Ginger Nuts of Horror
Welcome back to Film Gutter, and today we're diving deeper than ever before into the darkest waters of horror – in fact, in this review we'll be diving all the way down to hell itself for the shadowy trip that is Necromentia.
Honestly, this was a film that I knew very little of before coming to watch. It had a few mentions on some of my favourite 'disturbing films' lists, but other than that I was coming to this one pretty much blind. What I was getting myself into was perhaps not as horrific in terms of content as some of our previous reviews, but the atmosphere of this film was absolutely, unrelenting bleak and – for want of a better word – grubby.
The story concerns four characters who are all drawn together by one thing – the uncanny, the esoteric, and the experiences that will ultimately lead each and every one of them into hell. We begin with Hagen, a desperate man obviously suffering hard in the aftermath of the loss of his partner Elizabeth. The colour palette of the whole movie is painted in these early scenes, brown and grey, with little relief by way of more vibrant shades. And – in what was probably the most disturbing scene here – we see Hagen tending to the dead body of Elizabeth, doing his best to keep her body maintained in spite of the rigor mortis setting in. We don't see anything too much, but the sounds and suggestions are pretty disgusting here. He's still fixated with the idea that she can and will come back to him somehow.
Hagen then meets our second lead, Travis, who says that he can help him save her from the clutches of death. However, this does mean Hagen acting as a portal and making his way to hell himself in order to rescue her. This he's willing to do, and Travis cuts an arcane symbol into his back to make this possible.
From there we cut back almost a year, and get the bulk of Travis's story. 11 months prior, Travis is trying to keep his head above water financially as he works long hours and also tries to maintain a home for his disabled younger brother. We find out that his job is pretty dubious – namely, working in some sort of S+M club cutting and carving those people who get a kick out of that. While he's out, his brother Thomas is left to watch TV, and a show that comes to a horrible reality with the sinister character Mr Skinny. Ostensibly a kids' character, this grotesque mascot sings a genuinely weird song about just how great suicide is, and Thomas is about to do it when Travis gets back just in time to stop him.
But, sadly, Travis can't be there all the time, so he hires someone to help care of Thomas. However, on the first night he leaves the two together, Mr Skinny makes his move and Thomas takes the opportunity to kill himself. Travis vows to get his brother back, which leads him down the road into the occult and esoteric – he'll do anything to reclaim that lost life, and he makes a deal with the devil in order to do so. Well, not the devil, but a demon by the name of Morbius, whom he can only contact by injecting himself with ketamine.
Our final two characters are introduced not long after, with a living, human – and mute – Morbius in an uneasy relationship with Elizabeth – yes, that Elizabeth, who is having an affair with Hagen on the side. And she drives him to murder Morbius, whom she is desperate to be rid of...
I won't go into the full intricacies of the final stages of the film, so as not to dish out a heap of spoilers, but suffice to say that the four characters are drawn into a complicated and nightmarish web, linked by common desires to bring back the dead and common experiences in the barren, neo-industrial landscape of hell. It feels like a genuinely uncomfortable setting in this movie. What this film has – that some of our Film Gutter entries don't have – is a clever, twisty plot that touches on real emotional issues in a powerful way. It's not just shock for the sake of shock by any means, and the visuals of the film are interesting and startling throughout.
I really wanted to give this film a higher rating than I'm about to, and that rating is very respectable as it stands. But for me the narrative structure was just a bit too slipshod for me for it to make full use of a really promising premise. If the four stories were designed to fully intertwine, why not integrate them throughout the story? The leaping around in time doesn't help any, and the final scene for me well and truly confused chronological matters. I'm not averse to flashbacks and the like, but I can't help but think the execution in this instance was just lacking.
There were a lot of things in this film I genuinely loved. The characters were each unique, and had their own reasons for being involved in the storyline that grows from the opening scene. There was vision here, and scope, and heart, which is unfortunately something I can't always say when reviewing horror. Visually the film was very quirky also, and is something that will definitely stay with me for a long time. I think there's a ten out of ten film in here, but it's just held back by a somewhat awkward and clumsy narrative structure that could have been better presented to make more on the great raw materials here. With all that said, I'd genuinely recommend checking this one out for fans of dark and edgy horror. In the end it's a less-than-hellish 8.5/10
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