Posts Tagged ‘extreme’

Many would put the first Hostel right at the beginning of the ‘toture porn’ genre (even though there were many foreign films before featuring similar themes). This is probably because it was one of the first big mainstream US films to openely advertise itself as such. It was a pretty good little horror film and made enough money to get a sequel green lit.

Hostel 2 (directed by the same director as the first, Eli Roth) doesnt aim to do much differently from the first on the outset as we yet again have a group of backpackers (this time all females) who get caught in the sights of the ‘hunting club’. But upon watching the film its clear Eli Roth has a much clearer sense of world building and characterisation. It would have been so easy for him to have done a quick easy rehash of the first but i’m happy to say this feels fresh and tense.

The three female leads have an interesting dynamic between them that feels realistic thanks to a well written script that clearly has had a lot of thought put into it. It wont win any screenwriting awards but it is nice to see some well written characters in a genre that seems to thrive on the opposite. As there backpacking holiday quickly unravels each handle things very differently, which creates some very tense and quite thought provoking consequences.

This time round we also get an almost equal time following the people who are planning on commiting sadistic acts on these girls which also highlights how the club wirks and is organised. This for me is one of the highlights as its well thought out and gives everything another dimension.

While the film does feature strong violence and gore, it doesnt focus on it as much as one might expect. It also never feels out of place as it all benefits and guides the story along its path.

The final act features some truly great twists and turns all of which work well and help elevate this film from the usual genre tropes.

I never expected to like this film as much as i did. Its easily the best in the series and is well worth your time if you like tense horror thrillers.

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extremeI’ve always been a fan of these extreme rules PPV’s from WWE. For me they hark back to the good old days of ECW and the more brutal side of wrestling. Tables, ladders, chairs, bins, bats; all is fair game and for this very reason everything is a bit more unpredictable. Ever since WWE went PG-13 its rare to find events that hark back to the previously mentioned ECW or even WWE during the 1990’s attitude era. There has been the odd match here and there but it is these extreme rules matches that really bring back the good old days. In fact the Extreme Rules PPV started as an ECW (well the rebooted 2006 season) event called One Night Stand which ran from 2006-2008 before getting renamed to what we know today.
With such a large array of talent in the WWE nowadays and with many pushing the slightly edgier violent side can this event be one to truly remember or just another middle of the road PPV much like the latest Wrestlemania? Let’ have a look.
The Usos VS Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows:
Tag team matches really arn’t what they used to be but with this being a Tornado Tag match (all four wreslers in the ring at the same time) it instantly makes it slightly more interesting. Almost straight away we have out of the ring action with the Usos trying to survive a reasonably vicious onslaught. There re some pretty brutal moves performed especially by the heavy hitters Anderson and Gallows, but that isn’t to say the Usos are lightweights. The Usos throw some pretty cool highflying moves but they seem to be lacking something. The chemistry just doesn’t seem quite there and everything feels a bit too planned like they don’t quite trust one another in improvising. Overall its better then the usual tag match which every PPV seems to require but it definitely isn’t required viewing.
Rusev vs Kalisto:
Here we have the David vs Goliath match of the night. I have never really seen anything worthwhile in the character of Rusev. It almost feels like WWE is trying to find another wrestler like they used to have in ‘The Big Show’. A large intimidating figure who is almost unstoppable. Rusev for me doesn’t have the needed presence. As a character he is almost a satire which is so incredibly over the top, is hard to take seriously. This match rally is the usual filler for the bigger matches of the night. I’m sure some people will enjoy it but it’s just fairly boring and never feels like it belongs in Extreme Rules. There is nothing really to keep you viewing apart from the fact that you know that the upcoming matches of the night should be awesome.

