Be Careful Who You Get Close To....
Sometimes the best horror films are not what most traditionalists would class as horror. Rather than having some sort of monster running amok killing people the horror comes from a more subtle place, where the horror results from a persons decent into madness and loss of self control. Where we the viewer begins to feel like a tawdry voyeur, one that is unable to tear their eyes from the screen.
Alexis Kendra stars as Venus, the self proclaimed Goddess of Love, a beautiful ex ballet dancer, who spends her days in her studio flat playing the piano and creating artistic prints of her naked body, in between draws on her calming hash pipe. Her nights are spent strutting her stuff as a stripper at the local strip bar. One night she makes the fatal mistake of breaking one of the cardinal rules about stripping and invites one of the punters back for a night of intimacy. This encounter however is not a one off and it turns into a full blown relationship. Things seem to go smoothly they appear to be need each other as mutually as the other person. Until he decides to end the relationship then things go start to go very bad, very quickly, as Venus descends into an ever increasing cycle of anger and violence.
Goddess of Love is sadly a film that will pass many viewers by, which is a huge pity. This is a powerful film that defies easy categorisation, it starts off as an erotic thriller, albeit one that eschews the typical over use of nudity and scenes of sex. These early scenes have a much more languid feel to them, there is a sense of needing and despair that hangs over what should be a very happy time for Venus.Their relationship feels more like a mutual support network that prevents either one from falling into total despair. She is in love, but rather than accepting this and what comes with it, she acts as though she is trying to peak under the covers in the desperate hope of finding something wrong. There is subtle sense of grubbiness to these scenes and despite her attractiveness and various degrees of undress there is very little here to titillate the viewer. The sense of the desperation to be loved and needed strip any erotic notions from the film, which results in a captivating viewing experience.
In the early part of the film we get hints at Venus' mental instability, nothing too serious, just little hints that things might not be so right with her. In particular the use of her neighbors loud music to show her anguish and inner pain is spectacular in execution. The way in which the bass is distorted to extreme levels and the camera shakes that appear on film during these episodes is wonderful. Is the music real? Is it really so distorted and intrusive or is it all just a figment of her imagination?
The film is told completely from the point of view of Venus. And as the film develops we see that not everything she sees and hears is real, so can we really trust her as a character? Do we see what is really happening? Or are we all just seeing things play out from her own unreliable viewpoint?
Films like Goddess Of Love, in part, rely on their their success in not only being a good film, but in the believeabilty factor, on the lead actor, and Alexis Kendra's performance as Venus is flawless. She bestows upon the character a veneer of fractured beauty, that as the as the film develops more and more cracks appear to show the fragile psychos underneath. And when Venus finally snaps, her performance as a woman scorned is chilling and powerful, almost as though she has emptied herself to become the vessel of vengeance.
Goddess of Love is a powerful and uncomfortable film to watch. It is a film that manages to take a sympathetic look at metal illness, without ever falling into sensationalism. Despite what we see of Venus' actions we the viewer still remain sympathetic to her. Even when she turns into a full on woman scorned our hearts follow her, praying that she finds peace and solace before she takes it too far. This is thanks to both Kendra's performance and the wonderful script from Kendra and Jon Knautz and Knautz sympathetic direction. The film makes use of some very clever metaphors, such as the scene where Venus unmasks during a photo shoot, to symbolise the moment that we the viewer finally see that she is unstable. The use of red light in the film is also inspired in the way it is used to show her sense of guilt, in many ways it reminds me he "out damn spot" scenes from Macbeth.
Goddess of Love is a complex, shocking, beautifully shot and acted film, don't let this film pass you by.