To disturb or intrigue?


henry-portrait-of-a-serial-killer

Over the years, running this blog and beforehand, I have stumbled across, sometimes sort out and watched some pretty messed up examples of modern cinema.  The world as we know it can be pretty freaky and strange, and the movie industry is a place where some directors like to explore the darker realms of story-telling.  Below are just a few of the most powerfully disturbing movies I have seen, some of which have had a lingering affect on me as a movie fan.  So take a trip with me into the heart of darkness and into some movies that are certainly not for everyone … simply put, approach these with a great amount of caution.

Audition

Takeshi Miik’s simple story (on the surface) of a world weary film maker in search of his ideal bride; jaded from the usual dating scene he chooses to hold a series of auditions for a role that does not exist.  Suffice to say the seemingly gentile woman he finds hides a much more sadistic side to her personality.

Most disturbing moment:  the man in the cloth sack.

The Untold Story

Based apparently on a true story of a restaurant owner who murders his family then serves them up as ingredients in his pork buns – is one of the most notorious Category III movies in Hong Kong.  Anthony Wong, no stranger to powerful roles plays the main character and is in some of the most graphically violent scenes I’ve ever seen.  Most shocking is the slightly comical tone, which makes events all the more difficult to tolerate.

Most disturbing moment:  a family gets massacred.

Irreversible

Clever in structure it may be, as it is told in reverse, starting with the end credits before proceeding to a nightclub murder and leading up to (or flashing back to…) a brutally drawn out rape scene.  Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci headline the cast in this stylish but utterly harrowing story of revenge.

Most disturbing moment:  death by fire extinguisher.

Scum

Alan Clark’s unflinching take on British boys borstal life made a name out of a teenage Ray Winston, but it’s no holds barred tone and graphic violence makes it notorious.  In some ways it can be seen as a cool hard-core brit flick, but has a horrible warning message for young offenders everywhere.

Most disturbing moment:  rape in a greenhouse.

Eden Lake

A British horror in an unconventional sense has a young couple visiting their favourite secret getaway by a secluded lake – until a group of delinquent youths choose to crash the party.  Harrowing because from a British point of view, these type of youths exist on housing estates, in run down districts etc … and it’s a scary thought that if coming into their territory you may just be fighting for survival.  Violent and shockingly believable.

Most disturbing moment:  setting the boy on fire.

Martyrs

I have spoken about this notorious French horror before, but it remains one of the most difficult to sit through movies of all time.  Two girls seeking revenge stumble upon a cult hell bent on discovering evidence of the after life, by pushing their victims to near death through prolonged torture and martyrdom.

Most disturbing moment:  discovering the tortured woman.

Sleeping Beauty

A woman (Emily Browning) struggling to pay her way through college takes a job as a hostess at an exclusive gentleman’s club.  However when she is there she is told she will be drugged and go to sleep in a bed, and when she wakes the morning after, she will be paid … but isn’t aloud to ask what happens in between.  Weird, freaky and utterly unpleasant.

Most disturbing moment:  the old man shouting obscenities to an unconscious, naked girl.

Sympathy for Mr Vengeance

The first part of Park Chan-wook’s acclaimed vengeance trilogy, this tells the story of a deaf and dumb guy trying to raise money for his sister’s kidney operation.  However his terrorist girlfriend talks him into kidnapping a wealthy business man’s daughter in order to get a ransom.  Things go from bad to worse and well, vengeance is seeked not just from the business man but also the deaf guy in a movie of powerful acting and even more powerful violence.

Most disturbing moment:  torture by electricity.

Funny Games

A family’s idyllic holiday is interrupted by two seemingly nice guys who stop by to borrow a cup of sugar – then  subject the family to a series of humiliating and cruel ‘games’ at gunpoint.  Director Michael Haneke’s powerful movie was remade under the same name in America and starred Naomi Watts.

Most disturbing moment:  breaking the fourth wall.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

Made a name for it’s star Michael Rooker and is a powerful interpretation of the real life crimes of killer Henry Lee Lucas.  Along with his friend Otis, Henry goes on a series of murders, until after a while their fun is interrupted by the arrival of Otis’ trailer-trash sister.  Suffice to say this serial killing duo don’t take too kind to company.  Brutal, very realistic and all the more disturbing for it.

Most disturbing moment:  home invasion on VHS.

So there you have it.  Movies that span the gamut of shocking, violent and powerful.  Some are classic examples of extreme cinema at it’s best (Martyrs, Sympathy…) and some are just plain horrible (Sleeping Beauty).  I would say if you are at all squeamish or some movies can play on your mind, then avoid the list above … but if like me you like to test yourself, see what is out there, then, still with a degree of caution … the movies above leave their mark regardless of your bravery.  You have been warned.

AUDITION FOR THE TICKET 24 JULY 2009 TOP FIVE HORROR FILMS

The Amazing Spider-Man 2


Viewed – 13 September 2014  DVD

The last movie, rebooting a franchise that had reached a dead-end after the lacklustre Spider-Man 3, was a decent if somewhat uninspiring outing for the web crawler, helped it has to be said by solid casting and some good action.  This time around Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is still juggling his on/off relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), trying to hold down a job as a photographer (er, only hinted at) and his responsibilities as a super-hero.  However the mystery behind his parent’s disappearance still looms and a new enemy in the shape of an ignored, put-upon scientist (Jamie Foxx) turned electricity consumed super-villain ‘electro’ arrives on the scene.