After a rather stupid an tiresome talk by ‘The New Day’ we are treated (I say it very loosely) to yet another tag team match;
The New Day vs The VaudeVillians:
Its sad to see some good wrestlers reduced to this stupid representation of wrestling. At one point Big E was a truly brutal wrestler as he worked his way up through NXT but now is just a shadow of his former self. Its just a disappointing idea which just gets worse every time they come out. The match is literally your usual pay by play tag match that everyone has seen numerous times before. Nothing new, nothing particularly original, just a fairly poor match which has next to no redeeming features.
Kevin Owens vs The Miz vs Sami Zayn vs Cesaro:
After a pretty awesome video build up it’s quite nice to see what might be an awesome match between a group of talented and brutal wrestlers. We get a good mix of styles and characters ,all of which play quite nicely off one another. It opens with a little clever unexpected humour, but quickly develops into quite a technically impressive display of complicated manoeuvres and some good chemistry. Everyone has their time to shine and stand in the spotlight while the others get beaten up. Its nothing necessarily new but it is performed very well. It’s very watchable and there is always something interesting to watch going on. There are some very clever fake falls an constant uncertainty of who will win. This is the sort of match I enjoy, as it builds nicely and stays consistently fun. If anything it falters a little towards the end of the match but even then it doesn’t detract too much.
Chris Jericho vs Dean Ambrose:
Now this is the first truly massive match of the night with two of the biggest stars in WWE. We get an epic build up even if it is a little silly. The setup for the match is very reminiscent of TNA wrestling’s ‘ Raven’s House of fun in which weapons are hung around the ring ready to be used. The only difference here is the items are a lot more tame for the most part. It almost feels like they are trying to be like their older more violent selves (well at least Chris Jericho who’s been around for a long time) but are being held back by the more family friendly take on wrestling. It’s a bit of a shame as this really should be a good extreme match. Even when the barbed wire two-by-four gets into the hands of Jericho, it’s never actually used, its casually thrown aside. It harks back to the reasonably recent Dudley’s match in which they were about to light a table on fire but never got a chance. It feels like WWE can’t decide how it wants to be. It keeps teasing and teasing but never fully pays off (well it occasionally does such as Reigns vs Lesnar at Wrestlemania 31). In a PPV entitles Extreme Rules you’d expect more extreme matches but this really is lacking. Jericho and Ambrose work well together but I can’t help but feel the match would be far better on a different wrestling promotion such as TNA. Its a real shame as both wrestlers are capable of so much and here they are wasted in a PG version of what should be a truly brutal and breath-taking match. Its definitely not the worst match of the evening but it really isn’t the best these two can produce.
Charlotte vs Natalya:
Charlotte is easily one of the most unlikeable and most annoying characters to come out of the WWE Divas program. She lack talent and has literally no redeeming features. I understand she is meant to be the ‘bad guy’ but still she sucks. WWE are really trying to make divas matches more interesting but they are sorely lacking.  There is only so many times you can watch such an awful character and individual perform in a ring next to some truly talented individuals. I find it sad that WWE constantly has to rely on these stupid twist endings to matches to try and keep people watching. If anything it has the complete opposite effect as its less about skill and more about bad writing. A new low point for the night.

AJ Styles vs Roman Reigns:
AJ Styles has been my favourite wrestler since watching him in both Ring of Honour and TNA. He is what WWE has been lacking over the years and someone who brings his years of experience to the ring. It’s amazing how from his first appearance in the new roster at Royal Rumble he has taken over and has quickly risen to places many wrestlers have hoped for. I will admit that his amazing assortment of moves has been trimmed with the PG-13 nature of WWE which does put a bit of a knock on his performance but he is still up there with the best, if not the very best. Reigns is truly intimidating and has created a great character which for some reason the fans of WWE seem to dislike. The two of them work off one another superbly and they really do put on a good show. It is easily the best match of the night. It never feels as extreme as it should do and it would be mazing to see these two battle it out in one of the other wrestling promotions which arn’t so worried about being so family friendly. There is a lot less in the way of highflying manoeuvres then I would have expected but what we have is a pretty good battle of brawn. Yet again it is spoilt by the need to have a stupid intervention by the Usos, Anderson and Gallows. Its still a really good match and is well worth watching, it’s just a shame Styles isn’t given more leeway to bring his more dangerous yet very phenomenal aerobatic manoeuvres to the ring. Its the best thing of the night and really the only worthwhile match of the event.
Overall the event was a dud which happened to have one awesome match and a couple of middle of the road ones. It’s a shame that WWE won’t go back to having the attitude it used to and I feel it is holding them back (even if they have managed to buy up most of the best talent form the different promotions).
This event gets a thumbs down from me.

