Every month or so, my friend comes to visit for the weekend. We load our dogs up with bones and toys, then load ourselves up with pizza and junk food and lock ourselves in my basement with tons of horror movies and horror video games. This time, for the first time ever, the horror movie selection left us both deeply traumatized. I even had disturbing dreams, including some about the nightmare company I worked for before I got my current job—a period of my life I’d pretty much blocked out for my own mind’s protection. It took horrific, heinous visuals in horror movies to remind me of that experience….
Considering Uwe Boll usually releases cheesy adaptations of video games, Seed is fricking disturbing. Overall, it’s just another slasher about a masked killer getting revenge after hitting the electric chair in prison. It also suffers from a non-sequential timeline of events that serves no purpose but to completely confuse viewers. The cast includes Eddie without the Cruisers, the blonde lesbian from Queer as Folk and Dante’s Cove, and the creepy little girl from Silent Hill.
Unfortunately, the slasher thrill ride is marred by an opening of animal cruelty and murder that seems to go on FOREVER. It’s totally unnecessary to show so much of it—it adds nothing to the film. And I fear the footage may have been real, but I’m too distressed to find out and choosing to believe it was fake. On top of that, there’s a baby killing. WTF? We get it. He’s a psycho.
After those two shocking moments, Seed becomes a very routine big bad masked killer movie, and has one of the absolute best rampage segments ever in a jail cell. Good old adult human slaughter. Now that’s more like it. No other scene lives up to this one—but the tone of the film reverts back momentarily to mega-disturbing with a heinous, never-ending hammer-to-the-head murder. The only thing that makes this part kind of bearable is that there’s plenty of CGI used as the bashing gets worse.
THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES (2007)
The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a mockumentary about a vicious serial killer. The movie is comprised of tons of videos he made of him kidnapping, torturing, and murdering adults and children, along with interview footage of various people involved with the case. The actual good news is that the killer’s footage is dark, blurry, and grainy, so it lessens the blow, so-to-speak.
While we see plenty of sadistic clips of torture and murder, the bulk of the footage involves the breaking of one victim the killer keeps prisoner and makes his slave. The actress who plays the victim gets her true moment to shine right near the end of the film, and it is this performance that leaves your stomach in knots because it speaks so strongly to what can become of you if you are mentally and physically tortured for so long.
But despite all that, one moment in the film will probably go down as one of the eeriest in film history, involving the killer wearing a mask and walking on all fours.
AMERICAN MARY (2012)
American Mary stars Katharine Isabelle in an amazing performance as a young med student who falls into a “back alley” surgery job…that soon scores her more freelance work. Before long, she is making a living performing voluntary body mutilation…I mean…modification.
While American Mary is heavy on dark humor, the subject matter is quite disturbing, particularly the details of the types of things that customers want done to themselves. You know there are people who want this shit done in real life…and “doctors” who will do it!
Of course, Mary begins to snap and there are those who get surgery they did not request. The film loses its momentum and direction near the end, and has one of those “left field” twists that will leave you groaning with disappointment. There’s also a horrendous editing problem in a scene involving a security guard and a dude he’s trying to save. I’m really shocked such a glaringly illogical sequence remained in the film.
Saved the best for last. Found is an incredibly dark film about a young boy who discovers that his older brother is a serial killer…but we never see him kill anyone. This isn’t a slasher, it’s more a complex and tragic portrait of a seemingly normal American family.
The young boy has an obsession with horror films, so there are plenty of references to classics and a trip to an actual video store…as in VHS tapes. The gore and horror are saved for when the boy watches a video of a movie called Headless (blog here). We get to see the film he’s seeing, and it is brutal, graphic, and sexually repulsive. It’s as if a different film is dropped right into the center of the film we are watching.
Found is very much a social and psychological study of several issues: the different ways in which parents raise each of their children and how that can alter each child’s personality; the complicated details of coping with and handling bully situations from the perspective of the bullies, the bullied, and the parents; the contrasting ways in which different children watch horror movies and are affected by them; the “other” status and devaluing of minorities like blacks and gays in the eyes of white suburbia.
Found is a disturbing emotional ride that also manages to deliver repulsive gore in an unconventional way for those who are just looking for a horror movie.
HOW WE RECOVERED FROM THE TRAUMA
After we’d come to the end of our stack of films this weekend, we realized we’d definitely overdosed. There was only one way to come back to a kinder, gentler reality; we popped in a good old zombie film for comfort.