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Plenty going on in this sequel.  Again Garfield is good as Parker/Spider-Man although his snively / arrogant double-act grates sometimes.  Stone on the other hand is again perfect, even if she doesn’t get much more to do than threaten to run away to England.  Sally Field as Aunt May seems to have stepped up her presence however in the absence of Martin Sheen’s Uncle Ben, and we also get Harry Osborne (a diverting Dane DeHaan), former best friend turned megalomaniac beneficiary of Oscorp.  As always for this kind of thing the sequel seems over-complicated but makes for some great action and superb effects work (apart from some dubious swinging through New York bits that looked better in 2001).  Foxx is good as Electro even if his character is quite the cliché, but overall there was a somewhat childish tone with too many moments of poking fun at our hero (the fireman’s helmet bit?).

It’s hard not to wish this had turned out differently … towards the end it really hit it’s stride, offering up some surprises as well as the (albeit predictable) character-ark of Harry Osborne.  Yet this was still good entertainment, despite suffering from the usual sequel / trilogy trappings.  Roll on The Amazing Spider-Man 3 then.

Verdict:  3 /5

Curse of Chucky


Viewed – 16 August 2014  DVD

I gave up on this series a while back after the embarrassingly bad ‘Seed of Chucky’.  However having enjoyed most of the other movies, that being Childs Play 1-3 and the very entertaining Bride of Chucky … I was willing to give this a go, especially as I had heard it was a back to its routes entry.  A paraplegic woman called Nica, living in an old house with her domineering mother, one day receives a strange package.  Yes someone has sent them a good guy doll, with no note to say who that somebody was. 

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A very basic premise this may well be and at first I was underwhelmed, but series creator Don Mancini, taking to the director’s chair delivers a well made, stylishly-shot and creepy stalk and slash horror that felt very much like the original.  We get a cute kid who see’s no wrong in a talking psychotic doll, and various supporting characters I enjoyed seeing bumped off one by one (gotta love the death by lap top…).  Some back story to the serial killer Charles Lee Ray was welcome with genre favourite Brad Dourif on fine form, getting more than just a speaking part for a change.  What was the big surprise however was kid sister Fiona Dourif (True Blood), playing wheelchair bound Nica with plenty of tough attitude and also proving the vulnerable heroine due to her disability. 

For a Chucky movie this sort-of reboots a franchise that was disappearing up it’s own arse, even if for a horror it’s packed with clichés, isn’t particularly scary and has a few moments that don’t make sense (the lack of cell phone signal, that post credits bit…).  But mostly this was a lot of fun.

Good to have you back, ya pint-sized little bastard.

Verdict:  3 /5

The Inbetweeners Movie


Viewed – 09 August 2014  DVD

You know when you generally don’t watch something ‘everyone’ seems to recommend because you have a nagging feeling it’s not going to be your cup of tea?  Yeah this was one of those movies.  Yet with the sequel just hitting cinemas, and the offer to watch the first for nothing … well, why not I hear you ask?  This big-screen outing for the popular slacker teen comedy TV series about a group of misfit friends, outcasts in their social lives and not exactly babe-magnets … has the the principle characters heading to Greece for a holiday of a lifetime.  Will they discover themselves, will they become men, will they get laid … do we care?

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Admittedly these guys are likable, played well by the four piece of Simon Bird – the cautious intellectual, James Buckley the all talk no action one, Blake Harrison the simpleton and Joe Thomas, the one who can’t get over his ex.  It’s basically 90 minutes of nob gags, very crude language (how many times is ‘gash’ uttered? …erk), and a sort of wood for the trees love story that is waaay too obvious.  The gags here are mostly delivered in totally unbelievable ways with the sort of stupidity you’d barely accept in a five minute cartoon.  Doesn’t help that much of the supposedly funny one liners are either just another avalanche of swearing or simply ‘meh’.  So there lies it’s biggest problem – it thinks it’s funnier than it actually is (but for a puking incident towards the end …had me laughing).  Oh and how one guy gets the girl when he clearly doesn’t deserve her is borderline insulting.

Fans of the TV series may still enjoy this out of sheer familiarity with the characters.  I barely saw the series, so maybe I’m missing something.  But with a clichéd setting and clichéd situations (oh, one of the reps is an arrogant womanising scum bag … go figure).  This just lacked anything that could have made it stand out.  And didn’t Kevin & Perry Go Large do this already?

Verdict:  2 /5

50 First Dates


Viewed – 19 July 2014  DVD

If someone hadn’t borrowed me this, I wouldn’t have ever watched it.  I don’t really go for romantic movies, and have never been that bothered about popular comedy star Adam Sandler.  However I must admit to being pleased that I did!  Sandler plays Henry, a womanizing guy who works at a sea-life centre, and has a fear of commitment.  One day he meets Lucy (Drew Barrymore) and for the first time he finds himself really falling for her innocent charm and beauty.  Yet the following day, when he goes to talk to her again, she has no recollection of him.  You see, Lucy has short-term memory loss and only remembers him for one day – the next, he’s a stranger, and he has to woo her all over again.

50-First-Dates

This is a great idea for a romantic comedy and also quite a touching tale of wanting to be with someone but unable to truly be together from her point of view.  It’s sort of sad too, certainly giving my emotions a run for their money surprisingly.  Comedy is laid on fairly thick (Sean Astin’s lisp…) by supporting characters (including an annoying Rob Schneider), and at times it gets a bit silly and crude (walrus vomit anyone?), but this adds some flavour to what otherwise would have been a little too sugar-coated.  Barrymore & Sandler are very good and believable in a tricky situation, and it was also great to see Dan Aykroyd in an extended cameo.

A very charming, feel good and thought-provoking experience that was much better than I initially expected.

Verdict:  4 /5