It’s rare for a film to come along that transcends genres and actually works. One such film is ‘Martyrs’. Many have simply dubbed the film with the horrible expression ‘torture porn’ but I don’t agree with that. I think you’ll find a lot of the people who simply explain the film with that expression haven’t actually seen the film and they are simply going on what they’ve heard. It’s a shame; it really is, because many would have missed out of this amazing film.

Lets get a few things out of the way:

Yes there is violence.

Yes there is gore.

And yes there is nudity.

But the thing is, none of it feels out of place. Never did I feel that anything was handled in an exploitive way as many say it is. It’s not. And when it comes to the actual ‘torture’ that does occur in the film, it is handled very carefully and very well. It takes an hour before any of what could be considered ‘torture porn’ occurs but even then it isn’t in the same vein as something like ‘hostel’ or even the likes of other extreme French horror films like ‘inside’.

One of the things that is so clever in the film is the fact that, as mentioned earlier, it transcends genres. We go through straight horror to revenge flick to supernatural horror to human drama and back to horror before going back to human drama. It’s a magnificent achievement.

I’d say that the theme that runs through the whole piece is the human condition and how the mind can be broken and manipulated. But even then that doesn’t explain it all.

Nothing I can say can do this film the justice it deserves. It is a film that is a must see for and fans of cinema or anyone interested in studies of the human condition. For me personally, it’s a film that I can endlessly watch and I always get something new from it… 8/10

I’d wanted to see this film for quite some time due to my love of extreme Asian cinema such as ‘Visitor Q’ and ‘Tetsuo: the Iron Man’. I’m happy to say that it was worth the wait, well kind of.

How do you start to describe a film like this?

Well firstly I’ll say it’s not a film for the easily unnerved as the atmosphere created through clever use of music and visuals is pretty unsettling from the get go. It’s not as extreme or graphic in terms of its depictions of sex and violence as say ‘Visitor Q’ but it has a more eerie vibe about it all.  I guess you could say it’s a kind of sexual horror film. But it’s not that simple.

The film is pretty complex in its themes and ideas. The plot of the film is about a husband and wife who are being stalked by a twisted individual. But I’d argue the film is about the futility of life and the need for companionship. The husband and wife are both missing something from their lives and it is only when the third party intervenes in their lives that they start to openly address these issues. You could even argue that the film is about voyeurism and how everyone is being watched without even knowing it.

There is a lot of focus on the unity between nature and the industrial world we are all accustomed to. Not that the film is set in any specific time period. It’s kind of timeless and feels vaguely futuristic at times. In fact the whole film feels very dreamlike with its unusual camerawork and creepy score. Throughout the film the city is shrouded by constant rain which helps emphasise the characters depression. I must say that the cinematography is stunning throughout, especially during the outdoor sequences. It is this amazing camerawork that helps create a beautiful sadness to the whole film, making it much more than your usual semi erotic horror film.

As the runtime progresses so does the craziness of the onscreen antics. All of it culminates in one of the most confusing and messed up fights I’ve seen in a long time. Even when it is being crazy the film is still weirdly believable due to the slow way it draws the audience in. The story is compelling and constantly keeps you on edge, wondering what will happen next.

I think that the decision to release the film in black and white adds to its beauty.  It means you are not distracted by the colours of the world around the characters, while also helping merge the industrial with the natural.

