Watching a gory film is like sitting through an unexpected therapy session. You settle on the couch as the shrink nudges his horn-rimmed spectacles, encouraging you to tell him all about your problems. Your eyes widen at the prospect of having someone to confide in, but having briefly consulted with your mind – your heart is hesitant. You notice kindness in the shrink’s eyes as you loosen up. You feel comfortable enough to start blithering about how daddy never hugged you enough. You build trust in him and tell him about how the uncle next door hugged you always too tightly and way too regularly. You talk to him about how you had just figured out that your own body was as much of a miracle as a garbage disposal unit. You want him to know that you tried like hell to stop that creepy man from distancing your mind further from your body. The shrink takes off his spectacles as you wonder if you are in the correct position to slouch your head sideways and cry on his shoulder. Much to your surprise and slight dismay, the shrink wipes his brow and promptly puts them back on without offering to help ease your pain.
Character: Joseph, the caretaker
Actor: Vincent Cassel
Film: Sheitan (2003)
Kim Chapiron’s Sheitan is a gawky, pimpled and post-pubescent teenager with Internet access. Teenagers want sex and the Internet knows it. They feel terrible about it and the Internet knows that too. There are virtual wastelands where they can explore the extent of their perversions; vast arenas encouraging free rides into the shallowest depths of convoluted physiological issues. However, gratification comes at a cost. After wiping unborn generations off dirty handkerchiefs and unwashed towels, crippling discomfort sets in. The soul is ridden with shame and it asks the brain to tell the limbs to check the fridge for junk food.
Director: Ben Wheatley
Normal people, about 99.9% of the world’s population, look at dark comedies like the malnourished probably look at breakfast cereals without even a thimbleful of milk in sight. With confusion yet contentment. At the core of Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers is two hearts beating as one. Chris (Steve Oram), an aspiring writer and Tina (Alice Lowe), a knitting aficionado. They are an adorable couple on a road trip. They love each other very much. So much that it hurts. It even murders people. Lots of people. Chris has had problems with stability for a long time. He just needs to deal with them in silence and with the solace that he finds only in his love for Tina. He was bullied as child, ridiculed as a teenager and stepped on while grappling with adulthood and facial hair. He loves Tina because she is damaged too. She is drunk on melancholia. She too distrusts people because she is wary that they may rip her wings off. She is fearful that she may never be able to fly with hummingbirds and learn the songs they seduce honeysuckles with.
Sometimes we are introduced to certain characters who stay with us long after their stories end. We invite them to partake in our sleepless nights and midsummer dreams. We talk to them, we listen to them and we share our lives with them. We connect to their lives. We accept them with the purity in which we accept the very worst in ourselves.
Character: Boad, the car dealer
Actor: Malcolm McDowell
Film: I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (2003)
Haute Tension (High Tension or Switchblade Romance)
Director: Alexandre Aja
Many slasher films, in their lovable eagerness to make us squirm, forget that human bones are as strong as cement blocks. It takes a lot of force and velocity to smash one to smithereens. Filmmaker Alexandre Aja and his team of sound mixers/re-recorders want us to feel queasy too but their love for gore aficionados is rooted in a fierce commitment to realism. For every skull that is crushed, every neck that is broken and each time a part of the human body snaps, cracks and pops out, it is accompanied by a visceral sound effect that hands out front-row seats to our earlobes. The home invasion sequence that introduces us to the antagonist, in particular, is the absolute best. It’s the top of the pops, especially abusive, alcoholic and couch-potato pops. It has a three-second scene with a curb stomp that sounds like the cruelest act in the world. The credit also goes to Philippe Nahon, a gentleman that graces the screen with the ease of a slap on the wrist yet bearing the complexities of a well-timed kidney punch.