he will take one of theirs.
Sheriff Greg Sabin (Donal Logue), on the clock, rather than looking out across the lake, seeing a flare shot off by the stranded undergraduates, and responding admirably, instead feverishly drums and strums away, his cruiser’s driver-side door open and he, inside, unaware, a heavy metal ballad emanating loudly from within.
Early on, what is at stake for Shark Night 3D’s viewership under David R. Ellis’ direction (Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco, Snakes on a Plane, The Final Destination) is made evident: the film will operate within the parameters of the horror genre model, like so many creature-features before it, will adhere to those parameters no matter the sacrifice—character, pacing, and plausibility chief among those concerns for any auteur, beginning, middling, acclaimed, or otherwise. Read more
Tom Six believes he can stretch his human centipede formula into a trilogy, and thus far he is right on track. He has written, directed, and produced, now, two films detailing horrific human centipede fictions, both seeing straight-to-DVD releases and surprising distribution through IFC Films. His most recent effort, The Human Centipede 2: (Full Sequence), haphazardly links itself in story to First Sequence, and is the exact stuff you’d expect Six to follow up First Sequence with. Garish shock cinema. Grotesque surgery performed by an asthmatic overweight Uncle Fester lookalike. Having seen Six’s First Sequence and been amazed that someone would release something so debasing to filmmakers everywhere, laughing in those few places no other friends would, I decided I’d give THC2: FS a go.
Martin Lomax (Laurence R. Harvey) is an asthmatic forty-something that lives at home with his mother, Misses Lomax (Vivien Bridson), an over-the-top character who errs on annoying most scenes. Martin, our overweight Uncle Fester, works in a tollbooth at a parking garage in London. Martin just loves, loves, loves centipedes. He owns one as a pet and was sexually abused by his father. What Martin fetishizes are the fictional surgical innovations of Dr. Heiter (Deiter Laser) in First Sequence. He keeps a scrapbook of First Sequence lore beneath his mattress, is made to meet with one Dr. Sebring (Bill Hutchens). Dr. Sebring is a heavily-bearded-but-infinitely-more-repulsive Freud. He wants to sleep with Martin more than he wants to help him. First Sequence exists as a real film in Martin’s London. The rest of THC2: FS Martin spends realizing his fetish in a most slaughterhouse fashion. It’s up to THC2: FS’s audience participant to determine the level to which Martin succeeds in employing his surgical handicraft. THC2: FS is essentially an account of an amateur surgery practice undertook by one crazed copycat on twelve innocent victims, the grotesque, garish mouth-to-anus surgery an utterly original trope in its real world application.
We First Sequence audience participants must have all along been clamoring for, in our observable online/public anticipation for THC2: FS’s green lighting, four times the “100% medically inaccurate” mouth-to-anus surgical procedure first conceptualized in First Sequence. Six must have had to spend some time figuring out how he could top such a garish diddy like First Sequence, having killed off Dr. Heiter proper. I’d be pulling my hairs out if this was my film. How could Six script anything else for part two? First Sequence’s story had come to such a halt. Where would Six go? Minutes Six must have pondered this very dilemma, and then: eureka! Six’s solution was simple: take the centipede formula out of First Sequence’s world, and put it into the real one. Six could make Martin’s actions consequences of his viewing First Sequence in the THC2: FS world, to further seize upon First Sequence’s cult. Six would make First Sequence as horrifically real for Martin as it was for us. And make it real Six did.
Admittedly, curiosity originally piqued my interest in, and conversation was the sole qualifier for, my sustaining viewership of THC2: FS. My boss and I had jokingly promised to Skype each other our simultaneous viewer experience; I was to disrupt his viewing like any other rude theatregoer, text a friend or field a phone call from my mother on speaker phone when THC2: FS was most tense. I was due off work some hours before close, and my boss was stuck closing. It was Easter Sunday. The day had begun with my mother suggesting her and I watch The Passion of the Christ while I was in town visiting. My boss and I never Skyped. In fact, I texted him and told him outright that he should just avoid beginning the sequel to last year’s pop culture phenomenon. THC2: FS’s end is laughable, the stuff of elementary script writers.
What Six presents as part two in his trilogy is an unsuccessful sophmoronic affront on cinema. I don’t think it was his aim to do so, or that this is his cult’s general perception of the sequel. There were some funny albeit dark moments to First Sequence, sure, but as far as THC2: FS goes, it stands mostly unaffected by its predecessor, not continuing Six’s presentation of Dr. Heiter’s growing madness, but rather abandoning all that and introducing a madder, more sinister surgeon, in Martin. Shot in color and then changed over to black and white in post-production, I was initially suspect of THC2: FS’s visual incongruences with First Sequence, though Six seems to see no harm in hurriedly fitting THC2: FS with a green jacket. Our crazed copycat surgeon doesn’t talk, and the only dialogue comes from either his victims begging or awful one-dimensional supporting characters. You can see why I need color, no? The surgical gore, shit splattering on a camera’s lens, a baby’s skull being crushed in by its mother’s foot; these things can never make up for Six’s aimless, meandering effort. No amount of horrific spectacle can.
Six’s reverence for and positioning of his own work in THC2: FS is likewise detestable. THC2: FS is such a far cry from a film, more a boastful commentary aiming to resurrect First Sequence’s limelight experienced three years ago when contemporary popular culture first got wind of Six’s formula.
The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence). Directed by Tom Six. With Laurence R. Harvey (Martin Lomax), Ashlynn Yennie (herself), Bill Hutchens (Dr. Sebring), and Vivien Bridson (Misses Lomax). Released October 7, 2011, by IFC Films.