Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bad Bad Bad Weekend and here is why - Martyrs and AntiChrist Reviews Double bill

If you are a horror film aficionado, you must know by now that those films which are appreciated equivocally, hardly have any lasting impact on your senses, and I am not just talking PG13 , I also (if I may dare) include the R rated one’s – Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th , Halloween etc .All the above films were R rated films and pushed the envelope of onscreen violence and then they got remade and they pushed the same envelope a little more, don’t get me wrong, I am an absolute fan boy when it comes to above 3 and add Nightmare at the Elm Street into the grind and we are looking at a Horror Nerds wet dream (pardon my euphuism). But this brings me to the most pertinent question-
are these films worth a watch ??
Hell Yes..!!
Are they Scary enough..??
Like Hell they are..!!
Will you remember this film after 7 years..??
Hmmmm.. Can’t Say.. Maybe not .

And that’s exactly the reason why I actually prefer watching film who are not equivocally appreciated.. There is a risk in it.. 8 out of 10 times I am looking at crap.. but that risk is well its worth for the rest of the 2 out of 10 times. And Last week had been a psychedelic coincidence that I got to catch those ‘2 out of 10 times movies worth waiting for’ back to back . Now since I had been on and off in action for sometime, I figured it will be a good idea to give you a Review Double Bill.

19th Sep 2009, Saturday
2100 hrs
4 shots of Tequila
2 Bottles of Beer to go with the film.

Popped the DVD in the player, switched the lights off and started the film


There is something about the French horror especially for the people who are too used to the basic formula in the genre, you don’t know what to expect, lesser known actors/actress makes it even difficult to pledge you sympathy for any character and root for him/her. .Look at À l'intérieur , where the whole film plays out with just two main characters, you will still find the end too unpredictable (and Grim!!), This guys really know there craft and they pull no stops or cut any corners in creating it.
Martyrs starts around 1970 ,where Anna breaks out from captivity in a warehouse and is discovered wondering around the country road in near catatonic stage She is interrogated by the police, who , when they follow up on the information and travel to the scene, find no evidence or sign of life. The Girl has been deeply scarred both physically and mentally. The film then jumps to 15 years later, where Anna, now growing up in an orphanage has formed a bond with another girl Lucie, Anna, has been left deeply disturbed by the incidence that took place 15 years ago seemed to have pieced her life together until one day she spots the perpetrators who are responsible for her state and she brings down wrath on them (I mean literally) ..
Now let me pause, giving away anything beyond this will be crime, I know that the above description looks very ordinary and by the number , and you are right, its ordinary, except the fact that its very atmospheric and shot incredibly well and have enough blood and gore to satisfy the biggest gore hounds.
Anna was tortured when she was young , she grows up, tracks down the people behind her kidnapping and torture and blows the shit out of them.. Bad guys are dead, lead girl is alive (bloody- but alive none the less) so mission accomplished, Right..!! WRONG..!! This is where the fun ends.. The third act elevates the film from just another torture porn (that’s what they are calling films like Hostel these days) and takes it somewhere else where probably no other film has gone before. Twists in the third act are the flavor of the season and this film is no different, but the twist here is organic, it takes the film where it meant to go, and doesn’t leaves you wondering if the film is a puzzle where there were clues laid out all through out the length of the film that challenged your intelligence ala Sixth Sense.
What this film does is, it makes you partner in one of the most heinous and diabolical crime the same way Irreversible or Man Bites Dog did.. Suddenly you will find your self trapped there, with the character, looking at her ,face the worst level of human degeneration, and you realize that the film hasn’t remained a film anymore and your Voyeuristic tendency has taken over, you want to look away, but you also want to see how far can this degradation go.. and by the time its over, you are left thinking – “ I should have looked away when I had the chance..!!”
Its wrong to classify this film as torture porn , although I can see that the first two acts have similarities to the sub genre, but if I can think of any other film that comes close to Martys in terms on Visceral impact and psychological bleakness –it has to be Irreversible.
I was watching this film with my sister in law , let me explain here, she likes blood and gore, she likes film like hostel and she loved À l'intérieur, and she watched this film out of her free will, and both of us were , as I said earlier, having a good time till 3/4th of the film, we were enjoying the Jump moments, the in your face violence, both of us thought we are people who have become sedate to onscreen violence.. Hey, now how can you top Ichi the killer..!! and that’s the beauty of this film doesn’t tops any film, Violence is there as a narrative tool and its not glorified and then in the third act- most of it is off-screen.. and still manages to shake you to the core.. Once the film got over, we sat there in silence , a very awkward silence , not able to figure out weather to condemn or appreciate the film, we were numb, and felt guilty, as a matter of fact, it has never happened that we saw a horror film and not discussed it over dinner (Yes.. we are very twisted people, we discuss decapitation and dismemberment over dinner..!!) with our respective spouses, we still have not discussed Martys.. but then if the film can have so much of influence on somebody, then it must be something to recon.. Pascal Laugier have managed to make a film which will be hated by most of the audience and it will still be debated over, the biggest trick that the film pulls is for most of it run time it leads you to believe that you are watch a regular horror film, and then right there –at the ‘I know how this one is going to end..!!’ moment , its pulls the rug underneath you feet , revealing the dark underbelly of human filth, and you are trapped.. with no where to go, you feel cheated and you hate yourself and the director for taking you to the places this film takes you.
Surprisingly, even after all that’s been said and done, the film actually ends on a bitter sweet note and has a very uplifting ending. Unfortunately I am still not in a state where I can call it a good film or a bad film, I can’t , this movie will still take some time to sink in.. So I am just sharing my first thoughts on it , I knew I was up for a lousy Sunday and things cant get any worse.. well to hell with Martyrs.. I still had a bottle of beer and another film left and this one looks like a softcore.. William Defoe is there in it, he can do stuff like this, didn’t he do Madonna in Body of Evidence.. so lets check it out.

