Every now and then I feel up for a nasty little horror movie and have a pretty strong threshold of what I can endure with movies like Hostel and Saw standing out as good examples of the more extreme side of horror. However it’s often the case that horror from foreign countries can push that envelope further as witnessed in the disturbing classic Martyrs. So sitting down to this Turkish entry I was both excited and a little nervous.
A group of cops, hanging out at a late night restaurant, are called to an emergency at an old, abandoned police station in the middle of nowhere. So sets up a night of terror, hallucinations and a descent into hell as the cops try to make sense of an increasingly bizarre and freaky situation. Director Can Evrenol has gone on record as saying he was influenced by the movies of such Italian horror auteurs as Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento, and if like me you’re at all familiar with either director, it’s in full force here; Argento’s decidedly weird colour palettes of blues & reds (and great use of music) … Fulci’s dream-logic narrative and revelling in gore etc. This is less a movie about story, traditional structure and more about atmosphere, style and freaking out (or repulsing) the viewer. In such respect it works wonders and jumps in time, dreams and reality whilst at first jarring, soon created a personality all it’s own, and I began to just go with it, awaiting the next nutty development.
This is pretty messed up stuff; satanism, lashings of blood, graphic throat slits, and at the centre of it all the horribly disturbing looking ‘Father’. I won’t go into any more of what happens but rest assured this one is not for the easily offended or squemish (and it gets pretty sick) but definitely a movie for gore-hounds and those that like their horror to punch them in the face until they can’t take no more. Yet it could have been scarier, and as there is little reason or logic to anything, I was left not really caring about any of the characters. With that said, I still applaud the director for nailing a very effective style and delivering an ‘experience’ not easily forgotten.
Ok, I’ll admit I like shock-cinema foreign thrillers such as Old Boy & I Saw The Devil, not just because they are usually very violent with often taboo subject-matter, but also because they’re usually directed with no end of skill and style. This is no exception. A serial killer is going about picking up prostitutes, then torturing and killing them, whilst filming them on camera. He then uploads the footage to an internet website where it attracts the attention of a lonely, troubled reporter whose career and marriage have both failed. When the reporter is mugged one night, his interest in the videos takes over and he films the two men he murders in self-defence, and proceeds to upload the footage onto the website. This then sparks the interest of the serial killer, who starts to goad the reporter into doing further killings.
Directed by The Mo Brothers, this unflinching character study may not be pleasant viewing, and involves some pretty graphic scenes (the attack on the pimp for example) but excels at showing two complex personalities, delivered with powerful performances from the leads. The serial killer’s inner demons surrounding the death of his sister, his inability to comfortably date the nice girl from the florists … and the reporter’s struggle to bond with his own daughter whilst hoping to reconcile his relationship with his ex … are both very well observed. This was also a clever commentary on modern society’s obsession with documenting and filming even the horriblest of situations (who can forget how many filmed the World Trade Centre attacks?). Also at times how we saw something from the killer’s point of view, only for it to have subtle differences when seen through someone else’s eyes was very clever.
Deviations into English language were a bit odd (the two guys seem to resort to English when speaking via webcam), and supporting characters are under-developed. It may also explore a well-worn subject … but offered up a fresh perspective and some genuine surprises. Not for everyone, but fans of hard-hitting thrillers with plenty to leave you thinking – this is one to check out.