grotesque; the necessary horror movie

Hot on the heels of love. If love were a badly constructed rant against a surprisingly popular 90 minute waste of celluloid. Yes, today I am here to this time defend a piece of torture porn. Isn’t this blog just such a pleasant place?

The BBFC – you wonderful organisation of people so much more reasonable than I am in determining whether or not I should see a piece of cinema – you happy band of censors – decided this year to ban a Japanese horror movie, Grotesque, on the grounds that it is nothing more than an hour of sadism & torture for sadism & torture’s sake. I wonder how you get a job at the BBFC. I wonder, do you have to prove that you’re statistically more normal, more sane, than the majority of people out there watching movies; are they certifiably morally superior to the rest of us? Or just conscientious Nazis.

So, okay, what essentially sounds like the infamous Guinea Pig movies of the 1980s (gory exploitation mondo-style documentaries, allegedly showing real murders & deaths on screen – though in retrospect, with a sane view, clearly not) – what sounds like a Guinea Pig movie probably isn’t going to add a great deal to the great canon of cinema. Plotless & directionless as it reportedly is. Which must surely make David Lynch’s spiralling, looping, time-warping mind-fuckingly plotted movies essential viewing. Perhaps banning it isn’t just to censor the graphic, sexually-heated torture, but to save the public from watching another waste of celluloid – were it not, by appearance, a digitally-filmed movie.

Well, you know what, fuck you BBFC. I put off watching Grotesque for nearly two weeks because after recoiling before both Martyrs & Inside this holiday, I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to unnerve myself for another few days. So thanks, BBFC, for making me put it off for so long, so unnecessarily. Because, you will be shocked & horrified to learn – & the faint of heart amongst you may do well to prepare yourself to swoon ever so slightly – I watched Grotesque two nights ago. Shocking. Illegal. Perverse. I live on the edge, baby. Except, no, I don’t. & neither does Grotesque.

An hour of your time. That’s all it takes; it is a very short movie. At least twenty minutes of that is taken up by dialogue. Yes. Normal everyday horror movie dialogue. Badly constructed, mostly laughable, but definitely not pornographic or gory. Halfway through the movie we learn the recent back-story of the two unfortunate victims, later on we learn the motivation behind the killer (not even Saw reveals the true motivation of Jigsaw until three or four movies into its increasingly-homogenized structural mess of a series), there is even an epilogue of sorts. It isn’t much, but it’s there, the faint heart-beat of a plot. It just needed a few more incubated months & it may have been compelling stuff. Indeed, the final few lines of the female character reveal almost tantalising details about the killer’s past – she seems inextricably linked with him, & if that were only taken a littler further, just a few baby steps more.

The gore itself, by today’s so often anatomically accurate, surgically scrupulous standards, is pretty bloody tame. Saw. Hostel. Martyrs. All available in your nearest good movie stockist, & all infinitely more realistically graphic & disturbing – in this sense – than Grotesque. Grotesque has more in common with Evil Dead than The Devil’s Rejects. Even Passion of the Christ comes off better than this in the gore stakes. There is a scene – I kid you not – when a disembodied head, literally & entirely disembodied, attacks the executioner. Sound familiar? It’s all a bit reminiscent of the fight Ash has with his own hand, prior to the epic replacement-chainsaw segment. It doesn’t get more b-movie than that.

The low-budget clearly had an effect on the gore. I’m presuming it was indeed low-budget, because they certainly mishandled any kind of large monetary fund at their disposal. The cuts & angles are such that anything that could by remotely graphic is obscured by weird lighting or an extreme close-up. A scene in which an eye is impaled with a skewer is covered up by the hand shielding the eye. But recall Audition. Recall Zombi 2. No flinching from the eyes there.

There is far more emotion in the Hostel movies alone than you ever experience once in Grotesque. Without the emotionally connection to these characters, how can we sympathise with them? I am obviously not saying they should be tortured – it is, after all, just a movie – but the deaths resonate so much more in Hostel than in Grotesque. Hostel has an entire organisation devoted to the unhappy suffering of young girls & boys at the hands of rich business-men. Grotesque has one bloke in a basement. Oh, so, Grotesque presents more of a threat because it could happen? No. It doesn’t & it couldn’t. The hospital scene alone will confirm that for you; it’s just one generic stupid horror movie decision after another. If Hostel gets through, Grotesque gets through.

I will sympathise with the BBFC on one note. There is a ‘rape’ scene. The girl, followed by the boy, are manually jerked off by the psychopath. But trim it, BBFC. Remember – like you did with Last Cannibal World? It isn’t difficult. Even by horror-rape standards, it’s tame. Nothing of the genitals are shown whilst the act is in progress – everyone remains clothed & concealed. It’s unpleasant. It’s unnecessary. But a short cut – which I would inevitably oppose for other reasons – would remove the offending problem & allow people to at least see some kind of butchered version of the movie.

Twenty years ago, a whole host of horror was being banned. Video Nasties. Clearly the public weren’t trusted with their own judgement then either. But watch them now &, trust me, so many of them are near laughable. It makes you really wonder how the BBFC works – how do some truly disturbing thrillers get through, but tame, low-budget horror is told to go back to where it crawled from at the border because of some seriously over-the-top gore. Gore which, I may remind you, is never ever, NEVER EVER real.

By this reckoning, in twenty years, we’ll all be sat around with popcorn laughing at the cornball effects of Grotesque.

Interestingly, everyone I’ve spoken to about Grotesque has presumed I’ve been talking about Antichrist. The genital-mutilating, baby-killing, blood-ejaculating movie that’s in cinemas RIGHT NOW. That’s right, folks, catch it before it’s too late. So. Whoops, BBFC. Looks like you banned the wrong movie.

j.

It’s post-script time! Today, I encourage you all to gawp, slack-jawed at the BBFC’s page on Grotesque;

http://www.bbfc.co.uk/website/Classified.nsf/0/CBAD4497BEC6D8A18025761600520707?OpenDocument

Go on. Gawp. Gawp at the reason they give for banning for movie. Gawp at it! Oh. Wait, you can’t. They haven’t given one.

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