Who would have known that a bottle of beer and a film later I would be devastated beyond all comprehensions?

19th Sep 2009, Saturday
2300 hrs
4 shots of Tequila
2 Bottles of Beer later.


A Couple of years ago me and my cousin were having our weekend boys night , as one of Beyonce song popped up on Mtv, My cousin who masquerades as a heavy metal follower, in his drunken stupor , admitted , that he loves watching Beyonce, not because of her music, but because she is beautiful and has a really nice ..ummm.. how do i say this.. Back Side..!! and then he started going on and on about the object of his affection ..then he paused, he looked at me with broad gleaming eyes and spoke as if he was making an epiphany , “ No matter how beautiful her arse is, it still makes shit like everyone else..!!” then he paused and added- as Beyonce Booties filled up the screen of my Television, “Can you believe something so beautiful can do something so disgusting” very philosophical indeed.
I get his point now.
People who know Lars Von Trier will also know that he almost single handedly kicked of Dogma95 movement in film making. The acclaimed Danish film maker who have done films like Breaking the Waves, Dogville and Dancer in the Dark- now if you are informed about his body of work there are two important things you will be aware of, he is a minimalist and his films usually contains explicit sexual contents.. and that’s What AntiChrist DVD Cover art leads you to believe, and also delivers, but then what you don’t know is that this film, also is a solid character study, border lining avant grade, Another thing which I felt was that people will be vocal about this film, they will either like it a lot or they will detest it and call it misogynistic, but the reaction to this will be very strong.
First things first- this is not a horror film, not even close, it is , like I said earlier, a character driven drama with a some moments of solid suspense. The film have got only 2 actors and whenever there are incidental characters in a scene, they don’t have any faces.
The film is structured in chapters (very similar to Dogville) with a total of four Chapters, and prologue and epilogue.
The film starts with a couple (Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe) are making love as there toddler falls to death from the fourth floor, The couple trys to deal with the loss but wife is having a very difficult time in getting over the death of there child and she is becoming manic depressive, he is a therapist so he decides to take charge and finds that his psycho therapy sessions with his wife are also acting as his catharsis as he is able to distract himself from his sons death and focus on his wife.
As a part of the therapy, both of them travel to Eden , the cabin they have in the woods, in order to spend time there while she recovers from her grief, but things only get worse.
Now that you know , there are only two characters in the film, what you can be sure of is that there will be no Billy Zane accidentally driving down/sailing down to there cabin and throwing a spanner in the proceeding, if you are expecting a CG Ghost hidden in the basement of the cabin , you cant be more wrong- this just isn’t that type of a film, heck there is not a single jump scare, instead this film relay more on the atmosphere and the mood, the fear of impending doom, the whole anticipation and the built up, this one here is a slow burner,it takes its own time in establishing the characters and there individual emotional and physical journey . The suspense exists on a different level- it happens through what you know about our characters, and as the movie proceeds and you know more about them the more suspense ensues, the wife loves her husband, is manic depressive, she is scared of nature, she has been doing a thesis in genocide- the husband is equally grief struck, he is concerned about his wife, he discontinues her therapy with other doctor and takes charge of the situation, the more he gets involved in her therapy the more he drifts away from her, the line blurs between his relation and his profession. Added to this, the forest and the nature around them itself keeps becoming menacing and foreboding, you know something bad is going to happen, you don’t know when- and when it does, it goes all the way.
Rarely you will see a film where the nature plays a character (and I am not talking Ronald Emmirich movies featuring Natural disaster ) there are no flash flood, torrential rain or Volcanic eruptions. The nature here means what’s around us and what’s inside us.
Nature is the real villain in this film and cinematography is the real Hero.
When you are making a film with just two actors, you need to be very careful with whom you cast (look what happened to Vinyan) and Lars Von hits the nail on the head, the casting of Charlotte Gainsbourg , brings a lot of vulnerability to the character when its needed, and she is equally compelling when she looses it towards the end. William Defoe, underplays and completes the spectrum that the director wanted to paint.

This is not a sort of film I will advice you to go and watch immediately, This is not a film for everybody, although I am against spoiler warnings but in this particular case , I will strongly advice you to do some reading about it before you actually go and see it. The only reason this film is worth seeing is to understand that films like this can also be made, and how (and I mean it in a good way).

Both the films discussed above are difficult films , so I strongly advice you to watch it on your own discretion, otherwise you will spend one day just recovering from the hangover that they will give you, symptoms of which are as follows :
Loss of appetite
Inability to laugh at Jokes
Inability to Crack Jokes
Being scared stiff, every time your wife appears infront of you.


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