I came away from the film thinking hard on what I truly thought of it and I’m still slightly mixed. It is definitely good but I’m not sure if I’d consider it anywhere near a classic. I’d say it’s well worth watching as it is a truly unique experience and one that I doubt I’ll forget. 7/10

If Lola loves you, you’re sure to find out…..

I expected this to be your average teen slasher horror and was pleasantly surprised with a fairly refreshing take on a tired genre.

The basic set up is out of the way quite quickly with Xavier Samuel’s character Brent turning down Lola’s (Robin McLeavy) invitation to the school prom. She doesn’t take this too well and with the help of her father, kidnaps him and submits him to her own kind of torture.

It’s a pretty basic plot but has a few nice twists and turns hidden away. It feels a lot like the original ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ film just with a boy at the hands of the villain instead of a girl. The dinner table scene feels very reminiscent of the same sort of scene in Tobe Hooper’s horror classic. As the film progresses, so do the methods of torture, until we reach some very extreme situations of punishment.  The pacing is top notch, as is the script which helps keep the audience captivated until the credits role.

The acting on the whole is very good with an amazingly nasty turn from Robin McLeavy as the evil Lola.  By the end of the film I wanted her to die at every turn. Xavier Samuel is great as the male lead, although at times he puts on the same pout that Kristen Stewart has used throughout her career. John Brumpton is also great as Lola’s equally crazy father.

The film looks beautiful with some stand out cinematography. This really helps the film stand out from the crowd and I must say makes it one of the prettiest torture films I’ve ever seen.  The stunning visuals are helped by some truly great sound mixing that helps build and maintain a great atmosphere throughout.

At the end of the day, what we have here is a horror film which is different from the norm and a bit of fresh air. It has some great small touches such as Brent’s razor blade that is his means of escape in more ways than one. I would say that the film is very grim and never really steps out of this. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it sometimes feels a little over the top. The film is also kind of pointless in the fact that no-one really learns anything. This is helped by the fact the film is constantly interesting and is always throwing something new at the viewer.

I did really enjoy it and would definitely recommend it. Although I’m not sure if I’d really want to see it again. 7/10

*BANG*! Your eyes jolt open, pain coursing through your skull.  It feels like you’ve been punched in the gut, your stomach churning, no matter what you do. You look around. A Woman sits opposite you. In the haze you see her head crack to the side as she too is hit. *BANG* you get hit again, this time harder. *BANG* and again. The Women screams. A man brings out a knife and slashes her across the chest. You close your eyes hoping this is all a dream. *BANG* Your eyes fling open. You’re being forced to watch. The man slowly cuts her again. You can’t believe what you are seeing. You close your eyes again. *BANG*. You sit and watch. after 70 minutes of this. you are untied and freed. You look across to the woman. Her head hangs, chin pressed into her chest. She’s not screaming anymore. Standing you grab the chair to stable yourself. You stagger away from the scene, queezy, legs weak beneath you. With one final look back the image is burnt into your mind. your never going to forget what you’ve seen, what you’ve been through. In the weeks to come, you find you no longer feel anything, you feel like and empty vessel of what you once were. You actively seek something, you don’t know what. Just something to make you feel again. You are left waiting for what may never come. Why did you look back? Why didn’t you just leave? The image of the woman is a scar in your mind. Some scars never fade.

This is the how I felt the first time I watched ‘August Underground’, Fred Vogel’s horror masterpiece.

For those few who have never heard of the film, It sets out to be a sort of home movie of two men joking round, beating people up, torturing and killing. there is no start and there is no end.  (that is ‘August Underground’s’ plot in a nutshell).

Why then am I calling it a masterpiece of horror?

It is because of this simple idea, why the film, in my eyes at least succeeds. It doesn’t waste time building the characters up, we know nothing about these murderers or their victims. We are thrown into the middle of Fred Vogel’s character torturing a lady in the basement of a house. By throwing us straight in, it makes us as an audience instantly question what it is we’re watching. This is the Vogel’s first masterstroke.You’re ultimatley meant to feel like you have just found a random home movie that isn’t professionally edited.

