Thursday, August 20, 2009

Grotesque (2009; Koji Shiraishi)

Way back when I reviewed a movie called Noroi, which was themed similarly to the Blair Witch Project. In said review I also said the director had made other films themed off of the long-black-haired-girl craze in the form of "Ju-rei" and "Kuchisake-onna". Sprinkled onto the end was a little note containing the title and genre of his newest work, Grotesque. It seems it is time to leave the hair behind and go for a modern day torture porn flick. Awesome.

What to put into the summary... well, two people who just started dating get tortured.

You see the thing is, much in the vein of what Eli Roth wanted to do (but US censors didn't want him to do) Shiraishi brings back the certain flavor that torture porn films need. "Grotesque" comes straight to its point at the very beginning and doesn't stay longer than it wants to. The whole genius of this piece comes with the fact that Shiraishi got to make exactly what he had in mind; a brutal and explorative adventure into torture and rape that doesn't bother with the modern nonsense it doesn't require such as character development.

That isn't to say that this movie has no inner themes to it. You might be able to pull out some ideas about love (strangely enough) or something silly like that, but then why are you watching this film of all things? On that note, why was it necessary to include those things at all? I know I said Shiraishi's genius was his ability to do away with unneeded garbage, but that wasn't exactly true. It was just about 95% true, which is a lot closer than most people come.

The problem with Grotesque, however, begins a little past the half way mark. We are shown a very surreal series of scenes that didn't quite fit the relentless butchery that had been thrown into our faces up until that point. While I have mixed emotions about that segment of the film, it is not the only piece that will yank you back into reality. Near the ending the film takes a sudden, unwarrented change in tone that kills some of the final impact of it all. It felt sort of like a cop out when Shiraishi had already taken it so far.

Do these segments ruin the film? Hardly. I give kudos to Shiraishi for his attempt at updating the torture genre. The torture itself, being the main focus in the first place, is very vivid and can easily succeed in making any normal person look away in disgust. It is just a shame that the atmosphere had to be broken in a way that it could not be repaired.

Score: 4/5

Notes: Would you die for someone you love?

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