This leads us onto Vogel’s second masterstroke; filming it so badly. Yes, you heard me right. The fact that the movie is so badly framed and shot (most of which I think on purpose), helps add to the found footage vibe the film is going for. Unlike big screen films like ‘Cloverfield’ and ‘Paranormal Activity’ where everything happening is always ‘conveniently’ framed, AU doesn’t frame everything. It feels very much like a person filming his mate and just messing round. (like it should be). The way it is filmed led to me actually question if what I was watching was real. It’s filmed on video and a such it looks ba, picture quality-wise and when you then add-on the ‘jolty’ filming, it just looks very real. (well for me it does).

The ‘real’ feeling is further emphasised by the fact that Fred Vogel and his co-star (the person filming) are not very good actors (sorry Fred but you’re not). For this reason I was completely ‘sold’. I never found myself thinking they were acting. it just felt like they were two friends pissing about and just messing people up for fun. (the horrible thing is that with the increased emphasis with camera phones, this has become far more of a reality then it may have seemed when they were making this film.) The characters are just nasty pieces of work (Vogel’s being the worst) who care about nothing other than amusing themselves. You are forced to watch their actions by the one filming and at some points even he seems to begin to think what they are doing isn’t right. It is Vogel’s character that is the one that seems to playing for the camera and striving to show what he can do.

As the film has no real plot it relies on the acts that the characters are performing during the films’ runtime being captivating (or in this case, sickening) You keep watching out of a kind of morbid curiosity that seems to be subconsciously programmed into each and every one of us. (the part that doesn’t want to see anything go wrong during something like a car race but you wonder what it would be like if something were to happen. It’s the same reason people seem obsessed with taking photos when someone gets hurt. There is n reason for the feeling it’s just there.) This film plays on that feeling and manipulates the viewer into watching it, not because they are enjoying it, but because they want to know how much worse it can get. This is where the brilliant special effects come into play. Vogel studied at a film school that specialised in special effects. It shows. While one could say that some of the effects are ‘over the top’ I’d say they aren’t. They aren’t the glossy effects people like Eli Roth relied on when making ‘Hostel’, they are much more grounded and much more gritty.

Everything blends into a film that one really can’t enjoy. You don’t walk away from the film enlightened, more you walk away feeling dirty and unclean not knowing what you’ve just witnessed. I walked away questioning my own mind and why I sat through the film without turning it off. I started questioning my own morbid curiosity and began watching how others reacted to sickening films and situations. More so though it made me forget how to ‘feel’ for a while. It partially desensitized me to pretty much everything, be it good or bad.  This is the first and only film to do this to me.

For creating a film that actually makes you question what you are watching and a film that perfectly captures the feel and extremity that he set out to create, I cannot praise Vogel enough. Clearly knowing the limitations that come with making a film in terms of money and time, Vogel has done something that many directors never end up doing. He’s created a film that has shaken up how horror films are made and has created a film that will be remembered for many years to come (if only because of it’s noteriaty).

Now comes the tricky part. I don’t know if I can recommend this film. Lots of people will hate it, many will say it’s a disgusting piece of filth. (they’d be right) I guess it all comes down to what you want from a film. This is not the sort of film you can easily watch with friends. It’s not the sort of film you can sit and watch for entertainment (unless you are slightly messed up). It’s the sort of film, I guess you’d watch to test your boundaries (like the films, ‘Traces of Death’, ‘Flowers of Flesh and Blood’, ‘Men Behind the Sun’ etc…..) I have seen the film a few times and have never regretted it. If anything I see it as a pivotal turning point in horror films and a breathtaking up yours to censorship. 8.5/10 (I know many would disagree with me but I believe Vogel deserves it for creating something that ultimately makes you question your own mind.)

*interestingly Vogel seems like a really nice chap from all of the interviews I’ve seen him in. He just seems like a fan of films and the sort of bloke you could have a good chat with in the pub.